Sunday, 30 May 2010

POD Index for Author Solutions Services - Coming Soon

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The POD INDEX for author solutions services is something we have been working on for the past couple of months.

The most asked question we get at POD, Self-Publishing & Independent Publishing is often along the lines of; 'What self-publishing service should I go with?'; 'Is so and so a good service to go with?'; or 'Is so and so a scam?'

In some cases, that is an easy question to answer, cut and dry, but in other circumstances, the answer is entirely arbitrary. We are not here to review and run down a company's name, nor are we here to endorse a company's services. If we were only to review author solutions services according to every point in our ideal list of what an author should get from a company offering publishing services; we would have very few reviews to share with you. In truth, no company has ever attained a 10/10, and only two have recorded a 09/10. In the autumn of 2010 we will be posting all our reviews with a rating, and any new reviews since February 2010 have automatically had a posted rating at the bottom of the review.

The reality is some author solutions services begin in a blaze of glory and we might rate them favourably at the time; others, frankly, are just poor, and yet, they can improve (sometimes in response to our reviews) to offer reasonable services for authors. We are constantly updating our reviews, but this takes considerable time, and so do the initial reviews.

We get a vast amount of information from authors and the companies selling author solutions services every day - good and bad. We get a great deal of information from monitoring services week by week against the experiences of what authors report back to us. Simply put, and truthfully, we cannot reflect all of this information through the reviews. That is why the comments section under each company we review is so important. It is your recording and dealings with that specific company, and a positive or negative flag to subsequent authors considering using the same company.

So, how do we reflect the ups and downs with services?

We believe the POD INDEX will help to guide authors to services on the up, and those, gradually on the down. If you like, what we are proposing is effectively, a kind of stock exchange for author solutions services.

More details coming soon...

Diadem Books - Reviewed (Updated May, 2010)

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Diadem Books are a Scottish author solutions company based in Fife, Scotland, and run by Charles Muller, a South African born academic and former hotelier. An author in his own right, he founded Diadem Books in 1997 and for many years used iUniverse’s print on demand service to issue Diadem’s published books. Diadem became a sister company of Spiderwize in 2010 (reviewed here).

“Diadem Books was founded in 1997 by Charles Muller, who is Editor-in-Chief and Proprietor of Diadem Books. Since then well over 200 books have been published and given worldwide exposure through Diadem Books in association with the US company that launched Writers Club Press. The unique feature of Diadem Books is that the basic fee includes unlimited editing, regardless of the amount of editing required.

In July 2008 Diadem Books published the first two books, The Nowhere Man and Journey Towards Himself by Roy Holland, under its own imprint of Diadem Books. Prior to this, for eight years, Diadem Books partnered with the Print on Demand Publisher iUniverse, in Nebraska, USA, during which time over 200 books were published.”

The Diadem main webpage has improved in the past year, but for some unfathomable reason, the previous links to books have been removed, and now, it is entirely author service driven. Diadem are straight and proclaim their all inclusive publishing and editing service of £899. Their claim, above their rivals, is the input they give on editing, something which should be high on every self-publishing author’s wish list.

"Unlike the vanity press, and so many of the self-publishing companies around today, Diadem Books does not accept any, or every book sent to us to add to its stable. We value our imprint of Diadem Books as a hallmark of quality, and need to see the manuscript first before we can confirm that we are happy to go ahead with publication. The editing aspect also ensures that the book will not appear with embarrassing stylistic or grammatical imperfections."

My suggestion to any author considering using Diadem’s service would be to order randomly one book from their recently catalogue and read it carefully for typo’s and general errors of editing. This is a grand claim by any company offering a service to self-publishing authors, but the proof will be in the reading. Diadem offer two distinct approaches to self-publishing; their format and publish package (£399), and their edit and publish package (£899). Their editing service is also offered as a stand-alone service (£499) as well.

Diadem has reasonable enough covers and this is part of their full colour cover design provided in their £899 package. The package includes, according to Diadem:

• Diadem will provide editorial help and make revisions as far as possible, regardless of the length of the book. 

• Diadem will publish your book.

• Diadem will incur any publication or production costs. 

• Diadem will undertake the proofreading and cover design. 

• Diadem will place your book in all major on-line bookstores such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble. 
• You will receive five (5) free copies of your book. 
• Apart from the paperback edition, an e-book version will be produced. 
• Your book will be displayed on the Diadem Books website. 
• Your book will have its own ISBN number and bar-code. 
• You will retain copyright, in your name. 
• Royalty payments to the author will be a generous 20% of the retail price.

Royalty payments to the author are usually 10% to 20% of the retail price. After the book's proof stage we will send you some examples and guidance notes of what we think the best retail, wholesale and author royalties percentage (amount you earn per book) should be for your book. But the final decision is the author's, so if you wish to change the amount you will earn per book, then this is fine.

Diadem offer pretty poor discounts to authors when they purchase their own books. 

What are the bulk discounts for author copies?
50 to 99 books = 5%         100 to 249 books = 10%              250 to 499 books = 20%            500 or more books = 25%

Most of the offered details of their services are pretty much standard for a self-publishing service. The ISBN is Diadem’s own registered one and the contract is non-exclusive. However, the royalties, based on retail price, at 10 to 20% are nothing spectacular, but at least Diadem are straight and do not engage in the usual complicated maths which seem to deliberately set out to befuddled authors on what their true profits are going to be. Do bear in mind that a traditional contract from a major publisher will provide, usually 6 to 10% on paperback sales – the 20% offered by Diadem is not a guaranteed profit percentage. Note the phrase ‘up to 20%’.

This above package is for standard on line distribution and for paperback publication and ebook, with an additional option of hardback for £199. Diadem do not specify who does their digital printing, but with author copies available at ‘up to’ 45% discount, meaning the discount is dependent on the amount of copies an author is prepared to purchase. This would suggest the author is paying above the print costs as they do not specify how the overall retail price is reached.

Published books through Diadem will also have their own webpage for one year, and may, for a fee of £40, add additionally published books elsewhere.

“Graphics. If you wish to have graphics (pictures) included in the text body of the book, these are at an additional cost of £79 ($99) per 25 graphics (maximum of 50). The graphics within the book are only reproduced in black and white (greyscale), though the cover is in full colour. You are welcome to use your own cover design, bearing in mind that the graphic or image needs to be in TIF format in 300dpi (dots per square inch). However, the cover design team is excellent at implementing your own ideas for the cover—all you need do is describe the way you would like the cover to look. You can also submit a sample picture or drawing as a guide for the cover artist. There is no extra charge for the cover design, or for the use of your own graphic."

