Monthly Archives: November 2014

British Indie Authors Hit The # 1 Spot On Amazon China

Go Global In 2014

Regular readers will need no reminding how often we say the global ebook market is a golden opportunity right now, for those indies willing to step outside the box, leave the comfort zone of the home market, and embrace the opportunities laid at our feet by the digital revolution.

As we constantly stress, no-one can be everywhere, and no-one can do everything, but for the savvy author willing to take the long term view and work the global markets alongside the domestic ones there’s an open goal out there.

We repeatedly advocate indies to walk away from the us-and-them divide that creates an artificial  literary apartheid between indies and trad-pub, and for indies to partner with “local” publishers in overseas markets to maximise their reach.

Ana as we’ve also often said here, it’s just a matter of time before some western indie breaks out in a foreign land and becomes an in-store chart-buster in the bigger nascent markets.

That time has come.

Number One China!!!

This week the British writing partnership of Mark Williams and Sarah Griffiths, writing together as “Saffina Desforges”, took the number one spot on Amazon’s Kindle China site. The Chinese translation of their British blockbuster hit Sugar & Spice bumped such inscrutable names as JK Rowling/Robert Galbraith along the way.

The book has previously topped the charts in France in 2013, and before that on Amazon UK and Waterstone’s in 2011, when it was not only the biggest selling indie title but the eleventh best-selling ebook in the country.

Now they’ve conquered China, and have India, Indonesia and the rest of the world in their sights.

A UK or US publisher behind them? In fact the book that has sold a quarter million copies in the UK alone was rejected by every major British and American publisher.

Innovative publishers in France and China, who both approached the authors, took a different view, and have both been rewarded handsomely.

Unsurprisingly, many indie author don’t even know there is a Kindle China store. Kindle China is not run as part of KDP (you won’t find even a hint of the Chinese Kindle store in your KDP dashboard) and while some KDP titles do appear there, most don’t. No, we have no idea why.

How big is Kindle China? That’s another unknown.

The Chinese ebook market is often said to be the second biggest after the US. That seems very likely given the population in China and the doubted interest in ebooks, but most observers accept the Kindle China store is not one of the major players. The largest store is believed to be JD.

Neither Apple, Google Play nor Kobo have an ebook presence in China (unless you count Hong Kong and Taiwan) and Amazon of course keeps its numbers to itself, but we are reliably informed the #1 spot on Kindle China typically turns over around 2,000 sales a day.

Not to be sneezed at. But before jumping to conclusions about the size of the Chinese ebook market bear in mind both JD and Douban are probably much bigger than Kindle CN.

And needless to say the Saffina Desforges authors, because they follow closely the advice we give here on the EBUK blog, not just on Kindle China. Thanks to their Chinese publisher they are also riding high in the charts on China’s biggest ebook store, JD, and on rival stores like Douban.

No, they’re not getting 70% (if Kindle China even pays that much), or anywhere near.

But as we say here often, x-percent of something is a thousand times better than 100% of nothing, and making headway as a fanatical indie in a market as alien as China is a road to despair. China is one of the hardest markets to access as a western self-published author, although as we’ve explored in previous posts, the demand for English-language books in China is high. (LINK)

Which is why we strongly advocate partnerships with overseas publishers or overseas translators.

A good “local” publisher (be aware there are good and bad, just like back home – do your homework!) will have good relations with local retailers and have a full distribution arrangement. And of course they’ll get the best possible translation done.

Alternatively, partner with a translator on a percentage basis. Yes, you can pay up front and get a translation done yourself and pocket all the proceeds from sales. But unless you are then able to market and distribute effectively in that foreign land and in that foreign language then it’s unlikely you will see many returns on your investment.

Paying a translator a percentage per sale to distribute and market the book gives them an incentive to not just do the best possible translation but also to do their utmost to see the book succeed afterwards.

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 Here at EBUK our blog posts often meet with the response, “But I haven’t time,” “it’s all too much effort” and “the nascent markets are pie in the sky – I want to see statistics and proof that these markets will deliver”.

Yes, but we somehow find time to write that book to the best of our ability, edit it, proof it, format it, cover it and distribute it to the domestic retailers, all of which takes months or even years. Why do we then baulk at adding a few more hours to maximise our global reach?

As for waiting for proof the nascent markets can deliver… Do be serious.

