Monday, June 30, 2014

Round 5 of the Amazon vs Everybody Wars: Amazon vs France

Allons enfants de la Patrie, Le jour de gloire est arrivé!
The latest round in the Amazon vs Everybody wars is brought to you live from Paris...

Last week Germany began antitrust proceedings against Amazon. This week, France adopted a law that would prevent Amazon from undercutting bookstores by prohibiting free deliveries of discounted books.

France is, to my knowledge, the only nation that has taken such definitive steps to protect independent bookstores.

As writers, we should be following these skirmishes with bated breath. It is not just the publishing industry hanging in the balance.

Large media conglomerates have never worked in our favor, whether they offer favorable terms (at least for now), or not. Mega publishers and mega bookstores have already demonstrated what happens when publication and distribution are restricted to just a few giant corporations. In the long run, Amazon won't behave any better.

Vive la révolution!

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French lawmakers adopt 'anti-Amazon' bill

AFP, June 26, 2014

French lawmakers adopted a bill on Thursday that will prevent Amazon and other online giants from offering free deliveries of discounted books, in a bid to support the country's small bookshops.

The Senate gave its approval for the bill, which had already been unanimously backed in the lower house National Assembly, and it is expected to be signed into law by President Francois Hollande within the next two weeks.

The bill bans online giants such as Amazon from delivering books without charge, but still allows them to set discounts of up to five percent, the maximum allowed under existing French legislation.

In 1981 the government ruled that publishers must set a standard selling price for their books in a bid to protect small retailers and set a limit of five percent on any discount.

Culture Minister Aurelie Filippetti welcomed the parliamentary approval, saying it showed "the nation's deep attachment to books."

While the measure adopted on Thursday is not specifically aimed at Amazon, Filippetti has singled out the US giant's practices in the past, attacking both free deliveries and the firm's tax arrangements.

The online retailer reports its European sales through a Luxembourg-based holding company, taking advantage of the duchy's relatively low corporate tax rates for earnings outside its borders.

Amazon insists the arrangement, which has been criticised by politicians across Europe, is legal under the European Union's single market rules.

Filippetti has also attacked Amazon for its "dumping strategy" and for selling books at a loss.
"Once they are in a dominant position and will have crushed our network of bookshops, they will bring prices back up," she said last year.

France is proud of a network of bookstores it says is "unique in the world" and crucial for culture to reach small towns.

The country has about 3,500 such stores—including 600 to 800 so-called independent retailers that do not belong to a publishing house, a chain or a supermarket—compared to just 1,000 in Britain.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Guy Kawasaki's book, Author-Publisher-Entrepreneur, Free


Guy Kawasaki is the entrepreneur's entrepreneur. He's also into changing the world, just for the hell of it, and encourages others to do the same.

Book Baby is offering APE for free. (You won't find a better price anywhere.)

Click here to download a copy.



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Blurb:

If you are planning on publishing an eBook, this is an absolute must-read. Bestselling authors Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch offer up the ultimate how-to guide for converting, publishing, and selling eBooks.

 This book sells for $10 but the authors are letting BookBaby offer downloads for free! (Your choice of ePub, .mobi, or PDF) Guy Kawasaki is the author of eleven previous books, including What the Plus!, Enchantment, and The Art of the Start.

He is also the cofounder of Alltop.com and the former chief evangelist of Apple. Shawn Welch is the author of two previous books, including From Idea to App, and iOS 5 Core Frameworks. He is also the developer of several iOS applications.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Round 4 of the Amazon vs Everybody Wars: Amazon vs Germany

The New York Times seems to be enjoying the Amazon vs Everybody wars almost as much as I am. In this latest wrinkle, German publishers have launched an antitrust complaint against Amazon.

While German publishers are joining forces in this antitrust move, let us remember that the largest publishing company in the world, Random/Penguin, is owned by Bertelsmann, a privately owned German company which also happens to control a major chunk of the world’s media outlets.

One of Bertelsmann's corporate divisions, RTL, is Europe’s largest broadcasting and production company. With programming rights in 150 countries, it is currently the largest independent TV distribution company outside the United States. Another of its divisions, Gruner + Jahr, is the largest publisher of newspapers and magazines in Europe, with more than 285 print titles in over 20 countries. Gruner + Jahr also owns Brown Printing, the third largest magazine printer in the United States.

