Category Archives: POD

The Two CreateSpaces. CreateSpace Pro for Publishers and CreateSpace Lite for Indies.

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Amazon Print-On-Demand? Meet CreateSpace Pro. Is POD-Select Exclusivity On the Cards?

During the Amazon-Hachette spat one of Amazon’s tactics was to push for Hachette and other publishers to use Amazon’s POD system, making sure all books were perma-available.

Needless to say Hachette didn’t go down this route, but rest assured trad pub big and small is looking closely at, and investing in, what we loosely call POD, and as the costs come down so more and more print production will shift to this model.

It’s a bizarre irony that the technology supposedly killing print will end up being its saviour. More on that in another post.

Here to take a look at Amazon Print On Demand and how it differs from CreateSpace.

Basically, if you’re an indie author you’re not welcome. Amazon POD is a business venture for publishers, and indie authors trying to get in on the act will be shuffled off to the regular CreateSpace site as per the sidebar. (LINK)

Amazon ram home the point that we are not “publishers”here. (LINK)

From FAQs:

19. I am an author and I want to self-publish, can I take advantage of Print-On-Demand to publish my novel?
The information on this website is intended for publishers, however Amazon does offer Print-On-Demand services for authors who want to self-publish. Please visit (CreateSpace) for more information.

And yes, Amazon does go on to explain the difference. One key difference being Amazon give publishers “exclusive benefits” not available to us small-fry.

Q 20. What is the difference between CreateSpace and Print-On-Demand?

CreateSpace is the platform through which both independent authors and publishers using POD can upload and manage their titles.

“The key difference between the two services is that Print-On-Demand offers benefits that are exclusive to publishers, including managed accounts, flexible uploading options and additional solutions for your titles.”

As ever, it’s Amazon’s business and they set the rules.

CreateSpace still offers us indies great way to get our books into print and we’d be crazy not to be using CreateSpace as part of our “going wide” strategy.

But there are plenty of other options, like Ingram, and now StreetLib’s POS print-on-demand service has dropped its upfront fees that could be well worth exploring further.

Bottom line is, print is not going to fade into oblivion any time soon. Just the opposite. Continuing improvements and cost efficiency will make digital printing more and more central to publishers whatever our size.

And with Amazon’s drive to get more publishers using CreateSpace with the professional publisher option, the print arena is about to get a whole lot more competitive.

Many of us are seeing our CreateSpace titles appear in our KDP dashboard, and I would expect that to continue apace until all KDP authors have the KDP-CreateSpace set-up available.

CreateSpace itself will no doubt become a professional-publishers only site.

No idea yet what sort of royalties pro-publishers will get compared to us indies in CreateSpace Lite. Looks like we need to be signed up to get that sort of information.

Meantime don’t be surprised if Amazon starts offering an exclusive POD-Select option, whereby we indies can get some sort of extra benefits by eschewing Ingram, StreetLib POS and all the myriad other POD options competing with CreateSpace, and have our print titles available solely through Amazon.

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.

It’s 2016. Carpe Annum! Seize The Year! Part 1

 

The new year is now two weeks old. Time enough to have recovered from any New Year’s Eve excess, and it’s time to have broken all those crazy New Year’s resolutions we ritually make and break each January.

Now let’s think about the rest of the year, starting with this five part question.

Are you a one-format, one-retailer, one-market, one-language, one-SMP ebook author?

Presumably the answer is no to at least several of those, or you wouldn’t be here reading this in the first place.

But there are degrees of “no”. And as we kick off 2016 we all need to be asking ourselves those questions because the answers will define our level of success or struggle over the next five years.

Put simply, our level of success or struggle will be determined not solely by the quality of our output, but increasingly by how much we put the convenience of consumers (primarily, but not only, readers) over our own convenience as authors.

Our level of success or struggle will be determined by how many options we can create for consumers and how many revenue streams for can build for ourselves in doing so. The two are inextricably linked.

Through January I’m going to take a closer look at each of those questions so we can start this new year with a clear idea of just how well we are performing against those criteria now, and how we might engage further with the Global New Renaissance as 2016 unfolds.

◊ ◊ ◊

Part 1: Are you a one-format author?