Here’s the thing: The US was a nascent market in 2009-10.

Imagine if John Locke, Amanda Hocking, Joe Konrath et al had sat on the fence and waited until there was firm evidence Kindle US and Apple US and Nook were going to pay off before they put their books out.

The UK market was nascent in 2010-11. Imagine if the Saffina Desforges partnership or the hugely successful partnership of Mark Edwards and Louise Voss has sat back and waited until there was firm evidence the UK market could deliver.

It’s exactly the same with the global markets now at the nascent stage.

Wake up and smell the coffee!

We are the luckiest generation of writers ever to have lived! We are not just witnesses to, but participants in, a global New Renaissance quite unprecedented in human history.

Yet many of us are still partying like it’s 2009.

Indonesia? India? China? Here at EBUK we’ve identified these countries as the most exciting prospects on the planet for authors, yet we’re being told it’s pie in the sky. No western author and their western books with western setting and western characters are going to sell well in these countries, no matter how well translated. You’d have to be JK Rowling or Stephen King to even get noticed.

Really? Then how did a translation of a British crime novel, set in the UK, that has neither a UK nor a US publisher behind it, hit the number one spot on Amazon’s Kindle China store this week?

Back in 2009-11 windows of opportunity were few and far between.

As 2014 draws to a close there are more windows of opportunity open than at any time. But windows of opportunity don’t stay open forever.

As we enter 2015, how many windows of opportunity will you be looking through?

 

Ebook Bargains UK

Far more than just an ebook promo newsletter.

Far more than just the UK.

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Self-Published Ebooks Return To W H Smith

GoGlobalIn2014_500

A year after the British ebook retailer and high street bookseller W H Smith banned self-published titles from its cyber-shelves, we’re delighted to report indie titles are back.

It’s not clear yet what is being allowed in, as so few titles are showing, but those that are include titles uploaded direct via Kobo Writing Life and titles uploaded to Kobo through Smashwords.

As yet we are not seeing titles uploaded to Kobo via Draft 2Digital, Bookbaby and other aggregators, but that probably reflects our small sampling quota, not policy.

So far we’ve been unable to elicit a response from W H Smith or Kobo, and unless we’ve missed something there’s been no official announcement, but this is surely great news for the indie movement.

Back in late 2013, following the tabloid media drawing attention to a number of unsanitized self-published titles in the W H Smith ebook store courtesy of Kobo, both W H Smith and Kobo’s New Zealand partner store Whitcoulls closed their ebook stores, while Kobo removed all self-published titles from its catalogue.

W H Smith re-opened their ebook store with not a self-published title anywhere to be seen. Whitcoulls briefly re-opened with a small selection of self-pub titles but then closed shop completely and now do not sell ebooks at all.

Kobo allowed a curated selection of self-published ebooks back into its stores, but none were getting through to W H Smith.

Until now.

It seemed for a long while like W H Smith was just going to carry on with just trad-pubbed titles. So what made them change their mind?

Neither W H Smith nor Kobo are saying.

Originally W H Smith said self-published titles would be banned until Kobo could offer assurances about the quality of titles being put through. Are we to believe it took a full year for Kobo to meet that criteria? We think not. Kobo put its own house in order very quickly.

More likely is that W H Smith was, in the fullness of time, able to see the financial impact of having no self-published titles selling, while looking on enviously as other UK ebook retailers raked in the indie cash.

While good news, this still leaves two mainstream UK ebook stores off-limits to indie authors.

Neither Sainsbury nor Blinkbox allow self-pubbed titles, but in fairness that has more to do with their structural set-up than a policy decision to bar indies per se. Both Blinkbox and Sainsbury deal direct with the big publishers rather than go through a middleman like Kobo as W H Smith does.

Will Blinkbox and Sainsbury open up to indie titles in the future. Our guess is yes.

Sainsbury area sensible lot, and while they have the convenience of their current trad-pub set up through Anobii, they will be acutely aware of the money indie titles could be bringing in on top.

Blinkbox? Blinkbox is anyway likely to be sold off next year, as the parent company Tesco has run into serious difficulties for reasons that have nothing to do with Blinkbox. In fact all reports were that Blinkbox was (is) doing well, both with ebooks and with other digital content.

