Category Archives: Ebook Promotion

Would You Say No To 90%+ Royalties? Maybe You Already Are.

Would You Say No To 90%+ Royalties? Maybe You Already Are.

shopify

D2C and 96% Royalties. Get Started Direct2Consumer With Shopify Lite.

Shopify just deposited £9.58 in my bank.

Nothing to get excited about on its own, but when you consider it was for a five-ebook package, each individually selling at £1.99 (GBP) on Amazon, it gets more interesting.

On Amazon those five (children’s) books would have cost the buyer £1.99 x 5 = £9.95. I sell them as a pack of five (not a box set – some people prefer individual titles because they are easier to navigate and to share among the children) for a clean £10.

On Amazon each sale would net me 35% of the £1.99 each, sixty days after the end of the month in which the sale was made. That’s 0.70 a shot x 5 making a total royalty for the five books of £3.50 coming to me. Amazon would have taken £6.50 for brokering the deal.

Instead Shopify landed £9.58 in my UK account just four working days after the transaction. (3 days for US and Australia, 7 days for Canada.) That’s £6.08 *more* than the same sale would have got me on Amazon.

And for those wondering, that’s a 96% royalty rate.

Even for a higher priced item where Amazon paid the 70% royalty (minus the delivery charge) that’s still upwards of 26% less than my direct sale delivered.

Shopify will also let me sell direct on Facebook and Pinterest. Not a promotional link to a retailer but a direct sales button.

And of course I can put sales buttons on my website, blog, etc.

There’s a monthly fee of $9 for Shopify Lite, which lets us do all the above.

The next step up is the Shopify store, which I plan on experimenting with in 2017. The monthly fee is a little higher, but when we’re collecting 95% of list price that’s no problem to cover if we have the traffic.

Where does the traffic come from? Our mailing lists are one good source. Plus of course we can directly promote our Shopify shop or individual sales links.

The downside of course is chart position on the mighty Amazon. Chart position equals visibility equals sales, as we all know.

But… If we are fielding niche-market titles (my bilinguals, for example), or have back-list titles that are not seeing much chart action anyway, D2C is a great way to maximise profits, and of course we have the customer data to up-sell further goods later.

And having a shop of course means we can bundle items as we like, cross-promote items as we like, and make up our own categories, and add links to retailers too. The latter is always good idea for ebooks because some buyers will want the convenience of, say, Amazon’s one-click.

With a shop (Shopify or whatever) we can also offer loyalty incentives. We can offer subscriptions. We can offer free bonus material. We can run promotions and competitions and special offers and etc, etc.

Yes, these are things we can do on our regular websites, but a well-branded “shop” adds appeal and professionalism for the consumer,.

And a shopping cart system where consumers can load up a basket of goods rather than make an individual purchase then go back and do it all over again.

D2C shouldn’t be seen as trying to compete with, or as an alternative to, the big retailers. But to compliment the sales they bring us, and to build our brand and enlarge out reach.

https://www.shopify.com/lite

Shopify (LINK), like Etsy and Ecwid and Selz and etc will let us load digital content and will take care of everything for us once we have the listings live, so before we protest it’s all too much work it’s actually no different in that respect from loading to Amazon or Kobo.

The big difference is that 95% royalty.

What’s your excuse for not going D2C?

This post first appeared in the International Indie Author Facebook Group. (LINK)

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*  Ebook Bargains UK Newsletter Promotion *
Okay, so the Britain-based EBUK promotional newsletter isn’t quite Bookbub, but it does get some authors some extra sales, and plenty of authors come back to advertise with us time and time again. Not surprising with listing prices ranging from just £5 to £15 GBP.

EBUK is a not-for-profit venture and all proceeds after costs go towards supporting nursery school projects here in The Gambia.

Right now there’s a special 2-for-1 promo for IIA readers who want to use the EBUK promo newsletter to promote their titles.

Just type the code IIA-2-for-1-Promo anywhere in the metadata fields when you book a title and the guys in the UK will credit you with a free listing of equal value.

Click HERE to go to the EBUK site.

The International Indie Author
Looking at the bigger picture.

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For daily news and discussion about the global indie publishing scene join this lively Facebook Group.

James Patterson Book Shots, Sachet Marketing and the Perils of the Look Inside Feature.

DeadHeat

I follow James Patterson with interest – not so much for the reading as for the presentation and innovation.

Patterson didn’t get to be the world’s biggest-selling author – bigger than Rowling –by hiding his books away from public view and sticking to safe bet formats.

His latest Book Shots project – titles of approx. 150 pages written for the new world of mobile consumers – is designed to chase reluctant readers for whom a full length title of 300 or 500 pages is a daunting prospect.

Stories at the speed of life, as they are cleverly branded.

But he takes that one step further still with his Dead Heat Book Shot, which with perfect timing is set in the Rio 2016 Olympics and released to coincide. And this is a 150 page standard Book Shot delivered in four parts, of just 35-40 pages each, and in the UK retailing at just 49p (a full Book Shot retails at £1.99 GBP).