Here we may be smugly thinking, “No problem, I’ve got a mobi and an epub. Box ticked.”

ell, score 2 out of 10 for that. It’s a start. But if we’re to fully embrace the opportunities presented by the Global New Renaissance we need to broaden our idea of format.

We pretty much all have our titles up in the Kindle store (mobi) and many of us will be using an aggregator or going direct to Apple, Nook or Kobo (epub). But having mobi and epub files out there is just the first step on the road to format diversity.

And format diversity is the key to those elusive but lucrative multiple-income streams most of us will need to allow us to ride out the peaks and troughs of our ebook sales.

Smashwords is one aggregator that lets us make our titles available in multiple digital formats. PDFs, for example, among many more obscure formats we may never have heard of, but that some consumers still use.

In the smartphone era that’s not so important, but given it requires no extra effort on our part (assuming we’ve survived the Meatgrinder) it’s crazy not to have our titles available to those who are still using dinosaur devices to read on.

And speaking of dinosaur devices, how are we doing with print?

If our focus is on ebooks and then, if we can be really, really bothered one particularly wet and windy afternoon, we paste our ebook manuscript into a CreateSpace template and stick it out there for the sake of appearances, or to make our ebooks look a bargain, or to send a copy to our Great Aunt Doris, then we are one-format ebook authors.

If we never ever promote our POD titles because it’s well, you know, “print”, and it will never sell anyway, then we are one-format ebook authors.

Not that there’s anything wrong with CreateSpace – it should be the first port of call for print for all indie authors. But with emphasis on the word “first”.

CreateSpace is great – and it’s free if you can manage all the stages yourself. But if we’re serious about print distribution and reaching print reader we’ll need to be on board with other print operators as well. Ingram, for example.

Here’s the thing: if we are treating print as an afterthought to our ebooks, convinced our print titles will never sell anyway, then we are not just failing to put readers first, but we are short-changing ourselves.

Because even in 2016, over half a decade after the “ebook revolution” began – most US readers prefer print. And the same goes for the rest of the world, only more so.

Over 625 million print titles were sold in the US last year. How many were yours?

If we do have POD titles available and no-one is buying them we need to ask ourselves why.

Yes, getting our print titles into bricks & mortar stores is a challenge, of course. Not impossible, but not that easy.

Whereas making our print titles available online through Amazon, and via Amazon in numerous other online bookstores, is easy.

So no, the bricks & mortar bookstore excuse won’t wash. Not when some half of all print books sold in the US are sold online.

Yet most indies are still selling next to nothing in print even on Amazon.

Why? I’ll be taking a closer look at our print options in the near future, examining why so many indies struggle with print sales.

Here just to sum it up in three words:

  • Quality
  • Brand
  • Promotion

Yes, read that last one again. Promotion.

Contrary to popular indie belief, there’s not a law making it illegal to mention our print titles and print links when we promote our books.

But when was the last time you saw an indie author tweet or FB their print title?

Or maybe some of us are still staring in bewilderment at that suggestion that we (take a deep breath before we say it) promote our print titles.

“But all my followers and friends are ebook readers!” we cry.

Well sorry, but who’s fault is that? Do we seriously believe only ebook readers are on twitter and Facebook, and print readers live on some remote island where the internet hasn’t yet reached?

Get real. Print is still king even in the USA, currently the world’s biggest ebook market.

The savvy indie author will be working ebooks and print in tandem, not hiding our print titles in the basement and hoping no-one ever finds them.

And not just paperbacks. But how many indies do we know who have

  • Hardcover editions?
  • Special collectors’ editions?
  • Multiple-sizes of paperback to suit reader preferences?
  • Large-print editions for the visually-impaired?

Need I go on?

But of course there’s more to multiple formats than ebooks and print. And this is where we really need to start thinking about ourselves and what we do in slightly different light.

Yes, we’re authors. Yes, we write books. Or at least, ebooks. But more importantly we write content. We create intellectual property. Our book is not just a book. It’s an intellectual property. An IP.

And if we can start thinking of ourselves as IP creators then a realm of new opportunities opens up to us.

  • Audio-books

Any indie still not taking audio seriously as we kick off 2016 needs a severe talking to.