Who will buy it? No indicators of serious interest as yet, but our guess is that the Chinese titan Alibaba, the world’s biggest e-commerce operator, wouldn’t turn its nose up at the prospect.

Although there’s been no official hints we strongly suspect Alibaba will be looking closely at Barnes & Noble’s Nook, also up for grabs in the new year. A double whammy of Nook and Blinkbox, both of which Alibaba could buy out of pocket change, would give Jack Ma the leverage he needs to mount a digital content challenge to Amazon simultaneously in the US and UK.

That said, as we’ve speculated in the past, Wal-Mart are also a good bet to buy out Nook, and who knows, maybe Blinkbox is on their radar too. Wal-Mart own the UK’s Asda, a large rival supermarket chain to Tesco and Sainsbury.

Grabbing Blinkbox from Tesco and mounting a digital challenge against Amazon UK while throwing money at Nook to gain digital traction in the US would  make a lot of sense.

Both Alibaba and Wal-Mart are extremely profitable and both awash with cash right now, just at a time when their mutual rival Amazon is struggling to show any profitability at all.

Given the choice we would welcome Alibaba over Wal-Mart any day. The business ethos of Wal-Mart and Alibaba are light years apart. Will either, both, or neither take the plunge? We’ll find out next year.

Meantime let’s finish where we started. Self-published titles are back at W H Smith. Well, some. And probably the rest will follow, except maybe the erotica titles.

Are your titles in yet? You can check here. (LINK)

Is anyone seeing titles from Draft2Digital or Bookbaby getting through? Is anyone seeing self-published erotica titles getting through? Do let us know.

 

Ebook Bargains UK

Far more than just an ebook promo newsletter.

Far more than just the UK.

What We Do With Your Listing Fees.

Go Global In 2014

If any of you have been along to the EBUK website recently and been deterred by the ongoing reconstruction, you’ll be pleased to know the overhaul is finally done and the revamped website is fully functional.

And for the grammar pedants among you thinking that was a poor use of the conditional tense, if you haven’t been along to the EBUK website recently, or indeed at all, the revamp has been done regardless.

Well, actually there’s still some minor fine-tuning to come, but nothing that will make life too miserable.

First and foremost, we have a clean new look to the site. (LINK)

Listing options and fees are of course still clearly labelled and easily followed through to the automated metadata upload server, as before.

In addition we now have a currency converter that will allow you to with one-click convert the rates not just from our standard GBP to US dollars or euros, but also to Australian dollars, New Zealand, dollars, South African rands, Indian rupees, etc.

Across the top bar of the website you’ll find the links to subscribe to the daily newsletters, and of course to the blog.

You’ll also see some references to West African schools, children and babies.

West African schools? Children? Babies? What’s that all about?

 

sponsor2

Well, some of you may know that, while we’re based and run from Bedford in freezing Great Britain, EBUK’s founder is a British author who sensibly lives in The Gambia in sunny West Africa, where he funds a number of children’s projects through his book sales.

When EBUK was launched the idea was that, aside from helping authors reach readers in the nascent ebook markets around the world, any proceeds after costs would go to helping support babies , children and schools in one of the most impoverished countries on the planet.

And, though we’ve not mentioned it until now, that’s what we’ve been doing.

All the EBUK team devote their time freely to the project and, aside from the unavoidable expenses that accompany running a promo newsletter (email marketing fees, payment processing fees, web-hosting fees, etc) all the money that comes in from the project in the UK goes back out again on the bigger project in West Africa.

Obviously we’re a small outfit, charging low fees and bringing in low revenue, but even so, this month so far your EBUK listing fees have helped put ten children into nursery school and helped two pregnant mothers get medical treatment otherwise unaffordable to them.

Starting December we’ll be doing some regular posts here on the blog about this side of the EBUK project, including images and video so you can see directly how we spend your listing fees.

In 2015 we will be expanding the sponsorship projects we are involved with, and we’re hoping authors and readers will come on board to offer some support of their own. With that in mind, we’re looking for volunteers to help make this happen. Anyone interested to know more should email us at: theinternationalauthor@gmail.com.

We have a lot of ambitious and innovative projects in the pipeline, including “Sponsor-Me” ebooks and e-zines, and in particular we are hoping to attract pre-natal sponsorship for carrying mothers, with the idea that the sponsor can then support that child from pre-birth right through the crucial first five years (one in five babies in Africa won’t see their fifth birthday) and then through school and beyond.

