Archive for the ‘Authors’ Category

Round up #309: cool reading, peripheral problems

September 29, 2015

Round up #309: cool reading, peripheral problems

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

An author on the cover of People

I do think that in the past, oh, ten years or so, authors have become a bit more cool.

Generally, when people think pop culture, it’s movies, TV, and music. Videogames, while sometimes the biggest revenue generators, are too introspective for a ton of coverage…and they don’t feature human beings about which magazines can gossip. ;)

That last point might, I suppose, help to explain why books are less likely to be featured in pop culture coverage.

Oh, all the popcul mags do it some. The book coverage may be my favorite part of Entertainment Weekly, and regular readers know I use the term “People Magazine books” for the very popular mainstream titles.

That’s why I was honestly a bit surprised to see

Jackie Collins

get the full cover of the October 5th issue of

PEOPLE Magazine (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Certainly, Collins was a (very) popular author, and does have a Hollywood tie-in (with sibling Joan and some minor acting experience)…that might have had some influence.

However, there was a special circumstance: they had an exclusive interview from just a few days pre-mortem.

Still, they obviously thought readers would be familiar with Collins.

People Magazine readers would also know Stephen King, John Green, J.K. Rowling, and perhaps another ten or so authors (excluding authors who are well-known from other fields, including movies, TV, music, and politics).

Now, that’s not to say that they wouldn’t have known some authors in the past: Edgar Allan Poe, Ernest Hemingway…but I do think there has been a shift. I’d like to say that the impact of the Kindle on the e-book market since its release in 2007 may have impacted the “cool ratio” of reading…but that’s just speculation. ;)

The problem with peripherals

I think it’s understandable that companies producing gadgets focus on the gadgets themselves. I recently wrote about

Amazon hardware announcements! $50 tablet, 10″ tablet, Fire TV 2

There wasn’t a lot of talk about the peripherals: power supplies, remotes (although I was pleased to see that the game controller for the Amazon Fire TV Gaming Edition ((at AmazonSmile*)) has a headphone jack ((Dolby enabled)), one of my favorite features of some models of Roku).

I do think that matters…it’s been perhaps my biggest frustration with some gadgets which I otherwise like very much.

I really like the inexpensive

ARCTIC P324 BT (Black) – Bluetooth (V4.0) Headset with Neckband – Headphones with integrated Microphone – Perfect for Sport (at AmazonSmile*)

that I use with our Fire TV, and at work with my Kindle Fire HDX, my laptop, and my phone at times.

That’s the alternative to the headphones that plug into the remote that I mentioned above.

The sound is good, the microphone works…the only negative to the device itself, really, is that the battery seems to discharge pretty quickly even when I’m not using it. If I don’t use it for a couple of days, I still need to plug it in to charge before I use it again.

I can live with that, though.

The weird thing is that it came with a simple carrying case. The headphones fold, and fit into something…oh, about the dimensions of an old audiocassette, except as thick as about four of them.

Shortly after I had the headphones, the zipper broke on the carrying case.

I can still use the case…it goes in my laptop case with me to work, so that pretty much keeps it closed.

It is, though, disappointing: I paid for the case (not much, certainly), and it doesn’t do what it was supposed to do.

How about Amazon hardware?

Amazon did a great job with the headphones for the Fire Phone…I use mine a lot (the Fire Phone is still my daily use SmartPhone). Since that device is now not in their current line-up, though, it’s hard to count tht as a win. ;) There may be people at Amazon who said, “You know, if we hadn’t spent that much development money making good headphones, the Fire Phone would have been a hit.” ;)

I’ve never really been impressed with the chargers for the Kindle EBRs (E-Book Readers) and Fire tablets. The EBR chargers notoriously end up having the coating peel away from the raw wires…I’ve had that happen many times, and I need to replace them.

I don’t find that they fit very well, and they don’t charge very quickly.

That’s why I use the third party

Pwr+ Extra Long 6.5 Ft AC Adapter 2.1A Rapid Charger for Fast Charging Hd, Hdx 6″ 7″ 8.9″ 9.7″ Tablet and Phone, Tab Power Supply Cord (at AmazonSmile*)

It’s $14.90 right now…a reasonable price, as far as I’m concerned. Amazon’s PowerFast charger is $19.99…and seems much slower.

The Pwr+ works great…until it doesn’t work at all. ;)

I went back and looked: they seem to last me a few months, and then they just die. That’s not Amazon’s fault, of course.

Then, there are the remotes for the Fire TV.

I just had (another) one die.

That’s happened at least twice now. The first time, it was at under warranty.

This last one was a voice remote which I got when the Fire TV was first released…in April of 2014.

Amazon wouldn’t replace it, which is fine…they did give me a $5 credit towards some other things.

I could replace it for $30…but I have the 2nd generation

Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile*) $99.99

on order now, and that will have a voice remote.

Is it a big deal that the remote stops working?

Yes! :)

You can’t tell the box what to do without communicating with it, of course…its just a paperweight without some sort of control.

Fortunately, I have the free

Amazon Fire TV Remote App (at AmazonSmile*)

on both my Fire Phone and my Kindle Fire HDX tablet.

It works pretty well…even does voice search. That should be how people can pay $40 for the

Fire TV Stick with Voice Remote (at AmazonSmile*) $49.99 with voice remote, $39.99 with standard remote

new generation, and get the Alexa Voice Service (like we have on the Amazon Echo ((at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)).

Still, I’m often charging my phone or tablet when I would be watching that Fire TV Stick, so it’s a bit inconvenient. Naturally, when we have true wireless device charging (which I believe is coming) so we don’t need to plug in the devices at all, that would solve that problem, but that’s in the future).

Tom Clancy quotation via Kindle Nation Daily

I liked this one:

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1082917348392890

:)

What do you think? How important are peripherals to your feeling about a device? Is reading cooler because of e-books? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Authors Guild: full-time authors income down 30% since 2006

September 21, 2015

Authors Guild: full-time authors income down 30% since 2006

I recently wrote about

On Labor Day: how writers make money

I didn’t talk about how much money authors make.

I think most of you wouldn’t be surprised to hear that it isn’t much.

Oh, sure, there are a tiny percentage who make a lot, but consider this.

