Posts Tagged ‘Kindle’

30
Oct

Popular Highlights on The Black God’s War

   Posted by: Moses Siregar III    in Ebooks, My Work, Passion for Writing

So I bought a new Kindle Paperwhite, and it’s almost an amazing e-reader (Mostly, I love it, but there are some issues with the “white” part when using the built-in lights–namely, the background isn’t a uniform color). One nice new feature (okay, I lied. It’s actually an older feature even on my trusty kindle2, but I hadn’t realized that until today) is that if you click to “View Notes & Marks” on a book, you’ll sometimes get to see the top ten most popular highlights on the book. Some books show these highlights and some books don’t. And you’ll probably see more highlights on your device than you’ll see on a book’s page at Amazon.

I’m one of the lucky ones, because my first novel does show the top ten highlights. Because I haven’t had any big news in awhile–semi-kidding, although if you want to follow my author news, my Facebook Author page is the best way, or on Twitter @MosesSiregar–I’m going to paste the top ten highlights (selected by the readers) from The Black God’s War here. I’ll list them in order with the most popular highlight at the bottom of the list.

1) “I know know how to fight him. His gods are a projection. They are just as false as this world. I know that. I will win.”

2) “You are a master in a tiny field. The ultimate truth still lies far beyond you. There is no end to evolution, to the unshackling of chains.”

3) [this is one a bit spoilerish] “his domain also includes the dark processes of life, including the balancing of what you might call sin. Our concept is karma. It suggests that whatever we do returns to us because in truth there is no separation between us all. So when we act upon another, we act upon ourselves. Evil acts come back to us, while good deeds bring good karma. As I understand your Lord Danato, it’s as if he is a god of karma.”

4) “The mind is the master of the physical world. The physical isn’t observed by the mind–it’s actually dependent on the mind.”

5) “Introspection, clarity, and creative imagination must come before action.”

6) “It’s the most recent worst day of my life,” she said. “Thank you for asking.”

7) “The descent to Hades is the same from every place.” -Anaxagoras [this is a quote, not my words]

8 ) “A man must act on his conscience. I would rather die than live by no greater principle than my own survival.”

9) “This is why our desires must be questioned before we undertake any great endeavor. If our values are flawed, our actions can only produce imperfections.”

10) “I believe it is not important how long you live, but that you give yourself to living. Live as only you can, with every part of you fully engaged.”

It was definitely cool for me to see what readers have highlighted in the book.

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15
Jun

And the Winners Are …

   Posted by: Moses Siregar III    in Giveaways

Now you can watch my riveting process for choosing the winner of the free Kindle, Nook, or $100 gift card (and the charitable donation).

Thanks so much to everyone who participated!!!

The winner of the Kindle or Nook is Ardee-ann and the winner of the charitable part of the contest is Jessica B.

UPDATE: Ardee chose the Kindle 3!

UPDATE 2: Jessica chose Defenders of Wildlife as the charity, so I’ve donated $100 to them.

Look forward to another giveaway later this summer!

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Remember back in February when Apple rejected Sony’s ebook app? I haven’t heard much about this recently. And after googling and reading for a few hours, I haven’t found any significant recent news.

Apple is still blocking Sony’s app. Sony has since threatened to pull their music from iTunes (that would include Madonna, Michael Jackson, and Bob Dylan, among others) and Sony appears to be moving toward options that will allow them to do that. Some have speculated that Sony’s app was rejected because they tried to offer their own in-app purchasing method (i.e. one that did not give Apple a cut and may have had other security issues), but I can’t confirm that as a fact, and from all I can find this seems to be false. I found one of the first blogs that first brought up this theory, and I think that blog post misunderstood the other two blogs that it linked to to back up this claim. For example, read the “Update” part of this blog (Sony’s rejected app sounds just like other ebook apps). And Apple’s own statements sound different:

“We are now requiring that if an app offers customers the ability to purchase books outside of the app, that the same option is also available to customers from within the app with in-app purchase.”

Apple isn’t talking about Sony offering their own in-app purchasing method. Apple is talking about wanting Sony to offer a way for people to buy Sony ebooks through the Sony ebook app, which would give Apple a 30% cut of those sales. Also known as $$$.