Audio is one of the fastest growing formats, and when it comes to generating multiple income streams audio is a great way to reach new audiences with just some tweaking of our existing content.

Amazon’s ACX makes it easy, cheap and painless to produce and sell audio-books, and of course there are lots of other options to reach the audio-book market.

But no need to stop at audio.

I’ll be returning to these alternative format options in detail in future posts, but here just to mention a few further ways in which we can tweak our existing content to fit new formats, reach new audiences and create new income streams.

  • Radio, TV and film

Now that may seem like a ginormous leap out of our comfort zone, but as I’ll be showing in future posts, if we can step outside the “I’m an indie ebook author” box then the only limits are those we choose to let confine us.

As Amazon expands its original-video output there’s an easy-to-get-the-attention-of production outfit right there.

Netflix this past week has expanded its video streaming options globally and is now available in 190 countries, with more to come.

Video streaming operators are breeding like rabbits and have reach far beyond their own shores.

There are any number of smaller production companies around the globe crying out for quality content.

Gone are the days when getting video distribution meant the support of a major film studio, a TV broadcaster or a satellite company to reach an audience.

Just like with ebooks, digital video and audio content is available on a global scale unimaginable just a few years ago.  Yet how many indies ebook authors are even thinking about reaching radio and video audiences in their own country, let alone globally?

No, we don’t need to take a crash course in screenplay writing or radio scripting to be in with a chance.

Yes, there’s always the possibility the BBC or Spielberg will come cold-calling wanting to option our ebook for the big screen, the small screen or the talky-box. But that’s not very likely.

So why not make some effort to meet them half-way?

For example,

  • Get an agent who specialises in licencing rights.
  • Sign up with a specialist rights operator who will put your titles into a database so that production crews can discover them.
  • Partner with a scriptwriter to adapt your work for film, TV, radio or whatever.

I’ll be offering some detailed suggestions on how in future posts.

Other formats? Again, I’ll be coming back on these in detail as we go, but here just to offer a few suggestions.

  • E-Magazines.

Digital magazines have been getting a bad press in 2015 thanks to falling revenues, but that’s an advertisers’ issue, not a reflection on the format, which is a great way for indie authors to reach new audiences. Another income stream in the bag for very little effort.

  • Serialized content

E-magazines are a great way to offer serialized content.

So is our preferred format, ebooks. In fact, serialized content ought to be high on our list of format options to keep those multiple income steams coming in.

There is a growing number of independent operators offering serialized ebooks, and lots more coming forward.

Yes, we can simply serialize our own, and put them out through our usual distribution channels, but these guys have the fancy apps and distribution networks that go beyond our normal indie reach. More on this as we go.

  • Comics?
  • Manga?
  • Illustrated versions of our works?

Pictures aren’t just for kids, after all, as the adult-colouring book craze clearly shows.

In fact there are a ton of ways we can add value to our titles by offering variant versions. with and without images, with and without and additional content and enhancements.

  • Merchandising

Once we step outside our “I’m an indie ebook author” box and start thinking about our titles as IPs instead of just ebooks we can also start thinking in terms of merchandising.

If we have managed to attract a serious fan-base then our book is more than just an ephemeral read.

Just think about the books we read ourselves. Some books are read, discarded and forgotten. Others stay with us forever.

Not just the books, as a whole, but the covers, the characters, the storylines, the concepts…

We write space opera with galactic battleships and distant-planets among the stars? We’ve got a fantastic cover everyone drools over? Or maybe we write paranormal fantasy with those oh-so-cute-and-colourful covers?

Why not make those cover available in other formats?

Give it away as a screen saver. Make it available to download for free or to buy or gift as a mouse-mat or a coffee mug or even a framed print.

For children’s books the possibilities are endless, but this will work great for adult titles too.

No, they won’t sell in millions, of course, but if they are good they will sell, and there are any number of companies offering printed product services to create novelty items like these, and many will deliver direct to the customer, so all you need to do is set up the product in their system and send them the orders. Just like POD.

Their value is not just in the direct sales to the fans themselves, but in having those images out there being seen by other people who have never heard of us or our books.

More on merchandising our IPs at a later date.

Other formats to consider?  The list is endless. But how about

  • Stage theatre
  • Musicals

Not convinced? Just look at how many stage productions and musicals are actually adaptations of books. What could be more improbable as a musical than Les Miserables?