According to a survey by the Authors Guild, full-time authors reported making $17,500 annually.

Payscale.com says that a McDonalds “fast food worker” (http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Employer=McDonald%27s_Corporation/Salary) makes between $14,802 – $19,086. Averaging out those two numbers, we get $16,944…about a McDonald’s medium coffee a day’s difference.

Remember, that’s a full-time author…part-time authors reported a writing income of $4,500.

At  least with all of the new books being published through digital means, and all the new datastreams, those salaries may finally become comfortable in the next few years, right?

Again, according to the

Authors Guild report: The Wages of Writing

full-time authors income has declined 30% since 2006 (when they last did the survey).

Part-time authors’ salaries declined even more sharply.

I’ll let you read the report for the rest of it…I don’t want to take too much away from it.

However, we can talk about what this means…the Guild speculates a bit about causative factors: I particularly suggest you read the introductory two paragraphs.

First, it’s possible that there are authors not included in this survey who have seen incomes increase.  The first-year dues to be a member are $125, and you have to meet a standard that has to do with publication and/or income. Certainly, my personal income has a writer has increased a lot over that period.

That doesn’t mean I think that even a sizable chunk of independently published e-authors are making a living wage…that’s going to be an itty bitty percentage.

Second, while this is pretty much the Kindle era (the Kindle was introduced at the end of 2007), this survey isn’t just about e-book income. For indie, newbie authors, I am quite sure that a much higher percentage of their writing income is from e-books than is the case for established, brand name authors.

I want to point out something else…the e-book market, and publishing in general, is not mature…it’s still in flux.

There have been several revolutions in publishing…it’s never entirely predictable, but it was relatively stable for some time.

Some of the big turning points:

  • about 1455: the Gutenberg Bible is published, and books start moving out of being entirely for the elite
  • 1920s: the Book-of-the-Month Club makes affordable versions of curated book titles available
  • 1930s: the rise of paperbacks (1939 in the USA with Pocket Books’ first paperback title, Lost Horizon (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)
  • 1970s: chain bookstores become a force
  • 1994: Amazon goes online,  establishing the internet as a major place to buy books
  • 2007: Amazon introduces the Kindle, revolutionizing the then micro-market e-book trade

E-book growth may have, to some extent, become more steady, but paystreams are still changing rapidly. In particular, the subsers (subscriptions services), like Amazon’s

Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

(and Oyster and Scribd) are too new to really judge the impact on authors’ incomes.

For physical books, print-on-demand may matter…including, perhaps, printing at home.

As a reader, do you want authors to make money?

I hope so! ;)

That’s not just for my personal benefit. :) I make my living as a trainer (I have a different title and I do some different things, like workflow optimization), although the money I make as a writer is certainly welcomed by me and my family! You make that part possible…I’d have a lot harder time justifying the time, focus,  and energy I put into this without it.

Authors need to experience life, of course, but I want authors to be able to concentrate on writing. That’s true for fiction, and it’s especially true for non-fiction.

My Significant Other would like me to retire at some point (we could spend more time together…I want that, too, although I love my job), and I can see that…if I was writing a lot more. :)

If authors do have declining income, that may not mean you have fewer books to read…but they may be different. There might be fewer “quality” books, and more…books which might be considered not fully formed.

What do you think? Are authors making less money? If they are, do you care? Do you think authors will find some way(s) to make up the losses (if they exist)? If so, how? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Jackie Collins has reportedly died

September 20, 2015

Jackie Collins has reportedly died

Jackie Collins (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) was an incredibly successful novelist.

Reportedly selling over half a billion books throughout six decades, Collins’s works were consistently popular.

When I managed a brick-and-mortar bookstore, we could always count on a Jackie Collins novel selling well.

Before the first hit novel

The World Is Full of Married Men (at AmazonSmile*)

was published in 1968, Jackie Collins had acted in several movies and TV shows (including Patrick McGoohan’s Danger Man series, with the famous theme song “Secret Agent  Man” and the unofficial forerunner of The Prisoner series). Collins’ older sister, Joan Collins, had had more success as an actor by then…but Jackie was to bring a scandalous (and believed by many to be a true insider’s) view of Hollywood to bookstore shelves and bestseller lists with the Hollywood series (starting with Hollywood Wives in 1983).

Probably Collins’ best known series, though, was about the Santangelos (especially Lucky). Starting with Chance in 1981, and running through this year with

The Santangelos (at AmazonSmile*)

At the time of writing, it has 248 customer reviews with a 4.5 star rating out of 5.

I think Collins would be comfortable being described as being a commercial writer. Not pretentious, not writing for literary prizes, Jackie Collins repeatedly pleased a large audience.

The impact wasn’t lost on the publishing industry and other writers. Racy novels about the rich and famous…while Jackie Collins wasn’t the first, this was an author who virtually created a genre.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

On Labor Day: how writers make money

September 7, 2015

On Labor Day: how writers make money

I don’t make my living writing.

I have a full time job (a “day job”) as a trainer (I have a different job title, but that’s how most people refer to me…I do a lot of other things, too, including performance improvement and workflow analysis) for a major medical company. That job gives me by far the bulk of my income…and, importantly, good benefits.

I do, though, make money as a writer. It was really exciting a few years ago when I had my first year where, based solely on my writing income, I would have been above the poverty level. :)

Quite simply, many people who choose to be professional writers, who do try to make their livings putting words together, would be in that category…below the poverty line.

I know there are people who think it: anybody can tell a story, whether it’s fiction or an anecdote…how do people make money doing it?

There are a few main methods. I thought I’d take this day where, in the United States, we recognize the value of “workers”, to lay them out for you.

One more thing before I do: I think that increasing numbers of people are making money as writers. That’s been due, in large part, to digital distribution (e-books and other e-texts).

When the only real way that novels (for one example) reached mass audiences was by having them printed in “book factories” and distributed to bookstores, it was absolutely dominated by large companies (and, over the years, those have consolidated into a fairly small number). As a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager, I can tell you: we just didn’t carry independently published books almost at all.

We needed the power of the big companies. Book selling windows are sometimes vanishingly small. If an author was going to appear on local talk radio, it would often make a huge bump in sales…but only for a few days.