Overall, Diadem Books offer a basic publishing deal for self-publishing authors – not the most competitive, but reasonable, without any bells, whistles or dancing girls. Their recent changes in 2010 allow authors to submit completely edited manuscripts for just formatting and publishing at £399, but ultimately, authors would be better going with Createspace, Authorsonline or direct to Lightning Source if they have the skills to deliver print ready files.

For authors who are concerned about the edited quality of their book, and Diadem can deliver on what they say on screening a book for errors – then Diadem's publish and edit package may prove ideal. I am not convinced Diadem have actually made a step forward in the past year - a case maybe of two steps forward and two steps back. The best think they could do is become more book centric, particularly in regards to their website. I would like to see their book news page becoming their home page. That might be a great starting point for Diadem.

RATING: 06.5/10

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Kindle 3 For August 2010 Launch?

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The Kindle 3 is just a few months away according to a report on Bloomberg yesterday. The as yet unconfirmed launch date this August is a direct response by Amazon to anticipated competition from Apple's recently released iPad.

The Kindle 3, a dedicated e-book reading device, will not feature a colour screen like the iPad. Only this week Amazon supremo, Jeff Bezos, described a colour screen for the Kindle as 'some ways out'. The new device is expected to feature sharper screen quality, responsiveness and performance, as well as being thinner than the current Kindle 2.   

What Price The iPad Now in China?

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One news item carried in much of the mainstream press this week has been the series of suicides committed by workers at Foxconn Technology Group who operate a number of production plants in Asia. For the most part, this week, the publishing world and technology media sites have focused on the launch of the international release of the iPad with little mention, if any at all, of this extraordinary story.

I wonder if such an occurrence happened in an electronics plant in Seattle, New York, Tennessee or Milton Keynes, would the reaction be so placid or indifferent. Of course, there are a great deal of reasons why it would not have happened in so-called developed countries. Actually, China is pretty developed when it comes to having production and print facilities serving the publishing industry.

From today's Independent in the UK:

"The electronics company which owns factories in China where several workers have committed suicide said yesterday that it will increase workers' wages by an average of 20 per cent.

Foxconn Technology Group, a Taiwanese firm which employs about 800,000 workers in China, said the pay rise could help lift morale.

Ten workers have killed themselves and three have attempted suicide at Foxconn's plants in southern China this year. Another worker in northern China also committed suicide this year. The basic salary at the Chinese factories of Foxconn, which makes iPhones and other popular gadgets, including Apple's new iPad device, is about 900 yuan (£90) a month."

While the Independent newspaper report places a great deal of focus on wages, the reality has far more to do with working conditions and the length of the workers' shifts. The suggestion and the question being asked in many concerned quarters is; are the pressures of production of components for the iPad linked to this? As far back as early April, were asking this very question:

"The most recent incident happened yesterday, with an 18-year-old new worker called Rao jumping from factory buildings. A tree broke her fall, so she survived but is reported to be severely injured. On March 29th, a worker called Liu leaped from his dormitory window, wearing his Foxconn factory shirt, and on March 11th a man named Li killed himself by leaping from a building. On March 7th a female worker named Tian jumped out of her dormitory, but survived. Tian cited extreme pressure as her motivation, and Chinese media notes that Li had his bonus pay stolen at Chinese new year, while Rao is alleged to have been fighting with her boyfriend before the incident."

I am just staggered how a mainstream news story has been largely, and perhaps conveniently, passed over by the media press who specifically cover publishing and technology.

Is the publishing world, and specifically Apple, happy to trod along knowing the sales of iPads will always outstrip the number of suicides recorded and provide the chosen news story?  

Friday, 28 May 2010

UK iBookstore Finally Gets Some Books!

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Books from Penguin, Macmillan, HarperCollins and Hachette UK will appear from today in the UK iBookstore for the international release of the iPad. These publishers agreed eleventh-hour deals with Apple, but as yet, there is no word on an agreement with Simon & Schuster who already have ebooks available in the US iBookstore.

Up until yesterday, there were few purchase ebooks available in the UK iBookstore.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

BookLocker Move on Lulu Authors with $18 (save $149) Offer

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Angela Hoy, editor and proprietor at BookLocker, late yesterday made an open offer to any unhappy authors with Lulu to switch their books to the Maine-based POD publisher. In a bold announcement on this week’s edition of Writersweekly, Hoy drew attention to negative comments in Lulu’s forum from its own self-published authors. In a piece entitled ‘Are You an Unhappy Lulu Author?’ Hoy wrote:

“We've been getting lots of inquiries from authors who are upset about Lulu's prices, high shipping costs, and customer service problems (see quotes below from Lulu's own forum).

THIS WEEK ONLY, BookLocker is offering free setup fees to unhappy authors (you save $149!).


1. Currently applies to black and white-interior, paperback books only. If your book has a hardcover counterpart, it would qualify for our "$149 returning author setup fee special."

2. You must first submit your manuscript (MSWord, text-only, or pdf file) for consideration to No formal book proposal required. Your manuscript will speak for itself. (If you don't hear from us within 72 hours, check your spam filter. We respond to ALL submissions.)

3. If your book is accepted (BookLocker does not publish every manuscript submitted and, in fact, rejects most manuscripts for quality problems), you must sign up for Booklocker's service THIS WEEK (the special ends on Sunday). We assist with formatting at no additional charge.

4. There is an $18 annual POD file hosting fee that must be paid by all authors. This enables us to keep the book on our site and in Ingram's system. Cover design is not included in this special but we may be able to use your existing cover or you can submit your own cover at no charge. Cover Design at - $200 original cover; $150 template cover; or, again, submit your own cover at no charge.”

While Lulu executives may not be quaking in their shoes as they thread the corridors of their Raeleigh offices, this audacious offer by BookLocker only serves to underline a growing discontentment from some authors who have self-published one or more books with the DIY self-publishing behemoth. Lulu has attempted to alleviate high shipping costs over the past year, but this has often been linked to BOGO promotions, discount code promotions or larger order discounts – rather more a case of tinkering around the edges than dealing with the issue head on.

The issue of poorly printed books has been ticking away under the surface for the past three years. Three years ago the issue seemed to be predominantly with the printers used in Spain and Australia. Lulu are extremely guarded about the printers they use, particularly following the dispute which erupted between POD publishers and Amazon, when the online retailer tried to arm-wrestle publishers into using their own digital printer. It would be interesting to know how much of Lulu’s business with Lightning Source has tapered off in the past two years. I am convinced this has had a great deal to do with this whole print quality issue.

If you are a Lulu author, disgruntled or not, and with the ability to provide print ready interior and cover files to Booklocker, then their bold overtures may be too much to resist.

