Tuesday, September 25, 2018

September 25, 2018: Wattpad

I read an interesting article today about the website Wattpad on Forbes. Wattpad has been, and would like to continue to be, literary agents for some of their contributors. While Wattpad isn't for every author, it might be worth investigating if you write stories for their demographic! Even if Wattpad does not choose you, the publicity garnered by Wattpad's readers may help your self-published works.
"Wattpad’s 65 million active users (most of them women under 30) spend 383 million hours a month on its site and its mobile apps, reading pieces like “Brave,”a yarn about the Harry Potter character Neville Longbottom, and “Taking Selfies and Overthrowing the Patriarchy With Kim Kardashian.” Wattpad has more than 4 million writers, who post an average of 300,000 pieces a day.

Since Wattpad doesn’t own the rights to the stories on its site, it’s morphing into a talent agency for its authors, cutting out the famously fragmented and high-touch world of literary agents. By bypassing the middle man, Wattpad can funnel the most popular pieces directly to book publishers and TV and movie studios while taking a cut of the authors’ deals.

Wattpad has put together more than 100 book deals for its authors over the past four years (not including foreign rights deals), likely collecting the typical 15% commission of a literary agent."
Read the entire article.

Monday, September 24, 2018

September 24, 2018: More About Writing Than Publishing

Usually I post about self-publishing, or trends in the publishing business. But today my blog reading led me to a great post about the craft of writing. Sometimes I can get so obsessed about the business of selling bookskeywords, advertising gimmicks, cover design, the blurb on the back of the bookthat it is refreshing to read an article focused on the craft of, in this case, writing the perfect sentence. The sentence is, after all, the bedrock of our efforts.

“Orwell saw the plain English sentence as the sword of existential truth, a cure-all for the bad faith of modern life … A sentence is much more than its literal meaning. It is a living line of words where logic and lyric meet – a piece of both sense and sound, albeit the sound is only heard in the reader’s head … A good lesson for any writer: make each sentence worth reading, and something in it will lead the reader into the next one. Good writers write not just in sentences but with sentences. Get them right and everything else solves itself or ceases to matter.”

Read the entire article - it's worth it!

Friday, September 21, 2018

September 21, 2018: Notes on the Publishing Business

My reading today has turned up a few good articles. 

First, how traditional publishing can ruin your career:

"Turns out that Tor, through its parent company Macmillan has started a program in which libraries cannot get ebooks of the latest Tor releases until four months after the book is released.

Remember this is traditional publishing, so velocity is important. How fast a book sells has an impact on whether or not that writer’s next book will even get an offer from the publisher. And here—stupidly—is a publisher that has decided that library ebook sales aren’t worthwhile.

Tor/Macmillan’s reasoning? To see if library ebook sales are the reason that the company’s ebook sales are so low. That thinking is so damn stupid that I can barely type the words.

Macmillan has poor ebook sales because they have adopted a policy of discouraging ebook sales in favor of print sales. Macmillan adopted this policy in late 2009 when they conspired with Apple and 4 other publishers to violate antitrust law by forcing Amazon to accept what is called agency pricing, a system where the publishers set the price and retailers are prohibited from deep discounts and sales.

That is established historical fact, and so is the antitrust suit brought by the DOJ, Macmillan settling the lawsuit, its punishment, and Macmillan’s return to agency in 2014.
... 
Indie (self) publishing has been around long enough now that I sometimes forget how good we have it now—if we choose to run our own businesses.

I have also blocked out just how awful traditional publishing was to most writers, including me. I try not to look at the train wrecks happening to my friends and colleagues who are still being traditionally published. But sometimes, like today, it is hard to look away." 

Read the entire article.


Next - Poets: strike while the iron is hot! Bookstore owners: You might want to consider expanding your poetry section!

"In its just-released look at trends in arts attendance and literary reading, it reports the percentage of American adults who read novels or short stories has declined over the past five years, from 45.2 percent in 2012 to 41.8 percent in 2017. The percentage who read poetry has increased over that same period, from 6.7 percent to 11.7 percent." 