We needed a company that could get us a hundred copies with a few days’ notice (we often didn’t know about the appearance until the same week)…and who would buy back the ones we didn’t sell (normally by giving us credit for future purchases…so they needed a broad enough catalog that we’d be confident that we would use that credit).

Now, that’s changed.

Digital distribution means that indies (independent publishers…often just an author) can compete in the same digital “shelf space” as the biggest publishers.

That has seen the rise of what I call “indie-ployement”: people who make a living without traditional structures. I think they contribute to the perceived unemployment rate, even though (and this is a small percentage) they are much happier making a living without a boss.

Taking that into account, and not limiting this to people who make a living at writing, how do writers make money?

Royalties

That’s the traditional method.

When a writer writes a book, they automatically (in the USA and many other countries) have a “copyright” to it. They can control (within certain limitations) the copying and distribution of that work.

They can license that right to someone else (a publisher), who does the actual selling of the book, and pays the author for each copy or license sold.

The publisher, traditionally, brought several things to the table. They would have employees: an editor, a layout artist, proofreader, and so on. Those would improve the salability of the book, at no additional cost to the author. They would have marketing and distribution. They would handle the legal  parts (including legal challenges in many cases).

So, the author got paid as the book sold, and the publisher took the rest.

It wasn’t right when the book sold in real time, typically.

It might be months afterwards…and for authors with a track record, a large chunk might be paid before. That chunk paid in advance of the actual sales was called, logically enough, an “advance”.

The advance is royalties…it’s not a separate revenue stream.

A popular brand name author could get an advance of tens of thousands (and even more) for a book. They could get the advance before there are a hundred words written down, and could live on it while writing the book.

Once the sales start, the publisher subtracted the advance from the royalties which would have been paid until the advance was paid off…then, royalty checks could start.

That’s one of the biggest things authors losing by going indie: advances. Unless you are a top level author, some of the other tradpub (traditional publishing) benefits have gone down considerably. Many mid-level and new authors say that their publishers aren’t doing much to push the book. Since authors can now do social  media (blogging, Twitter, and so on), some publishers expect them to bear the burden of promotion.

Royalty rates vary considerably, and there is a lot of  argument and debate about it.

For a p-book (paperbook), it might be eight percent of the suggested retail price (the “list price”).

For e-books, it might be 25% of the sales price.

Again, there are many variations: that’s one reason traditional authors have agents representing them…the agents deal with all of those complicated negotiations.

When an author self publishes through platforms like Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, the royalty rate may be much higher. KDP pays either 35% or  70%…the latter if you follow certain rules (like not blocking text-to-speech access and being within a specific price range).

That doesn’t only go for novels: Amazon also pays bloggers who distribute through the Kindle store, for  example.

Royalties were for years the primary way writers were paid, but certainly had the disadvantage of being unpredictable.

Advertising

We don’t see advertising much in books, and that is a really heated topic. I do think we’ll see that eventually…not necessarily in the middle of a book, but I think a real model that would succeed in the market is possible. You could agree to see an ad in the beginning and end of the book, and in exchange, get the book for a discount (or possibly for free). I think many people would do that…read a very popular book and  save a couple of dollars, in exchange for an ad while not actually in the reading experience.

The place where we see it is online, on blogs and other websites.

It may be an obvious ad.

There’s a particular blog that has very good content writing about e-books and e-book reading devices.

When I see their stories in my morning

Flipboard (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

read, the ad appears as a graphic, and that often throws me. I think the story is about what the ad is showing me..I have to focus on the text to see what  it really covers.

It may be much more subtle.

One form of that, and an important one, is being an Amazon Associate.

If you buy something by clicking a link on a site and that person is an Amazon Associate, Amazon pays that person an advertising fee.

The author makes, commonly, both a royalty in that case (because you bought the book) and an advertising fee.

That advertising fee may not be much…fifteen percent or much, much less.

However, another way it works is that if the customer buys something else after following a link from the author’s page (say, a lawn mower or a box of cereal), the author may also get a cut of that sale…and that can be much bigger than the sale of an individual e-book (since the price is so different).

Some people seem to philosophically dislike advertising. I find it a reasonable option, as long as it’s an option. I don’t  mind being valued by a company for what I might  purchase…and being paid (perhaps in a discount) to consider their products.

I choose not to have paid overt ads in this blog…I think my readers prefer that (although I’ve never polled them on that…perhaps I will). I could probably make quite a bit more money that way, and if I really needed the money, I’d have to re-examine that. This is, in some ways, a personality blog, though. People read it partially because of what I think and feel, and advertising necessarily presents  someone else’s viewpoints, which could muddy the waters.

WordPress may show you ads in some cases, but I’m not part  of that.

Appearances

For non-fiction writers, this has long been a way to make money. This doesn’t mean that an author signing books at your local bookstore is paid for that (that’s not usually the case). It’s more likely to be an author lecturing or doing a Q&A. That could be at a convention, or historically, at colleges. One particular author reportedly could do 300 college appearances in a year…at at least several hundreds per appearance. Obviously,  it’s harder to write while you are doing all that traveling…but you could do alternate years, for example.

Licensing other adaptations and merchandising

Very different from royalties for books is selling the rights for a TV show or a movie. That can certainly be a big payday for a brand name author. Authors may maintain the licensing rights when using a tradpub, or it could be a deal with the tradpub.

It’s also possible to make some money through things like T-shirts, games, and posters. Not as an author, but George Lucas famously kept the merchandising rights for Star Wars. As I remember the story, the studio didn’t think that was going to be a big deal…and neither did Lucas, who said that the vision was likely going to be selling T-shirts at a science fiction convention in ten years. ;)

Estates do very well, in some cases, licensing a deceased author’s works for new books.

A new revenue stream is

Kindle Worlds (at AmazonSmile: support a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

It’s not easy to get in there, but the basic idea is that a rightsholder licenses a “property” to Amazon. Amazon makes it part of Kindle Worlds. Anybody can write a book in that universe, without getting permission first (but following certain guidelines). Amazon gets a cut, the author of the new work gets a cut, and the rightsholder gets a cut.

I think

Dale R. Cozort’s Amazon Author Central page (at AmazonSmile*)

Snapshot would make a great Kindle World…but getting them to do it would be a challenge.