No, we don’t need to learn stagecraft or be musicians or lyricists to get in on the act, and more than we need to be screenwriters to see our books considered for adaptation to film or TV.

For children’s authors writing shorter titles there’s a great opportunity to write mini-plays for school classes to act out. I’m working on just this with my children’s adaptations of the Sherlock Holmes stories.

And yes, I’m seriously toying with the idea of Sherlock: The Musical. Not that I have any musical talent whatsoever. I’ll leave that aspect to the experts. But I am putting together an outline and when I’m happy with that I’ll be looking to partner with third parties who can work their magic and, just maybe, make it happen.

Sherlock of course is public domain and has huge brand recognition.

Tweaking public domain properties is a great way of reaching new audiences. Just look at the myriad spin-offs of Jane Austen’s works that litter the ebook scene.

But how many of those will ever be more than just ebook variations? No matter how good they may be?

As part of my Classics For Kids series I’m working (very slowly) on a children’s adaption of my favourite Austen title, Pride & Prejudice. My Sherlock For Kids series itself is picking up steam, and a good example of tweaking content to reach new audiences, with translations already out there, audio books on the way, and other formats being worked on.

Tweaking our erotica titles for the children’s market would obviously be a step too far, but for older children and teen readers many of our more mainstream works might well work well in an abridged and slightly less “mature” format.

After all, younger teens at school will be studying and reading adult works from Shakespeare and Austen, Dickens and Bronte. None of which were ever intended for children. And many best-selling so-called YA titles were again written with an adult audience in mind.

Having an adult and a YA version or even an older-children’s version of our adult-intended work, tweaked slightly for language and content to suit the audience, is just one more way reach new audiences with existing content and expand the reach for our new content to reach new audiences and generate more income streams.

  • Translations

Translations are of course another. I’ll cover this in detail later in this series of posts.

I’m on target to have well over fifty translations out before this year is over, and while only a handful of been significant sellers to far they are all bringing in extra income streams I otherwise wouldn’t have.

And of course translations aren’t limited to ebooks and print. I’ve audio-translations in the works and I’m looking at other formats to expand their reach.

But let’s wind this post up with the language that is, for most of us, our first and only language.

  • English

First and foremost, English isn’t just English.

Way back in 2011 my UK best-seller got hammered by American readers for using British English spellings. Ouch!

The reviewer Red Adept declared the book Mystery of the Year but advised readers to be wary of “Britishisms” and British-English spellings.

So I re-wrote the entire book in American English and, while I was at it relocated the entire story to the US, and had two versions available – one for British and one for American readers.

Only to be accused of “gaming the system”. Sometimes you just can’t win…

Nowadays American readers are much more cosmopolitan. Back in print-only days British titles sold in America were tweaked with American- English spellings and other changes – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone became Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, for example. A Quidditch pitch became a Quidditch field.

Many indies today still produce their titles in American-English and British-English versions. Yes, it’s easy to say those readers should get a life. After all British-English and American-English are not so different as to make the text unintelligible.

But these authors are putting the readers first. Always a good idea. Just ask Amazon, who have built their business on being customer-centric.

When a customer-centric tweak can be as simple as having variant-English spellings versions of our books it’s well worth considering.

The British-English and American-English versions of my best-seller sit nicely on the Amazon shelves and while the British—English original has sold far more better, the American-English version’s sales have proved more than worthwhile.

The more customer-centric we are as authors, the more income streams we can achieve as a result. Sounds good to me!

And for children’s books, the issue of variant spelling is all the more important.

Many British schools disapprove of American books, not because of the content but because of the American-English. How can young children in the UK be expected to spell colour in the British-English fashion when they are reading American books where color is the accepted spelling?

Yes, they are both “correct”, but try using American-English spellings in your British school exams and say goodbye to that top grade. Variant spellings matter.

And it’s not just an issue for young children. If you are a reluctant teen reader, a late-to-literacy adult learner, or an English-as-a-Second-Language student in Europe learning British-English then the variant spellings may well be an issue.

But don’t look on this as another nuisance getting in the way of our more important work of shouting “Buy My Book!” on Facebook. Look on it as yet another way in which we can diversify our output and generate new income streams.