Whatever we may think of the actual writing, we have to admire the packaging, marketing and timing.

Yes, we can all find things to complain about in the storylines, but Patterson isn’t pretending to be Shakespeare.

Patterson is writing for the twenty-first century mass-consumer that wants reading entertainment they can slot between the rest of their busy lives. Entertainment that can compete with binge-video streaming, music and games, or can be read while multi-tasking in the supermarket queue or waiting for the kids to come out of school.

Patterson – far more so than Rowling – is at the top of his game. His main focus is crime thrillers and mysteries – my preferred genres – so I’ll be buying all the Book Shots over the next few months and reading them not for entertainment (I like Patterson’s tabloid style, but not that much!) but to analyse as a fellow author and work out what it is that keeps Patterson so far ahead of his nearest competitors, year in, year out.

Serialising his short books like this is one great way of reaching new readers, adding new discovery points and standing out from the crowd. Just a shame that the Look Inside feature on Amazon stops before the actual story starts.

Serialising our self-published works came in for some bad press thanks to some indies trying to scam KU by chopping up larger books to gain the pot payout, but in principle serialising our work – not just new titles but existing works – is a great way of reaching new readers.

Why?

• we can keep down our up-front risk cost to the reader down – 49p is less of a risk than £1.99 to get started on the new Patterson four part series, and if we do like it we don’t pay more for buying the rest afterwards.
• if we are serialising old works then there is no delay for readers who do like the first to get the next. It’s just a click away.
• Patterson’s Book Shot in full is just one more title in his portfolio. Just one more discover point. By chopping into four and offering four separate parts or an option to buy the book in full Patterson adds five discover points. Five more chances of a reader coming across his works and getting hooked.
• it needn’t cost us a fortune in extra bespoke covers. Patterson uses the same cover for all four titles, just the edition number changes. And we can see, the volume number is big and bold to make sure it stands out on the thumbnail images.

Which is one lesson I’ve learned from Patterson’s Book Shots already.

For my Sherlock For Kids and Easy-English Sherlock series I use the same base cover design for maximum branding, but the thumbnails do need close inspection to see what is what. So I’ll be looking at some sort of additional cover feature to differentiate the covers in thumbnail viewing mode.

At a broader level I already have my flagship title Sugar & Spice available as a full book or in three parts, with the first free courtesy of StreetLib (the only way to get indie titles into Amazon at $0.00 without being price-matched or in Select). And I’m looking to extend that experiment to other titles.

Next year I’ll be starting on my full-length Classics For Kids titles, with a re-telling of the Sherlock full length titles, some Shakespeare titles and an easy-read version of my favourite Austen novel, Pride & Prejudice, releasing those as serialised parts.

Beyond that there are distributors who specialise in sachet-marketing for the mobile reader.

Juggernaut in India, Pigeonhole in the UK and Germany, and Tapas in the US immediately spring to mind.

I know one IIA Group member already has some titles on Tapas, and when the time is right hopefully will come along and share the experience. I almost signed up with Tapas earlier this year, but real-life got in the way. I’ll be trying again soon.

Going wide is about much more than just being in as many retailer as possible. It’s about making our products appeal to as many people as possible.

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This post first appeared in the International Indie Author Facebook Group.

Click HERE to see the original post and join the IIA Group, your guide to going global.

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*  Ebook Bargains UK Newsletter Promotion *

Okay, so the Britain-based EBUK promotional newsletter isn’t quite Bookbub, but it does get some authors some extra sales, and plenty of authors come back to advertise with us time and time again. Not surprising with listing prices ranging from just £5 to £15 GBP.

EBUK is a not-for-profit venture and all proceeds after costs go towards supporting nursery school projects here in The Gambia.

Right now there’s a special 2-for one promo for IIA readers who want to use the EBUK promo newsletter to promote their titles.

Just type the code IIA-2-for-1-Promo anywhere in the metadata fields when you book a title and the guys in the UK will credit you with a free listing of equal value.

Click HERE to go to the EBUK site.

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The Thirty Minute Upload Workout – Going Wide Needn’t Be A Chore.

SFK-The-Red-Headed-League-English-German

And no, despite the image, this is not a self-promo Buy My Book post!

 

When it comes to finding the path of least resistance we indies have it down to a fine art.

Even though all logic dictates that, unless we have a sweetheart deal with a retailer, being available as widely as possible is the best long-term career move we can make, it seems many indies will nonetheless convince ourselves it’s all soooo much effort that we’re better off just signing up to Select and crossing our fingers.

NB: This isn’t an anti-Select post. Select is a great tool and used wisely can bring its own rewards, but we should never chose an option simply because it’s quick and easy, or because we see big-name authors doing well in Select but who may well have special deals like White Glove, etc that are why they are doing so well when so many regular indies are not.

Especially when it’s so quick and easy to go from being just in Amazon’s dozen stores to being in 400-500 stores worldwide, and still be in those same dozen Amazon stores as well.