Crowdfunding and donations

This is a very direct way to support an author.

Crowdfunding typically means that you are supporting a specific project. Individuals pledge money, perhaps to enable the publication of a specific book. In exchange, they may get certain benefits, like a signed copy or e-mails which only go to supporters.

Donations are often just general support. Authors may have a Paypal link on a website: you just give them money, and  they use it how they choose. You don’t get a specific benefit. That may sound odd, but it’s a way to say “I like what you are doing and I’d like you to be able to do more of it” without controlling (and thereby possibly altering the behavior of) the author.

Salaries

Yes, some authors actually get paid a salary, just like other employees. Those won’t usually be authors of novels: they’ll be television screenwriters, technical writers, some periodical writers…it needs to be something where there is a clearcut period of time where there will be a demand for the writing. That may be a fairly short job…one TV season, perhaps. This does exist, though: they may even have benefits and paid time off. :)

I say those are the primary methods that authors make money. Most authors make very little money. When you “gotta write”, you “gotta write”. I’d write if I wasn’t paid for it (but probably not as much). I’ve always done something creative, and writing works well for me. I’m very grateful to subscribers (a form of royalty) of this blog, and all of the other ways people make this possible. If (“say WHEN” says my Significant Other) ;) I retire, I expect to write a lot more. I might even make a living writing when I’m retired…but I’m sure I would do it regardless.

Authors should be able to make a writing living, if there is a demand for their product. This gives you some ways that some authors can do that, or at least, can supplement their income.

Enjoy Labor Day!

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Oliver Sacks has reportedly died

August 31, 2015

Oliver Sacks has reportedly died

I love reading non-fiction.

What I particularly enjoy is when something gives me a new take on the normal.

I have that right now with

Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

When I managed a brick-and-mortar bookstore, there was a particular non-fiction book that became were actively seeking. It wasn’t just the typical feeling of someone just being intrigued…it felt more like they were looking for insight.

That book was

The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat (at AmazonSmile*)

by the neurologist Oliver Sacks.

I’ve always been fascinated by how people think: I’m a trainer (which requires a strong understanding of that), a writer, and have been working in the medical field (not as a clinician) for quite some time.

Oddly, though, I’ve never actually read the book.

Not too long ago, I happily downloaded it to my

Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping)

as part of our membership in

Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

That’s right: a book which was a bestseller, and which I’ve thought about reading since before the Kindle existed, was available for me at no additional cost.

I was saddened, then, to have the book as yet unread on my device when I heard about Oliver Sacks passing.

It wasn’t a surprise: I knew that the author had cancer about a decade ago, and that it had taken a serious turn for the worse earlier this year.

There is the consolation that Oliver Sacks will  continue to have a presence in the world and to influence people’s lives through the books.

While “Hat” (4.3 stars out of 5 with 420 reviews) is the only one available through KU, there are fourteen Oliver Sacks books in the USA Kindle store:

Oliver Sack’s Amazon Author Central page (at AmazonSmile*)

Having “Hat” in KU is a good strategy: people reading that one certainly might want to read some of the others, which include:

  • Musicophilia
  • Awakenings (which became an Oscar and Golden Globe nominated movie with Robin Williams and Robert De Niro
  • An Anthropologist on Mars (which is unavailable in p-book…paperbook…right now)
  • The Island of the Colorblind
  • Hallucinations
  • Seeing Voices
  • A Leg to Stand On

While we can mourn his loss, we can be thankful that we can still connect with Oliver Sacks through the books of someone who was both a great thinker and a feeling individual…and with the rare gift of being able to communicate both perspectives.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Guest post: Kris Calvin, author of One Murder More

June 4, 2015

Guest post: Kris Calvin, author of One Murder More

Kris Calvin is my sibling, who has recently published a first novel. I wasn’t involved in the production of the book, except as a beta reader (and any comments I made there were anonymous), and contributing to the crowdfunding. We’ve had some interesting discussions about the process, and I have given some advice about e-book publishing in particular. It’s been fascinating for me to watch! Right now, with only a few days of publication, the book has 4.7 stars out of 5 on Amazon, with twenty reviews. I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to write a review, but I am impressed with that. Kris has also gotten some amazing blurbs! One of the ones that really stood out was from John Lescroart (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*), the New York Times bestselling author of the Dismas Hardy series, among others:

“Crisp and entertaining, One Murder More marks a solid debut for Kris Calvin, who sets herself apart as a writer to watch.”

You can read other blurbs and more at Kris’ website:

http://www.kriscalvin.com/

I also really liked this five star review (one of many) on the book’s Amazon product page (I’m only doing a short excerpt):

“I have a new hero in Maren Kane and a new author in Kris Calvin.”
–Gary Pia

You can read the rest of that review (and the others) here:

One Murder More (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

What follows is Kris’ reaction to the June 1st “launch day” for One Murder More: I asked Kris to write something about that for you, my readers.

One Murder More, my debut work as a fiction writer, is a political mystery novel. It features lobbyist Maren Kane, who finds herself embroiled in a murder investigation in California’s capital city of Sacramento. Populated with a diverse cast of suspects and sidekicks, I intended the story to weave a challenging puzzle of suspense, sprinkled with humor.

Three days ago, June 1, 2015, was the release and public publication date for One Murder More, via Amazon and brick-and-mortar bookstores. The weeks prior felt like the lead-up to a major holiday. Christmas works as a good example.

There was lots of fiddling with website design and content for my author site (buying and trimming the tree), ample tweeting and posting the milestones that led up to publication (writing and mailing holiday cards), and even reviewing wine and dessert options for a local bookstore signing event (catering the annual holiday party).   All of which generated a sensation similar to what I experienced as a child pre-holiday, when the focus was largely the anticipation of gifts—which, in the end, might be what I wanted or not (positive or negative reviews and high or low sales numbers).

Yet, despite emotional similarities one important difference between “Pub-date Eve” and Christmas Eve is that Santa has a scheduled appearance. He may mess with that a bit if the latest Xbox isn’t available in his workshop, and he has to promise delivery several weeks later.  But for the most part the man in red and his reindeer punch a clock.

