Get The Ravenous Flock for FREE during Last Days of my Kickstarter!

The Soul Smith Kickstarter campaign has been featured on BackerClub!!!! This is incredibly exciting news, especially as we near the end of the Kickstarter campaign! https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/adriandiglio/the-soul-smith-epic-fantasy-novel/

Get The Ravenous Flock for FREE on Kindle from Feb 8-12th, 2015 right here: http://amzn.to/13HlBfO

The Ravenous Flock is a short story that preludes the events of my novel, The Soul Smith. It was edited by Derek Bowen (the same editor I have for The Soul Smith for my Kickstarter campaign) and published on Myths Inscribed online fantasy magazine.

Keep spreading the word!

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What does it take to become a “Best Seller?”

Getting on the New York Times “Best Seller” list is one of the most prestigious titles an author can earn. But what does it take to get on that list? And did you know that there are other Best Seller lists, like the San Francisco Chronicle?

First, the bad news. This weekly list, as published by the New York Times Book Review, has kept the criteria of getting on the NYT Best Seller list a closely guarded secret. However, an author’s ranking on the Best Seller list is strictly based on the sales during a one week time period (as opposed to overall sales). So it seems that the list favors spikes in sales.

A few authors have manipulated the system in the past by purchasing up to 10,000 copies of their own book so that it would achieve the infamous “NYT Best Seller” status. These authors justified it as an investment into their career because the title of “Best Seller” brings about additional clout that increases sales. However, in 1983, author William Peter Blatty sued New York Times for not putting his book Legion (which was made into the movie Exorcist III) on the best seller list. It had considerable sales as a result of the movie, however the New York Times’ defense said that their system is not mathematically objective – rather their system is purely editorial content and thus protected under the Constitution as free speech. Mr. Blatty lost his suit, which leaves other authors wondering if they are being overlooked for such recognition.

So, while the New York Times Best Seller list is a national list, the San Francisco Chronicle Best Seller list is a local list that is specific to the Bay Area. Being on this list is a stepping stone toward getting on a national list, and apparently, selling 100 books in a week in the local Bay Area book stores might be all it takes to get on that list. That may not sound like a lot to non-authors, but to put this in perspective, when my short story (The Ravenous Flock) was free on Amazon – I “sold” over 100 copies within 24 hours and it jumped to #10 in Free Fantasy on Amazon.

The good news is that the NYT Best Seller List is decomposed into fiction and nonfiction, print and ebook, paperback and hardcover. This allows for a better chance to make the national list.

Two Important Launches: Amazon MatchBook and Oyster

Two pieces of major exciting news for the book industry was announced this month!

First, Amazon is launching a new program called MatchBook in October 2013. The program will allow you to also get the ebook edition of any participating printed book you purchase through Amazon (past or future), for $2.99 or less (or even for free!).

This is incredibly important for a couple of reasons:

  1. Consumers that want to convert their library to digital format can do it now
  2. This increases sales numbers for an industry that has been suffering
  3. It actually supports printed book sales. Consumers may opt to just purchase the hardback since they know they can grab the ebook version as well (especially if it’s free!)

Not to be overshadowed, a new mobile reading platform called Oyster is launching the beta version of their iPhone app and has received lots of hype! Oyster has been dubbed “The Netflix for Books”, and for $9.95 a month you get unlimited access to over 100,000 titles from various participating publishers.

If this receives early success (as I expect it will), more and more publishers will flock to them and offer to add their books to their content library. This could be a game changer for the book industry, and will certainly keep it alive. You can read more about this start up venture here.

I’m calling it right now: This needs to be a strategic acquisition by Barnes & Noble if they expect to stay afloat and compete against Amazon.
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The Process of Publishing on Amazon

 

 

First, some administrative news: My fantasy short story, The Ravenous Flock, is now up on Amazon! So, I wanted to take the time to share my personal experience of independently publishing with them.

After part 2 of The Ravenous Flock was published by Myths Inscribed ezine, all rights immediately reverted back to me per the terms of their publishing agreement. The Ravenous Flock new coverI immediately recognized that I wanted my short story to be available on Amazon to reach a wider audience, so I combined both parts back into one seamless story and added the Prologue of The Soul Smith at the end to create hype for my novel!