Although it is gratifying to watch the publishing industry attempt to clip Amazon's wings, there is an expression about pots and kettles that immediately comes to mind when German publishers start talking about antitrust legislation.
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Amazon Accused by Booksellers of Antitrust Violation in Germany

By Melissa Eddy, New York Times: June 24, 2014

BERLIN — German book publishers have filed a complaint with the country’s antitrust authority against Amazon, accusing the online retailer of violating competition laws and asking the government to investigate.

The complaint, filed last week but announced on Tuesday, comes nearly two months after Amazon began delaying shipments of titles from Bonnier, a leading publishing group in Germany, as part of a dispute over dividing revenue from e-book sales. Amazon is engaged in a similar struggle with Hachette in the United States.

“Amazon’s business conduct not only affects those publishers involved, but poses a danger to all who offer e-books in Germany,” reads the complaint by the German Publishers and Booksellers Association. The group submitted its complaint to the Bundeskartellamt, the federal antitrust authority, on Friday. The document continues: “We call on the Bundeskartellamt to open an investigation and halt Amazon’s actions.”

Read the rest of this article here.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Disengaging from Readers: Dealing with Trolls, Cyber-bullies, and Other Web Cranks

It is received wisdom that writers must actively participate in the online community by joining discussions, replying to comments made on blogs, posting their views on forums, and so on. These interactions, collectively referred to as "engagement," are presented as requirements for building an audience.

There are scads of articles for how to maximize "engagement" on the net, however, for the purposes of authors, most of these recommendations are completely misguided.

Before I get into why these internet pundits are wrong, let me clarify what that term "engagement" actually means for writers.

Engagement, as a marketing term, means getting someone to buy something or exhibit interest in your product in some tangible way. If you are a writer, engagement means getting someone to buy your book, or write a review. If you are a blogger, it means traffic to your blog. If you have launched an author website or Facebook page, it means having people visit, read your page(s), and make return visits.

In short, engagement boils down to numbers.

Keeping that definition in mind, how does it benefit you, as an author, to enter into an online fracas with a person whose sole purpose in life is to annoy people? In fact, some of these "trolls" are even willing to pay for the pleasure of harassing writers. (Read Derek Haines' story here.)  Now, if you were riding on a bus and a complete stranger sat down and starting berating you, you would simply get off the bus. It would be useless to try to argue with them. When someone does that online, it is equally as pointless.

If you are a budding author here are a few simple rules to follow when embarking on "engagement:"

1) If someone makes an insulting comment on a public forum about your book, or anything else you've written, do not reply, even to defend yourself.

2) If someone writes a spiteful comment on your blog or Facebook page, delete it.

3) If someone writes an inappropriate review, personally attacks you, or uses your book for a negative ad campaign, make a complaint. Do not address the "reviewer" directly. (Some of these "reviewers" get paid for driving down the ranking of competing titles by posting negative reviews. Recently, on Amazon, I found 22 identical negative reviews for books on pain management, all of which were posted within a two-day period. I flagged every one of those reviews as inappropriate.)

4) DO NOT post your opinions on blogs other than your own, or any other public site.

5) DO express your thoughts in interviews. Interviews do more to help build your profile than leaving a comment on a blog, and interviews have the added benefit of providing a buffer. (Suggestion: Book reviewers frequently post author interviews.)

6) DO reply graciously to people who give your books a thoughtful review, or who leave good comments, but only if the site is moderated, or if it is your own blog, website, or Facebook page.

Reward people who behave themselves. Ignore those who don't.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

2 Literary Agents Seeking Clients Now

These two agents are looking for writers. As always, take a tour of the agency's website before submitting. Check out the authors they have represented and which publishing houses they have worked with.
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About Mary: Mary joined Sterling Lord Literistic in 2006 after receiving her MFA in Fiction from Columbia University. Born and raised in Nebraska, Mary received her BA in Psychology and English from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. She now lives in Brooklyn. Find her on Twitter: @MaryKrienke.