Schiel & Denver - Reviewed (Updated, May 2010)

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(Updated, May, 2010, see footer)

Founded by authors in April, 2008, Schiel & Denver is pretty much a new kid on the block. One of those founding authors is Director, Tunde Reid-Kapo (3rd comment down on link). Schiel & Denver describe their company as an international publishing services infrastructure provider, dedicated to meeting the needs of authors and creative people, at an affordable cost. The company operate offices in the UK as well as the USA with 55 staff, and until recently, they concentrated on private and corporate publications.

Schiel & Denver has just 14 listed books on Amazon (they do offer bespoke services and up to last year focused on the corporate sector), and looking back over my records from late last year, this was one reason amongst a few others why I passed on reviewing them. One of the other reasons was that from April 2008 Schiel & Denver struck me as a changing company not entirely sure where they wanted to rest in the publishing industry. They began, I believe, with some endeavour and aspirations of being a ‘commercial and independent trade publisher’, but that can take years to grown from a small independent press and requires considerable industry staffing experience on board. To achieve it, you certainly need a good mix of publishing industry veterans and young dynamic entrepreneurs who know where the future of publishing is headed. Founding a commercial publishing company with authors does not work in the modern book industry. Founding an author solutions service with authors is considerably more realistic and attainable and Schiel & Denver seem to have found their feet this year.

“We provide an affordable and comprehensive range of book publishing packages, and professional author solutions, including editorial, marketing, transcription, translation, design and bookseller services, with the stability and support of an experienced professional publishing team.”

It is all very well for an author solutions service to talk about the experience of their professional publishing team, but Schiel & Denver would do well to list these professionals (editors, marketeer specialists, translators and designers) on their website along with their career credentials.

The Schiel & Denver homepage makes it very clear that they primarily offer author publishing services, but they have just two books on display there. Author solutions services need to make it clear to authors that the sale of books themselves still plays a prominent role in their business model. This may very well be the case for author solutions service companies, but it needs to be demonstrated to the author traffic coming in the company’s front door. This is always something which baffles me. I review publishers with two hats on; the first one, primarily as an author, because that is what I am, and secondly, as a publishing researcher. Here is the added caveat. Authors are usually the most avid readers and purchasers of books! You could not have a more captivated audience and they usually want to buy other authors’ books, not their own.

The Schiel & Denver website is slick and sophisticated, packed with information, and at times, I felt I was being presented with information I really did not immediately need to know. Schiel & Denver make much play on their admittance to the United Nations Global Compact.

“Schiel & Denver has received the honor of admittance to the United Nations Global Compact at the UN Headquarters New York, USA. Each year we report back to the United Nations about our progress and success. Schiel & Denver is a Christian organization committed to values of responsible corporate citizenship and environmentally sound print-on-demand digital technology.“

This is all admirable, and Schiel & Denver are not short on ‘mission statements’, but as an author interested in using their services, show and demonstrate this to me in your services, don’t just tell me with countless statements of intent which percolate through many pages of the website.

Schiel & Denver support their own online bookstore and it is only when you go there you discover the exquisite quality and design of their book covers. It is just unfortunate it took me twenty minutes of wading through mission statements, learning centres (online tutor guides) and the download of their publishing guide to reach this company’s strongest visual impact to a perusing author. Incidentally, their publishing guide is called the Schiel & Denver Operating Manual. Am I buying the latest dishwasher or cooker? Don’t ask... I’ve no idea why they called it that either! It should be noted that the operating manual also acts as the author agreement, so interested authors would be well advised to download it. Retail prices for their books, on average, range £8.99 to £10.99, perhaps marginally above average, but not unnecessarily so.

Operating Manual (Their Self-publishing Guide!)

You could spend hours on this website and that it not necessarily a bad thing. There is plenty of information, some relevant, some not, but it has certainly been very well put together. I am just not sure with all the information who they are trying to impress, self-publishing authors or the General Secretary of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon! They key should be to get the bones of what a company is about, what they have to offer, and how well they get the message across. Schiel & Denver have also started up a social network forum, and as of August, 2009, it had 250 members.

The meat of any author solutions service is the quality, cost and flexibility of those services. The basic package of £299 is enough to interest any self-publishing author.

“With the handholding support of a professional publishing team, Schiel & Denver's low cost range of custom book publishing packages give you total creative control over your book's ISBN production, editorial content, publishing rights, full color cover design, layout and even distribution territories.

Best of all with S&D, your book will receive free marketing in our trade catalog, and distribution to leading bookstores on both sides of the atlantic - including Amazon, Borders, Barnes & Noble, Chapters Indigo in Canada, and Waterstones and WHsmith in the UK.”

Publishing Packages

All packages include ISBN allocation, author support, a non-exclusive contract agreement, paperback edition, electronic proof, 1 free author copy, volume discounts, Schiel & Denver publisher bookstore listing, royalty and accounting statements, 1 year catalogue listing and distribution availability (online and database retail listing – not shelf placement). The £299 Lite package includes only these. The following packages add the listed features for the increased prices shown.

Design - £510
Add – Custom cover and interior layout, back cover design, books in print database listing, 10 free paperback author copies and 10 internal images.

Maestro - £765
Add – 15 free paperback copies, 25 internal images, a book launch tool kit for author and book review preview.

Premium - £1105
Adds – ebook, dual hardcover edition and 40 internal images.

Executive - £1870
Adds – 20 free paperback and 1 hardback author copies, 100 internal images, website design and US copyright registration and cd archive of files.

Professional - £4250
Adds – unlimited internal images, 500k media press release and enhanced website.

Delux - £7310
Adds – enhanced website, 1m media press release, 50 paperback copies and 1 hardback copy, pro copy-editing, set my own price and London Book fair Marketing.

Platinum - £17000
Adds – enhanced website, 90 free paperback and 5 hardback author copies, 5m media press release, returns program, indexing, international exhibition marketing and personal publicist service.

(check link above for color and some more specific packages)

I am going to gather myself and then make some observations on the above packages.

For Schiel & Denver, from the Maestro package onwards, quite frankly, things leave the natural stratosphere of even the most expensive author solutions service operating in the US or UK. While I note Schiel & Denver do offer bespoke services, that is, flexible to a customer’s needs – it is hard to see how this author solutions service could conceivably understand how these packages are in any way realistic or commercially viable to a self-publishing author. Perhaps this is a reflection from recent private publication business undertaken by them last year.

Here is just a few pointers at this moment in the review. An author has to spend £1870 just to get dual paperback and hardback publication? For £7310, I only get 50 paperbacks and 1 hardback! It costs about £2.90 to print a 200 page paperback through Lightning Source. It costs about £100 all in to digitally set up a title with Lightning Source UK. Exactly how much can you ‘enhance’ a website for an author, from bronze, silver gold...? The executive package on offer here for £1870, could be got from iUniverse or Lulu for about $1000. That’s DOLLARS, not sterling!