The process of publishing on Amazon was fairly simple. I clicked “Independently Publish with Us” at the bottom of Amazon.com and chose to publish through their Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). Once you log in, you click “Add a New Title” and begin entering all the information about your book (Name, Title of Series, Publisher, Description, ISBN, etc). The hardest choice was: What genre/categories should my book fall in? You can only choose 2, but I wanted to choose 3. I picked FICTION > Fantasy > Epic. And I picked FICTION > Action & Adventure. The 3rd category that I wanted was FICTION > Fantasy > General. I may have to change this in the future.

Next I got to upload my book cover (or you can design one in their Cover Creator). Without getting into a huge debate, I knew that having a poorly crafted cover can negatively impact sales, so I spent a considerable amount of time ensuring that the graphics looked clean and professional. Once complete, then you get to upload your book. It didn’t give me any guidance as to what format it accepted, so I’m under the impression that it accepts them all. I uploaded a .doc and it converted it to the Kindle format. After upload, it even helps point out potential misspellings. Then comes the fun part of previewing your story in all different Kindle devices to ensure it is formatted correctly. It loads up a virtual device on your screen within your web browser for Kindle Fire, Kindle Fire HD, Kindle Fire HD 8.9, Kindle Paperwhite, iPad, iPhone, and Kindle. I had to make corrections numerous times and re-upload my story to ensure that it was formatted perfectly across all devices.

Lastly, you choose whether to protect your work with Downloadable Rights Management (DRM) or not. It is completely your choice, but once you choose, you cannot change your mind. Then you get to set the price of your book. The minimum price is $0.99. The price of your ebook also determines what percent of the royalties that you earn. Anything that is priced at $2.99 or above can earn 70% of each sale. Anything priced between $0.99 and $2.99 earns 35%. Then you choose which countries you own rights to your book in (which is all of them) and then you click “I agree” and Publish!

The other major choice is whether to enroll in the KDP Select program. If you choose to enroll, you are agreeing that your ebook will be exclusive to Kindle for 90 days (which auto renews every 90 days). Note: Physical/printed books are not apart of this exclusivity clause. But, if your book is found on the Nook, for example, they will likely cancel your enrollment in the KDP Select program. The benefits of this program are that you earn a percentage of money allocated to books that were borrowed through the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. In addition, you can market your book for Free for up to 5 days for each 90 day period that you are enrolled in the program.

Once you have completed the form, it takes 12 hours before your book becomes available on Amazon. So, separate from this process (but equally important) is the enrollment in Amazon Author Central. Once your book is posted, you can enroll in Author Central to get access to the Nielsen BookScan reports (which gives you book sales statistics from physical stores – not from Amazon.com) and it allows you to create your Author Page on Amazon. I created a profile and linked my Twitter and Blog to it as well.

I hope this was helpful. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments section below.

Apple Guilty of Price Fixing Ebooks

On 7/10/2013, Apple was found guilty of being the ring leader of a price fixing scandal on ebooks. They colluded with these major publishing groups, Hachette, Macmillan, Penguin, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster, which all quickly gave in to the accusation and agreed to settlements – leaving only Apple to be the only company that went to trial. Apple made sure that the main publishers all agreed to sell their ebook at the $14.99 price, which would make Amazon eventually raise their ebooks from the $9.99 price point up to $14.99 too.

You can read the full article here.

Related to this price fixing scandal were the previous concerns that many consumers had of why some ebooks are priced higher than hardcovers. Understanding the context of how the prices of books are decided will paint the picture for why Steve Jobs’ “Agency Model” was a scheme to fix the prices. While you can read the full article here, I will provide a short synopsis to explain what is going on behind the scenes with book prices.

If a printed book is listed for $25, half of that goes back to the publisher (which then gets divided among author, agent, and publisher), and the other half goes toward the retail chain. This allows a profit buffer for the retailer to discount the book and still make money (because the publisher will still make half of the original list price no matter what the book gets discounted to). Then Amazon came onto the market and started selling ebooks for $9.99 on the kindle… they were actually selling the books at a loss. The consequences of this is that they were changing consumer’s expectations of the value of what a book should be.

So when Apple launched the iPad, they changed the way ebooks were sold. Publishers got to set the price, they get 70% and Apple gets 30%. They raised the price of ebooks to $14.99 because at that price, even with keeping 70%, publishers were still making less per book sale than selling a hardcover.

If Amazon were to adopt this model, dubbed the Agency model, then they would no longer be losing money per book sold. In addition, since Publishers choose the price in this scenario, the prices would all be set at $14.99, and that’s how Apple led a price fixing scandal.