More about all this in coming weeks.

Meanwhile, with the site revamped and the daily newsletters finally revamped, it’s (hopefully) back to “business as usual” for us with the blog and our take on the global ebook scene.

Thanks for your patience while we’ve been sorting things.

If you haven’t placed an ad with us lately, or have come across this post and are discovering us for the first time, do pop along to our website and see what’s on offer.

As ever, we are not Bookbub and not trying to compete with Bookbub. Our focus is on the nascent ebook markets of the world and our low fees reflect this. Expect results in bingo numbers, not telephone numbers.

But bear in mind too that, running expenses aside, all the money from the listing fees goes towards babies, children and school projects in one of the poorest countries on Earth.

Ebook Bargains UK

Far more than just an ebook promo newsletter.

Far more than just the UK.

Ebook Bargains UK Rolls Out Buy Buttons For OverDrive, Scribd And Oyster And Kindle Unlimited.

Go Global In 2014

Here at Ebook Bargains UK we are committed to promoting a healthy and diverse global ebook market.

From the beginning we took a conscious decision not to go down the affiliate route.

This was a) to maintain our editorial independence as observers and commentators through the blog;

b) to ensure we were open to promoting ebook stores as widely as possible, regardless of whether they had an affiliate scheme we could make money off;

and c) to ensure we were not drawn down the route of favouring some better-selling authors over others less-well-established who were less likely to bring in affiliate fees.

The downside to that of course is that we rely solely on advertiser fees for revenue. As our subscriber base is small (inevitably, as we are targeting nascent markets) the fees are low, which in turn impinges our ability to develop as rapidly as we might like.

But we are getting there. If you haven’t seen our daily promo newsletters recently, check out the links below, to see how things are changing for the better.

First and foremost – and one in the eye for those who repeatedly assert we are anti-Amazon because we occasionally run posts on the blog that are less than flattering about the Everything Store – we now carry buy buttons for the Kindle Unlimited ebook subscription service.

We think it safe to say we are the ONLY ebook promo newsletter carrying KU buttons at this time.

As of this month we are also carrying buttons for OverDrive digital libraries, and the subscription services Scribd and Oyster. Again, we are probably the only promo newsletter reaching out to readers using these platforms.

For those unfamiliar, we also carry buy buttons for the global Txtr stores and Google Play stores, for Smashwords, for All-Romance and OmniLit, for Blio, Versent and for Books A Million, and of course the usual suspects Amazon, Apple, Nook and Kobo.

In addition, this month we have increased our support for indie bookstores in the US, and now have buy buttons for no less than four Kobo-partnered independent book-sellers.

These are Flights of Fancy in Albany, New York ; Gulliver’s in Fairbanks, Alaska; Poor Richard’s in Kentucky; and Skylight in Los Angeles.

Check out today’s Ebook Bargains USA newsletter (LINK) to see some of these in action.

Obviously the buttons appearing depends on the authors concerned having books available in these stores on the day.

Unlike other promo newsletters we are not price-restricted. If you have a title free in one store, 0.99 in another, 1.99 in another, and 2.99 in yet another, you can still include all the retailers in your EBUK listing.

In the EBUK newsletter for Britain (LINK), for example – advertisers are promoting titles not just on Amazon UK and KU, Apple UK, Google Play UK, Nook UK and Kobo UK but also Waterstone’s, Hive, Txtr UK, Foyles, Blloon, OverDrive and Scribd. In addition we also carry buttons for W H Smith, Sainsbury and Blinkbox , although these stores are currently off-limits to indies.

For the Ebook Bargains Australia newsletter (LINK) listings again could include Amazon AU, Google Play AU. Kobo AU, Apple AU, Txtr AU, Angus & Robertson, Bookworld, Collins, Dymocks, QBD, Booktopia, Fishpond, Pages & Pages, Big W, JB Hi-Fi, etc. And not forgetting Scribd and OverDrive

For the Ebook Bargains Germany newsletter (LINK) authors can promote their titles not just on Kindle DE, Apple DE, Google Play DE and Kobo DE but also domestic ebook stores like Hugendubel, Thalia, Buch, Bucher, Weltbild, Der Club, Bol and Ciando, and of course not forgetting Scribd. We have yet to have any author with titles in Skoobe, but when that happens…

Sadly the most exciting prospect for indie authors – India – is as yet the one most ignored by indie authors.