If this policy were applied to, say, Amazon, this could potentially make it impossible to access your kindle books through Apple apps, if Amazon doesn’t change its apps to allow for in-app purchases. Which, of course, Amazon wouldn’t want to do because that would mean paying Apple 30% on those sales and Apple already pays independent authors 70% in many, if not most, cases. The same could be said for Barnes and Noble/Nook, Kobo, etc., with slightly different royalty figures. But Apple hasn’t forced this issue yet, and they might not ever force the issue on any other company besides Sony.

Unless I’m missing something, Apple is preventing Sony from being able to do something that Apple continues to allow Amazon and B&N (and other companies) to do. That is, sell ebooks through an app for iPads and iPhones by taking customers to a web browser to make those purchases (without also having an in-app purchase option). Apple says it is going to start to enforce its written policy, thereby forcing apps to also offer the option to purchase ebooks through the actual apps, where Apple takes 30% of those transactions. But it hasn’t forced Amazon or Barnes and Noble or Kobo to do that yet.

iConfused.

For now, it looks like Apple has fired only on Sony, leaving Amazon and B&N to wonder if they’re going to be shot at next. But before you worry too much, I think there’s a good chance that Apple won’t fire the same cannons on Amazon and B&N, because that fight would get really ugly and it could also get Apple into some serious antitrust issues.

Let’s hope Apple doesn’t push the issue any further, because could mean more restricted access to ebooks for Apple customers and lower royalties for authors.

By the way, if you know anything else about what’s going on with this issue, please feel free to mention it in the comments. I feel like I have a decent grasp on what’s going on now, but it hasn’t been easy to sort out all the facts from the fiction. Speaking of which, I need to go write some fiction.

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Michael A. Stackpole

Michael A. Stackpole

Last weekend at World Fantasy Convention 2010, I sat with Michael A. Stackpole (one of the pioneers in independent e-publishing) and we talked about the current state of publishing, ebooks, and indie publishing. We also discussed ebook pricing and the $2.99 price point (and J.A. Konrath) that I blogged about last month. We talked about lots more, too. Sixty-five minutes later, we’d recorded a dynamic conversation on these subjects–and one that’s probably controversial on some points.

Here’s a little preface. I agreed with Stackpole’s points about 90% of the time here, but not necessarily on every point. But who agrees with everyone all the time, especially when the subject is an emotional one?

I think Michael is a very intelligent and great guy, and I’m really grateful to him for our conversation. As I mention at the start of the interview, his 21 Days to a Novel exercises got me started when I got serious about writing novels and I love following his blog and his updates on Facebook and Twitter.

This interview will probably also appear on AdventuresInSciFiPublishing sometime over the next few months. By the way, the Rhiannon Frater interview that I mentioned to Michael during the interview has not been conducted yet.

I’ll have more coverage from WFC 2010 coming up, including interviews with Guy Gavriel Kay, Laura Resnick, Elizabeth C. Bunce, and Daryl Gregory. Here’s the video I filmed of Michael A. Stackpole interviewing Dennis L. McKiernan, one of the Guests of Honor at WFC: parts one, two, and three.

Last warning: there is a curse word or two in here (the main one occurs in the minute after 34:00), so cover your kids’ ears at that point 😉

The audio player is below. Enjoy! There’s some really meaty stuff throughout the interview, all the way up till the end.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


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I like Joe Konrath, who writes as J.A. Konrath and Jack Kilborn. He’s done the publishing universe a huge favor by publicizing his great financial success with his independently released ebooks. Before Amazon’s new royalty rates came into effect, he sold his works at, I think, $1.99 and/or $1.59. Now he sells them at $2.99, and he’s on track to make a six-figure income this year selling many novels that NY Publishers didn’t want to publish.

I also like him personally. I believe he wants to help other authors earn a living, and his blog shows that he’s invested considerable effort over the years to help others learn various aspects of the craft and business of writing fiction. I’ve always liked him whenever I’ve talked to him, and I expect to be a big Joe Konrath fan for a long time.

Joe is also the main person who influenced me to dip my toes into the waters of indie ebook publishing (though Zoe Winters has also been a major influence on this path). I am very grateful to him for that, although I am still experimenting and deciding how I want to be published. For now, I’m among the ranks of indie authors.