In contrast, when a new novel is put out into the world it’s unclear not only when, but also whether the anticipated payoff will arrive.

So when June 1st, “the great day”, finally came, I was up at 12:01 AM at my computer, trying to catch up on some work. I noticed the time, and took a moment to honor that moment, to reflect that this would be the only “first minute of the first day of my first novel publication” ever in my life.

Then I checked the clock at 12:02 AM June 1st and realized nothing felt different, that nothing had actually changed. Even later that day, amidst the furor of much appreciated well wishes, of reviews and tweets, the most notable sensation for me was that nothing had changed.

I think it’s because while a book has two birthdates, neither of them are the launch day.

The first is when the idea for a book becomes clear enough that the writer sits down and begins to type, dictate or put pen to paper—in some way to begin to transform vapor to solid; internal to external; and the “fuzzy daydreams” of unedited plot and characters emerge to see the light.  (Thanks to author Catriona McPherson for that phrase to characterize the first draft process).

That merits the first candle on the cake.

The second birthdate is when the book becomes “final” for publication. For hardback, this means it’s gone to the printer and no changes can be made. For an e-book there’s more flexibility, but there still comes a point at which the novel has been formatted for Kindle and change must be conscious and assertive and great enough to cause a writer to reopen his or her work.

So while the day the book goes on sale to the public is certainly one for celebration, it seems to me to be more a graduation than a birth. It’s a marker in a path that has already been cleared and civilized with wood chips or gravel, if not stone.

I’ve been an avid reader all my life, and as an adult I get through 2 to 3 novels a week. But I’d never considered becoming a writer until three years ago when I picked up a copy of Kate Atkinson’s Case Histories, a challenging, complex mystery with distinct storylines that come together seamlessly in the end. Having worked in politics and advocacy for many years, where no plot line is clean and motives for murder and mayhem seem endless, I realized Atkinson’s structure might work to enable me to write a book based on what I lived and knew.

That was August 2012. I wish I noted the exact date, but I sat down to write one day of that month and continued to do so every morning through October. I now realize that was the first birth of one Murder More.

I spent several months rewriting, took time off for single parenting and working a day job and then went back to it. There were several drafts, multiple editors and finally a willing and supportive publisher, Inkshares, Inc.

The book was out of my hands and on the way to the printer January 25, 2015. Birthdate number two.

Six months later, it still doesn’t feel quite real to me. It’s as though one day I was baking banana bread in my kitchen, and decided it might be nice to add lime to the batter.  A friend came over and said it was wonderful banana bread, so unique, and that it should be sold in the local markets. Soon loaves of my bread were out where lots of people could try it, some who like lime and some who do not.

There’s a joy in that process, in learning and sharing something that was internal for so long. But before long there’s also a strong drive to get back in the kitchen and start baking again. And that’s where I am now. I miss lobbyist Maren Kane and company, my characters, the friends I made in those three years of development.

And since One Murder More is the first of a series, the second book has formed in my head. This time I’m prepared to write down the date and to have the cake and first candle ready.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

What do tradpubbed authors really think about their publishers…and about Amazon?

April 16, 2015

What do tradpubbed authors really think about their publishers…and about Amazon?

Huge kudos to

Agent Hunter

for a really fascinating survey of tradpubbed (traditionally published) authors!

You can see the entire dataset of twenty-nine questions (and three more items) here:

http://agenthunter.co.uk/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Data_All_Final.pdf

to get the results from 812 respondents.

This is an immensely intriguing survey!

I hear it a lot: people are surprised that authors stay with their traditional publishers when they could just self publish and get a much bigger cut.

There are a lot of reasons for that…and they don’t apply to every author.

At this point in the evolution of publishing, being with a tradpub is a bigger benefit if you are already a success than if you are just beginning.

That doesn’t mean that a first novelist shouldn’t be with a tradpub…it’s just that people like Stephen King get more out of the deal than someone who doesn’t have a track record.

Think of it a bit like…taking a cab.

A lot of people don’t own cars nowadays. They may use Zip cars, or Uber, or Lyft, or public transit…or cabs.

So, let’s say you don’t take a cab, but you need to drive through a town.

One option is to own the car.

You have to put your money into it.

You have to deal with the legalities (like registration and insurance).

You have to know where you are going.

The cabs get to drive right up to the front door of the hotel, or to the airport…you aren’t allowed to do that and just leave your car there. You have to park…and pay for parking.

When you independently publish, it’s like owning the car.

With a cab, you have to have the money to pay for it. Then, if it’s a reputable cab, the rest of it is done by somebody else. They know how to get there. They pay for gas, tolls, registration, and so on.

If you are already a success, and you know that when you get to your appointment you are going to make a lot of money, paying for a cab makes sense.

If you don’t have much money, and don’t know that the trip is going to be profitable, it may not.

Let me focus for right now on two questions: I don’t want to take too much away from the survey.

Question 24 says, “Amazon and other e-book distributors
pay a 70% royalty to authors (assuming your price is $2.99–$9.99), as opposed to the roughly 17.5% paid by most publishers.
If you did self-publish an e-book, how do you expect you would fare financially?”

The first interesting thing about this to me is that more than half of the respondents skipped the question!

Now, you may guess that’s due to question fatigue (sometimes, the farther you get in a survey, the fewer answers you get), but about 90% of the respondents answered the previous question.

No, I think there are a couple of possibilities.

One is that people are afraid to think about it. They may even have been shocked by the 70% figure…they might have had no idea it could be that high.

Another is that, well, it has numbers in it. ;)

Not everybody who is good with words loves math. That might have put off some people as well.

The most popular answer (besides “I don’t know”) by far was that they would lose money. 23.78% thought that would happen…only 15.14% thought they would make more money.

The answers make it look as though the choice is between an independently published e-book and no p-book (paperbook) version, or a tradpubbed e-book and p-book.

That’s not an unreasonable thing to say.

Yes, you can do a p-book version independently through Amazon along with your e-book, but that’s a tiny slice of the p-book market…certainly, as long as people still buy p-books in stores (and that includes places like Costco and grocery stores).

Question 25 is even more interesting to me:

“If you were to self-publish, you would have control over every aspect of publication. How would you feel about that prospect?”