Today’s Ebook Bargains India newsletter carries listings for thirteen titles but only one of those thirteen has an India listing other than Kindle India.

Partly that’s the fault of the retailers. Neither Apple nor Nook are represented on the subcontinent. Kobo has a rather pointless partnership with W H Smith India and Crossword, and if they have a ”localized” India store it’s not possible for authors elsewhere to get the links for promotion.

Google Play has an India store, but none of today’s titles are in Google Play. We carry Scribd links in the India newsletter, but by chance none of today’s titles are in Scribd. C’est la vie.

More disturbing is the fact that India’s biggest store by far, Flipkart, is easily accessible to India authors through both Smashwords and Bookbaby, yet only one of the titles listed today is in Flipkart.

Landmark have lately stopped carry ebooks, but other domestic stores like Newshunt and Rockstand are upping their game by the day. And yes, as and when authors have titles in those stores we will carry buttons for them.

Here just to remind everybody that our feedback from subscribers in the nascent markets like India is very clear. They want to see deals in the stores they shop at where they are.

For India the most requested stores are Flipkart, Rockstand and Newshunt. We carry titles in Kindle India every day, so obviously those who do shop at Amazon are happy, but those that don’t are not going to change their buying habits to suit us indies. They’ll just buy books from other authors that have made the effort to be available.

That doesn’t mean indies need to try be everywhere. That simply isn’t possible, even if it were sensible.

But it does mean that, if we want to reach a global audience – and if you don’t, you’re reading the wrong blog – we need to put ourselves in our readers’ shoes now and again, and see things from their perspective.

Here’s the thing. Readers don’t care a damn what’s convenient for us indie authors. They don’t know or care how difficult store B is to get into compared to store A. They don’t know or care that D2D is much easier to upload to than Smashwords but that D2D doesn’t get our books into Flipkart and neither get us into Google Play.

Australians who buy from Angus & Robertson, Booktopia or QBD are not going to sign up with Amazon or Kobo just because it’s so much more convenient for us indie authors. If they want to get their books from their local digital library and we aren’t in the OverDrive catalogue they’ll just read someone else’s book instead.

Likewise the 60% of German readers who do not currently get their ebooks from Kindle DE are not going to change their buying habits just to enjoy our books. They still have plenty to choose from in the Tolino Alliance stores like Hugendubel and Thalia, in the Ciando stores (Ciando has its own dedicated English-language ebook store, such is the demand for English-language books in Germany) or Txtr DE, Apple DE, Kobo DE, Google Play DE, etc.

More hassle than it’s worth? Not necessarily.

While some global stores are nigh impossible to get into, and many others are, to say the least, challenging, it’s nonetheless never been easier to get diverse  global distribution.

Smashwords will now get you into the OverDrive catalogue serving digital libraries across the world, as well as the global subscription service Scribd. Smashwords gets you into India’s Flipkart. So does Bookbaby, and Bookbaby also gets you into places Smashwords does not, like the e-Sentral stores of SE Asia.

As we wind up 2014 and head into the brave new world that is 2015 we indies really need to address the issue of diversity.

Wonderful as Amazon is, putting all your eggs in one basket is never a wise idea, and as we’ve noted on many occasions, no matter how well Amazon is doing for you in the US and UK, it is not the dominant global player outside those shores, and never will be.

Diversifying your distribution does not mean leaving Amazon. You can still reach the exact same number of readers on Amazon that you do now while also being available to readers elsewhere.

As we wind up 2014, and launch our Diversified Distribution In 2015 campaign, we’ll be looking at all the latest options open to indie authors to reach readers where the readers are, including review of which aggregators gets you where, and which do it best.

Diversified Distribution In 2015!

 Ebook Bargains UK

Far more than just an ebook promo newsletter.

Far more than just the UK.

Crank Up The Gramaphone Tablet. His Master’s Voice Has A Message For Uncle Jeff.

Go Global In 2014You probably thought RCA, last heard of when music was played on big flat vinyl disks at 78 rpm on wind-up gramaphones and when TVs had tubes, had long since gone the way of the dinosaurs.