  • Easy-English and ESL

As 2015 closed I launched my Easy-English series of adaptations of the Sherlock Holmes short stories, aimed at reluctant teen readers, late-to-literacy adults and English-as-a-second-language readers who have mastered the basics of English but are not yet confident enough to tackle the Conan Doyle originals.

Later this year I will be working with an ESL professor in Argentina to produce fully-fledged ESL versions geared specifically to the demands of the ESL circuit.

ESL is a humungous and ridiculously fast-growing sector of the publishing industry. More on this in a future discussion.

Other formats?

Don’t tempt me. This post is long enough already.

No, not all formats will be suited to all titles, but many titles will be suited, with just a little tweaking we can often do ourselves, to many variant formats.

And for more challenging formats like radio, film, manga, translations, etc, etc, there’s nothing but our own inertia to stop us reaching out to producers who specialise ln these formats to do it all for us.

Or partnering with other writers, artists, scriptwriters, etc, to produce our own.

 

After all, very few of us design our own covers or do our own editing. We farm out the work to third parties.

And we can do the same to embrace the variant formats that might suit our content but that are beyond our own skills range.

Not just revamping our existing works, but creating new IPs from scratch with multi-format options a consideration from day one.

◊ ◊ ◊

In parts 2-5 of this series I’ll be asking if we are one-retailer, one-market, one-language, and one-SMP ebook authors and I’ll expand on the myriad options for each as we go.

As we kick off 2016 we indie content suppliers have unparalleled reach and unprecedented opportunities to stretch our creative abilities and reach audiences quite unthinkable just a few years ago.

If only we can step outside our “I’m a one-format indie ebook author” box.

One of my all-time favourite films is Dead Poet’s Society. Required watching for anyone who aspires to be an author or a teacher.

A film about a teacher who understood the only limits to our achievements are the limits we allow ourselves to be shackled by.

A teacher of English literature – of Shakespeare and Byron, in whose footsteps we now follow – who encouraged his students not to be sheep and take the road most travelled by, but to explore new horizons and break new ground.

To seize the day. Carpe diem! To make their lives extraordinary.

So in tribute to the star of that film, the late Robin Williams – a village-hall stand-up comic who defied the shackles of format and limited expectations to become first a TV actor and then a movie star, I leave you with this thought as we start another new year.

It’s 2016.

Carpe annum! Seize the year!

Diversify in 2016! Let’s make our indie lives extraordinary!

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

 

 

The Bestselling Books On Amazon Right Now? Colouring Books For Adults. And What We Indies Can Take From This.

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We thought this was a late-discovered April 1st post until we checked the date, but it seems that, when it comes to stepping outside the box, there’s plenty of life left in the print sector.

Colouring books for adults (that’s coloring books, for you guys across the pond) are apparently storming the charts (LINK), and we can expect a ton of copycats to follow suit.

For those indies who hide behind the bricks-and-mortar excuse as to why trad pub leaves us standing, it’s worth taking a closer look at this latest phenomenon, because there are two important lessons we can learn from this as we look on enviously at those sales figures.

First, while we’re not sure if it’s even possible to make an ebook that anyone can colour in on screen – if not, we’re sure someone will come up with an app very soon – there’s plenty of scope for indies to get in on the act with POD.

One adult colouring book title alone has sold 1.4 MILLION copies world wide.

What’s significant is how these colouring books are holding their own in the Amazon charts. No, not the ebook charts we indies are glued to, but the overall sales charts we indies shy away from because it’s all trad pub.

Here’s the thing: every ranking title on Amazon’s print chart list has NOT been sold in a bricks and mortar store.

It did NOT get the sale because evil Big Pub paid for the plinth in B&N or Waterstone’s and it did NOT get the sale because evil Big Pub has the unfair advantage of being able to get books in bricks and mortar stores that are off-limits to indies.

We indies really need to ask ourselves WHY our print titles can’t compete in the ON-LINE stores like Amazon, etc, when self-evidently we do pretty well in the ebook stores.

