Thursday, February 27, 2014

Enlist in the SUBMERGED Army

Do you read suspense, mystery, thriller, paranormal/supernatural? Have you checked out the works of Cheryl Kaye Tardif? Want to be part of something HUGE?

Cheryl is recruiting members for her SUBMERGED Army (or what others call a "street team.") Her goal: to make USA Today and New York Times bestsellers lists between March 2-8, 2014.

What’s in it for YOU?

Not only will you get the satisfaction in knowing you helped Cheryl achieve her goals, you'll be entered in exclusive random draws for all sorts of awesome prizes, including the chance to have YOUR name featured as a character in Cheryl's upcoming summer release, DIVINE SANCTUARY.

What do you have to do?

First, join her SUBMERGED Army event. Next, share Cheryl's posts on your Facebook page, Facebook groups (that allow promotion), Twitter, your website and blog--basically anywhere you can. Then invite all your friends--there's an easy Invite button on the page--and ask them to do the same.

You can also buy Cheryl's thriller SUBMERGED on special dates from specific retailers, and ask your friends to do the same. This is the perfect time to reward friends and family with gifted copies of SUBMERGED (it's only $0.99!)

Cheryl will appreciate everything you do to help her reach her goals, and you'll be helping to grow her audience, which ultimately means more books for you to read!

So come on! Enlist in the SUBMERGED Army today! Cheryl needs YOU!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Challenge of Staying Relevant

After taking a look at a selection of this week’s blogs and articles, it’s clear that Hugh Howey’s Author Earnings has, shall we say, ruffled a few feathers in the publishing world, and most of these feathers belong to those who make their living through traditional publishing. It’s not surprising. Howey’s second report now involved 54,000 books rather than 7,000 the first time, and added more categories to include nonfiction, literary, and children’s books. Howey’s findings support what he concluded last week. In a nutshell, e-book publishing is having a significant impact on overall sales. He provides a detailed breakdown which you can find through the link.

Although literary e-books only make up a small fraction of all e-book sales, Howey also found that self-published literary authors do make more money. In fact, Howey says that self-published authors earn 5.6 times more money than their traditionally published counterparts, although I’m not sure where that figure comes from. His blog suggests that this is an already determined fact. But you can see why his report is sparking controversy. There’s plenty of argument about how he captures his data and whether these snapshots of sales is even relevant.

One interesting comment from a blogger really struck me. The blogger said that diminishing revenue isn't irritating the traditional publishing world as much as the underlying realization that traditional publishing isn’t as relevant as it used to be. They’re losing their grasp at the top, as a growing number of authors aren’t even bothering to submit their books. Now, I’m quite sure that the slush piles are still large on publishers’ desks. I’m just suggesting that those stacks aren’t as tall as they would be if self-publishing didn’t exist.

In any event, I do wonder if relevancy is also worrying literary agents and bookstores. Given that  brick-and-mortar stores sell only 1% of all released titles, they’re shelves aren’t relevant for many authors. What about the relevancy of agencies like the Authors Guild? Again, blogs and articles over recent months strongly suggest that the Guild is woefully out of touch and—to put it mildly—not overly supportive of self-publishing.

And what about the relevancy of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). They’ve been swept up in an internal brouhaha alleging not only sexism among members but bias against self-publishers. Clearly, not all members believe that self-publishers should have the same status has traditionally published authors. You can read a detailed account of the situation in Teleread, which comes straight out and asks if SFWA is even relevant anymore?

The second-class status issue has been one of the less appealing aspects of mystery conferences for years. A couple of conferences I attended (this was about five years ago) made it quite clear that self-publishers need not apply to be on panels. Of course, organizers happily took their registration money, but self-publishers weren’t allowed to sell their books in the dealers’ room either. Are these conferences relevant today?  It’s hard to stay on top of things, isn’t it? It’s even harder to know what to do when one feels that it’s all slipping away. I do know that a number of organizations, such as Crime Writers of Canada, make everyone feel welcome. If publishers and organizations and stores want to stay relevant, then they’d better start embracing new realities. Fighting through a war of words just won’t cut it.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Goodreads Giveaway of Fantasy and Science Fiction

I'm currently running two giveaways on Goodreads. If you're a member, enter to win! If you're not a member, join then enter to win!

I only have three copies of this one. There is a peculiar formatting error all through it, where a new paragraph/tab is inserted at random. Don't know what's up wit dat.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Sideshow in the Center Ring by Marian Allen

Sideshow in the Center Ring

by Marian Allen

Giveaway ends March 14, 2014. See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win
This next one is really three-in-one, since I'm actually giving away all three books of the trilogy. There are some formatting oopsies and typos in book 3, alas.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Fall of Onagros by Marian Allen

The Fall of Onagros

by Marian Allen

Giveaway ends March 14, 2014. See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win
It'll be fun!

Marian Allen
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Sunday, February 16, 2014

More Revealing Stats!

