Navigating the modern business of book publishing

Posts of the Week – The Blog Round-up Sep 21

I read a huge number of blogs and articles each week about the book industry, including thoughts on creative writing, publishing, book reviews and everything in between. With so many very talented people approaching these subjects in so many new and interesting ways, I wanted to share some of the posts and articles that I find most thought provoking and insightful each week. It’s also a great chance to meet new writer’s, bloggers and publishing professionals.

Hope you find these as interesting as I did:


John Locke's Guide to Self PublishingSelf-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing
Cristian Mihai – Self-Published author from Romania

If you’re somewhat interested in self-publishing, odds are that you’ve read John Locke’s How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months! Of course, odds are that you’ve also read about the real “secret” behind his success as a self-publisher.

John Locke is held up by many, not least of all himself, as the shining example of self-publishing success. Locke’s overall approach to writing and marketing his books is nothing new – he churns out mass market thrillers that gives his fans what they want – a cheap, action-packed read that’s fun to escape into. The key to Locke’s success (sorry, had to throw the pun in there) has been his decision to take a distribution deal over a publishing deal – that is, to avoid traditional publishing (10-15% royalties) and self-publish his own eBooks exclusively through Amazon at 99c each (with a 70% margin).

Of course, it’s not nearly as simple as all that – it took Locke 9 months before he ever sold anything and when success did come, it was only after putting in a lot of work promoting his books online. The fact is, John Locke is an outlier when you look at the statistics on self publishing and his strategy of selling 99c eBooks is by no means unique. Cristian Mihai takes exception to John Locke’s claims that he represents the death of traditional publishing and explains why both will remain important in the future.


Do You Believe These Three Publishing Myths
Joel Friedlander, The Book Designer – Professional Book Designer and Typographer

Writers conferences are increasingly including information on self-publishing, because it is becoming a more regular part of the whole discussion about how you get into print, how you establish a career, and how you can get the kinds of results people are seeking in exchange for all the hard and lonely work of creating really great books.

If you’ve been around the publishing industry for a while you will have noticed a dramatic change in the last few years in the attitude of traditional publishers to the entire subject of self publishing. Just a few years ago self-publishing was almost a taboo topic, the publishing phantom-zone for poor unfortunates without a book deal. But the tide of opinion is quickly turning, riding a wave of commercial opportunism as publishers are finally recognising the demand for self-publishing services. Even so, their are some persistent myths about self-publishing that Joel Friedlander still hopes to shake …


Hang Up Your Pimp Costume, Kids: Why Free Book Promos on Amazon Don’t Work Like They Used To (No Matter How You Spin the Numbers)
Elle LothlorienSelf-published Author and blogger for Digital Bookworld

I hope I’m wrong, but based on what I’m seeing and hearing (plus a healthy dash of “hunch”), I predict that we will continue to see a downward spiral in the effectiveness of the free promos across the board.

As the renewal date for my KDP Select contract neared, I did a lot of hard thinking, and I finally decided to remove my novels from the program, and work with other sites to launch my novels on their platforms. It’s been a calculated risk not without anxiety, especially as I saw my regular sales and overall revenue plummet on Amazon in September.

Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing Select Program (KDP Select) is aimed at giving self-published authors a promotional platform to launch their eBooks through Amazon. Authors must give Amazon a 90-day exclusive to sell your book and in return Amazon then makes the book available to their Amazon Prime customers in their lending library, offering authors a payback for each book that is borrowed by their members. Within the 90 days authors are also schedule five ‘free book’ days where they can give their eBook away for free to Kindle readers. The theory behind KDP Select is that, by making a book available for free, either through lending or giving it away, an author will generate word of mouth that will lift sales of the book overall.

This is just one of many new marketing models and pricing experiments that authors, publishers and retailers are tinkering with to try and find the sweet spot for their eBook sales. The jury is still very much out on the value of KDP Select, and on the wisdom of giving away your eBooks for free in general, and the simple truth is that there isn’t any magic one-size-fits-all solution. Elle Lothlorien’s experience with KDP Select gives a great insight into the program and the dilemma facing self-published authors in what is quickly becoming a saturated marketplace.


The publishing nitty gritty: all the hoops to self-publish or publish
Cecilia Tan – Baseball Writer and Erotic Fiction Author (yep, you read that correctly!)

OK, folks. A lot of people have been asking me for advice in recent years about either how to publish or how to self-publish. In the past year alone I’ve had four conference calls and half a dozen “coffee/tea” dates with people asking the same questions again and again, and I find myself telling the same things over and over again.

So this is actually from a couple of weeks ago but I only discovered Cecilia’s blog this week and she’s done such a great job answering some common self-publishing questions that I thought it deserved to be featured. The key issues she raises in this posts are the points of distinction between the print book production process and the eBook production process. She also provides and excellent summary of the major eBook formats (pdf, ePub and mobi).

Cecilia also identifies the “big four” eBook distribution channels that authors should look at (Kindle, iTunes, Barnes &Noble and Smashwords). Of course, this is US-based blog so Australian authors can probably ignore Barnes & Noble in favour of some eBook distributors with a stronger Australian focus such as Kobo, Copia and SPUNC. Of course, this is an issue that deserves an entire post on it’s own and I plan to have something up int he next week or two, so stay tuned!

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Categorised in: All Posts, Weekly Blog Round Up

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About Richard

Richard Bilkey has been selling, marketing and distributing books for over ten years, managing independent bookshops, a major online retailer and, most recently, one of Australia's largest Independent Book Distributors, Brumby Books.

Contact Richard directly at
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