I’ve been reading Joe’s blog since at least the beginning of 2010, and I nearly always agree with him. I think his rhetoric against traditional publishers is often too caustic and this weakens his arguments a bit, but it’s obvious he’s had experiences with publishers that have frustrated him, and I haven’t walked in his moccasins so he gets a pass from me on that. I agree with him on the bright future of ebooks; he feels that authors now have a tremendous opportunity to earn a living by publishing their own works. Many other authors, many who have little or no platform compared to Joe, are doing quite well as indies.

But for the first time that I can remember, I disagree with Joe on an important topic.

Should Ebook Novels Cost $2.99?

Joe argues that ebooks should be priced at $2.99 and says this is a sweet spot where authors sell a lot of ebooks, readers are happy, and authors can still make a lot of money. All of those points are true.

In order to get a 70% royalty on ebooks with Amazon, the author must price his work between $2.99 and $9.99. Amazon reserves the right to lower the retail price, but even if they lower your $2.99 listed ebook price to $2.39, you still make 70% of $2.39 (they recently changed the way this works). Your other option, which is the original option, is to make a guaranteed 35% of whatever price you list your ebook at, even if Amazon discounts the price further (which they will probably do, especially if you go with the 35% option).

Where did the magical $2.99 come from? Amazon themselves set this as a kind of floor with their new royalty policy. Did Amazon do their research and then determine that $2.99 to $9.99 is the best range for ebook prices? Yes, but remember that Amazon has their own agenda. Two of their big goals are to sell more Kindles and to dominate ebook sales, so their research was also for the purpose of furthering their own ambitions.

Amazon setting the floor at $2.99 doesn’t mean that a large majority of readers wouldn’t be willing (or wouldn’t have been willing) to pay $3.99, $4.99, or more for a novel. Amazon has always been hungry for market share, and they’ve always been willing to discount prices to gain it. And isn’t it wonderful marketing for Amazon and their Kindle device to have a flood of authors extolling their abundant online storehouse of $2.99 novels? I actually bought a Kindle (which I now love) earlier this year because I wanted to check out this exciting, new indie author scene.

I do wonder if Amazon is a bit surprised that authors like Joe have become proponents for $2.99 ebooks. After all, their 70% royalty range is between $2.99 and $9.99, and authors make the minimum possible out of that 70% royalty at $2.99.

$9.99 is also somewhat suspect as a ceiling, though I personally think it’s a good one. But consider again Amazon’s overall agenda. They want to sell ebooks, they want to sell Kindles, they want to dominate the marketplace, and they want publishing itself to move in the direction of ebooks over print so that they become the greatest powerhouse in the publishing industry (they want to take the throne away from the big publishing houses). By the way, I happen to like Amazon and I always have.

Michael Shatzkin has reported on his excellent blog that the big publishers with their unpopular “agency model” pricing are actually doing just fine, thank you. July showed by far the biggest jump in ebook revenues yet for publishers, and they continue to sell popular titles at prices such as $12.99.

Big publishers aren’t winning any popularity contests with those over ten dollar prices, but the big houses are still selling ebooks and making good money with agency model pricing. Ironically, they may have been making more money before at lower prices, but that’s mainly because Amazon paid them based on their list prices before agency model pricing–but that’s another story. Publishers are trying to keep the print book business alive. Change is scary.

Critters.org Fair Ebook Price Survey

Critters.org ran a great survey earlier this year, which is still ongoing, about ebook prices.

For example, they asked, “What’s a fair price for a novel or other full-length ebook?” Survey respondents then entered their own a price for a “New release” and for “Backlist.”

Here are the current results, after 175 responses (not an insignificant sample, though not a huge number either). As of the time of this post, the average response for a fair price of a new book is $7.85. The average response for a backlist book is $4.64.

On new novels, the price at which 93% think prices are too high is $11.16. The price at which 50% feel that a new book’s price is fair is $7.85, and here’s the key figure for me:

The price at which 93% feel that a new book’s price is fair is $4.54.

They also asked: “What’s a fair price for a short story, article, or other shorter-length ebook?” The price at which 93% feel that a short work’s price is fair is $0.85.