At £540, the Design package, while at the high end, is reasonable enough. It gets a self-publishing author going in the publishing world and would be comparable with services provided by AuthorHouse and Trafford. When you compare Schiel & Denver with services provided by Pen Press, Matador, York Publishing Services, Booklocker, even Xlibris (Top package at $12k)... a tale is told.

Schiel & Denver also offer other bespoke services from manuscript editing, proofreading, design, translation, etc. Again, the rates quoted are above what I consider to be normal competitive rates. Details can be found below.

My overall impression of Schiel & Denver is that we have a ‘publisher’ or rather, a company adopting the broad model and approach of a traditional publisher, but offering it as an author solutions service. The danger in this approach is that you are seen as an ‘old style’ vanity publisher, just without the garage full of books. If the truth be told, I wrote this review article about eight to ten weeks ago and have sat on it since. In fact, I submitted the review to Schiel & Denver and advised them due to the cost of their publishing services I was not going to complete and publish the review. Interestingly, I never heard a single world back from them. Nice. I might also add the impetus to review them actually came from an email sent to me by...yes, Schiel & Denver themselves. The invoice for my publishing consultation over four days to research and complete this review is in the post to them!

There is actually a lot I like about Schiel & Denver. The quality of the product looks very strong. There is a very committed effort to turn ‘availability’ into proper physical distribution of books globally, (see Distribution Partners list). They have well developed digital audio distribution services. Their site is excellent, if not one of the very best I have seen—bar the omission of books at the front door—though, at times it is a little over-packed with information, but then, that is a damn site better than a lack of information. They are exploring and developing other dedicated imprints like their children’s and teens division, Heirloom. But their market reach is clearly now aimed at the self-publishing author who simply cannot finance the costs of a traditional published route. Schiel & Denver’s model of business is closer to partnership publishing. Indeed, their net royalty paid is also reflective of this at a healthy 50% for the author. The deeper I look at Schiel & Denver, the more impressed I am, but those prices seem to me to be a reflection of where they were last year, when much of their focus was the corporate sector. I should also point out since doing this review some weeks ago, they have reduced their publishing fees on average by about 5%.

Author Contract

Distribution Partners

Recently, I have spent some time discussing publishing with small and medium sized independent presses. As a corporate business, taking the commercial risks and not charging to publish authors’ books – they tell me, per title, their investment and financial outlay can be anything between $10 - $25,000. Schiel & Denver’s mid-packages come in at this kind of figure. That may be fine for a publisher, but not realistic for a self-publishing author. At best, most authors are going to plum for Schiel & Denver’s basic lower-priced packages.

Is it the case that the decision makers at Schiel & Denver are green (mission statements, mission statements) and a little inexperienced about the publishing industry? Certainly self-publishing, and if that is the case, learning on the job and revising your business model plans and your website every six months is certainly not the best way to go. Still, Schiel & Denver have a business structure (if they'll just stay still for more than a few months), distribution network (much is still the standard 'availability'), and the quality of product to be a contender in author solutions. On those qualities alone they blow more illustrious competitors like AuthorHouse completely out of the water. They just need to get a fix on where they are, who they are, and be far more engaging (less corporate) and direct if they are to appeal to serious self-publishing authors if they are to fully develop this end of their business successfully. Perhaps a leaf out of Blurb’s approach to their authors could help a great deal here, and some of that corporate stiffness might just slip away. My two cents - for authors, wait and watch this company a few more months and see do they slowly and steadily build.

UPDATE: May, 2010.

This publisher's UK website is now up and running again.

"Schiel & Denver is an independent English-language trade book publisher, specializing in the ISBN publishing of high quality books for debut and professional authors. Our customized book publishing solutions provide authors who are accepted into our program with the power of a world-class book publishing, distribution and title fulfilment infrastructure to British and U.S. booksellers, where the author retains full rights and creative control of his or her own manuscript."

I have never heard a trade publisher refer to its program of publishing as 'ISBN publishing'.

Their revised services pages is here.

Royalties are now based on cover price at 25%.

Mention of service costs now seem to have been removed from their website.

About Us page.

FAQ page.

I am now concerned now about the entire transparency of this publisher. They describe what they do as trade publishing, yet, present what they do as a service.

UPDATE: April, 2014
This company has now ceased business. The last books published were back in April 2013 and its website and social media links were deleted. Company's House list it as 'proposal to strike-off'.

It certainly won't be missed if the comments under this review are anything to go by.


Wednesday, 26 May 2010

iBookstore Doors Now Open to Penguin and Self-Publishers

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It looks like the two month dispute over terms in the agency model agreement has been resolved between Penguin and Apple. While Random House have yet to decide whether theyt will ultimately adopt the agency model for e-books, Penguin were the only other publisher from the big six not to have reached an agreement with Apple in April. Expect Penguin e-books released after April to start appearing in the iBookstore over the coming days.

The iBookstore UK should start to feature the major mainstream publishers' books from Friday onwards. It should also be noted that any publisher (one would assume self-published authors as well) can load their books directly into the iBookstores if they have access to iTunes Connect and their own registered ISBN's and ePub files (subject to ePubCheck).

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Alibris Launch Author Stores For Self-Publishers and Publishers

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Alibris is an online marketplace for independent sellers of new and used books, music, and movies, as well as rare and out-of-print titles. They have launched a new feature called Author Stores to give self-publishing authors and publishers direct access to online customers. Author Stores is a marketplace very like Amazon Central and provides similar features.

From the press release:

Author Stores give publishers of all kinds a new, unparalleled distribution channel. Once signed up to sell through an Author Store, authors and publishers merely need to list their books once and they will be promoted and sold worldwide to eager shoppers through the following sites:

Alibris marketplaces:

Marketplace-services partners; Barnes &, Borders, Chapters Indigo, eBay,, Waterstone's, and others.

Alibris Author Stores are customizable and enable authors to showcase their books through the following promotional tools:

Personalized biography and photo for building an author's presence
Blogging functionality for reader engagement and marketing
Custom URL for widespread promotion
Custom merchandising and catalog tools for highlighting latest titles and backlist
Direct e-mail contact for building reader relationships

These features can be previewed on a sample Alibris Store. Alibris will also provide demonstrations of Author Stores at Book Expo America, on May 26 and 27 at the Javits Center (booth #4651) in New York City.

"Authors are central to the Alibris marketplace," said Brian Elliott, Alibris president and CEO. "Our dedicated customers and business partners come to Alibris looking for selection and to discover new books." Elliott explained that it's now better than ever for authors and publishers to sell directly to this engaged customer base. "Over a third of our marketplace sales are new books -- most of those solidly in the 'long tail' -- and through the new Author Stores sales channel and its dynamic features, authors can promote and sell more books."