How quick and easy?

Well, overnight the cover came in for my English-German bilingual version of the Red-Headed League, the Conan Doyle classic re-told for children as part of my Classics For Kids global literacy project.

There’s not much point putting a global project in Select, because, despite that long list of countries in the KDP dashboard when you click world rights, Amazon actually blocks downloads to much of the world and imposes surcharges on ebook sales in other countries not in the Kindle Zone (ie outside the dozen or so Kindle store countries).

For example a $2.99 title sold in South Africa will cost the reader $4.99 but the author will see just 35% of the original $2.99 list price.

I picked the bilingual title to illustrate this post because, being bilingual, it has almost double the metadata, with bilingual title, bilingual series title, bilingual blurb, etc.

But it still took me only thirty minutes to put that title into all the distributors needed to reach 400-500 global retail and library outlets.

Okay, here’s how I set about it.

First, I have everything ready and lined up.

  • The epub/mobi file is ready.
  • The cover is ready to go.
  • The finalised Word file is open at the title page.
  • I have the blurb all-typed up and ready to go.
  • I have a list of keywords ready to type in.
  • I have my categories and price decided on.

All of which (epub aside) we need whether we are going as wide as possible or going into Select. If we have the mobi file it’s just a couple of minutes work to run it through Calibre and convert to epub.

Then I simultaneously open browser tabs for Amazon KDP, Kobo KWL, Pronoun, Smashwords, Draft2Digital and PublishDrive (I don’t have direct access to Apple and gave up on NookPress when Nook UK closed, so I use the aggregators to get into B&N).

From there, it’s a breeze.

  • Copy title from Word doc and paste into title bar in KDP, then KWL, then Smashwords, then Pronoun, then StreetLib, then PublishDrive.

If moving from Select to go wide, then do the same and copy the metadata from KDP to the other stores.

  • Repeat for series title. Repeat for blurb.
  • Upload cover to KDP, then move along to KWL, then etc.
  • Upload epub/mobi/Word doc to KDP, then KWL, then etc.

All of which has so far taken maybe ten-fifteen minutes of our valuable time if we’re on a steam-powered laptop and a Third World internet server as I am.

Then we have fifteen-twenty minutes remaining to tackle the more time-consuming tasks of selecting categories, keywords, price and outlets.

But here we simply refer to our categories and keywords list and input the data, one upload option after the other. Category options vary slightly from one upload option to the next, but it’s no big deal.

Prices again need a few minutes of thought to make sure we optimise our list-prices. For example, having chosen our KDP prices we can still play with lower prices for some locations with some outlets. If we have $3.99 AUD set for Australia in KDP (the lowest we can get 70% for) then obviously we need to match that in KWL, D2D, etc for Australia using the territorial pricing tool. But we can still list at 0.99 for example in New Zealand, which isn’t covered by Amazon’s MFN clause because there isn’t a Kindle NZ store.

Our final job is to choose the sales/library outlets for each uploader. Again, done one after the other it’s just a few minutes work to sort them all.

If using KDP then obviously we untick Amazon on StreetLib, Pronoun and PublishDrive (there are good reasons why we might want to upload to Amazon without using KDP, but that’s for another post).

Ditto KWL.

Beyond that we need to choose whether to use Smashwords or StreetLib for OverDrive, and whether to use StreetLib or Pronoun or PublishDrive for Google Play, and D2D or Smashwords or PublishDrive or StreetLib for Tolino, and StreetLib or D2D for 24 Symbols, and etc, etc.

Yeah, decisions, decisions, but if we’re going straight from one to another it’s not rocket-science to keep track and make sure we get all the options available without any overlapping.

Finally, hit publish and, for Smashwords, pop back and check the channels and series managers because for some reason Smashwords make us do that after we publish, not before).

Then make ourselves a cup of coffee. We deserve it.

Many outlets will have our title live the same day, Others will take a few days or a week or even many weeks, but the thing is, all it’s taken us is half an hour of our lives to set it all in motion.

Maybe a few minutes longer if we are also doing NookPress and Apple direct, or maybe also using Bookbaby or XinXii or Ebook Partnership or…) but by any realistic measure this isn’t going to take us much over thirty minutes.

A half hour now that could be paying back at one level or another for years to come.

There are good reasons to restrict our reach with some titles and focus our energies on one retail outlet.

But saying we haven’t time isn’t one of them.

I’m wide. How about you?

♦ ♦ ♦

This post first appeared in the International Indie Author Facebook Group.

Click HERE to see the original post and join the IIA Group, your guide to going global.

♦ ♦ ♦

*  Ebook Bargains UK Newsletter Promotion *

Okay, so the Britain-based EBUK promotional newsletter isn’t quite Bookbub, but it does get some authors some extra sales, and plenty of authors come back to advertise with us time and time again. Not surprising with listing prices ranging from just £5 to £15 GBP.

EBUK is a not-for-profit venture and all proceeds after costs go towards supporting nursery school projects here in The Gambia.