There are lots of reasons, and we’ll come back on this in detail another time, but one reason is simple and self-explanatory. We indies (collectively) spend all our time marketing our ebooks to ebook buyers, rather than marketing our books to readers.  Many indies don’t even bother with a print edition, or treat it as an afterthought. And as for including a link to our print title when we do our promotions… Don’t be silly. We’re indies!

Meanwhile trad pub pretty much owns the ON-LINE print charts because (collectively) indies have this crazy idea that if we can’t get our books into the high-street stores then print isn’t worth making any effort for.

The second thing we can take from this colouring books for adults phenomenon is this: Follow your passion, and be passionate about it.

When these illustrators were creating their colouring books for kids they stepped back, looked at what *they* were passionate about, and instead of just following the sheep ahead, created a colouring book for adults, because it’s what *they* would like to have been able to buy but it didn’t exist.

At worst it catered to a niche and created a small but welcome new income stream. At best, it pretty much created a new genre, and a tsunami of cash for those who got in early and stole the show.

As indies we are not reliant on a publisher to invest in our passions and dreams. If we choose to follow the sheep and chase whatever the latest chart fad is. and only as an ebook, then we have only ourselves to blame when we find the bandwagon is overcrowded and we can’t get a foothold.

Take full advantage of the freedom and the possibilities available now and the new opportunities opening up every day. Don’t carry on as if nothing has changed except the ability to upload ebooks. Embrace the New Renaissance!

Create, write and publish what you are passionate about, no matter how silly, how seemingly non-commercial or how crazy it may seem.

At worst, you’ll feel better for it and will have a new, if trickling, income stream. And at best, you could be driving the next bandwagon instead of chasing after it.

Ebook Bargains UK

Far more than just an ebook promo newsletter.

Far more than just the UK.

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/apr/05/colouring-books-for-adults-top-amazon-bestseller-list

The Digital Sector Is Broadening, Not Weakening.

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From Philip Jones in The Guardian: “The digital sector is broadening, not weakening.” (LINK)

This is in stark contrast to what a lot or morbid commentators are saying right now, talking about gluts and falling ebook sales and the end of the indie-verse as we know it. But Jones is spot on.

The opportunities available to us have never been more exciting.

But sadly many of us indies are still partying like its 2009, and most of us who have ventured further are still partying like its 2013.

As we’ve said before, diversification means much more than just getting on multiple retailers, important as that is.

Diversification means stepping outside that ebook box we’ve all been sheltering in, and embracing the myriad opportunities that have lately become available, along with those yet to become available.

Translations, audio-books, e-zines, radio, film, TV, podcasts, games, new niches to target, new ways to repackage ourselves, new social media to explore, etc, etc.

Clinging to bog-standard ebooks and pretending the rest of the digital landscape is some foreign planet is as detrimental to our long-term careers as those authors who cling to print and pretend ebooks are some foreign planet.

The future’s not ours to see. It is ours to anticipate, and it is ours to embrace.

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

Diversify In 2015.

Ebook Bargains UK

Far more than just an ebook promo newsletter.

Far more than just the UK.

 

Print Is Dead! Long Live Print!

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You’ve all heard of The Book Depository. No, they haven’t started to sell ebooks at last. Given they are an Amazon company it’s unlikely they ever will. The Kindle store is the only ebook shop Amazon needs.

But we end this month with a couple of interesting – and for many, quite unexpected – developments in the publishing world.

Reports from the Christmas / Holidays season suggest many indie book stores not only did well, but literally broke records for print sales as 2013 ended. Then earlier this month B&N’s annual report revealed print sales yet again delivered a not unsubstantial profit. In fact were it not for the Nook store draining its resources B&N would be looking pretty buoyant.

We’ll come back to Nook another time, as we remain optimistic about Nook’s long-term prospects. The doom and gloom merchants revelling in Nook’s misery right now (why is that so many indie blogs supposedly supporting indie authors and reader choice will go out of their way to kick a man while he’s down?) may yet have their hopes dashed by a change of fortune when Nook is sold on to an operator with the muscle to make it work.

B&N’s management themselves are very optimistic about the future of the Barnes & Noble stores, and see the sale of the Nook operation as their only hurdle to survival. Print, in their view, still has plenty of life left in it.

~

What’s this go to do with The Book Depository? Well, as we said above, it’s owned by Amazon, so whoever is in charge of it ought to know which way the wind is blowing for print, right?