Selena Kitt of eXcessica

Selena Kitt has argued on her blog and on Konrath’s blog for ebook novels to be priced higher than $2.99. She says:

Personally, I think ebooks should be priced based on length. This model has been used by indie ebook publishers for over ten years. (Yes, it’s true, there were thriving ebook publishers and distributors before Kindle!)

Our own eXcessica pricing is based on length:

$0.99 Short Shorts: Under 3K
$1.99 Shorts: 3-7K
$2.99 Stories: 7-15K
$3.99 Novelettes: 15-35K
$4.99 Novellas: 35-50K
$5.99 Novels 50-70K
$6.99 Super Novels: 70-140K
$7.99 Super XL Novels: 140-250K
$8.99 Super XXL Novels: 250K +

But Where is the Sweet Spot?

The bottom line on this discussion comes down to where the real sweet spot is for authors. Presumably, as prices rise demand goes down (though that’s not always the case—sometimes people will buy more of something at a higher price than at a lower price).

The reason why this matters is because it’s not easy to make a living as an author, whether as a traditionally published one or a self-published one. So we have to look at whether or not we’re hurting ourselves and even the entire publishing industry (which gives us a lot of great stuff to read and employs many good people!) over the long term by setting the bar of expectations too low at a price such as $2.99.

Let’s compare. An author selling 1000 copies at $3.00 earns the same as an author selling 750 copies at $4.00, 600 copies at $5.00, 500 copies at $6.00, or 300 copies at $10.00. Leaving aside the benefits of (presumably) selling more books to more readers at lower prices, for authors or publishers interested in the bottom line, the sweet spot is what we’re all curious about.

Will an author lose at least 25% of his sales by moving from $2.99 to $3.99? If not, then $3.99 is sweeter than $2.99, at least in terms of writing income. If yes, then $2.99 is better.

Be careful with considering any one author’s results with different prices. I’ve read a lot of discussion about ebook prices at places like Kindleboards.com and the results vary dramatically. Some people find that they sell more at higher prices, and some find they sell less at higher prices. Many have reported, for example, that they sell more copies at $2.99 than they did at $0.99.

Here’s a comment from Paul Levine from the comments on Joe’s latest blog post.

I'm testing $2.99 vs. $3.99. Appears I lose sales at $3.99, but less than the 1/3 difference in royalties. So, my gut tells me the base price should be $3.99. (Less than a Starbucks grande Frappucino, and better for you). Those books are all out-of-print backlist. I plan to put up two original novels in January and February, and for those, I'm considering $4.99.

That’s just one person, but there’s someone who is trying to test $2.99 vs $3.99 and finding that $3.99 earns him more money, though with less sales.

Someone who really surprised me is M.R. Mathias, who sells his huge fantasy epic ebook for $8.88. Most indie writers are trying to decide between $0.99 and $2.99, and here’s Mathias coming in at an unusually high price. He says, “My $8.88 title sells at about 10 to 1 over all of my $1 titles put together.”

Would he sell more and still make more money at $2.99 or $3.99? Maybe, but I’ve talked to M.R. and he’s sold around 150 copies at that price in two months (and that’s without a professional-looking cover, frankly). 150 sales in your first two months as an indie fantasy author is good even with a 99 cent or $2.99 novel, but he’s doing it at $8.88 with a cover that screams “Self-published!” So my guess is that he wouldn’t be making more money at $2.99, because he’d have to sell three times as many ebooks at that lower price to earn the same amount. I should also point out that he is a very aggressive marketer, his novel is huge, and he also has short stories and a YA novel for sale (with sales of all items combined approaching 500 sales); these things also help his sales. And I could be wrong. It is almost certainly true that he would be reaching more readers at $2.99, and that has its own benefits, financially and otherwise. But what about at $3.99 or $4.99? We don’t know.

Back to Joe

Joe argues for $2.99, but from all I’ve read from him, he doesn’t seem to have properly tested $2.99 vs. $3.99 (or any other price) and he seemed to admit this recently. He does have ebooks at different prices, though. He has some at $6.99 because his ex-publisher still owns those rights and the publisher refuses to lower the price (I believe he has asked them to lower the price—please correct me if I’m wrong, Joe).