About three weeks ago, I posted a blog called “A Financial Reality Check for Writers” which discussed a survey about the poor earnings many authors receive for their work. The survey prompted a fair bit of discussion about whether the authors questioned were a true reflection of the whole writing community. Some claimed that most of those surveyed were beginning writers, therefore the meager earnings was expected.

This week I found that bestselling indie author Hugh Howey has launched a brand new site called Author Earnings, for the purpose of gathering and sharing information about earnings and bookselling so that writers can make informed decisions. Howey will be taking regular snapshots of sales in the industry, using not only Amazon’s stats, but information from BookScan. BookScan gathers stats from traditional book publishers brick-and-mortar stores. A piece in The Bookseller provides a good overview of what Howey’s done so far and what he hopes to accomplish. Also, Howey provides some detailed findings called What Writers Leave on the Table.

What’s exciting about this new site is that Howey’s is not just looking at e-books, but at print, audio, and other platforms. He’ll also be conducting regular surveys and looking at a much broader spectrum of authors and publishers than in previous studies. He’s even provided a way for authors to take part through the petition button on the Author Earnings website.

Some of the findings that have stood out for him so far is that 90% of Amazon’s book sales come from e-books. Also, in the mystery/thriller, fantasy/sci fi, and romance categories, indie authors are now outselling the Big Five publishers. Who would have thought that five years ago? Anyhow, I signed up today to receive Author Earnings newsletters. I can’t wait to see what else this interesting site turns up.


Sunday, February 09, 2014

Goodbye to Sony E-Book Stores

About four years ago, my brother-in-law bought my husband and I a Sony e-reader as an anniversary present. It was a thoughtful gesture and a surprise, as he’d never purchased an anniversary gift before. None was ever expected or needed, but perhaps he was eager to introduce his writer sister-in-law to the world of e-books. At that time, my husband and I didn’t own a smartphone or an iPad. So, following the instructions, I set up an account and bought four books from it. While it was weird to read an entire book from a screen (at that time I wasn’t reading novels on my laptop) I quickly adapted and read those three book, and then after a few months I stopped.

Part of the reason was that I still had a large number of print books sitting in my office, waiting to be read. The other was that I eventually purchased a smartphone and iPad which introduced me to iBooks. As my publisher was also making my mysteries available on Kobo, I also created an account with that company.

It seems that I’m not the only one whose Sony is sitting neglected in a drawer. Sony hasn’t been able to compete in the North American market, so they’ve sold their digital stores to Kobo (note that this doesn’t effect Sony abroad). It seems I will receive a link this spring, allowing me to transfer my under-utilized Sony account to Kobo. I’m not quite sure how this will work as it would give me two accounts with the same company, or perhaps my Sony account will simply be absorbed into my Kobo account.

Dedicated e-readers might already becoming a thing of the past. I have Kobo and iBooks on my iPad and my phone. I also borrow e-books from my library. That’s how us active readers roll these days.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

You Can Change a Name All You Want, But ...

About fifteen years ago, (and likely earlier), plenty of midlist authors were losing their publishers. In those days, traditional publishers ruled the publishing world and used technology to track a writer’s sales. An author’s success was measured by the number of sales rung up at bookstore cash registers. The strategy (still in use) seems almost antiquated now, doesn’t it? Anyhow, authors who weren’t selling many books found themselves without a contract and their careers pretty much over. Even if they found another publisher, the marketing people would take a look at their sales numbers and give a big thumbs down to bringing the author on board. Keep in mind, this was years before the self-publishing boom really took hold. Self-publishing wasn’t even considered an option by many writers back then. In order to keep writing and stay published, some authors changed their names and started over, perhaps writing in a different genre. I don’t know if their strategy worked, but I do know that authors aren’t the only ones changing their names.

The Writer Beware website has posted an announcement stating that the controversial PublishAmerica (which has been around since 1999 and produced tons of angry authors) is now called America Star Books. The name change apparently occurred after January 4th. Any links to PublishAmerca now go directly to America Star Books. Their Facts and Figures page has been moved over and the company has apparently expanded its service by offering to do translations into English.

On a reverse note, the once highly popular Kirkus Reviews, a publication librarians had used since the 1930s to decide which books to purchase, closed its doors in 2009. As the author of the piece in Indies Unlimited notes, the reviews had become less than stellar, amounting to a plot summary and only a couple of lines of praise or condemnation.

In 2010, Kirkus resurrected itself and began reviewing books again, only here’s the catch. They review traditionally published books for free, but charge self-published authors $425. Yikes! The new Kirkus justifies this by saying that the traditional publishers pay for the $199 subscription, and buy ads. Indies do not. Is this good business? Well, for Kirkus, maybe. Kirkus states that they publish 7,000 reviews from traditional publishers and 3,000 from self-publishers annually. You do the math. However, the article also notes that Kirkus is rumored to have a print run of under 3,000 copies. So, is it good business for the self-published author? I don’t know for certain, but the answer is probably no.

Name changing is nothing new in the industry. What’s important is the reason for a name change. Some of those reasons could be quite legitimate and necessary. The point is that we’d all do well to learn what that reason is before jumping into business with Mr. New-Name.