Amazon Announce Six Finalists in Breakthrough Novel Award

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Amazon and Penguin have announced the six finalists in this year's Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest. Amazon will now make excerpts available from the six novels online and Amazon customers can vote their their favourite one by visiting the dedicated website. Voting will close on June 2nd and two grand prize winners will emerge, each receiving a publishing contract from Penguin Group (USA) and a $15,000 advance. The winners will be formally revealed in Seattle, Washington, on Monday, June 14, 2010.

Professional critiques of the six novels are also available to view at the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award site. The critique panel were made up of industry professionals and bestselling authors: Tana French, Sarah Dessen and Nancy Werlin; Amy Berkower, president of Writers House, LLC; Julie Barer, of Barer Literary, LLC; Molly Stern, editorial director and executive editor of Viking Books; Ben Schrank, president and publisher of Razorbill.

There are two distinct catagories in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards - General Fiction, and Young Adult Fiction.

Finalists: General Fiction

Jennifer Handford, Warrenton, Va., for Fortune Cookies

When Handford, a financial advisor, adopted a daughter from China in 2003, the process went remarkably smoothly, but the aspiring writer in her wondered what might have been. Several years of late-night writing sessions later, Handford had the novel, "Fortune Cookies," which asks the question: what if a family adopted a child and only later learned that the child suffered extreme emotional or developmental problems from her time in the orphanage? In "Fortune Cookies," a Washington, D.C.-based power couple find themselves in just that predicament, along the way exploring the world of adoption and the nature of the bond between parents and children.

Patricia McArdle, Arlington, Va., for Farishta

McArdle is a retired American diplomat whose postings have taken her around the world, including northern Afghanistan. In "Farishta"(the Dari word for "angel") American diplomat Angela Morgan, whose career is in free-fall, is ordered against her will to a British Army outpost in Mazar-e-Sharif, where the soldiers and interpreters are not pleased to have a female in their midst. Frustrated at her inability to contribute to Afghanistan's reconstruction, she leaves camp without permission wearing a burka to work with refugee women. Her well-intentioned actions incur the wrath of warlords and further complicate her relations with her military colleagues. "Farishta" brings to life the soldiers and civilians who are fighting for survival in this ancient and troubled land.

Johnny Shaw, Portland, Ore., for Dove Season

Shaw was born and raised on the Calexico/Mexicali border, the setting of his novel, "Dove Season." Shaw owned a bookstore in Los Angeles, which is now entirely online, and he works as both a screenwriter and a university lecturer teaching screenwriting. Only recently did Shaw feel that he had the distance he needed to write a novel about the people and places of his childhood home, the Imperial Valley. In "Dove Season," Jimmy Veeder returns to his hometown on the California/Mexico border, where his attempt to satisfy his father's highly unusual dying wish--for a Mexican prostitute named Yolanda--leads him into a world of murder and corruption.

Finalists: Young Adult Fiction

Amy Ackley, Brighton, Mich., for Sign Language

Ackley is a mother of three whose career has run the gamut from public administration to labor relations for top automakers. At the age of 16, Ackley left home and began supporting herself. She began writing "Sign Language" seven years ago. Drawn from her personal experiences of losing a father and two friends to cancer, "Sign Language" is the story of a 13-year-old girl whose father's battle with cancer sends her into an emotional tailspin from which she is determined to recover.

Alex Airdale, Nutley, N.J., for Service of the Crown

A native of Russia, Airdale moved to the United States at the age of nine. Throughout her teens, she rode horses, fenced, and read Tamora Pierce fantasies about strong female warriors. Airdale --a pseudonym--combines these three pastimes in her young adult fantasy novel, "Service of the Crown," a coming-of-age story about 16-year-old Renee, a student at the Realm's top military academy who battles her male classmates by day and an underground crime group by night.

Alison Stewart, Sydney, Australia, for Days Like This

Stewart, a journalist and writer who loves to travel, was born in South Africa. Over the years, her travels took her to Australia, where she met her husband and had two children. Many years ago, a fortune teller predicted that Stewart would write a book set in the future that would take her "all the way to America!" Her dystopian novel, "Days Like This," is a cautionary tale set in a walled, futuristic Sydney, where young people, confined to their homes under a nameless dictatorship and in danger from their parents, must escape to survive.

UPDATE: Winners, June, 2010.

Patricia Simpson - Midlist Author: Adventures in POD, Paranormal and e-Books

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Patricia Simpson is an award winning author of fifteen books of paranormal romance. She has been writing and publishing since the early 1990's and has been published by HarperMonogram, TOR and Silhouette. After some years of successfully publishing with these mainstream publishers, some of the rights of her books started to revert back to her.

"I thought why not re-publish them for the Kindle? It couldn’t hurt to go digital. Then, a few months ago when I parted ways with my agent and had a nearly-completed book called Spellbound on my hands, I thought, why not try the emerging print-on-demand (POD) technology and see what happens? I’m an early adopter of most things electronic."

Patricia Simpson made many of the right choices in self-publishing and you can find out about her experiences here.

Patricia Simpson is described by reviewers as “a premier writer of supernatural romance.” Author of numerous paranormal novels, she is inspired by science, paranormal phenomena, and archeological discoveries, and consistently garners superior ratings and awards for unusual heroes and unpredictable plots. Simpson has been called “a master at keeping suspense going on a multitude of levels,” and a “masterful storyteller.”

From Egyptian lords that shape-shift into black panthers to Scottish time-travelers who step out of computers, Simpson entertains readers while pushing the envelope in paranormal suspense. Her new trilogy, THE FORBIDDEN TAROT, goes further than anything she’s written before. This series explores a new world history and impending planetary disaster. Already some reviewers have called the first book in this series, THE DARK LORD, a “true gift to her readers,” and a “lulu of a story.”

Patricia’s favorite writing arenas are the Pacific Coast, the deep South,18th century in America and Great Britain, ancient Egypt, Pacific Northwest Native Americans, and anything that goes bump in the night. She has a BA in Art from the University of Washington, two daughters, and a retreagle named Berkeley.

Since her marriage to a Scotsman (yes, a real livewire Scot just like those heroes in her novels!), she now resides in the Bay Area of San Francisco, California, where she is learning to rollerblade and is rediscovering the sun. That's her little "retreagle" Berkeley in the photo. Without a doubt, he'll turn up in a book soon!

