Indie News Beat: (Re)Stating the Obvious

Our first stop this edition is at Publishers Weekly, and their report on the highly-trailed “Author (R)evolution Day” earlier this month. That rather pretentious title at once makes me suspicious, and I didn’t have to read far before slamming into a trite platitude. Step forward Kobo’s Mark Lefebvre with this message for struggling, self-published authors: “Don’t wonder how you will get discovered – think about what you are going to do to deserve being discovered.” Yeah, thanks. And the conclusion? That we have to adapt to changing social media, and of course we shouldn’t forget the importance of word-of-mouth recommendations. Really, Holmes, you astound me.

Later, Rob Eagar of Wildfire Marketing championed “the power of free”, although with a twist: not the free books Amazon lets you give away, but with an emphasis on giving away, say, the first 30% of a book to everyone you know, to get word of mouth going about the rest of the book. Obviously, as this strategy worked for one author, whose book went on to spend 30 weeks on the NYT bestseller list, it has immediately become the latest bandwagon. Such new strategies might also work for other authors, but how many new pulp-erotica stars have there been since EL James? Similarly, there can be no doubt that thousands of authors are now publishing their stories in serial installments, because it worked so well for Hugh Howey. Perhaps it will also work for some of them, although it’s often the case that the more people jump on a bandwagon, the sooner its wheels fall off.

Nevertheless, when I read about super-exciting, cutting-edge conferences like this, I believe that the attendance fee would be better spent on editorial services and an impressive cover for your next book (you can always read about the conferences later).

Elsewhere, there’s been a sudden change of heart at the US Department of Justice. This story on digitalbookworld reports that the DoJ has announced it is “no longer looking into” the Penguin/Random House merger. The announcement did not give any reasoning, and the DoJ’s press release said simply that the matter is closed. As the article points out, given how the DoJ have been behaving the last couple of years, this sudden removal of a major barrier to the merger is a surprise.

The merger still has to get antitrust clearance in Europe and Canada, but owners Pearson and Bertelsmann put out a statement which sounds like all the clearances are a mere formality. On the back of the DoJ’s move, they’re probably right, and the merger will likely complete in the second half of 2013. Then, two of the largest publishing companies in the world will become the largest publishing company in the world, which must be good for free market competition. Probably.

Finally this edition, for an occupation that involves creating people, scenes and events primarily with words, being an Indie Author means having to deal with an awful lot of numbers. From our word counts to making sure our chapters are numbered sequentially, then on to rankings, sales and that PayPal account balance which will just about cover one beer and a straw to make it last, numbers can provoke a greater emotional reaction in us than the most carefully crafted scene.

Recently I stumbled across this graphic, which gives a whole slough of numbers when comparing traditional publishing with self-publishing. Although the site posted the graphic this month, it took me a moment to realise that the data it gives are two years old. It’s still an interesting comparison between the two types of publishing, and the figures appear to be fully sourced. But look again, and see how quaint the text reads just a couple of years later. At the end, the graphic gives forecasts for various platform sales by 2013, and I wonder how accurate they’ve turned out to be.

Author: Chris James

Chris James is an English author who lives in Warsaw, Poland, with his wife and three children. He has published three full-length science fiction novels and is currently writing a series of short story volumes inspired by characters in songs from the rock band Genesis. For more information, please visit his website or Amazon author page.

17 thoughts on “Indie News Beat: (Re)Stating the Obvious”

  1. I always seem to miss the bandwagon. Sigh…

    On a different topic, I think Random Penguin is/are kidding itself/themselves if they believe US approval of their merger makes EU approval a done deal. But maybe I’m wrong about that.

    1. Always remember that numbers have their own poetry, Carol. For example, if a book sells one copy a month, it will be at 500,000 on Amazon’s bestseller rankings. If it sells 500,000 copies a month, it be at number one. The numbers always add up, see? 🙂

  2. Thanks for the latest on the old news these people rehash, Chris; and as for Random Penguin… well, thanks anyway.

    Always an interesting post, Chris.

  3. I wonder how much of this ‘news’ is aimed at readers rather than us Indies? We get a bird’s eye view of the situation because we’re dealing with it daily. But readers? Unless they’re in the know somehow, I bet they take all of this as gospel. Very interesting post Chris.

    1. Thanks, acflory. Mainly I’m looking for stories that show increasing acceptance (or otherwise) of Indie Authors among the general reading public. Problem is, when I find a story that provokes a reaction in me, that’s usually what I write about for this column!

    1. Interesting graphic, it’s got some good stuff in it, although it’s night quite accurate about the Amanda Hocking situation (unless something has just happened.) She signed a 2 million dollar deal with St. Martins Press in 2011 for one of her series. She has elected to continue to self publish another one of her series, so she’s straddling the fence …. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/25/books/amanda-hocking-sells-book-series-to-st-martins-press.html?_r=0

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