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Saturday, August 09, 2014

Saturdays and Publishing

I was awakened at shortly after 7 this morning as the dogs were desperate to get outside and bark at air molecules.  Banner day in the Sev household as we got to sleep in until 7 AM.  Our mutts are harsh task masters.  I came in, made some coffee, watched Mr. Sev stumble from the bedroom only to stop and lay on the new couch before advancing into the kitchen and managing to make his cup of coffee. He's had a hard week, working out of town and in town.  He's completely allowed to be bleary eyed.

I've started laundry and put some banana bread into the oven.  Typical Saturday. I've also cleaned up dog messes, handed out milk bones and fed the cats.  And, I've still got to write today since I've not had five minutes to do it in the past two weeks.  With all the guys home I should be able to, right?  First Y chromosome that asks me if there's anything to eat will be shown the business side of a Ginsu and shown the deli drawer and bread area of the countertop.  I may have to fire myself for that last statement. I'm kind of a bitch about social media.

So I felt brave enough to open my e-mail.  I should have listened to my inner hobo's voice and just played Free Cell. There is a letter from my publisher.  Yes, I have a publisher.  I'm considered by the publishing world to be self-published and yet I am not.  I just managed to find a publisher who really doesn't care what I write as long as they can make a dime off of it.  For a first time published writer it was a match made in heaven. My publisher is Amazon Kindle Books, AKA Kindle Direct Publishers.  My books are only available from Amazon in the Kindle format.  Does this mean I'm limiting my market?  I have a market?  No, because anyone can install the Kindle app on their phone, tablet, PC.  You don't have to own a Kindle to read the Kindle books, you just have to have the app.  It's available for Apple devices, Android Devices, Windows, etc.  It's also free.  Why?  Because Amazon is in the business of selling things like books and making it easier for you to use their format is a bonus in the sales tree.

I have a feeling that Kat Richardson is going to end up hating me, I don't know, but I'm actually fighting for her to make more of a profit off her books.  But let me start this story correctly.

Years ago, when Mr. Sev bought me my first Kindle (2nd Gen White) I was in absolute raptures.  He got the one with Whispernet and I could easily purchase and download books to the device on the fly.  I already had an extensive (over 100K) e-book library and I quickly loaded that puppy up and it was my personal dream come true.  Endless books!  However, I was dismayed that I was paying hardcover and paperback prices for e-books.  Frankly, I was outraged.  Why on earth was I paying as much for a digital book that didn't have to be printed, stored, shipped, put on shelves, reprinted, etc.,?  KDP pointed out in their e-mail this morning:

Fast forward to today, and it’s the e-book’s turn to be opposed by the literary establishment. Amazon and Hachette – a big US publisher and part of a $10 billion media conglomerate – are in the middle of a business dispute about e-books. We want lower e-book prices. Hachette does not. Many e-books are being released at $14.99 and even $19.99. That is unjustifiably high for an e-book. With an e-book, there’s no printing, no over-printing, no need to forecast, no returns, no lost sales due to out of stock, no warehousing costs, no transportation costs, and there is no secondary market – e-books cannot be resold as used books. E-books can and should be less expensive.
 This is all before the author sees one dime of royalties from the sales of their books.  The publishing industry is in the business to make money and I'm so down with that. However, as most of you know, I am very hostile to industries that refuse to change with the market and try to hogtie consumers into their business model, despite there being a better mousetrap out there.  Also, note the re-sale quip.  Authors do not see one dime from used book store sales. They go on to say:
The fact is many established incumbents in the industry have taken the position that lower e-book prices will “devalue books” and hurt “Arts and Letters.” They’re wrong. Just as paperbacks did not destroy book culture despite being ten times cheaper, neither will e-books. On the contrary, paperbacks ended up rejuvenating the book industry and making it stronger. The same will happen with e-books.
  How many folks, especially young people with little discretionary funds, have to wait for the paperbacks or worse, for the used book stores, to have their favorite author on sale to buy these books at an already over-inflated price?  Don't discount libraries either.  Most of them are using tablet devices to check out e-books already.  They won't have wear and tear or "lost books" unless someone gets stupid and loses the tablet device and wow, that's a price to pay for a book, right?  No more stolen or lost books.  No more worrying about shelf space.  Of course they still get the revenue for late device turn in, etc.,.

Imagine if the publishing industry realized that e-books freed up revenue for further marketing of their authors and published books? What if they realized they could publish more books because they had more revenue to buy more books? The movie and recording industries are still bathing in their own blood from the file sharing fight that they lost.  Movie and music streaming was the future, digital music and movies is the now, it's where they make their money. And, they are making money hand over fist.  Who cares if the theatre industry is dying?  They, too, will find ways to get butts into seats once they realize that their concession prices and rude customers is what keeps most people home.  Why do you think I still have not gone to see Guardians of the Galaxy, as I am one of the biggest fans of the comic book?  Not a fan of attending movies with children, rude, stupid teen-agers and a generation so ignorant of simple manners it's disgusting and kills my hope for the future of mankind every time I'm exposed to it.

If the publishers were smart they would quickly see that e-books is where the money is.  But, what do they do?  They whine, they run to DC and collude with each other to keep prices artificially high.

Authors really just want to be left alone to write, and I would be more than happy to not be dragged into this fight, however, I do have a dog in it.  My problem is, if I just self-publish to Kindle, I get no marketing at all.  Everything is word of mouth, which as a marketing tool, is not a reliable marketing tactic.  I would love to sell tons of books. I would love for readers to love my books, like I do my favorite authors.

And let me let you in on another secret.  Over the past few years I have re-bought many of my favorite authors e-books and donated my paper and ink books to shelters, retirement communities and the local libraries.  Sadly, many of my books were so worn for love of the book that they had to be recycled.  So, for many authors, I've bought your books several times over.  Win-Win for the authors and publishing houses.  But do the publishing houses see it that way?  No, they only see that they lose control over every aspect of the author's ability to make any money so like toddlers, they dig in their heels, go all stiff, and begin screaming and crying because they are not getting their way.

So, my dear Kat Richardson and all of my other favorite authors out there, I fight for you and for me, because I'm not going to fight any battle I don't have a stake in.  But I do have one request for Amazon and all the publishing houses out there not embracing e-books, keep us out of the middle of it.  I just want to write books people want to read.  If you keep dragging us into the middle of it, trust me, you won't like the results.  There is always a better mouse-trap out there, always a bigger fish and if we all band together and rebel, no one will like the results except us and our readers.

We're imaginative that way.

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