Monday, 24 May 2010

Bob Katz - Midlist Author: Hard Times with Third and Long

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Publishers Weekly ran a piece last Friday on US author Bob Katz. Third and Long is the latest novel by Katz, but unlike his previous books, this one is a collaborative self-publishing project he undertook with Doug Wilhide, a college friend and marketing consultant. Katz has been a midlist author for many years but his could not sway either agent or publisher with his latest novel about a former football star hired as a plant manager in a small town, who must save the community. Katz is has a background in professional speaking, education and also writes on American football and sports.

Together Wilhide and Katz have cobbled a publishing relationship that is part small press and part self-publishing. Wilhide took care of the ISBN, getting the book on all the appropriate databases so that book buyers can purchase it, and the printing. Katz paid for an editor, when Wilhide didn’t feel comfortable copy editing the book himself, as well as a cover designer. Katz also found the cover image of a small town on the Web site of an auto mechanic whose hobby is taking photos of coal towns. And he solicited blurbs like this one from Frank Deford: “an engagingly sweet tale of first impressions, second chances.”

Third and Long: A Novel For hard Times by Bob Katz is published next month. You can read the full PW piece here.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

LSI Expand Print Options For Publishers and Authors

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Lightning Source has announced additional print-on-demand services for colour hardbacks, more trim sizes for colour as well as black and white interiors of hardback and paperback formats, and page count limitations are now incredibly flexible with a minimum page count of just 18 pages and a maximum of 1200 pages.

Over the past ten years Lightning Source has established itself as the first choice printer and fulfillment logistic service for many author solutions services. LSI has global facilities to cater for offset and POD (print-on-demand) print production.

Further details are available here.

Cantara Christopher Interview on Subtletea

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Cantara Christopher shared a link with me this morning to an interview she undertook with David Herrle at Christopher is co-founder of Cantara Books, a literary micropress. Hats off to both Christopher and Herrle. This a fascinating, engaging and inspiring interview on the passion and dedication to literature and what publishing should be about. This will quite possibly turn out to be one the best interviews I have read this year.

"From the outset we decided not to operate like the more established small presses. Recent innovations in technology had created a New Paradigm, a new book world where it was possible for anyone at all to be published by for less than ten dollars; where an enterprising author could self-publish her novel, aggressively market it and make the New York Times bestseller list, like M.J. Rose with Lip Service; where a farsighted publishing company could make its fortune selling instantly downloadable ebooks of erotic fiction to women in the Midwest, like Ellora's Cave. If anyone can write and publish a book, why publish under someone else's imprint?"

Borders Group Lifted By $25m Investment

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Vector Group Ltd will invest $25 million in Borders Group US through a private purchase of 11.1 million shares of stock. The move is intended to develop and improve the Borders brand, which has experience a difficult period of trading over the past eighteen months.

"ANN ARBOR, Mich., May 21, 2010 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ --Borders Group, Inc. (NYSE: BGP) today announced that an entity controlled by Bennett S. LeBow has agreed to invest $25 million in the company through a private purchase of 11.1 million shares of the company's common stock at a purchase price of $2.25 per share and on other terms described below. The investment -- coupled with the company's recently announced financing -- will strengthen Borders' balance sheet and provide capital to help fund the transformation of the Borders brand. Mr. LeBow's investment will support several important financial and strategic initiatives such as improving the company's capital position, addressing the store network to maximize productivity and profitability, maximizing the digital opportunity including growing, and developing strategic business partnerships. The purchase is expected to close later today.

In connection with the investment, Mr. LeBow has joined the Board of Directors and has also been elected Chairman. Mr. LeBow is the Chairman of Vector Group, Ltd. (NYSE: VGR). Howard Lorber, who serves as President and Chief Executive Officer of Vector Group, has also joined the Board of Directors of Borders Group."

Friday, 21 May 2010

WSJ Article: E-Books Rewrite Bookselling

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Today's edition of the Wall Street Journal has quite an extensive article on e-books and the pressures online sales are having on brick 'n' mortar stores. The article takes a specific focus on Barnes & Noble and its 1362 stores.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Bookmasters Launch Full-Scale Self-Publishing Distribution Services with AUTURO

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The BookMasters Group has announced the launch of full-scale digital and print distribution service for self-published authors called AUTURO. AUTURO will provide a broader range of options, including sales, marketing, promotion and publicity than had previously been available from The Bookmasters Group. The new service will include print production as well as digital conversion and distribution. Further details regarding costs and royalty shares will be announced next Monday from the Bookmasters panel at BEA DIY.

From the official press release:


Offers more competitive revenue-sharing
Presents a broad spectrum of service and production options
Distribution to more than 40 digital outlets, with over 125 by this summer
Access not only to digital, but print and hard copy sales and distribution teams

In commenting, Robert Kasher, Business Development Manager for Integrated Solutions stated:

“There is nothing else like AUTURO on the market in terms of meeting authors’ needs to produce professional product and distribute it comprehensively to the consumer.”

BookMasters will officially launch AUTURO at BEA’s DIY Conference, Monday, May 24, at 10:00am in Room 1E03. Mr. Kasher will lead a panel presentation looking at the opportunities and challenges facing self-publishers who want to launch their book successfully in today’s market. With over 200,000 self-published titles being released annually, knowing how to access and reach the consumer effectively, with attractive and professionally competitive product, is the key challenge facing content creators today.

The BookMasters Group is a $100m owner/operated publishing services company established in 1972. Dedicated to providing the highest quality services for publishers at globally competitive prices, the company offers the most comprehensive menu of integrated services available in the publishing industry today. The BookMasters Group handles every step of the publishing process---from developmental editing and digital production, to book printing, and global distribution, both traditional hardcopy and e-content. The BookMasters Group has been dealing with challenges facing self-published authors since 1981.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

The Friday Project Serialize Smailes' New Novel

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Tomorrow, publisher, The Friday Project, will experiment by serializing the 32 chapters in Caroline Smailes' new novel, Like Bees to Honey, across a host of book blogs. The novel is not due to be published until next week. Some of the blogs included belong to Lindsey Fallow, Ian Aspin, Matt Hill and novelist Sarah Salway. Each blog will host a separate chapter in a widget, much like an Amazon or Google search inside widget allowing the reader access to a single chapter of Smailes new novel.

The chapters of the book will only be available for a limited period of time on each site, but in theory, a reader could read the all 32 chapters of the book if they are quick enough.

...and just announced, the chapters and websites this morning...