Right now there’s a special 2-for one promo for IIA readers who want to use the EBUK promo newsletter to promote their titles.

Just type the code IIA-2-for-1-Promo anywhere in the metadata fields when you book a title and the guys in the UK will credit you with a free listing of equal value.

Click HERE to go to the EBUK site.

 

 

How To List At $0.00 On Amazon. No Exclusivity Or Price-Matching Required.

SFK FREE

Free On Amazon! And No, This Is Not A Self-Promo Post.

Yesterday I took one of my Sherlock For Kids titles out of KDP and uploaded to Amazon by another route and listed the price at $0.00.

Today here it is on Amazon at $0.00 with the immortal words “This price was set by the publisher.”

  • No exclusivity. It’s still on Apple, Kobo, etc.
  • No Select five days free every ninety days. This is free for just as long as I want it to be.
  • No going free on other retailers and just hoping Amazon will price-match, or getting friends to tell Amazon there’s a better price elsewhere. In fact it’s still at 0.99 on several retailers, but free on Amazon.

How? By uploading my title to StreetLib, the Italian aggregator (don’t panic, the site is in English!) that in many ways continues to lead the aggregator pack.

StreetLib’s Anne-Catherine de Fombelle has said this is a six month trial and that she hopes indie authors will use this option wisely. I’m sure we (mostly) will.

Free can be a great tool in our indie tool kit, but as above, indie authors have never had the option to list free on Amazon except a) by going exclusive and being able to list free for five days in Select, or b) going free on another retailer and hoping Amazon will price-match.

Now we have the option to list free on Amazon for as long or as short a time as we like, subject of course to either StreetLib and Amazon not changing the rules down the road.

As part of a multi-book and growing series I hope this title will now find lots of new eyeballs and lots of buys of the rest of the series, both on Amazon and on other retailers.

My thanks to StreetLib for making this option available and working so efficiently.

For those who haven’t used StreetLib before, it has some of the best distribution available from any pay-as-you-sell aggregator, and lots more to commend it too.

There are some downsides – not least the clunky interface – but the StreetLib team are working on that and to bring many new features to StreetLib this year.

But the free-on-Amazon option has to be the best thing they’ve come up with to date.

Do pop along to StreetLib (LINK) and at least check out what they offer. Access to Google Play, for example, and the best Italian and Latin American distribution of any English-language aggregator.

This post first appeared in The International Indie Author Facebook Group (LINK) on 16 March 2016.

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The International Indie Author
Looking at the bigger picture.
◊ ◊ ◊
For daily news and discussion about the global indie publishing scene join this lively Facebook Group.

Payments Is The Biggest Single Challenge For Global Ebook Vendors and Global Ebook Authors. Messaging Apps Are The Solution. 

wechat-logo

 

With literally half the world now owning a smartphone, it’s never been easier to REACH potential readers. But even if we can get their attention, how can someone pay if they don’t have a bank card?

In the *real* world beyond the rich First World *we* are lucky enough to live, in, on-line micro-payment processors have been busily stepping up to fill the void. A full post on this in early 2016.

Here just to take a quick look at how messaging apps – yes, the ebook promo option most of us indies seem determined to pretend doesn’t exist –  is shaping up beyond China.

Within China messaging apps are far more than just messaging apps. Tencent’s WeChat is an entire microverse of internet possibilities within a single app.

And that includes payment processing at all manner of levels, from buying goods and services on line to making peer-to-peer payments from one smartphone to another.

Tencent has big plans to globalise this in 2016, and WeChat is already widely used beyond China.

In South Africa WeChat ZA (ZA is the international country code, not a typo!) is now offering payment options, and crucially users do not need a bank account or bank card to participate. (LINK)

It’s early days and of course no ebook stores are engaged yet, but that will happen, in South Africa and across the globe as Tencent roll out their WeChat mobile wallet more widely.

Where WeChat leads, other messaging apps and other social media – including the mighty Facebook and the once-mighty twitter – are following.

Check out the WeChat blog here. (LINK)

Follow WeChatZA on twitter – @WeChatZA .

And of course WeChatZA is on Facebook. (LINK)

The way payments are made online globally is being transformed, and enfranchising the vast majority of people who do not have bank accounts and bank cards.

Over the next five years not only will pretty much everyone, anywhere on the planet, own an internet-connected smartphone, but everyone will be able to make payments online, regardless of their ability to qualify for a bank account and bank card.

For internationally-minded indie authors it’s hard to exaggerate the potential here.

The global publishing jigsaw is still far from complete, but messaging apps offering payment services are one more piece of that jigsaw puzzle slotting nicely into place.

Indie authors who are using messaging apps to engage with readers globally and to build their brand will be in a very strong position to take advantage of the next generation payments options that are unfolding.

Keep a special eye on Kobo in this respect. Kobo is owned by Japan-based Rakuten, who own not just Kobo but also OverDrive, making Rakuten the biggest ebook distributor in the world in terms of reach.