Joe has said that his lower-priced ebooks vastly outsell his higher-priced ebooks. But we should not draw any firm conclusions from this. My guess is that when people go to buy a Konrath or Kilborn book, they look at the prices and buy the less expensive ones. They buy more of his $2.99 ebooks than his $6.99 ebooks because for the most part, bargain hunting is human nature (human nature also respects higher-priced items more, but that’s another discussion). If you offer me pretty much the same thing for $3 or $7, I’m going to buy it for $3. No-brainer.

Because people will naturally choose the lower-priced book, I don’t think we can deduce from Joe’s results that $2.99 is the sweet spot or best price. Also, in Joe’s case, remember that he was selling his ebooks for $1.99 before Amazon gave him a royalty incentive to raise the prices to $2.99, and before he was at $1.99 he also had books at prices like $1.59.

If Amazon had made $3.99 the floor, Joe would probably be arguing for that price now instead. And if Amazon hadn’t given an incentive for raising prices to $2.99, Joe would probably still be selling at $1.99. It seems that Joe settled quickly on $2.99 without properly testing other prices, such as $3.99 or $4.99. I don’t blame him and I’m not saying he did anything wrong. He’s obviously doing a hell of a lot of things right and he’s doing just fine without anyone else’s help. I’m just saying that we need to keep an open mind about pricing.

I’ve encouraged and even dared Joe to try an experiment where he raises the price of all of his ebooks to another price like $3.99 or $4.99 to see what would happen to his sales and revenue. Since he’s well-established now, that would be an interesting experiment, and I suspect he’d make more money at $3.99 despite less sales, partly because he’s already known. I could be wrong, though. And it might not be practical in his case if he’s already at $2.99 in other stores like B&N and Sony (I don’t know how long it would take the other stores to update their prices if he were to change the prices with them).

I plan to experiment with prices eventually with my own novel, but the problem is that as a new author who will be actively promoting (God willing), it would be normal (I hope so anyway) to expect increasingly more sales each month even at the same price. I won’t have a proper control to test for the ideal prices and it would be a long time before I felt I knew what my “normal” sales were.

Joe’s Argument that $2.09 is Fair

$2.09 is what an indie author makes on a $2.99 ebook through Amazon (assuming that Amazon actually keeps the retail price at $2.99, which they don’t always do). If they drop the price to $2.84, which I have seen them do, then the author earns less than $2 per ebook sold.

Joe argues that because ebooks cost less money to produce than physical books, authors shouldn’t be making more money on them than they already do with hardcover royalties. I respect the hell out of Joe, but I don’t get this argument at all if it means $2.99 versus $3.99 or $4.99.

For one, authors are likely to sell less copies independently than they would with a traditional publisher. Or at least, that’s the idea, right? For example, Joe has mentioned that he reached many more readers through traditional publishing, but that he now earns more money as an indie. Naturally, if you’re going to sell less copies as an indie then you need to make more money per copy to make the same living.

Also, indie writers have to pay for things like editing, copyediting, proofreading, cover design, layout, file conversions, advertising, travel, review copies and shipping, web design, and publicity. Plus they have to spend a lot more time working as a publisher wearing ten different hats, which gives them less time to write, work another job, or enjoy some free time (something they don’t have much of, I can already tell you after having a novel to finish rewriting and editing and an indie novella to promote).

And who is to say that $2.50-$3.75 for a hardcover is the “right” royalty payment for an author? That’s what the market has settled on, but that doesn’t make it a God-given standard. Despite the popular misconception about most published authors being filthy rich, most authors aren’t. Maybe more authors should be making a decent living (though I’m sure that depends on who you talk to).

Anyway $3.99 at Amazon pays the author $2.79, and $4.99 pays the author $3.49. Those figures are in line with hardcover royalties, while $2.99 pays less than hardcover royalties because it pays $2.09 per sale (likely a bit less because of Amazon discounting the price).

I don’t see why $3.99 or $4.99 is unfair, price gouging, or greedy. And I think those are awfully cheap prices for a good book.

End of Part 1

I’m going to end part 1 of this topic here. In part 2, I’d like to write about what some of the dangers might be in getting $2.99 entrenched in readers’ minds as “the” price for an ebook novel. That might take a while for me to lay out (but hey, you’re still reading this, so why not? It’s just you and me, friend).