Chapter 1: Chasing Sheep
Chapter 2: Helen Redfern
Chapter 3: My New Notebook
Chapter 4: Jon Mayhew
Chapter 5: L-Plate Author
Chapter 6: Jamieson Wolf
Chapter 7: Rowan Coleman
Chapter 8: Live. Love. Learn. Write.
Chapter 9: Dave Roberts Books
Chapter 10: Nik’s Blog
Chapter 11: Fiction Is Stranger Than Fact
Chapter 12: Kelly Railton
Chapter 13: Megan Taylor
Chapter 14: BubbleCow
Chapter 15: Fluttering Butterflies
Chapter 16: debs-daydreams in the shed
Chapter 17: Matt Hill
Chapter 18: Writing about writing
Chapter 19: Not Only In Thailand
Chapter 20: Password Incorrect
Chapter 21: The trouser Press
Chapter 22: Angie’s Write
Chapter 23: Just Keep Writing and Other Thoughts
Chapter 24: Tea Stains
Chapter 25: Chez Aspie
Chapter 26: Planting Words
Chapter 27: Being Lucy Diamond
Chapter 28: Reallygood Thinking
Chapter 29: Gemma Burgess
Chapter 30: Sarah’s Writing Journal
Chapter 1 (and yes, it’s a different one): Wordy Blog

Barnes & Noble PubIt(TM) To Provide Digital Self-Publishing Program

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US bookseller Barnes & Noble has announced it is to launch a digital publishing program for independent publishers and self-published authors. PubIt! will allow users to load up completed book files online where they will be converted to the ePub format and made available for sale through Barnes & and the Barnes & Noble eBookstore.

PubIt! will be easy-to-use and provide independent publishers and authors with a digital platform to distribute their ebooks. The service will launch this summer, but no specific details have been made available about royalties, other than the model offered would be a 'competitive royalty model and compensation process'.

"As a company that has achieved much of its success by building mutually beneficial relationships with publishers and authors. Barnes & Noble's new PubIt! service represents an exciting evolution and significant opportunity in the digital content arena. Barnes & Noble is uniquely positioned to support writers and publishers and bring their exciting digital works to the broadest audience of readers anywhere."

Theresa Horner, Director, Digital Products, Barnes & Noble.

Amazon Reinforce Their Brand as Publisher

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In our report yesterday, we highlighted the analysis of Benedict Evans of media research company, Enders Analysis, who presented a fascinating take on the position and strategies of Google, Apple and Amazon in the world of publishing. Evans was speaking at this week's Booksellers Association Book Industry Conference in London.

Evans delivered the declaration that was a logistical company operating differing strategies within and around the book publishing world. But not only that - I believe - those strategies are far away and ahead of the ones employed by publishers within their own industry. If there was ever a reason to doubt Amazon's drive and commitment to establish their brand as publisher as well, it went up in a puff of smoke this afternoon. Those who consider AmazonEncore a tentative toe in the ocean of publishing; a sop and casual PR exercise in extracting profit from the odd self-publisher success story - might need to seriously rethink very carefully their reasons for underestimating what this online retail giant are really doing.

The conservative thinkers will have tutted at their news yesterday of landing bestselling author J.A. Konrath's latest novel, Shaken, for their AmazonEncore imprint. Like other subtle deals done with Coelho for his e-books, news of Konrath's defection to AmazonEncore hurt - it would have hurt like hell - not because it is significant in the whole scheme of the publishing industry, but because it is another sinking sign to commercial publishers that the centre of their universe will not hold fast for much longer. this is not longer about the battle waged in the retail book market. This is about the rights to global content and how it is disseminated.

" today announced a new publishing imprint, AmazonCrossing, which will introduce readers to voices of the world through English-language translations of foreign-language books. The first title being published by AmazonCrossing is Tierno Monénembo's award-winning novel, 'The King of Kahel,' which will be released for the first time in English for readers around the world on Nov. 2, 2010. English-language editions of 'The King of Kahel' will be available in print format at and globally as a wireless digital download from the Kindle Store in less than 60 seconds.

AmazonCrossing uses customer feedback and other data from Amazon sites around the world to identify exceptional books deserving of a wider, global audience. AmazonCrossing will acquire the rights and translate the books and then introduce them to the English-speaking market through multiple channels and formats, such as the Amazon Books Store, Amazon Kindle Store, and national and independent booksellers via third-party wholesalers.

"As president of the Nobel Committee for Literature, I have seen how recent laureates--Elfriede Jelinek, Imre Kertesz, JMG Le Clézio, Herta Müller--were virtually unknown and unprinted in England and U.S. and only after the Nobel Prize were they able to find readers in English, yet they are in my view equal to anyone writing in English," said Per Wästberg, President of the Nobel Committee for Literature. "AmazonCrossing deserves praise and support. Such translation and distribution of good literature from so-called minor languages can only stimulate our cultures and inspire writers to widen their horizons."

"There are many thousands of books out there worthy of being translated and published in English, but that are currently unavailable to us monolingual readers," said Chad Post, Publisher at Open Letter Books. "The more international books that are available in English, the better. It's exciting to see a company like Amazon investing in such a worthy cause like AmazonCrossing, and in a way that will definitely help expand the audience for literature in translation.

Tierno Monénembo's 'The King of Kahel' was originally published in France in 2008 and was the winner of the French literary prize, the prix Renaudot, which is awarded to the author of an outstanding original novel published during the current year. Based on the life of Olivier de Sanderval, a man who journeyed to Guinea to build an empire by conquering the hostile region of Fouta Djallon, the book explores how Sanderval braves all dangers to build a railway that will bring modern civilization to Africa. Born in 1947 in Guinea, Monénembo was exiled to Senegal and the Ivory Coast before moving to France to pursue a doctorate in biochemistry. He is the author of nine books and one stage play."

Commercial publishing has its hands full. While alternative and independent methods of publishing content take a more serious foothold, publishers must begin to re-establish their houses as the first-choice path and method for authors to attain publication, and also establish a new and closer relationship with the consumer through brand identification and the establishment of communities for their contracted authors.

Right now, from where I see it, Amazon, with their latest foreign language imprint, have the most far-reaching hand in the industry and the means to make it work. Along with Google and Apple, all three are sitting at the table with the strongest hands to play.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Global Giants Bring Different Strategies to Publishing World: Book Industry Conference 2010

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There is some fascinating analysis by Benedict Evans of media research company Enders Analysis presented at this week's Booksellers Association Book Industry Conference in London.

Essentially, Evans argues global companies like Apple, Google and Amazon are not book publishers and the book industry must understand clearly the approaches and strategies of these companies. Evans describes Amazon as a logistics business, Google as an advertising business and Apple as a hardware business. In short, their strategies and objectives are lightyears away from those of the traditional book world.

Some more on this from today's

Monday, 17 May 2010

AmazonEncore To Publish Konrath's New Novel

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AmazonEncore, Amazon's publishing imprint, have announced that bestselling author J.A. Konrath's latest novel, Shaken, part of his Jacqueline 'Jack' Daniels series will be published as a Kindle edition of in October, with a print edition to follow in February 2011.