Rakuten also own the messaging app Viber, and are actively engaging with readers globally through the app. Rakuten’s CEO has openly stated his intent to make Viber a shopping portal and has said clearly that Kobo ebooks will be at the forefront of that development.

Tencent happens to be a major ebook player within China, and is already well ahead of the game.

At some stage I expect Tencent to start looking at ebook sales globally. It can’t have escaped their notice that the big western ebook retailers like Amazon and Apple, powerful as they are, are completely ignoring most of the world. Obsessed with keeping their customer details in-house, they are never going to embrace fully the next generation payment processing options that will enfranchise the world as digital content buyers.

Other players will step in to fill this void, and savvy indie internationalist authors will be positioning ourselves to enjoy the ride.

If Going Global all seems overwhelming right now, don’t worry. It is.

2015 has seen countless threads in the rise of the global publishing market begin to entwine, but for many of us indies the challenge of making sense of it all and knowing where to start, let alone actively engaging, is a  daunting one.

And as the Global New Renaissance gets into second gear and the second half of this decades takes us towards 2020 and the Internet of Things era it will get even more overwhelming.

But the rewards for those who can stay ahead of the game…

In 2016 I’ll be putting together some step-by-step guides to Going Global that will pull together all these threads and offer some guidance on how to engage fully with the Global New Renaissance, whether we are just starting out on the global adventure, or are a hardened internationalist and just need to fine-tune our strategies.

The future is globile

Catching Up On The Global Publishing Scene. November 2015 Update.

google-mobile-asia

 

Asia’s Emerging Ebook Markets.

When it comes to global ebooks sales we all need to think “globile”. That is, global mobile.

Much of the world have simply skipped the entire desktop PC and dumb-phone era and gone from no internet access to 3G and 4G smartphones, pretty much overnight.

With every single smartphone a device that could be carrying our ebooks the potential for authors and publishers is hard to exaggerate. But where to focus one’s strategic planning?

That graphic from Google at the top of this post may help decide.

For those unfamiliar with the international two-letter country coding:

  • AU is Australia
  • ID Indonesia,
  • TW Taiwan,
  • SG Singapore
  • HK Hong Kong
  • JP Japan
  • KR South Korea.

Right now Korea is the tops and India and Indonesia are way down the list in terms of smartphone penetration. But it’s these two countries that are among my top priorities.

Not just because they are fast growing (India will likely be the second largest smartphone market next year) but because Indians and Indonesia, coming late to the internet world, are far more reliant on smartphones in their everyday lives than we in the rich west who use smartphones mainly as an add-on to our existing desktops, laptops, e-readers, dumbphones, landline phones, etc.

And given India is the nation that reads the most, and the sixth largest book market on the planet even before smartphones fully impact, it’s not hard to see why even the more cautious commentators are now joining me in predicting India will be the next ebook gold-rush.

# # #

Africa Watch 1: Egyptian Book Store Chain Sets Up In UK.

In a sure sign of how the Global New Renaissance is taking hold, the Egyptian bookstore chain ALEF has opened a store in… London.

Read the linked post on Publishing Perspectives for the full story. (LINK)

Here just to extract the most pertinent point:

“We believed that people in Egypt don’t read because they don’t have access to books, and we turned out to be right…”

In fact ALEF is doing “booming business” in Egypt and the new London store is just the first step of their international expansion, selling not just Arabic-language books but Arabic books translated into English.

Yes, there are issues of (comparatively) low literacy levels in many countries across Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere. But the idea that people in these countries therefore don’t read is just ludicrous. The problem is, always, about availability and affordability.

And for indie authors and trad pub publishers alike the new “globile” markets where everyone and their dog has a smartphone in their hand, mean that we can, increasingly, reach readers hitherto completely beyond reach.

As we hurtle into 2016 the possibilities – and opportunities – ahead are unprecedented.

Don’t let them pass you by.

Go Globile in 2016 and build a truly international readership for your brand.

# # #

33% Of French Commuters Prefer Ebooks

It will come as no surprise to learn that French train commuters, just like commuters in many countries, while away the journey reading.

The French railway operator SNCF estimate 75% of passengers read books on their journey. (LINK)

What may come as a surprise is that 33% of them e-read – either on dedicated e-readers or on smartphones.

SNCF responded by offering their own ebook subscription service with 100,000 French-language titles. Check out the SNCF store here. (LINK)

It’s not clear who is supplying SNCF, but that’s neither here nor there.

What is key for us as indie authors is the direction digital reading in France is taking.

Ebooks, may still be a tiny fraction of the overall French book market, but early days.

Hard to imagine though it is, just a few years ago the US and UK were nascent markets with only a handful of people reading ebooks.

And in those early years it was very easy for a handful of savvy, forward-thinking indie authors to be very big fish in a very small pond.

This is the true beauty of the global nascent markets right now. There are open goals out there. Major opportunities to be big fish in small ponds now and to grow into even bigger fish as those ponds grow.