Of course, this all comes down to the hard data. If writers make more money and sales at $2.99 than they do at $3.99, $4.99, $6.99, or $9.99, then that’s what writers should do if making money is their top concern–not that it should be. In my case, I just want to be able to make a living telling stories. Unfortunately, the evidence on these different price comparisons is still murky, so for now we have to talk about the topic on other levels. And there are some bigger questions and repercussions worth discussing.

Till next time … (I hate being so tired that I can’t come up with anything witty to end with, but for now I’m an indie author so I’m already overworked and underpaid and still somehow loving this journey ;-))
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13
Sep

Hilarious–Amazon Humor

   Posted by: Moses Siregar III    in Humor, Weird

Be sure to read the reviews on this $6,232.00 Kindle book (click this text link for the page on Amazon).

54 of 64 people found the following review helpful:
2.0 out of 5 stars Good but could be better…, November 14, 2008

Sure I can render my foes defenseless with the mighty transmogrifier I made after finishing chapter 5 but I was lead to believe this was the “Pop Up” version of Nuclear Energy (Landolt-Bornstein: Numerical Data and Functional Relationships in Science and Technology). I already own the abridged version of Nuclear Energy (Landolt-Bornstein: Numerical Data and Functional Relationships in Science and Technology) and while it did allow me to dabble in the juvenile realm of cold fusion it was the tantilizing prospect of world domination wrought via colorful anime pop ups that really hooked me in to this purchase. On a plus note the illustrations (while only 2D) are hilarous. Landolt-Bornstein are famous for their wit (as witnessed in the classic “Bornstein Bears” cartoon series). Bottom line, if you already own the original Nuclear Energy (Landolt-Bornstein: Numerical Data and Functional Relationships in Science and Technology) skip this purchase; if your looking to expand your library of Numerical Data and Functional Relationship books and don’t mind the lack of 3D Pop Up Support then buy a copy today.

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6
Sep

My Free Six-Chapter Excerpt on Kindle Nation Daily

   Posted by: Moses Siregar III    in My Work

Kindle Nation Daily is the biggest and best Kindle blog on the planet, and I feel blessed today to have a six-chapter excerpt from my novella up for free on KND.

Check out the excerpt here … if you dare. It includes my favorite battle scene from the novella, and also focuses on the relationship between Lucia and the black god.
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23
Aug

My Journey to Publishing on Amazon: How and Why?

   Posted by: Moses Siregar III    in Ebooks, My Work, Publishing

This is a copy of my latest column for GraspingForTheWind.com:

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Twelve days ago, I published my first work of fiction to Amazon and Smashwords. It’s called The Black God’s War: A Novella Introducing a New Epic Fantasy, and it serves as an introduction to my novel with the same title (The Black God’s War). Here’s how and why I dipped my toes into the indie waters.

The Black God's War by Moses Siregar III

Getting a Word document ready for Kindle and Smashwords took a little effort over the course of a day, but after you’ve done it, you realize how easy the process is. The free Smashwords Style Guide leads you through the process, and their guide works for Amazon as well as Smashwords. Once you’re in Smashwords, you can automatically get your ebook into BN.com, the iBookstore, Kobo, and Sony.

Some of the main things you have to do are the following: create universal paragraph indentation (you cannot use the TAB key and you have to delete all tabs); insert page breaks between chapters; single space the text with a common font (12-pt Times New Roman, for example); insert graphics directly in Word; and add a copyright page at the front. You’re ready to upload. It’s easy.

I uploaded my document, book cover, and book description on a Monday morning, and by the early a.m. on Wednesday it was available for sale on Amazon. Total cost to me: $0.00.

Why?

I’ll admit to being confused about the best way to approach publishing today. The world of Publishing is changing fast and there’s a new wave of indie writers extolling the virtues of 70% ebook royalties on Amazon, full control, and no delays. So I’m testing the waters as an experiment. In an average scenario, you can get free exposure and reach some new fans, read more reactions to your work, and make a little money (some indie writers even make a lot).

So far, my book has been read by a modest number of people, and already there’s at least one review on GoodReads, LibraryThing, Shelfari, a review blog, and Smashwords. The reviews have been encouraging, and it’s nice to hear from people that don’t know you that you aren’t crazy (always a possibility). I even got an unexpected email from an American in China who said he’s now “a fan,” and someone I don’t know on KindleBoards called it a “very good read.” Lastly, I had an excuse to be interviewed by the Kindle Author blog.