From the press release:

"J.A. Konrath's Jacqueline 'Jack' Daniels series is one built on a memorable female lead who is always surrounded by a lively cast of characters and action," said Jeff Belle, Vice President, Books. "Readers have come to expect Konrath to up the ante with each installment, and 'Shaken' delivers the thrills. It's finely crafted, full of high spirits and accessible to new readers but rewarding for longtime fans."

"Shaken" is the seventh book in the Jacqueline "Jack" Daniels series. Chicago cop Jack Daniels has chased--and caught--dozens of dangerous criminals over the course of her career. But she's about to meet her match. When Jack wakes up in a storage locker, bound and gagged, she knows with chilling certainty who her abductor is. He's called "Mr. K," and more than 200 homicides have been attributed to him. Jack has tangled with him twice in the past, and both times she managed to slip away. Now Jack will finally have the chance to confront the maniac she has been hunting for more than 25 years. Unfortunately, it won't be on her terms. In less than two hours, Mr. K is going to do to Jack what he's done to countless others, and Jack is going to learn that sometimes good guys don't win.

J.A. Konrath is the author of the Jacqueline "Jack" Daniels series that includes "Whiskey Sour," "Bloody Mary," "Rusty Nail," "Dirty Martini," "Fuzzy Navel" and "Cherry Bomb." All six titles are available to purchase in both print and Kindle format on Konrath has also written under the names Jack Kilborn and Joe Kimball. He has published over a dozen books using Amazon's Digital Text Platform (DTP), and has been featured in numerous articles and blog posts as an author who is making a living off of Kindle.

"My Kindle readers have been incredibly faithful fans and I'm excited to be able to release the Kindle edition of 'Shaken' several months before the physical version is available to purchase," said Konrath. "Since it's easier, faster and cheaper to create an e-book than it is a physical book, Kindle owners will get to read the seventh Jack Daniels before everyone else. The ability for authors to reach fans--instantly and inexpensively with a simple press of a button--is the greatest thing to happen to the written word since Gutenberg."

Announced in May 2009, AmazonEncore is a program which identifies exceptional books and emerging authors using information on, such as customer reviews and sales data. Amazon then works with the authors to introduce or re-introduce their books to readers through marketing and distribution into multiple channels and formats, such as the Amazon Books Store, Amazon Kindle Store,, and national and independent bookstores via third-party wholesalers. AmazonEncore is a brand for titles published by Amazon Content Services LLC.

Galleys of "Shaken" will be available for media and can be obtained by e-mailing Konrath will also be speaking at the "Advance Your Career with DIY Publishing" panel during the DIY Authors Conference and Marketplace at the BEA Conference, Monday, May 24, 2010. Interviews following the presentation may be arranged by e-mailing

Paid-Publishing or Be Damned

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Over the past few days I have refined my opinions on the paid-publishing model offered by mainstream publishers in light of its newest entity, Balboa Press from Hay House Publishing. So far, three of the paid-publishing imprints we have looked at in the past year had one common denominator—Author Solutions (ASI). I do not believe any of the three ASI-powered paid-publishing imprints will prove successes—and certainly not generate the kind of revenue that AuthorHouse, Xlibris, Trafford or iUniverse generate for ASI.

There are two other publishers we have looked at operating paid-publishing models—AmazonEncore and Troubador Publishing. A third one, Cold Tree Publishing went out of business last year. A fourth one, Checkpoint Press, remains in a tentative and early stage of development. I am sure there are other publishers out there operating transitional models of publishing that have yet to pass through our radar.

I do believe a combined model of both mainstream and paid-publishing model can work - we are just not seeing it deployed by the right companies. Simply put, the ASI-driven model means you have always got two separate companies looking at the venture as—for the most part—an additional revenue resource. This approach cannot work as far as long-term investment is concerned. It is a little like taking on a second job to ease the pressure of paying the day-to-day bills. Ultimately, just like an individual, a company will always protect its primary business interest, and if the centre starts to creek, any ancillary imprints through partnerships or perceived outright indulgences will quickly get prised away from the core business if they are simply commercial dressing or sucking resources away from what keeps the mother ship afloat.

I now believe if paid-publishing is to succeed in mainstream publishing, then the impetus must come from the world of mainstream publishing itself. If you like, while Harlequin, Thomas Nelson and Hay House Publishing may have been tempted to try their hands at paid-publishing services, they needed the invisible hand of ASI to cleanse the room of any remaining stigmas of self-publishing—happy in the knowledge that if all blew up in their faces—well, at least they were wearing the gloves ASI provided. Somehow, if a publishing crime was committed, no-one could finger them in the terrible deed. A case of O.J. Publishing glaring at the jury and saying, ‘See, the gloves really didn’t fit.’

O.J. may have been guilty, but he was right about one thing. The current partnership of mainstream publisher to ASI does not fit. Pursuing this flawed logic of profit over business development results in referred slush piles becoming dollar trails, and presenting writers with a path to easy-street publishing without the apprenticeship that makes a writer an author.

Let me be pedantic and digress for a moment. I think this next clarification is important.

a person who writes
a person whose work or occupation is writing; now, specif., an author, journalist, or the like

a person who makes or originates something; creator; originator: ‘author of liberty’
a writer of a book, article, etc.; often specif., a person whose profession is writing books

For me, a writer writes, and continues to write – the action of writing is open-ended – we all write. It is a part of communication.

For me, an author writes to complete and present – the action of perfecting what has been written. It is not just about communicating, but presenting a story or defined set of ideas.

A publisher takes what an author has produced, refines it, and reproduces it in the best form they can, and on the broadest platform they can—whether the author is paying for it or not.

What is really needed is for a large mainstream publisher over the coming months to look at the three current ventures (Westbow, DellArte and Balboa) and conclude they can create a paid-publishing venture internally and without ASI involvement. Hay House could have been ideal for that. For all we know, such a venture is already being planned. I am certain that if ASI has managed to woo three publishers, the likelihood is there are dozens more who have turned them down. Publishers like HarperStudio and The Friday Project have been quick to adopt alternative models of publishing without looking for financial investment from their authors. Publishers like Troubador and Cold Tree Publishing, while setting up paid-publishing and partnership models of publishing that require money from authors, understand distribution is king, and without it, their new models of publishing are pointless.

Self-publishing is now a part of the publishing industry. It beholds them to deal with it and incorporate it properly into their industry and stop hoping that entities like ASI will somehow deal with it on the peripheral edge while still allowing mainstream publishers to siphon off some of its profits. If they ignore the elephant in the room long enough, one day, they may wake up and be consumed by it. No-one wants that.

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