Already this year we’ve seen western indies top the charts in China. We’ve seen India leapfrog the UK as the second-largest English-language book market. In Germany indie authors have been dominating the ebook charts for some while.

Across Asia, Latin America and eastern Europe the book markets – and especially the ebook markets – are seeing a new vitality as the Global New Renaissance takes hold.

No, none of these markets (except China) can compare to the US market today. But that’s to miss the point.

And more importantly to miss the opportunity.

Because many of these so-called nascent markets – China, India, Germany, Latin America, Indonesia, etc – are already as big, or bigger (much bigger in the case of China) than the US market was back in 2009-2010.

And back in 2009-2010 savvy indie authors like Amanda Hocking and John Locke were gigantic fish in a very small pond. Million-sellers at a time when hardly anyone in the US even knew ebooks existed.

When looking at the emerging global markets available to us now, don’t think “nascent – not worth bothering with”.

Think OPPORTUNITY!

# # #

Children’s Book Sales “Booming” In China.

The Shanghai Children’s Book Fair took place earlier this month, and reports emerging (LINK) show a very vibrant children’s publishing sector with keen interest in titles from the wider world.

Hardly surprising given there are 370 million under-eighteens in China right now – more than the entire population of the USA. And that number could grow rapidly with the new two-child policy.

Incredible opportunities emerging in China across all genres, not just children’s books.

So far Fiberead remain the easy option for accessing this massive market, but I’m watching carefully for more direct opportunities alongside.

China is potentially the most lucrative of all the markets – the China market alone will dwarf the US market very soon – and it will rapidly expand over the next five years. But access is always going to be awkward. Not impossible, by any means, but not without its challenges.

Awkward it may be, but China should definitely be on the watch-list for any author serious about global reach.

# # #

New Distribution Channel’s For Audio Books.

While Amazon’s ACX is effectively the only show in town for indie audio, we should never rush to put all our eggs in one basket, because alternatives will be along soon enough.

  • Xin-Xii recently started distributing indie audio to German retailer.
  • Now, say hello to Author’s Republic (LINK), courtesy of AudioBooks(dot)com. (LINK)

I’ll investigate this further, but so far it looks like we now have a real alternative to ACX for distribution, although we’ll still need to get our audiobooks made first, which means ACX still has the advantage.

Author’s Republic does have some sort of iOS tool for making our own, but ACX clearly holds all the aces in this respect.

The Author’s Republic will distribute not only to Audiobooks(fdot)com but also to:

  • Audible
  • iTunes
  • Amazon
  • Barnes & Noble
  • Scribd
  • Downpour
  • tunein

as well as library providers such as

  • Findaway
  • Overdrive.

And presumably they will expand further on that as we head into 2016.

Perhaps more importantly, this will be the first of many. A matter of time now before other retailers open up audiobook self-pub portals themselves or ebook aggregators follow Xin-Xii’s lead and start distributing audiobooks.

Those locked into exclusivity with ACX for their audiobooks may be getting slightly better royalties (although Author’s Republic will supposedly be paying a competitive 35%) but could be missing out on reach, especially with Author’s Republic ‘s access to key outlets like OverDrive and Findaway which ACX will deny you.

And don’t forget good old-fashioned CDs. CDBaby can your audiobooks widely distributed for the majority of audiobook listeners that have not yet embraced digital.

Beyond that, another reason to avoid exclusivity is radio. Global radio is an exciting opportunity for indie authors converting their works to audio. More on that in another post.

# # #

Africa Watch 2: One Billion Reasons To Take A Second Look At Africa.

For authors and publishers, Africa remains the Dark Continent (which BTW meant and means “unknown”, not something derogatory) for book sales and discovery.

But for me it’s THE most exciting of the long-term prospects for indie authors, and one I’m following closely, although little chance of any significant sales there in the very near future.

But a new report confirms my anecdotal observations that Africa is embracing smartphones and 3G-4G mobile internet just like everywhere else on the planet.

Mobile subscriptions across Africa are expected to pass the one billion mark in 2016. (LINK)

That’s one helluva lot of people with devices that could have our ebooks on.

Contrary to popular opinion Africans love to read. Their problem is access to affordable books.

For authors, reaching African readers is the big challenge.

  • There is not a single Apple iBooks store anywhere on the continent.
  • Amazon blocks downloads to most of the continent and surcharges the rest, including South Africa.
  • Even Google Play, from whom you’d expect better, are only in South Africa so far.
  • Kobo is sort of available, but there is only a localized Kobo store in South Africa, and you need a bank card to use Kobo, so that makes it pretty irrelevant to most Africans.

Right now, South Africa aside, the African continent is not a friendly place for authors. But make no mistake – that’s an issue of distribution and accessibility, not a cultural indifference to books, ebooks and reading.

And there are a few bright spots on the horizon, as I’ll be reporting soon in an in-depth analysis of the state of play across my favourite continent. Meanwhile, check out further posts on Africa below.