Even fewer people answered that one…only about 41%.

You might think everybody wants to be in control of the process…but fully 36.63% of respondents were “Horrified/negative” on it. That’s about 12% more than the “Excited/positive” group.

I can understand that.

Can’t you see wanting to be somebody who just writes? Who doesn’t have to worry about proofreading, and layout, and filing the copyright?

You may think you want to be in control of everything…but do you want to do your own appendectomy? ;) In my case, I definitely don’t want to be the person fixing my car!

My Significant Other made a great point to me a long time ago.

We are not good at gardening…we just aren’t. Oh, one of us can get out there with a weed eater and cut down the weeds. I did that recently, at least part of it. The weeds were twice as tall as our dogs (we have short dogs). I bought a new weed eater (they have really improved the technology since the last time I bought one!), and literally did it until I came to the end of the line. ;) When that spool was out, I had to stop…got more through Prime, so one of us will do more of the yard soon.

Anyway, the point my SO made was that, if there are people who are good at doing something and want to do it, and we are bad at it and don’t like it, and (and this point is important) we can afford to pay them to do it…we are keeping them from putting food on the table for their kids for essentially selfish reasons.

One big reason to have money is to help other people, as far as I’m concerned.

We aren’t rich (although that’s always going to be a relative term to people), but we can afford to pay somebody a couple of times a year to trim the trees and cut down the weeds and haul everything away.

For some authors, it may be a bit like that with their publishers. Yes, anybody can try to be a marketer, or a proofreader…but paying somebody (by taking a relatively lower royalty) may be the right thing to do.

Of course, it goes far beyond that.

I’ve helped some people by reading their drafts and making comments.

There is no question that some editors and authors have had terrific partnerships. The editor doesn’t write the book, but helps the author improve it by making suggestions.

I’ve seen it with some authors (who shall remain nameless) where it seems to me that they become brand names…and people stop editing them as strongly, and their work (although not necessarily their sales) suffers for it.

If  you are at all interested in the actual source of the books you read (the authors), I’d recommend you spend some time with this survey. You may also find the anonymous pseudo-tweets they asked people to write (although they have to be shorter than tweets…120 characters)…one set of them is to Jeff Bezos. Some of them are very praising, others are negative…with themes running through both. I have to say, I was a bit perplexed with one accusing Amazon of making “obscene profits”…that’s somebody who hasn’t ever looked at an Amazon financial statement! Many of the comments had to do with taxes, and with treating employees better.

Once again, congratulations to Agent Finder! The questions are entertaining, and the answers informative.

After you’ve read it, I’d be interested in what you think about it…you can tell me and my readers by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Bestselling Kindle authors and social media

April 11, 2015

Bestselling Kindle authors and social media

I recently mentioned that I have a sibling who has a first novel,

One Murder More (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

coming out on June 1st.

We’ve had some discussions along the way, and it’s been interesting to see the process.

One question has been about the amount of involvement in social media, and what kinds.

I can’t claim to be an expert on that, by any means. Yes, this blog is successful (it’s usually one of the top ten blogs of any kind in the USA Kindle store). Sure, I feel like I have a good relationship with my readers. I can also say that my Flipboard magaines, including

 ILMK magazine at Flipboard

are doing well, although I don’t know how they compare to others.

But the more well-known social media outlets? Not so much. ;)

I have 309 followers on

Twitter

I suspect there may be somebody’s left gym sock with more followers than that. ;)

I do have a Facebook account, but it’s totally stealth…as private as I could make it. I only joined Facebook so I could look at things that family members post.

To be clear, I don’t have anything against Facebook…I just don’t have the social energy to spend on it.

I would feel a responsibility to respond to people there, just as I respond to almost every comment made on this blog. What with my family, an often more than full time job, writing (I told myself I’d average at least 1,000 words a day in this blog, and I do that…plus I have another blog where I write more rarely, and I work on books although I haven’t released one in a while), and the Amazon forums (which helps with this blog…and I just like helping people), I simply feel like I couldn’t add another commitment and keep up the standards I want to meet.

Oh, and I do write reviews on

Goodreads

I have a whopping 28 friends there…and seven followers. :)

However, any new (or established, for that matter) author is going to get a lot of advice to be active on social media.

My sibling was understandably excited to tell me about the new eponymous website

http://www.kriscalvin.com/

which is a way to connect with readers.

I don’t have an eponymous website. The closest thing I have to that is

Bufo Calvin’s Amazon Author Central Page

So, the announcement of the website got me curious. What is the social media presence like of the bestselling authors in the USA Kindle store? Are they on Twitter? Instagram? Do they have a blog? A website?

I decided to take a look.

Amazon does rank authors, but that tends to favor authors with a lot of books, and I wanted to see the potential impact on new authors, who might have only one.

I went to the

Bestselling paid books in the USA Kindle store (at AmazonSmile*)

and just started checking (in order, from #1 to #5).

Paula Hawkins (The Girl on the Train)
publisher: Penguin Random House (PRH)
Amazon Author Central (AAC) page: yes
Goodreads Author page: yes 1325 followers
Twitter: yes @PaulaHWrites 3809 followers
Facebook: yes PaulaHawkinsWriter 955 likes
Website: yes PaulaHawkinsBooks

Comment: there is another Paula Hawkins, a politician, which is probably why the website isn’t just PaulaHawkins.com.

Sejal Badani (Trail of Broken Wings)
publisher: Amazon’s Lake Union
Amazon Author Central (AAC) page: yes
Goodreads Author page: yes 2 followers
Twitter: not found
Facebook: not found
Website: not found

Comment: this book is a Kindle First pick (eligible Prime members typically get one Kindle First book a month free…sometimes it has been two, and other people can get it at a reduced rate). Clearly, that’s been a way to sales success in the Kindle store. The book actually isn’t released yet, so it’s possible some of the other elements will be in place by May 1st.

Orest Stelmach (The Altar Girl)
Amazon Author Central (AAC) page: yes
Goodreads Author page: yes 1369 followers
Twitter: yes @oreststelmach 7847 followers
Facebook: not found
Website: yes oreststelmach

Comment: this is also a Kindle First pick.