What she is looking for: Mary represents literary fiction, creative nonfiction, and realistic YA that pays close attention to craft and voice. She is especially drawn to new and emerging writers who seek to push boundaries of form and content, and she responds most strongly to writing that reaches great emotional and psychological depths. She is equally interested in work that illuminates through humor or by playing with genre. Her other interests include psychology, art, and design.

How to submit If submitting fiction, please send a synopsis and the first three chapters or a 50-page sample. If submitting non-fiction, send a detailed proposal. The queries should be sent to info [at] sll.com with “Attn: Mary Krienke” in the email subject line. Cover letters should be in the body of the email but send the actual submission as a Word document attachment.

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About Renee: Several years in the editorial department at Random House’s Colorado division provided Renee with the opportunity to work with bestselling and debut authors alike. After leaving Random House, she came to KT Literary in early 2013 to cultivate her passion for YA literature. Drawing on her editorial experience, she loves digging into client manuscripts and helping authors shape the best story possible. You can follow her on twitter @Renee_Nyen.

What she is looking for: Young Adult and Middle Grade fiction. "I'm always interested in YA historical fiction, mystery, sci-fi, and thrillers, but genre is not as important to me as strong prose and compelling characters."

How to submit: Please submit a query letter with the first three pages of your manuscript pasted in the email to queries (at) ktliterary.com. If she likes your query, she’ll ask for the first five chapters and a complete synopsis. The synopsis should include the full plot of the book including the conclusion.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

7 Graphic Novel Publishers Accepting Manuscripts Directly From Writers

Graphic novels, or, as they were formerly known, comics, have always been popular among teens. But the publication of Maus, Persepolis, Watchmen, and other contemporary graphic novels has launched this medium as a literary genre of its own. 

Tie-ins and film productions based on comic book heroes have driven this genre into the lucrative mainstream, nonetheless, the alternative comic tradition still invites creative thinking, and imaginative writing. Some of the biggest names in the graphic novel industry still welcome submissions. 

As always, read the publisher's submission guidelines very carefully before submitting.
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Drawn & Quarterly is currently the most successful and prominent comics publisher in Canada. It was founded in 1990 by Montreal resident, Chris Oliveros, who was only 23 at the time. Drawn & Quarterly has a strong reputation in the comics community and its anthologies have won a number of Harvey Awards. The publisher has a reputation for the quality of the books it publishes, both in terms of content as well as the books' paper, binding and design. Submissions: "Drawn & Quarterly welcomes submissions for consideration in a number of our publishing venues. We have a seasonal selection of general graphic novels, strip collections, and children's focused publications. We do not review scripts." Electronic submissions accepted. See full guidelines here.

Top Shelf Productions is an American publishing company founded in 1997, owned and operated by Chris Staros and Brett Warnock. The company is based in Marietta, Georgia, Portland, Oregon, and New York City, New York. Top Shelf publishes comics and graphic novels by authors such as Alan Moore, Craig Thompson, James Kochalka, Andy Runton, Jeffrey Brown, Nate Powell, Alex Robinson, Jeff Lemire, and Matt Kindt. Submissions: "Regarding submissions, we're easy. Just send us a xerox copy of what you'd like us to look at (or a URL link), and enough postage if you want the materials returned to you. Just please do not attach and send image files to our email addresses. Also, we cannot accept scripts or plot synopses, unless they are accompanied by a minimum of 10-20 completed pages (i.e., fully inked and lettered comic book pages). We prefer to respond via email, so be sure to include your email address with your submission." Read full guidelines here

Dark Horse Comics was founded in 1986 by Mike Richardson in Milwaukie, Oregon, with the concept of establishing an ideal atmosphere for creative professionals. Dark Horse publishes many licensed comics, including comics based on Star Wars, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Aliens, Predator, Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Conan and Who Wants to be a Superhero? Dark Horse also publishes creator owned comics such as Frank Miller's Sin City, Mike Mignola's Hellboy, Stan Sakai's Usagi Yojimbo, Gerard Way's Umbrella Academy, and Michael Chabon's The Escapist. Submissions: "Dark Horse still welcomes your submissions, and all submissions will still be reviewed, just as they always have been. The only difference is that submissions can no longer be mailed back to the sender. The reason for this change in policy has primarily to do with the growing number of submissions; Dark Horse simply does not have the resources necessary to respond individually to each submission. Submitted samples are often kept on file for future reference, but only those creators for whom Dark Horse has immediate work will be contacted." Dark Horse requires a signed submission agreement. View full guidelines here.