I’m very excited by the emerging prospects for authors here in Africa. When I talk about the Global New Renaissance unfolding I really do mean Global, and I intend to be selling across many countries in Africa before this decade is over.

I’m a six-continent content-provider.

How about you?

# # #

$10 Smartphones At Wal-Mart.

With The Next Generation social media like Instagram and Pinterest, and messaging apps like Viber and WeChat getting hotter and hotter by the day, it’s a real PITA that you need a smartphone to participate. Even though many, like Viber, have desk-top access, you still need a smartphone number to sign up in the first place.

And some people, quite understandably, do not want the expense of a new phone, a monthly payment plan, etc just to join Instagram or Viber.

For those in America it seems salvation is at hand. Over at The Digital Reader Nate Hoffelder reports that Wal-Mart now offering a smartphone for just ten bucks, and on a Pay As You Go plan so no crazy monthly payments for a phone you may rarely use. (LINK)

Perfect to buy, along with a separate sim card and phone number, and use exclusively for social media like Instagram and messaging apps like Viber, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, etc.

As per previous posts, Instagram is now bigger than twitter. Messaging apps are reaching close to two billion people. An updated post on messaging apps this coming week.

Don’t get stuck in the past for the sake of ten bucks. Move with the times.

# # #

Africa Watch 3: Nigeria.

When it comes to global ebook sales Africa remains the last frontier as western ebook retailers continue to ignore this vast and exciting nascent market.

After all, Africa is still in the stone-age when it comes to digital, right? There’s no internet there, so no-one knows what smartphones are.

And as well know, nobody in Africa reads.

The latter point, however widely believed, is of course so laughable as not to bear further consideration.

But let’s take another look at the first point – that Africa is has yet to realise the internet even exists.

Leaving aside the above report, that Africa will have over one billion mobile subscribers in 2016, ponder this report on what Ericsson is up to in Nigeria.

Subscription video on demand.

Ericsson’s NuVu will launch in early 2016 offering some 3,000 local and international TV and films to eager Nigerian subscribers eager to use their smartphones for entertainment. (LINK)

Ericsson is working with leading international distributors to acquire content ranging from Hollywood to Nollywood (Nigeria has a thriving film industry).

How long before a dedicated Nigerian ebook subscription service pops up? Well, it certainly won’t be KU – Amazon has zero interest in Africa. But it will happen.

And just as Nigerians love Hollywood films so they do and will love western books (Nigeria is the largest English-speaking nation on the continent) – IF they are allowed access to them, and IF they are affordable.

Nigeria presents a great opportunity to start building a pan-African readership beyond the usual suspect, South Africa.

More on how soon. Here just to remind everyone that, as always, we should keep the third tier nascent markets like Africa firmly in mind when looking at the next five years.

No, absolutely no point anyone rearranging their schedule to prioritise Africa right now, but do keep Africa on your radar, and do lay the foundations there now for future development.

Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana and Tanzania are close to the tipping point where smartphones will become the main everyday access point to the internet for millions of English speakers. And there are plenty of other English-speaking nations in Africa not far behind. Malawi, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Liberia, Sierra Leone, etc. And even here in tiny The Gambia (yeah, The Gambia is one of only two countries in the world where the definite article is officially part of the country’s name).

And of course this is not some uniquely Anglophone phenomenon. French-speaking Cote d’Ivoire and Senegal, to name but two, are right up there in the globile (global mobile) stakes too.

Watch out for more reports on Africa below, and an in-depth report on Africa soon. The way things are shaping up here may well surprise you!

# # #

British Comedian Russell Howard’s Pending 2017 Global Tour.

No, not a book tour, but this isn’t as off-topic as it may at first seem.

Russell Howard is a British stand-up comedian who rose to fame in the UK on the back of the early days of the digital TV transition, when cheapskate TV productions flooded the myriad new broadcasting channels then emerging.

From being a largely unknown British comedian doing bottom-of-the-barrel shows for late-night TV micro-audiences Howard has, thanks to digital reach, built up a worldwide audience, in English, that goes far beyond the English language countries.

Yes, the tour is focussed on the UK, USA, Australia and New Zealand, but also Finland, Iceland, Sweden and Norway, and of course his wider reach through digital extends globally.

Howard already knows where his paying audience will be in 2017.

The key throughout all this is digital. Digital reach is global, and that goes every bit as much for books as it does for stand-up comic TV shows.

Yet many of us indie authors still treat ebooks as simply cheap versions of print books, to farm out to the same home-market audience as print books, and then to wonder why it’s such hard work actually finding an audience.

Far from thinking about 2017 many of us indies don’t even have 2016 on our radar, even though it’s weeks away.

I’ve no idea how much Russell Howard actually understands or cares about all this, or how much his success is down to having a great manager and Howard is just sitting back and enjoying the ride.

But I do know most of us indie authors don’t have managers to think outside the box for us and spot the opportunities unfolding as the Global New Renaissance gets under way.

That’s down to us.

We have unprecedented opportunities to expand our reach and our modes of delivery.