Melissa F. Olson (Boundary Crossed)
Amazon Author Central (AAC) page: yes
Goodreads Author page: yes 242 followers
Twitter: yes @melissafolson 2656 followers
Facebook: yes MelissaFOlson 491 likes
Website: yes melissafolson

J.S. Scott (No Ordinary Billionaire)
Amazon Author Central (AAC) page: yes
Goodreads Author page: yes 1552 followers
Twitter: yes @AuthorJSScott 8353 followers
Facebook: yes AuthorJSScott 61894 likes
Website: yes authorjsscott

Comment: that’s a lot of Facebook likes!

Looking at these top five, it’s clear that you don’t need social media to be a bestseller on Amazon…if you are a Kindle First pick. ;)

Excluding that factor, might sense here is that Goodreads (which is owned by Amazon) matters. I don’t have an author page there, and perhaps I should (I’m just on it as a reader).

I’m impressed with how J.S. Scott has done it, in part by creating the reasonable online “handle” of JSSCott. That’s consistently applied, which I think is a good thing…Facebook, the Website, and Twitter all use it.

Everybody in the top five has Amazon Author Central pages…I do think that gives you a legitimacy.

Interestingly, I’m not seeing that having a blog (separate from Twitter or your website) is a big thing. I do think that’s a danger for some writers…that they can put a lot of time and energy into the blog, and not produce books.

Certainly, I thought my focus would be on books, and it’s much more on this blog. I don’t think that’s a problem for me, though. I’m not trying to make a living just doing this, and the blog is fun, is a good creative outlet, and lets me connect with people, which I like.

However, I am starting to try to take a day a month off work as a writing day.

I’d like to be getting more books done.

I remember years ago when my Significant Other asked me what my retirement plan was and I said, “I plan to die at work.” ;) I do like my job that much…as a trainer, I wake up on a weekday and say, “Oh boy, I get to go to work today!” As I’m fond of saying, though, I have a genetic abnormality: I’m an optimist. ;)

My Significant Other would like to retire some day, and I’ve started to get myself into that mindset. One thing that would be attractive to me about that would be writing more.

I would budget part of my time and energy into the social media part (assuming it exists in some semblance of what we have today…not planning to retire soon). I’d also just flat out write more.

I guess the advice I would give writers is to figure that you have a finite amount of time, energy, and creativity. You have to budget it: if a particular bit of social media is an investment where you’ll profit (that might be in more time, more energy, more creativity…or yes, money), then go for it. If not, you don’t need to be there…Amazon could always pick you. ;)

Let’s also do a quick poll:

What do you think? If you are an author, do you feel pressure to be on social media? As a reader, have you ever discovered an author on social media, and then become a reader of their works? Does having, say, a Goodreads Author page give someone more credibility for you? Do you feel like you have become more emotionally invested in an author because of reading their tweets? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Do we have an editor to thank for To Kill a Mockingbird?

February 5, 2015

Do we have an editor to thank for To Kill a Mockingbird?

In today’s shifting landscape of publishing, there is a lot of talk about what value the traditional systems bring to it.

Certainly, authors succeed nowadays with none of the elements of the tradpubs (traditional publishers).

Oh, without a doubt, the vast majority of them don’t.

Undeniably, though, there are books which sell well which have never had the benefit of a professional proofreader, a marketing department…or an editor.

Some people have even wondered why all authors don’t just self publish…why does a brand name author, like Stephen King or Anne Rice, even need a tradpub?

Well, if the narrative we are being given behind the upcoming release of Harper Lee’s “new” book

Go Set a Watchman (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

is true, we wouldn’t have had

To Kill a Mockingbird (at AmazonSmile)

without an editor.

I don’t just mean it wouldn’t have been the same: it probably wouldn’t have existed at all.

Go Set a Watchman can be pre-ordered now for its first publication on July 14th, but there is a reason I put “new” in quotation marks.

It was written a long time ago…before TKaM, in fact.

According to this

The Guardian story by Alison Flood

and other sources, Lee had first shopped Go Set a Watchman to a publisher.

Her editor reportedly really like the flashbacks about a main character, and recommended that Lee focus on that.

So Lee wrote a book about that character as a child…a child with the nickname of “Scout”.

Now, it’s possible that Go Set a Watchman is the superior book, but I doubt it. People talk about a “Great American Novel”, and I don’t believe there can be just one…but certainly, To Kill a Mockingbird would be in the competition.

No, it seems more likely to me that the editor was right. The editor recognized the strength in the original book, and made a suggestion to the author…which improved things.

That’s what editors should do…and why some bestselling authors love their editors and wouldn’t want to leave them.

Some indies (independently published authors) hire people to be their editors, but honestly, I don’t think that’s the same.

I think an editor who is employed by a publisher has a different outlook.

It’s their job to make books better (and to make them sell better)…and their continued success depends on, well, their continued success.

I know some people are thinking that means they need to steer people away from art and towards commercial writing. I joked about that myself in

Lose the lion

However, I think that a book’s artistic merits can be enhanced by having more than just the author involved in its creation.

Some people use beta readers or writing groups to critique their works.

That’s very different from a professional editor…I’m not saying it doesn’t work, but it’s not the same.

I’ll be looking forward to reading the book! I’ll also be thankful to the editor who made the original suggestion to Lee, to Harper Lee for acting on it so beautifully (when the author could have been stubborn and not taken the advice), and to the lawyer who found the manuscript and recognized it for what it was.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Round up #281: Arthur, Hugh, and John

January 7, 2015

Round up #281: Arthur, Hugh, and John

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

Hugh Howey: Where Do We Go From Here?

There have been a lot of posts looking at publishing in 2014 and where it might go in 2015 (I’ve done them myself).

Author Hugh Howey (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) has one of the most interesting reviews in this

blog post

Howey was in the news, even in the mainstream, as one of the leading author defenders of Amazon during what I call the Hachazon War (the dispute between the retailer Amazon and the publisher Hachette). That can be a difficult position: everyone understands when you are a defender of the weak, but they can be less sympathetic to a defender of the strong.