Image Comics is an American comic book publisher. It was founded in 1992 by high-profile illustrators as a venue where creators could publish their material without giving up the copyrights to the characters they created, as creator-owned properties. It was immediately successful, and remains one of the largest comic book publishers in North America. Submissions: "Image Comics only publishes creator-owned material! In other words, we want to publish YOUR comics—we aren’t looking to have you work on books that WE dream up. When you’re submitting stuff to us at the home office, we expect it to be something original, not something utilizing existing Image characters. Image Comics accepts only PROPOSALS for new comic series or graphic novels, etc.WE DO NOT ACCEPT writing (that is plots, scripts, whatever) samples! If you’re an established pro, we might be able to find somebody willing to work with you but it would be nearly impossible for us to read through every script that might find its way our direction. DO NOT SEND your script or your plot unaccompanied by art—it will be discarded, unread." Read full guidelines here.

Titan Publishing Group is an independently owned British publishing company, established in 1981.The books division has two main areas of publishing: film and television tie-ins, and cinema reference books; and graphic novels and comics references and art titles. The company is a division of Titan Entertainment Group, which also owns Titan Magazines. The company has a backlist of over 1,000 graphic novels. Submissions: "The majority of our graphic novel titles are licensed from overseas publishers or acquired through agents. We do however publish a growing number of originated graphic novels. We run portfolio sessions at comic conventions where your work may be reviewed. We are interested to hear from writers and artists who would be interested in working on licensed projects we have already contracted. Please send initially a brief synopsis and covering letter only, not a full manuscript." Read full guidelines here.

Archaia Entertainment, LLC is an American comic book publishing company established by Mark Smylie in 2002. Mark Smylie formed the company as a home for his comic Artesia because the publisher, Sirius Entertainment, wanted to print the third series in black and white. He realized he might as well publish other titles and early titles included Mouse Guard, Robotika and The Lone and Level Sands. Submissions: "Submissions for graphic novels are more than welcome, and we will be looking for works that enthrall and excite us, that strike us as having a unique take or perspective on a medium, story, character, or genre. While we’ve primarily published works in the adventure, fantasy, horror, pulp noir and science fiction genres, we are interested in passion projects, works that are driven by a creator’s unique vision and voice, and so authors are invited to submit works of any genre to us. For graphic novel creators, please note that Archaia does not generally put creative teams together for creator-owned titles (i.e., we do not pair writers with artists), so submissions should only be for book and series proposals that have finished art pages already available." Read full guidelines here.

Fantagraphics Books is an American publisher of alternative comics, classic comic strip anthologies, magazines, graphic novels, and the adult-oriented Eros Comix imprint. Many notable cartoonists publish their work through Fantagraphics, including Jessica Abel, Peter Bagge, Ivan Brunetti, Charles Burns, Daniel Clowes, Roberta Gregory, Joe Sacco, Chris Ware, and Gilbert Hernandez and Jaime Hernandez aka the Hernandez Brothers. Submissions: "Fantagraphics Books publishes comics for thinking readers - readers who like to put their minds to work, who have a sophisticated understanding of art and culture, and appreciate personal expression unfettered by uncritical use of cliché. Fantagraphics will practically always reject any submissions that fit neatly into (or combine in a gimmicky fashion) the mainstream genres of superhero, vigilante, horror, fantasy, and science fiction. While some of our publications are suitable for young readers, we do not publish children's picture books." Read submission FAQs here.

Also see:

Oni Press Opens Door to Graphic Novel Submissions - No Agent Required

Monday, June 16, 2014

Sex Sells: Self-Published Romance Writers Dominate

He's brawny, and she's ... flexible
Digital Book World has recently analyzed some statistics on romance book sales in Europe. It is not surprising that romance/erotica is the top-selling genre. Sex sells. (Freud didn't really need to teach us that.)

What is interesting is that 1) ebooks dominate, which means, 2) Amazon, Nook, and Apple dominate, which means, 3) lower-priced books dominate.