At this stage in the game, those little things are nice rewards. Additionally, I’ve used the coupon feature on Smashwords to give away free copies of my novella, and it’s nice to be able to link to my Amazon page from my blog. On the flip side, I now see that promoting your work can give you another excuse to procrastinate rather than write.

It’s too early for me to judge the results of this experiment, but if it only achieves what it has so far, it will have been worth it. If I publish the book independently, then this is all pre-release marketing to generate some buzz for the full novel. And if I seek out a publisher (I’m not sure if I want to submit it anywhere, because the indie route looks pretty good to me), then hopefully having some reviews and sales to show them would help my cause.

Well, if you’ve run out of things to read you’ll know where to find this one, and if you’re interested in an electronic review copy, just let me know. The novella is around 24,000 words long, and can be read through in just a few hours.

Moses Siregar III is the author of The Black God’s War, a dramatic epic fantasy novel inspired by Homer; you can sample it for 99 cents at Amazon or Smashwords. He lives with his family at high elevation in Prescott, AZ, and blogs about passion for the writing life at Moses and Dionysus Walk Into a Bar … Learn more about Moses: Facebook or More Facebook, Twitter, and GoodReads.
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Joe Konrath is a thriller writer, a genuinely good guy, and a very successful ebook seller for the Kindle. He’s blogged about the surprising value of e-rights. Yesterday, he hosted an incredibly valuable chat on Twitter about ebooks while saving an average midwestern city from a meteor that was about to destroy it (I know, amazing right?). Anyway, he handed down some hard-won tips about publishing to Kindle that I collected for you and yours. Before I list his tips, here’s a larger, overriding point that he made:

“Bottom Line: Ebooks aren’t the future. They’re the now. Exploit your erights, keep the $$$.”

Self-Publishing Kindle Mistakes

#1: Pricing too high. People don’t want to pay more than $5 for an ebook.

#2: Amateur cover. Unless you have crazy mad Photoshop skills, get a pro to do it.

#3: Expecting instant success. You’re 1 book out of 500,000. Help people find you.

#4: Spelling/grammar errors in book description. Duh!

#5: Not checking your preview. You have to proof read it, make sure it is perfect.

#6: Forgetting about it. Once your book is live, it requires occasional attention from you.

Kindle Ebook Success Tips

#1: A good book. Well written, no formatting errors, no grammar/spelling problems.

#2: Good product description. It should read like back jacket copy.

#3: The more ebooks listed, the easier you are to find, the more you’ll sell.

#4: Add teaser chapters for your other books in the back matter of your ebooks.

#5: Trade chapters with other authors to include in back matter for cross pollination of fans.

#6: Post links to your ebook on your website, blog, and www.kindleboards.com

#7: Price it between 99 cents and $3.99. This is the most important tip of all.

#8: Experiment. Change covers, prices, promo techniques, descriptions, and track sales.

Ebook cover art tips

#1: Hire a pro. Expect to pay between $200 and $1000 per cover

#2: Make sure it is readable as a thumbnail–most covers are seen when tiny

#3: Don’t make it too “busy.” Clean and simple is better.

#4: Brand yourself. Your covers should look similar, or have a common theme.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you’ll considering following my blog, or adding it to your own blogroll.

-Moses Siregar III

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Another stick of dynamite just went “boom” in the brave new world of ebooks (actually, this link is more detailed than the previous one).

Self-publishing authors will be able to offer their titles on Apple’s iBookstore for the iPad at almost no cost, potentially breaking down the barriers for independent writers who want to sell their work across the globe.

According to DigitalBeat, the self-publishing service Smashwords has signed a distribution deal with Apple to put books on the iBookstore, which will be a part of the iBooks application, available as a free download on the iPad through the App Store …

The e-mail from Coker also revealed Apple’s pricing rules for the iBookstore. Each title’s price must end in 99 cents (i.e. $12.99), and books can be priced as low as 99 cents. The price of the book must also be less than its print counterpart.