We have unprecedented opportunities to step out of our ebook novelist boxes and become global content-providers across formats, across multi-media and across multiple nations far beyond the usual suspects.

Don’t look on 2016 as just a new year.

Look on 2016 as a new opportunity to break new ground and reach new audiences quite unthinkable back in 2009-1010 when the “ebook revolution” began.

Don’t let these unfolding opportunities pass us by.

Think about the next five years, not the next five weeks.

# # #

Africa Watch 4: Google Play Is Rolling Out Youtube Offline Across Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and South Africa.

No, it’s not ebook stores, but the direction is clear. Google is focussed on the wealthiest English-speaking countries in Africa.

So far Google Play only has one ebook store on the continent – in South Africa.

It’s a safe bet that, some time soon, Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya will follow suit.

Google Play already has more global ebook stores than any other retailer. Some sixty or so. We can expect that to increase next year.

Currently the Google Play Books self-pub portal is closed to newcomers – although existing clients can still upload direct.

For the rest of us will need to use an aggregator.

Sadly neither Smashwords nor Draft2Digital supply Google Play Books.

Luckily both StreetLib and PublishDrive do, and can get your titles on Google Play within 24 hours.

NB: Other aggregators like Ebook Partnership also supply Google Play Books, but they have up-front fees. StreetLib and PublishDrive are pay-as-you-sell aggregators.

Google Play is a tiny player in the US, and if that’s where you are focussed, don’t expect too much action. But elsewhere around the world Google Play can and should be a key part of your global strategy.

But do be aware that Google Play pretty much automatically discounts our titles to make them more appealing to its customers. Which is great, except…

This will inevitably put you in conflict with Amazon’s price parity clause which dictates you cannot sell cheaper on another retailer than on Amazon.

So to avoid being punished by Amazon for Google Play trying to offer customers a better deal, you’ll need to price higher on Google Play when you first list.

But don’t let that put you off. Google Play is an invaluable place to be if you plan on going global.

# # #

Africa Watch 5: ACE Soon To Reach South Africa.

Okay, so quite a lot on Africa here today, but that’s just an indication of how Africa is fast gearing up to become a significant part of the global publishing scene.

Still not convinced? Consider this news just in.

Phase 2 of the ACE (Africa Coast Europe) project is about to begin. (LINK)

Now that may mean absolutely nothing to most readers, so let me offer some background as to just why this is so significant.

I’m writing this from The Gambia, West Africa. One of the poorest nations on the planet.

Five years ago, when Kindle UK launched, I had to partner with someone in the UK just to get my books uploaded, because there was, for all practical purposes, no internet here. Just a ridiculously expensive connection in the hotels, at dial-up speed.

Today I’m on a 4G connection quite unimaginable just a few years ago.

All thanks to ACE, a submarine cable which connects France and Portugal with :

  • Canary Islands (Spain)
  • Mauritania
  • Senegal
  • Gambia
  • Guinea Conakry
  • Sierra Leone
  • Liberia
  • Cote d’Ivoire
  • Benin
  • Ghana
  • Nigeria
  • Equatorial Guinea
  • Gabon
  • Sao Tome & Principe

In addition two landlocked countries in the middle of the Sahara Desert, Mali and Niger, are connected via a terrestrial extension.

Hundreds of millions of people have suddenly, in the past few years, gained access to the internet in West Africa, completely by-passing the desktop and dial-up telephone line era, and are now enjoying 3G and 4G internet on smartphones.

As Phase 2 of ACE rolls out the submarine cable will extend all the way down the west coast of Africa, bringing European-standard internet to:

  • Namibia
  • Angola
  • Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Congo-Brazzaville
  • South Africa
  • as well as an extension to Cameroon

reaching almost a quarter billion people.

As reported above, the number of mobile subscribers in Africa is already expected to exceed one billion in 2016.

And that’s before Phase 2 of the ACE rolls out.

Unless you’ve actually been to a seriously Third World country it’s hard to imagine just how transformational the internet can be in terms of education, health and economic development. Or how much it can transform entertainment.

Ebook sales are probably the last thing the ACE team are thinking about as they roll out Phase 2, but indie authors looking at the global picture should be in no doubt about the new opportunities unfolding.

The global digital reading scene in 2020 is going to be far bigger than anything we can envisage right now.

I’ve said before and will say again – the global ebook markets will collectively dwarf the US market many times over in the coming years.

If you doubt that, just consider the projection for 2016. Over one billion mobile subscribers in Africa as soon as next year. That’s over one billion subscribers in Africa using a globile device that could be holding our ebooks.

That’s a billion people almost all of whom are completely off the radar of the big western ebook retailers right now.

That’s a great excuse for just ignoring Africa. But if we’re serious about becoming global bestselling authors then we can’t afford to ignore any prospective market. Least of all one with the potential of Africa.

Think about the next five years. Not the next five weeks.

# # #

NB These posts have appeared previously over the past week or two on The International Indie Author Facebook Group.(LINK)