In this genre, readers go for cheap titles, which means self-published ebooks outperform their traditionally published counterparts. In short, self-published romance writers actually stand a chance at success.

If you are a romance, writer click on the link below for your top resources.

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Romance Ebook Sales Stats From Europe: Dominance and Submission

Digital Book World, June 9, 2014 | Gareth Cuddy

In a genre full of dominance and submission, we rip away the bodices and lift the masks to reveal the truth behind the sales figures.

Figures from the Book Industry Study Group (BISG) in this report from late last year highlight that romance/erotica is the top selling ebook genre and has the largest gap in digital vs. physical shares. That report also explains how Amazon, B&N Nook and Apple have 95% of the market between them, heavily skewed in Amazon’s favor. Dominance and submission, anyone?

The first thing that pops-up when discussing the romance and erotica genre is the impact of self-publishers. It is particularly strong in this area and has turned this genre into probably the most competitive space. It’s a honey-pot for avid readers and self-published authors – a match made in heaven if ever there was one!

Read more here...

Friday, June 13, 2014

Established Agent Looking for New Clients

Writer's Digest recently announced that Andrea Hurst was opening her doors to new writers. Andrea is an established agent with a good track record. Make sure you go to the site and read the submission guidelines carefully.
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Andrea Hurst, President of Andrea Hurst & Associates, is reopening submissions this summer to unsolicited queries from June 1 – September 1, 2014. Andrea Hurst is an established agent with over 25 years experience as a published author, developmental editor for publishers, and skilled literary agent. Her clients and their books have appeared on the Oprah Show, Ellen DeGeneres Show, Good Morning America, National Geographic network and in the New York Times.She is not always open to submissions, so this is a rare opportunity.

What she is seeking: “I am looking for upmarket, book club women’s fiction, commercial women’s fiction/romance (contemporary or historical), young adult fiction, and most areas of nonfiction (authors with a substantial platform who have already developed a solid, highly polished proposal – this includes memoirs, health/wellness, business, self-help/personal growth, memoir, cookbooks, pet books, spirituality). As of 2014, we are now accepting middle grade contemporary fiction as well.”

How to submit: Submit by Sept. 1, 2014. No attachments. Absolutely no phone calls or regular mail contact, please. E-query andrea [at] andreahurst.com.

Note: Andrea Hurst's website says she is only accepting queries until August 1, 2014. To be on the safe side, send your query in July.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Amazon Socks it to Time Warner: Authors, Are You Paying Attention?

For those of you who are not following the Amazon vs Everybody wars, you are missing the prize fight of the century. Amazon's hard-ball tactics are part of its bid to take over the world. 

I am not joking. Amazon has monopoly on its mind, in a very big way. Now it is using its platform to deny pre-orders of Time Warner videos, including the hugely popular Lego Movie.

If you can't figure out what is happening, let me sum it up for you: 

1) Amazon cornered the Internet market on sales of electronics, media, etc. by offering lower prices, a greater share of royalties for self-publishers, fast delivery, etc. 

2) Amazon then used its expanded platform to make unilateral changes in book pricing agreements, forcing publishers (mostly recently Hachette) to reduce their wholesale prices to Amazon, while Amazon maintained its retail prices. This resulted in losses for publishers, especially the small ones, reduction in royalties for their authors, and increases in Amazon profits. 

3) Hachette objected to the unfavorable new terms. Authors objected. Stephen Colbert objected.

4) Amazon tried to force acceptance of the terms by delaying releases of new Hachette books, delaying shipping, and pulling pre-releases (which normally garner a huge percentage of initial sales), while simultaneously offering other "equivalent" and/or cheaper products.

5) Competing retailers started offering the books that Amazon had refused to release - at a discount. Walmart rakes it in.

6) Amazon then pulled Time Warner videos, using the same strong-arm tactics it had used on Hachette - and quite a few other publishers - to secure better terms for itself while driving out the competition.

Why should you pay attention? 

If you are a self-published author using Amazon as your primary outlet, and are doing so because you get the lion's share of royalties along with a great platform, I can guarantee you that as soon as Amazon knocks out all of its competitors your share of royalties will plummet.

And there will be nowhere else to go.