Author Spotlight – Sylvia Day

This is a new post that is different from my others, and I hope to do more like this down the road, but this is especially unique since the author I am featuring is a Romance author (and I tend to focus around Fantasy, if anything). Sylvia Day is what I would consider a very successful author and regardless of genre, there is something we could all learn from any author’s success and/or failures. Since my wife is a big fan of Sylvia Day, I have come to learn a lot about this author by proxy and since today (6/4/2013) marks the release of her newest book, Entwined With You, I thought it more than appropriate to speculate on the events that occurred.

Sylvia Day’s marketing plan for her newest book was impressive. This is the 3rd book (out of 5) in her Crossfire series. To develop hype for the release of her new novel, she released a “Snapshot” for each of her chapters once a week on her social networking sites, all the way up to the release date of her novel. The snapshot was simply just a picture that was a clue to give readers what that chapter was about. She received hundreds of comments per post from all the fans guessing at what the picture infers about the story. Leveraging her 63,000 Twitter followers and over 89,000 Facebook likes, this was an extraordinarily simple and successful marketing method.

In addition, my wife has informed me that Sylvia Day can finish writing a novel in just 3 months time. Must be nice to be a full time author, right? Well, let’s look at it from this angle. According to my wife, the two main characters, Eva and Gideon, were completely different in this book from the first two. Is this a side effect of the author spreading herself too thin by having too many projects going on at once? I’ll say this, if you are an author (published or not) it is definitely something to be aware of, as spreading yourself too thin degrades the quality of your work. If you are writing multiple novels at once, you might not be as engrossed in your characters as you would be if you focused on one novel at a time.

Watching the release of Entwined With You today (6/4/2013) confirmed that my wife is not alone in her opinion of the book. As evidenced by the NUMEROUS 1 Star reviews on Amazon, Sylvia’s characters and her story took a turn for the worse. Some say that this is because she turned what was originally designed to be a trilogy into a 5-book series. It’s interesting to see the backlash from readers on this when you consider Christopher Paolini and his Inheritance series. He did the same thing and stretched his story from 3 books into 4, but he did not receive the negative criticism that Sylvia Day received all over her Amazon reviews and her Facebook page. This is why planning and outlining your story is so important, and if you must deviate from your plan, ensure that it is handled with care.

UPDATE (6/7/2013): To be fair, I shouldn’t skew my review of the events that occured as her book reviews were not all negative. However, as an author that is learning from the events that transpired, the community backlash was powerful enough that she thought it needed to be addressed. Here are two posts from Sylvia Day’s Facebook. (By the way, in just 3 days since this original post, she gained 4,000 more Facebook likes, now over 93,000 fans). Let’s look at how she has handled this situation:

 

The Implications of the GoodReads Acquisition by Amazon

The publishing industry is dynamic and volatile. New sales numbers come out all the time that hint at the fate of print vs. ebooks. It changes every day and it makes it difficult for authors (and publishers/agents) to determine how the market will shape the industry. But every once in a while, the industry is impacted by something other than the market. Every once in a while, a strategic move to gain a competitive advantage can seal the fate for brick and mortar stores, and subsequently print books.

On 3/27/2013, Amazon announced that it is purchasing the enormously popular book recommendation site: GoodReads. As long as you have a minimum of 20 book reviews/ratings in your account, GoodReads will recommend new books to you based on your preferences. In addition, it is a social networking platform for readers and authors. Since GoodReads is a highly referenced site for its book reviews and ratings, this (in conjunction with its recommendation engine) will undoubtedly be leveraged by Amazon to funnel more purchases their way.

This acquisition will practically dictate that consumers become dependent upon the book reviews and recommendations from Amazon. Statistics 101 will tell you that the larger your sample size (the more reviews on a single book), the more accurate the average rating will be. Then consumers will literally be a click away from a purchase on Amazon.

“How does this affect print books?”  you ask. Well, with GoodReads providing their users with the eventual convenience of purchasing the books that are recommended to them from Amazon, more sales will be funneled to Amazon. This means that less sales are funneled to Barnes & Noble. If B&N begins to lose revenue, we may begin to see their lower performing stores closing their doors. Since the traditional publishing industry’s backbone relies on brick and mortar stores to keep their engine running (with B&N being the largest component), the amount of print books purchased by retailers will drop significantly.

What do you guys think about how this will change the industry? Please leave your comments below.

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