But it’s a funny old world, and the only thing written in stone in the digital era is that nothing is written in stone.

RCA has not just refused to die. It’s making a big come back.

How big?

How’s this for size: RCA makes tablets nowadays. Yeah, you know, like the KindleFire.

Of course, being indies we all have only ever heard of the KindleFire and the iPad. But in the real world beyond our indie existence the buying public have been busy choosing tablets based on – make sure you’re sitting down for this – considerations other than who their favourite ebook seller is.

Enter RCA, which is not just outselling the KindleFire, but is now the fifth biggest tablet vendor in the world!

In top spot Apple is still holding out, with Samsung second. In third and fourth place come Asus and Lenova, while RCA comes from nowhere to grab fifth place, thanks in large part to a deal with the world’s biggest retailer, Wal-Mart. (LINK)

Amazon’s KindleFire range? Best not ask.

Have we mentioned recently how important it is that we should be diversifying and not having all our eggs in one basket?

 

Ebook Bargains UK

Far more than just an ebook promo newsletter.

Far more than just the UK.

 

 

Good News From Amazon India. Elephants Walk To Mars In Sarees And Stilettos.

Go Global In 2014

With Amazon still reeling from investor reaction to the Q3 Financial Report we thought we would break with tradition and run a positive story on Amazon for a change.

Or at least, one that looks positive if you don’t scrutinize the numbers too closely.

Amazon, it seems, has just had its best month ever in India. Unprecedented sales and traffic, in fact!

While we western indies all gear up for our online festive season next month, a big festive season is just winding down in India. A reminder that if we want to promote and sell globally we need a global calendar to keep up.

Amazon of course don’t do real figures, but they can always be relied upon to let us know when things are going well. And it seems things are going well in India, despite the behind the scenes tax and government issues still unresolved. No link to those this time round. Let’s keep things positive.

Let’s rejoice in the fact that Amazon are claiming the Amazon India online store had, between September 21 and October 21, fifteen times more visitors than the Taj Mahal gets in a year.

Given the Taj Mahal gets upwards of 7 million visitors annually that means Amazon are claiming to have had over 100 million visitors to the Amazon India store between Sept 21 – Oct. 21.

Hmmm…

India is a big country with a ginormous population, but only a fraction of them are on the internet at all, and it’s generally accepted that rival Store Flipkart has 80% of the Indian e-commerce market.

One hundred million hits in a month? Who’s to say. One thing’s for sure: they weren’t buying our ebooks!

But Amazon claims they were buying real books. In fact they claim that if all the books bought on Amazon India last month were stacked up they would be higher than Mt.Everest. By our calculation, assuming an average of 2cm width per title, that means Amazon sold around 440,000 books on Amazon India last month.

Amazon also claims its total shipments last month by weight equalled 800 adult elephants. They didn’t specify male (average 3,500kg) or female (average 2,500kg) elephants but whatever gender, that’s a lot of weight to haul around.

But was it ten million earrings at a massive profit for each pair, or was it one stranded battleship (two previous careful owners) that was sold at a loss? The numbers sound good, but tell us nothing.

Amazon also sold shoes. Lots of shoes. Enough, apparently, to walk to Mars and back without running out. Hmmm. It doesn’t get much more meaningless than that.

At its closest Mars is 55 million kilometres away. At its furthest Mars is 400 million kilometres away. Mean average is 225 million kilometres. That’s about 140 million miles in real money.

Given there’s no friction in space one could theoretically walk to Mars in bare feet and not even sustain a blister, so we’re not sure what Amazon’s numbers tell us other than they had a good month selling shoes.

But Amazon brought us back down to Earth with saree sales numbers. Apparently Amazon India sold enough sarees last month to “engulf the cricket pitches of all ODI (one-day international) grounds across the globe 20 times over”.

Did Amazon actually make any profit with all this activity? Curiously they didn’t mention that.

But let’s keep things positive. If these figures are even remotely accurate then Amazon is making its mark on the subcontinent and is grabbing a growing share of the burgeoning Indian e-commerce market.

Every visitor to the Amazon store will be doing so on a device that could have your ebooks on from the Kindle India store.

And of course there are lots of other ebook retailers serving India alongside the Amazon.

Ignore the India market at your peril.

Ebook Bargains UK

Far more than just an ebook promo newsletter.

Far more than just the UK.