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Amazon Stops Taking Advance Orders for ‘Lego’ and Other Warner Videos

New York Times, By David Streitfeld , June 10, 2014

The Everything Store is shrinking again. Amazon customers who want to order forthcoming Warner Home Video features, including “The Lego Movie,” “300: Rise of an Empire,” “Winter’s Tale” and “Transcendence,” are finding it impossible to do so.

The retailer’s refusal to sell the movies is part of its effort to gain leverage in yet another major confrontation with a supplier to become public in recent weeks.

In a standoff with the Hachette Book Group, Amazon is refusing to take advance orders and delaying shipments. Amazon and Hachette are wrangling over e-book terms. The retailer is in a third standoff in Germany, with the Bonnier Media Group.

Disputes between retailers and vendors happen every day. What is unusual here is not Amazon’s relentless desire to gain margin from its suppliers, but the suppliers’ growing resolve to hold the line. If other suppliers adopt the same attitude, that might have significant implications for Amazon’s pell-mell growth.

The confrontations indicate that Amazon’s long-stated desire to sell everything to everybody might be taking a back seat. The biggest book release in the middle of June is the new J. K. Rowling novel from Hachette; the biggest movie is “Lego.” Amazon is basically telling its customers to go elsewhere for them, which is a very un-Amazon thing to do.

Read the rest of this article here.

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Short Story Boom

Sam Baker says the short story is the perfect literary form for the 21st century, and I agree with him.

Between texting and tweeting, attention spans have shortened to almost microscopic proportions. We can't even B bothered 2 write whole words anymore, let alone sentences.

So, why exactly is this good news?

Well, those who are accustomed to getting to the point quickly (short story writers in other words), can now have their moment in the sun. Amazon is publishing short singles, and so are some of the romance and sci-fi publishers.

After you have finished reading why Sam Baker thinks this is the ideal time to be a short story writer, click on the link below and start submitting! 

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By Sam Baker, The Telegraph - May 18, 2014

There’s no doubt about it, the short story is having “a moment”. It started this time last year, when Lydia Davis, not so much a short-story writer as a short-short-story writer (some of her tales are only a sentence long) won the Man Booker International Prize, a decision that took the literary world by storm.

When Davis’ triumph was followed by a Nobel Prize for the Canadian short-story writer Alice Munro, people started to mutter that something significant was afoot. While two successive prizes could be coincidence, the renaissance of the short story was confirmed when the American George Saunders won the inaugural Folio Prize at the start of the year for Tenth of December. Something of a writer’s writer – beloved of Zadie Smith and Jonathan Franzen – Saunders was catapulted into public view and on to the bestseller lists. And with him – blushing as it cast off its “Who? Little old me?” mantle – went short-form fiction.

Read more here ....

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Godzilla vs King Kong ... or You Know Something Is Wrong When You Start Rooting for Walmart

The ongoing battle between Amazon and Hachette - or, now that I think of it, Amazon and everybody - has got the major distributors' knickers in a twist.

So, they fought back by offering discounts on Hachette books.

This week, Walmart announced that they'd had a 70% increase in print book sales after slashing their prices on Hachette titles.

While I have to confess I feel a small frisson of satisfaction whenever Amazon's wings are clipped, I just can't bring myself to root for Walmart. A monster is a monster. 

Any way you look at it, somebody's house is going to get smashed.
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Walmart cashes in on Amazon – Hachette fight

By Schuyler Velasco, Christian Science Monitor

Readers anxious to dig into the new J.K Rowling or James Patterson novel may have to wait a bit. Or, they could go to Walmart.

This week, the world’s largest retailer found a way to stick it to Amazon, one of its chief competitors. The e-commerce giant is currently embroiled in a dispute with Hachette, a major publisher that carries the two authors mentioned above, as well as David Sedaris, Nicholas Sparks, Malcolm Gladwell, and many more.

The New York Times reports that is has to do with e-book pricing. As a result, Amazon has made a point of making it difficult to purchase nearly 5,0000 titles from the site by buying less stock of print books, delaying shipping times up to four weeks, and taking away “pre-order” options from books from Hachette.

“If you order 1,000 items from Amazon, 989 will be unaffected by this interruption,” reads a press statement released by Amazon last week. “If you do need one of the affected titles quickly, we regret the inconvenience and encourage you to purchase a new or used version from one of our third-party sellers or from one of our competitors.”