Author Dean Takahashi said users can submit their work to Smashwords through a simple process that involves uploading a Microsoft Word file, setting the price and deciding where the book is to be published …

Through the service [Smashwords], authors receive 85 percent of net sale proceeds from titles, or 70.5 percent of affiliate sales. The report said the cost to distribute a book on the iPad is free …

Apple’s iBooks application is compatible with the ePub format. Apple will also sell content from some of the largest publishers in the world, including HarperCollins, Hachette, Penguin, Macmillan, and Simon & Shuster.

Independent writers–that’s anyone who can type on a computer and upload a Word file–will be able to sell their books through the iBookstore and iBooks app via Smashwords, which will offer an overall 60% royalty rate to authors (normally Smashwords offers 85%, but that’s only directly through their own site). I’m not suggesting that everyone should start publishing junk and trying to make money that way, I’m only saying that at this time, it is very easy to get your works onto the Kindle store, iBookstore, etc.

Amazon made waves by offering a 70% royalty rate to indie authors starting on June 30th, 2010. As long as indie authors price their ebooks between $2.99 and $9.99, that’s the swell deal Amazon is offering. And without a doubt, the deal is really swell, considering that there are indie authors already selling thousands of books a month via the Kindle store. For more on that, follow JA Konrath’s blog.

Joe Konrath is doing quite well with his ebooks in the Kindle store (he expects to be making $10K/month come July), but there are also unheard-of new authors selling thousands of ebooks a month there, too. Look for stories like John Rector’s and Boyd Morrison’s, who parlayed Kindle success into traditional publishing contracts. Rector and Morrison are somewhat unusual stories, but those stories are also becoming more common. Konrath’s blog has featured others as well (especially in the comments).

Now Apple and its new homeboy Smashwords is luring authors, not with a higher royalty rate (60% vs 70% with Amazon), but by allowing authors to price their books at $0.99 or $1.99, which many authors have done on Kindle in order to generate more downloads and find more readers.

Oh, by the way: Authors don’t have to choose one or the other. They can easily be on Smashwords/iBookstore, as well as Amazon/Kindle.

The conventional wisdom remains that aspiring authors are best served by trying to publish traditionally, but the independent alternative to the conventional approach keeps getting more and more interesting, and without a doubt that trend is rapidly strengthening. Owning the e-rights to your books forever, while more and more people are buying ereaders like Kindle, Sony, and iPad (and Kindle books can be read on any computer, anyway), does have its allure.

It’s also worth noting that Joe Konrath has discouraged aspiring authors from going indie right off the bat [EDIT: See April 7 Update, below] and encouraged new writers to seek a literary agent first, but at the same time Joe has mentioned that he’s unsure of whether or not he wants to give up the erights to his future books because he knows from experience how valuable they are, and how valuable they will be.

If you want to hear from someone who argues well for the future of indie publishing and walks her talk, check out Zoe Winters.

So tell me, what do you make of all of this?
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UPDATE (April 7th, 2010): Joe Konrath has, to some degree, changed his point of view on self-publishing ebooks. On his blog today, he makes a strong case for authors retaining their e-rights. In practical terms, this likely means holding onto all rights, since publishers are (to put it mildly) reluctant to give up those rights. Yes, this would mean that dreaded thing which shall not be spoken of in serious writing circles: “self-publishing.” You may want to wash your hands now.

I asked him the following in the comments area on his blog:

What kind of advice should an unpublished author draw from your recent posts, Joe? Get an agent, publish traditionally, get your name out there, and then (based on today’s post) go indie with ebooks and POD once you think you can sell enough books that way?

Joe Konrath’s response:

I’m hesitant to give advice on this. A month ago I’d say get an agent and traditionally publish. But I was just on the phone today with a friend who has been traditionally published, and I warily cautioned him to look at the numbers before accepting any new offers, because he could potentially make more money on his own.

This blows my mind, BTW. I did NOT expect to ever be a cheerleader for self-publishing.

But numbers are numbers, and my predictions for the future of ebooks have 1 full year of data to support them.

So, hell, I don’t know what to tell you, Moses. I do know this for sure:

Everyone needs to make up their own mind. You need to follow your own path, based on your experience and experiments.

Experts are fine to listen to, but no expert (me included) should be considered Gospel.

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UPDATE April 9th, 2010. Sounds like Joe Konrath is probably going all-in with self-publishing his future novels as ebooks. Check out his post.

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