Read the entire article.


Lastly, I read an article on advertising for authors. I thought the 7 principles were worth reading. The article gets a bit technical - it describes the testing methodology, but is worth a look.

PRINCIPLE 1: Most, if not all, of your profit will come from sellthrough. This means the longer your series, the more money you can generally spend advertising it. Advertising a standalone novel is difficult (and rarely profitable outside of a BookBub Featured Deal), and not recommended unless you’re a highly skilled marketer.

PRINCIPLE 2: Focus your advertising on Book 1. Even in a series of standalone novels, many new readers will start with Book 1. Advertising later books typically produces smaller returns. Only advertise later books if you get a BookBub Featured Deal, or if you’ve exhausted all options for Book 1.

You can also advertise a series starter box set—e.g. Books 1, 2 & 3. The general principle here is that it’s easier to sell new readers on the beginning of the series (otherwise known as your funnel starter).

Advertising only Book 1 has the added benefit of making the administrative side far more manageable. Tracking ads for five or ten titles in a series is a nightmare.

As a final note, you should also advertise your latest release in a series—especially during the launch— but it’s much harder to analyze the data in the manner outlined below. There are too many variables skewing the launch numbers to make such analysis useful.

Instead, the general purpose of advertising the latest book is visibility and general awareness: making sure your fans are aware that it’s out, while also drawing some new eyeballs to the series.

PRINCIPLE 3: When using promotional sites, stick with proven options. You can find my curated, regularly updated list of recommended sites here.

PRINCIPLE 4: When running PPC ads, start small ($5 – $10/day). Make sure your ads are profitable before attempting to scale. If your ads are unprofitable at a small spend, a larger budget only increases your losses.

PRINCIPLE 5: While extremely useful, these metrics—cost per download, sellthrough, revenue per download, conversion et al—are estimates. Due to the nature of Amazon’s reporting and plain old variance, it’s impossible to predict with absolute certainty that your sellthrough will be precisely 41.4% over the next three weeks, that your book will convert at 32.5% on Tuesday, or a certain promo site produced exactly 921 downloads.

With that in mind, always factor in a margin of safety when advertising.

PRINCIPLE 6: Advertising most books will not be profitable (outside of BookBub Featured Deals). This is not a reflection on the book’s quality. Many books simply don’t hit the right commercial notes to resonate with a larger audience.

If you find, after running the numbers, that you’ve written such a book or series, don’t worry—but don’t force the issue by advertising anyway. This is how you rack up huge losses.

There are free marketing alternatives for these titles: mentioning them in your newsletter and autoresponder, entering cross promotions, social media, your website, and so forth.

PRINCIPLE 7: Profitable advertising requires consistent testing. You can—and should—use advertising principles, tactics, and ideas that have proven profitable for other authors. But ultimately, you must develop your own ads and ideas by finding what works for your books.

This is the number one rule of advertising. If you forget everything else, be sure to test.

One key note on testing: when adjusting your book’s back matter, blurb, cover, price, or other elements that affect the numbers, only change one major element at a time. If something impacts your numbers, you want to know exactly what was responsible.

That wraps up our key principles.
Read the entire article.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

September 20, 2018: On The Publishing Business

Today's blog reading brought this article to my attention. Here are some thoughts from a writer who has been published by Harper-Collins, a couple of small presses, and who has also self-published.

“...I was in this zone of being satisfied with just being able to do what I love. But there are just as many moments (okay, more) when I wonder why writers who are not very good become incredibly famous and wealthy, and writers who I really admire and respect are still struggling to find a publisher for their next book.”

“I just assumed that once you got your foot in the door, you established yourself. But as you know very well, it comes down to money, and if you’ve never had a huge seller, it will always be a struggle.”

“Oddly enough, although I’ve had six different agents through the years, not one of them ever found a publisher for any of my books. I’ve always either found them myself or had a friend refer me.”

Read the entire article.