Walmart, not widely known as a bastion of the literary world, pounced on the opportunity, slashing prices on Hachette titles and announcing the sale with a banner on the homepage of its website, offering both pre-orders and free in-store pickup of Hachette books. It worked: As of Friday, Walmart sales of print books (not including e-books), were up 70 percent since Tuesday, according to the company.

Read the rest of this article here.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Platform, Shmatform: Social Media - How Numbers Lie

Below is an absolutely fabulous blog post by Rob Eager, which appeared on Tools of Change a couple of weeks ago.

The article struck a chord with me for two reasons. The first is that my stats teacher said exactly the same thing to us on the first day of classes. (I think they all do.)

The other is that my experience coincides with Rob's. For example, one of the newsletters I edit has 35,000 subscribers. Only 12.3% of them open the newsletter. Of those, roughly 1% actually read more than the first article. While I love telling people that over 100,000 people subscribe to the newsletters I edit, it certainly doesn't mean I am reaching nearly that number.

The same is true of Facebook. With over 17,000 "likes" on the FB page I manage, how many of those people actually look at any given post? I am lucky if it is a tenth of that. And very few of those people click on the link to the main site.

And don't get me started on how many of those people actually purchase anything.

Does this mean you should stop posting on Facebook, tweeting, and so on? No. The numbers may ultimately be meaningless, but prospective agents are always impressed by four or five zeros after any integer.

Apparently, none of them has never taken a stats class.
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Numbers never lie…unless you’re talking social media: Measuring results in our rush to be followed, liked, and shared

By Rob Eagar on TOC

Back in college, I took a class on statistics and never forgot the first lesson my professor taught us, which was, “Anyone can manipulate numbers to make them mean whatever they want.” I see this point magnified today by the mass adoption of Twitter and Fakebook, err – I mean Facebook. We’re at a period in time where numbers can mean so much and simultaneously mean so little.

The more people use social media, the bigger a desire to be followed, liked, and shared. We live in an age where online popularity has the ridiculous ability to control major business decisions or determine someone’s career. Yet, there’s never been a time when big numbers can be inflated so easily and deceptively. For example:

1. According to the New York Times, people can buy fake followers on Twitter for $18 per 1,000. I’ve also seen shady businesses on Ebay offer fake Facebook followers for a similar price range.

2. Facebook claims to offer an effective advertising medium, yet their average click-through rate is .0005 (5 in 10,000) In addition, a Reuters/Ipsos poll found that 4 out of 5 Facebook users have never bought a product or service as a result of advertising or comments on the social network site. 

3. In addition, researchers at the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute found that less than 1% of fans of the 200 biggest brands on Facebook actually engaged.

4. A guy claiming to have 50,000 Twitter followers bragged that he could use his influence to generate a bunch of sales for my new book. I put him to the test, let him send out his “tweets,” but never received a single order related to his audience. (For some time-wasting fun, check out http://fakers.statuspeople.com/ to help analyze how many legitimate Twitter followers someone actually has. 59% of Barack Obama’s followers are fake.)

5. According to ConstantContact, the average open rate for email newsletters is only around 19%. So, an author who claims to have 5,000 newsletter subscribers is probably reaching around 1,000 readers.

6. My own experience with the ShareThis WordPress plug-in for bloggers revealed that anyone can easily run up the share counter that’s displayed without actually sharing the information from a blog post with anyone. The counter may display “100” shares, but there’s no way to verify an actual number.

I’ve seen some bloggers (I don’t mean to bash, so they’ll remain nameless) promote an artificial number on their blog that combines all of their different social media followers and subscribers into one large number, which is designed to make you think their platform is bigger than it really is.

When the human ego merges with social media, there seems to be no limit to the level of nonsense that people will create. Numbers that are supposed to mean so much can actually mean very little.

As my statistics professor warned, be careful about putting too much faith in numbers. Just because someone displays 10,000 Twitter followers or Facebook friends doesn’t mean their sphere of influence is at that level. In an age where numbers are easily manipulated, we’re better off focusing on the only numbers that really matter, which is how many books sold, how many new readers added, and how many dollars deposited into the bank.
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