Kieron Smith was The Book Depository’s Managing Director for five years. He left as recently as last November. Safe to presume he has a very good idea about the future of print. needless to say there was speculation when he left that he was deserting a sinking ship. That Amazon’s focus was now on ebooks and print would fade into oblivion.

Smith clearly thinks otherwise. This spring he launches a new, global online store called bestlittlebookshop.com. It kicks off simultaneously in four different languages – English, German, French and Arabic, and we expect more will follow.

No, there will be no ebooks in the new store. Smith is betting on print not just surviving globally, but thriving, alongside the continuing growth of ebooks, much as we’ve predicted will happen.

It’s not clear yet whether Smith’s store will stock indie PODs in the way The Book Depository does. Our guess is no, but hopefully we’ll be proven wrong on that.

Meanwhile a reminder to all indies that POD distribution made enormous leaps in 2013 and bizarrely your POD titles may now be available globally in even more stores than your ebooks are!

We say may, because if you are with CreateSpace you need to physically tick the Extended Distribution box to get your POD titles out into the wider world. No charge. Extended Distribution is now free from CreatreSpace, and far wider-reaching than when it was charged for.

Those using Ingram, Lulu, Bookbaby, Feed-A-Read or some other POD facilitator may need to check the websites to make sure they are getting into all the new channels. These are now standard, and free, but may need to be opted-in.

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Imagine. Your print books available to readers across the world. As we kicked off 2013 it looked like POD would forever be nothing more than a means to get a “real” book in the hands of your great aunt Dorothy to prove you really have written one and it’s not just a picture on a screen. Now POD can be a firm part of your Go Global In 2014 strategy.

Yes, these PODs still have to be ordered and delivered, and that can take several weeks to some destinations as printing and shipping is still done from the USA or a couple of key European destinations (expect that to change soon) but the simple fact that your print titles are available in countries as improbable as Brazil, India, Pakistan or Paraguay dramatically increases your chances of being discovered.

If someone spots your POD title but doesn’t want to pay the price and delivery charge, or is just too impatient, there’s a good chance they might buy your ebook instead.

Of course, if you’re ebooks aren’t available…

Being there is half the battle.

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It’s Valentine’s Day In India Too. Indie Authors Take Note.

GoGlobalIn2014_500

Westerners may think Valentine’s Day is a very occidental affair, but love is a universal theme that transcends geographical and political boundaries.

Romance authors who are not bothering with the global markets, thinking they haven’t a hope in hell of selling their chick-lit mystery, paranormal romance, Regency bodice-ripper or BBW erotica in Asia, the Far East and elsewhere, are missing out on some fantastic opportunities to reach new readers.

And not just romance writers. That’s our focus for today because it’s Valentine’s Day, but what we say here is relevant to every genre and every author who wants to sell ebooks globally..

As ever trad pub, always being ridiculed by the Indie Old Guard for having their heads in the sand and not knowing ebooks exist, are raking in the cash from international ebook sales – and especially English-language international ebook sales – while most indies dither and dally, faffing about like a fart in a colander, not knowing which hole to go out of.

To observe Valentine’s Day India’s Flipkart, the largest online store on the sub-continent, has been running a special Valentine’s deal where all ebooks from the Mills & Boon range are half-price for Indian readers.

Flipkart St valentinesMills & Boon in India? In fact India is big market for romance, be it contemporary, historical, paranormal or even chick-lit. Yes, Indians love chick-lit, and it’s our prediction the first western indie to make it big in India will be a chick-lit author.

Check out this ad from one of India’s biggest online fashion stores, Myntra.

Myntra ad

No it’s not an ebook cover, but is it so very different from the sort of covers you see on chick-lit and fluffy-kitten romance titles in your local ebook store?

India is a wonderful country full of colour and contradiction. It may have slums that are among the worst on the planet but that’s a problem of wealth distribution, not abject poverty. India also has wealth beyond measure and a fast-growing “middle-class” who aspire to western values, who want to embrace western culture, and who make a point of speaking – and reading – in English.

Which means the Indian ebook market is probably the most exciting prospect on the planet right now for us indie authors who aren’t in a position to get our works translated into other languages.

