Just a quick post this Saturday morning, brought on by a sequence of emails from friends and family about Kindle pricing.
The Big Five Publishers –
Penguin & Random House
Simon & Schuster
are increasing their Kindle & ebook prices. The examples recently sent to me show $14 is a common launch price. It is strange that they all, independently, came to this figure. We know it’s independent because if they consulted each other over the pricing, that would be a cartel, and it would be illegal. The same Big Five are trumpeting through the media that the ebook boom is over and print books are making a comeback.
This is all so much marketing s**t. The reason ebook sales are falling for the Big Five is because they are charging as much for an electronic download as they do for a hardcover. When challenged, they go on about marketing, promotion, blah, blah, blah, and forget to talk about print costs, storage costs, shipping costs, fixed asset costs and a slew of others. Ebook sales overall are rising, so the independents are more than making up for the Big Five’s ‘losses’. Go look at the AuthorEarnings website for the skinny.
The particular books that were drawn to my attention include Patricia Briggs (you know her), Robin Hobbs (you should know her) and John Burdett (you probably don’t know him). The point I’m making is that the $14 goes across the board. If perchance you don’t know Robin Hobbs and like Epic Fantasy, go look up the Assassin’s Apprentice. If perchance you don’t know John Burdett, he writes Crime Fiction set in Bangkok – go search out his Thai detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep, or the amiable low-life PI Poke Rafferty. All recommended (when the price is right).
These three are apparently under different publishers, but that is marketing smoke and mirrors. Briggs is with Ace which is part of Penguin which is part of Penguin & Random House. Hobbs is with Del Rey which is part of Random House which is part of Penguin & Random House. Burdett is with Corsair, which is part of Little, Brown which is part of Hachette.
The core question is what does this mean for me? Little or nothing at the moment. There is a different ceiling set for independents. This is not to do with popularity or sales (my reviews aren’t that far below Burdett’s) it’s simply a law of the market.
I will keep my eyes on the average price of reasonably popular, independently published ebooks, but unless that moves, it seems my prices will remain where they are.
Angel Stakes – Lauren has the second draft of the first half of the book, and I’m about half way through what I need to do on the second half. More news soon.
Wild Card audio – I have the recording. I need to listen to it (20 hours) and then the only remaining delay is ACX/Audible’s internal procedures. (!)
Wild Card in German – last run through with Heike, so not too long.
As ever, toward the end of writing a book, other things get pushed aside. Not everything can be treated like that!
The main beta panelists have received about 70% of the book. My sister, who is always first stop, has received about 75%. Lauren Sweet, my editor has received 70% + a reasonably full synopsis to the end. I have written more than 90% of the book.
Providing the book in chunks to the beta panel has been a very positive experience for me, and the feedback has been good. Each chunk has been reasonably self-contained and tended to end on cliff-hangers. Each chunk was only the new chapters, so there’s been no requirement for the beta readers to re-read from the start each time. And that methodology, I was starting to suspect last month, had obscured a problem with the book regarding the overall structure.
Lauren agreed after reading through the 70% and the synopsis to the end, although we came to the same sort of conclusion from different angles. Mainly, that the book doesn’t get going on the main plot early enough or strongly enough.
That probably sounds worse than it is. Certainly, I had a panic when I realized it. However, after a long Skype with Lauren, what it seems to come down to is about half a dozen extra scenes, an expansion of three existing scenes, a dash more relationship, a reworking of a sub-plot and … gosh, that sounds bad as well. What it really comes down to is I intend to have the book to Lauren needing only copy-editing work by the end of November.
So…prediction…Angel Stakes will be published in December.
Wild Card audiobook
Julia Motyka is hard at work at her studio in New York. I’ve heard the opening chapter, and we’ve had a long and hilarious Skype conversation where she nailed all the voices and accents required in the longest book of the series so far. Julia is amazingly versatile – have a look back through on the Bite Back Facebook page and listen to the Hidden Trump sample I posted. She gets the fussy Judicator Remy (think Hercule Poirot) alongside the slightly other-worldly, slightly Greek sound of Diana and the snarky, Mid-Western sound of Amber.
Anyway, Wild Card in audio will also be published in December.
Wild Card in German / auf Deutsch
Also due soon, very possibly at the same time as Angel Stakes and the audiobook. The name in German is Entfesselter Wandel, which sort-of translates as an ‘unbridled change’. Kinky! I just couldn’t find a title that had the flavor of Wild Card without using the word ‘Joker’.
Und so, dieses Buch wird im Dezember veröffentlicht werden. (Ich hoffe).
I know, I know, I’m due to rework the covers, going back to the old format with new photos. Unfortunately, for technical reasons, the last photo session with Maria didn’t produce what I needed. I obviously need to arrange another for Angel Stakes anyway.
I’ll keep you posted.
Most of you on this page and on Facebook have already provided me reviews, and I’d like to take the opportunity to thank you. I read every single one (even the negatives), and almost always take something valuable from them.
If there are friends you know who’ve read the books but haven’t reviewed, I would appreciate you giving them a nudge. I mean that whether they liked them or not. Amazon’s rankings of authors is based on not only sales and reviews but how recent those reviews are, and my new reviews have slowed down quite a bit.
To be completely clear; I’m not asking for 4 or 5 stars or positive reviews, I’m genuinely wanting to know what people thought of the books, including what might have made them better.
Also, this isn’t just about Amazon. Goodreads is a great book-reading community (even if it has some strange nooks and crannies!) and many people look to their reviews and recommendations.
Plagiarism and Copyright Theft
You probably know my opinion, and you’ll certainly know my opinion if you have a look at my personal Facebook page or the Bite Back page.
Rant Mode ON
I can’t understand those authors who shrug off copyright theft and simply say “oh, it’s like promotion for me”. It’s a disease. Type the name of any of your favorite authors or books into Google with a tag ‘free’ or something like that, and I’m guaranteeing that within a screen or two, you will find links to download a copy of their books without payment. Some of these downloads are viruses, and frankly, I’m sometimes tempted to start doing that. Some of them you get free downloads in exchange for a monthly fee. In a huge number of cases, these are plain theft, and the author gets nothing.
Strangely, those authors who shrug off this kind of theft get more upset when their books are plagiarized. I have seen books for sale on Amazon, where the only effort the ‘author’ has put in has been to do a search&replace on the names of the principles, and slap a new cover on.
The cost of fighting plagiarism, even if it’s a slam-dunk case? Over $50,000 and the thief simply says “can’t pay” and walks away. Ask for links if you want a specific case.
Rant Mode OFF
I restrict myself to half a day a month to get upset over this, because even working tirelessly 24/7 as an internet masked avenger, I could not stem the tide. I have recently managed to alert an Aussie author to plagiarism and get the thief thrown off Amazon, and I have to take comfort from such small victories.
Once Angel Stakes is published, I have a long-standing commitment to make my late mother’s unpublished book available. It’s a colonial-era murder mystery set in the remotest bush station of Northern Rhodesia, and it’s a cracker. It only requires editing and formatting, so this won’t be a huge effort.
After that, Bian’s Tale book 1 and another short story/novella to weave Biting Cold’s Amanda and Scott into the Bite Back series.
Then Bite Back 6!