That particular issue is an example of why this is a strong article. Howey says:

“2014 was the year the first of the major publishers was able to resume its squabble with Amazon over the price of ebooks. Hachette drew the short straw…”

Yep…all of the traditional publishers were going to negotiate with Amazon this year, and it happened to be Hachette that got into the public over the fight. It wasn’t necessarily something intrinsic to Hachette, something that made them different from the rest of the Big 5. It was even more public than the dispute Amazon had with Macmillan some time back.

I strongly recommend the article, for some of the best observations on issues including subsers (subscription services).

I will say that Howey doesn’t answer the title question, but that doesn’t lessen the value of this piece.

Well done, Hugh!

Dish will offer Sling TV on Fire TV and Fire TV Stick

There is a lot of buzz over Dish Network’s announcement of a new service…one pretty good analysis is this

Washington Post article by Brian Fung

but there have been many.

In this

press release

Dish calls it a “game changer”, and it’s certainly an interesting move.

For $20 a month, users will get the following networks (initially):

ESPN, ESPN2, TNT, TBS, Food Network, HGTV, Travel Channel, Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, ABC Family and CNN

The big one, in terms of draw, is ESPN: live sports without a cable contract (there is no contract for Sling TV).

They will also offer “add-on packs”:

  • “Kids Extra” add-on with Disney Junior, Disney XD, Boomerang, Baby TV and Duck TV for $5
  • “News & Info Extra” add-on with HLN, Cooking Channel, DIY and Bloomberg TV

A “Sports Extra” add-on pack is also coming.

I’ve mentioned before that we are largely using a

Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

and a

Fire TV Stick (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

for our TVs at this point, and are looking at dropping cable video altogether.

One channel I would really miss if we did that was CNN, which is part of this…but I don’t think we’d pay $20 for it at this point.

For under $20, we have both Netflix and Hulu+, and that works pretty well.

However, many people will buy Sling TV for the sports…and they are really trying to attract the New Millennial generation (born roughly from 1982 through 2004, but different people define it differently). Adult Swim is probably also a draw for them.

One thing this doesn’t have is the big four broadcast networks. You can get quite a bit of that through Hulu+, but not live. Oh, and you do have ads on Hulu+ (but not on Netflix).

CBS has “All Access” for $6 a month, although it isn’t everything.

The perfect “cord cutting” solution isn’t here yet, but it seems clear that more flexibility in TV programming options is coming.

John Scalzi on Kindle Unlimited

One of my readers, Peter Willard, alerted me to this

blog post by John Scalzi

Scalzi is a good writer. We have seen things differently in the past, and that is still the case here, but I think it is worth reading the article.

This is not a flat condemnation of

Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

as one might guess. I do think it will be good for some authors (many, actually), not good for others…just like any other distribution channel.

One place where we disagree is this statement by Scalzi:

“That said, the thing to actively dislike about the Kindle Unlimited “payment from a pot” plan is the fact that it and any other plan like itabsolutely and unambiguously make writing and publishing a zero-sum game. In traditional publishing, your success as an author does not limit my success — the potential pool of money is so large as to be effectively unlimited, and one’s payment is independent of any other purchase a consumer might make, or what any other reader might read.”

As a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager, that’s a bizarre concept. One author’s sales don’t affect another author’s sales because there is such a large pool of money?

That certainly wasn’t my personal experience, or my perception of what my customers thought.

Customers generally had only so much money they could spend (although they might exceed it, of course). Certainly, there were a lot of people not spending much money on books, and they are hypothetically a potential audience, but I don’t think that’s what Scalzi is suggesting.

Let’s say there were ten alternate history books available in my store. Customers chose which one or two to buy, usually…they didn’t buy all ten. That wasn’t because that customer didn’t want to read all ten: it was because they had to be selective due to budgetary restraints.

I don’t see how that means that if they bought Author A’s book it didn’t affect whether or not they bought Author B’s book.

Yes, there is a difference with Kindle Unlimited…although, I’d say it’s less about one author being chosen over another than traditional publishing is.

Take those ten alternate history books, and say they are all in KU.

It seems much more likely to me that a KU member will read all ten…or at least, will read at least 10% (the payment threshold) of all ten.

Why not? It doesn’t make a difference in what they pay if they read one or ten…unlike traditional publishing.

However, the more borrows there are, the lower the individual payment.

If the pool of funds is one million dollars, and there are a million borrows that month, each borrow gets $1.

What this does do, I suppose, is mean that it is a benefit for authors/publishers if people read less. That’s new. If there were only 100,000 borrows, each borrow would be worth $10, not $1.

For traditional publishing, the more somebody buys to read, the more money is going to authors/publishers…not necessarily more to a specific author or publisher, but more altogether.

With KU, the more people read, the less goes to individuals, although the pot is the same.

That is, of course, unless Amazon raises the pot.

That’s what I think may happen…if KU proves to be a good way to get people to become and stay Prime members, or in other ways integrate more deeply with Amazon.

That’s where the money is from consumers: “diapers and windshield wipers”, not e-books.

I also think Amazon is going to make an increasing amount of money from suppliers.

I could even see a scenario where they charge big publishers to be in KU or to have their books featured in it, as another revenue stream.

Interesting times…

Marc Brown’s Arthur e-books on Kindle for the first time

Seven of Marc Brown’s Arthur the Aardvark children’s books are available on Kindle for the first time.

Arthur in the Kindle Store (at AmazonSmile*)

These are very popular books which have been around for years…you may also be familiar with the TV series.

Note that text-to-speech is unavailable on these books…not, I believe, because it has been blocked by the publisher (in which case I  would not be linking), but because these are picture books and the text is part of the image, inaccessible to the TTS software.

Yes, they are available through Kindle Unlimited.

Bonus deal: I know this is late in the day, but Amazon is continuing to offer many more than four titles in the

Kindle Daily Deals (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

They have “15 First-In-Series Mysteries and Thrillers, $1.99 or Less Each”, and there are some good titles there. I added Eric Van Lustbader’s The Ninja to my Kindle Unlimited wishlist. :)

Amazon Echo update

More invitations have been going out, but nothing for me yet. Still waiting patiently. :)

What do you think? Are authors talking more about the publishing business because they are becoming more in control of it with the additional power of indie e-distribution? Do authors generally want other authors to succeed, thinking a rising tide raises all boats, or is there competition for readers? Do you choose between similar books when you buy? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.


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