Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Large Publishers want in on the POD Business

The industry response to self-publishing is changing. In the beginning, agents and publishing companies were opposed to the self publishing. The agents still don’t like it, but now publishing houses are starting to jump on the Publish-It-Yourself bandwagon by starting their own self-publishing divisions. 
One of the most recent is called Harlequin Horizons. Yes, that’s right, Harlequin as in Harlequin Roman Novels. They’re using the typical self-publishing business model of selling packages that provide various levels of services based on how much the author is willing to pay. 
Isn’t this just revamping the vanity press model that’s existed for years? Maybe, but the biggest difference comes from change in affordability of self publishing using Print-On-Demand (POD) model
Companies like Createspace.com and Lulu.com allow an author to upload print-ready files and then to order any number of books.  With minimal costs and no print runs, authors no longer have to pay for books that they can’t sell. Want only two books? No problem. Just order two.
Of course, these books are also for sale to others through the internet. Authors don’t need to keep stock on hand; books are printed as they are ordered. But sales are going to depend on the authors ability to promote the book. With effort by the author, and hopefully word of mouth from readers, the book should sell. But the indications are that authors aren’t having much luck in marketing their books. In fact, POD industry numbers indicate that the average POD book sells fewer than 200 copies. 
Obviously, publishing houses wouldn’t be getting into the self-publishing service model if they didn’t think they could make a profit in it. So now for the the big questions: Are they looking to make a profit from the authors by selling the service package? Or are they hoping to find the next great novel hidden in the deluge of self-publishing authors? 

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Curse of the Typos

As we get further and further into the world of self-publishing and small publishers, more and more typos are going to be showing up in books. These aren’t missed typed words, but rather a missing letter or word that screws up the sentence. I’m sure you all know what I mean: the missing ‘s’ that leaves you with the wrong verb tense or a missing article or some other anomaly that no one’s caught.

More books are also being published for the first time as paperbacks. Errors that might have been found in the original hardback edition aren’t going to get caught by readers who then send e-mails and letter to make sure that future editions are corrected.

How big a problem is this? Well, it depends on how picky you are and how much the errors bug you.

I’ve got to say with all of the proofing I’ve done on “The Wise Planner” (coming very soon from WiseGuy Press), it continues to amaze me that we can still find a word that isn’t correct. The latest is weight vs. weigh. How many people have already read the book and missed that? At least 8 or 10, and yet, no one saw it!

I’m hoping that, when it’s published, “The Wise Planner” won’t have any mistakes. But the reality is that we probably will miss something, and life will still go on.

© Judy Kane 2009

Friday, August 21, 2009

Who's Influencing Your Next Read?

How do you know what book to read? There are so many books out there these days, many coming from small, independent publishing companies, that readers are being overwhelmed with options. But readers aren’t aware of how their book buying dollars are being influenced.

A new trend for many new books is to create video trailers. It’s an interesting idea - try to market a book, which you read, by using a video, which you watch. Huh? Some of these videos are high production shows complete with filmed footage and actors. But are these really representative of the book?

I heard about Beat the Reaper, by Josh Bazell, because of his amazing website and marketing. His site is an amazing effort, including a great video which definitely piqued my interest. Much to my surprise, although the video did catch the tone of the book, the scenes depicted weren’t even in the book. Very interesting!

So, is this okay? Is this deceptive? Yes, and no.

The book was a decent read, and I enjoyed it. His site is continuing to get him buzz (obviously, since I’m writing about it). And the video did a fun joy of relaying the off-beat attitude of the novel. Of course, the book was much grittier than the video - there wasn’t any blood in the video!

Was I disappointed in the book. No. Did I feel mislead or deceived? Slightly.

My point here isn’t that it was a bad video. My point is that marketing is an effort by authors, publishers and booksellers to sell books. The obligation isn’t to be honest about the book. And, as you can tell by the dust jackets of many older books, it’s been like this forever.

So enjoy the videos about books, but remember, it’s marketing. The old saying, “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover,” should be revised. “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover or it’s video trailer.”

© Copyright Judy Kane 2009

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Barnes & Noble's eBookstore

In the book world, concern that Amazon will control the e-book market with the Kindle is waning. Barnes & Noble and Apple are both fighting back.

Barnes &Noble launched their eBookstore (www.bn.com/ebooks) which now offers books that can be read on a variety of platform including Windows and Mac computers, the iPhone, the iPod Touch, and newer BlackBerry phones. (The Kindle Reader, Amazon’s version, only works on the Kindle, the iPhone and the iPod Touch.)

B&N has also partnered with Plastic Logic and will release a reading device early in 2010. No one’s saying whether or not B&N will sell the reader, but if it is available in stores, not only will people be able to handle it prior to purchase, but they’ll be able to get it without waiting for FedEx to deliver it.

The downside, B&N’s wireless reading device won’t be compatible with the Kindle Reader or with the Sony eReader. The upside, B&N already offers 700,000 titles available for download. Of course, this includes 500,000 public domain titles that can be downloaded for free already. But still 500,00+ books!

My daughter loves reading books on her iPod Touch. For the rest of us who have trouble focusing on the little screen, this new wireless reader will be great for reducing eyestrain. Just think of it: there are now over 500,000 books are available for downloading on line for free at www.bn.com/ebooks

And soon, Apple will be coming out with their own reader; another alternative that may help bring down the price on wireless readers.

In case you didn’t know, there are currently more than a dozen different formats for e-books, none of which are compatible with all the different readers.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Print On Demand is Transforming Publishing

There used to be only one way to get a book printed. You had the printer set up the book, then you had it printed using offset printing. All of the books needed to be paid for at the time of the printing and stored afterwards. With print runs ranging in the 2,500 books and up, the cost to print a book was prohibitive.

With Print on Demand, or POD, the cost to print a single book is marginal. In some instances, under $15 for a paperback book. Yes, it’s more expensive to print one book using POD than offset printing, but since you only pay for what you print, the cost is much more accessible to individuals. And since some PODs don’t even charge a setup fee, your only cost is for printing the book. Not counting the time, energy and effort it’s taken you to turn your manuscript into something worth printing.

Even better, many of the POD sources are connected to some sort of on-line distribution. If you use these, your book can be available for sale on Amazon.com, BN.com and/or other sites.

So what does this mean.

  • More books are getting into print;
  • More books are available to readers;
  • Going through agents and publishers or using a vanity press are no longer the only ways to get your book into print.

Of course, the bad side is that:

  • Anyone can have their book printed and for sale on the web;
  • Quality control may be non-existent;
  • And there are more books to weed through to find the good ones.

Hmm. Interesting.