But the longer we indies sit back and wait for the market to “mature”, thinking it’s all a waste of time right now because the rest of the world don’t know ebooks exist, the harder it will be to get a foothold when we do finally take the plunge.

Trad pub are selling books in India and making hay while the sun shines. Yes, they sell books in many different Indian languages, but the bulk of their sales come from English-language titles, and the ebook sales numbers are growing at a phenomenal rate as smartphones, tablets and phablets proliferate. Ebooks not only bring down the cost of reading, but just as importantly ebooks make reading possible in slum areas and remote villages where print bookstores simply don’t exist.

Are they reading on Apple devices? Possibly. Apple devices are very popular in India. But they won’t be buying your ebooks from the Apple India iBooks store, because there isn’t one. Hopefully that will change soon.

Meantime Indian readers can buy from Amazon India, of course, or from Flipkart. Or from ebook stores like Infibeam, or Pothi, or Aircel’s Bookmate. But most will be (with the emphasis on will be – this is where the future action is going to happen for ebooks in India) buying from innovative and forward-thinking stores like Newshunt and Rockstand.

We’ll be doing an in-depth post on all the Indian ebook retailers shortly, and explaining why ebook stores like Kindle India, Flipkart et al are never going to realise their full potential. While Google Play India may yet surprise us we think Rockstand and Newshunt are going to be the big players. But for today let’s return to Flipkart and Myntra.

Myntra, as per the image above, is one of India’s online fashion giants. It pulls in 50 million visitors a month already, and expects to grow substantially following a new round of investment just announced.

What’s this got to do with ebooks? Well, The Times of India reports that Flipkart is in merger talks with Myntra.

First, check out the link to The Times of India. Yes, it’s in English. There are upwards of 150 million English-speakers in India, and that number is growing fast as Indians embrace western culture. Many see speaking and reading in English not only to be of practical value – it is after all the lingua franca of the world –  but also to be a status symbol.

If Flipkart and Myntra do merge then this will bring a whole new flush of eyeballs to the Flipkart store, who may then buy your ebooks to read on their designer smartphones, tablets and phablets while they wear their designer clothes.

Here’s another ad from Myntra.

India Garfield

Garfield?  Make no mistake, western culture is big in India, and western children’s books and ebooks, just like our romance and chick-lit, have huge potential across the sub-continent. Check out the children’s sections in any Indian book or ebook stores.

Here’s the thing. You don’t have to write in Indian languages, write novels set in India, or even have Indian characters, to sell well in India. Of course if you can do those things too then the sky’s the limit. But for those of us indies less cosmopolitan the possibilities in the Indian book and ebook market are still seriously worth looking at.

More on all the Indian ebook retailers soon. But the eagle-eyed among you will spot we just said book and ebook market. Yes, your PODs can – and may already – be in the Flipkart book store.

If you have POD versions of your books through CreateSpace and paid for Expanded Distribution your books should now be in the Flipkart store. If you didn’t pay for Expanded Distribution you may need to log in to CreateSpace and tick the Extended Distribution box (it’s now free) and your POD titles should magically appear in the Flipkart book store soon after.

And not just in Flipkart but in online book retailers all over the globe.

No, this is not some great new deal by Amazon. If you’re with Lulu, Bookbaby, Feed-A-Read, Ingram or some other POD facilitator your books ought to be appearing in Flipkart and myriad other stores too. If they are not, check with your POD operator and ask them why the hell not. You could be missing out on sales.

Your ebooks should be in the Flipkart ebook store if you are with Smashwords. At the moment Smashwords are the only western aggregator getting titles into Flipkart for indie authors outside the sub-continent.

Other ebooks stores have been mentioned above. Just a few of many. We could have added Landmark, WH Smith India and Crossword, for example, and for POD sales there are even more retailers. Watch out for a post soon on the global POD opportunities many indies are missing out on.

India is a very exciting market right now, and Flipkart is just one of myriad book and ebook stores where you could be reaching readers across India. If your only title representation on the sub-continent is through Amazon India then you really need to rethink your distribution. Amazon India is an important player, but just one among many. And by no means the biggest.

Going Global In 2014? Make sure India’s many ebook and POD retailers are high on your list of priorities, even after Valentine’s Day.

Retailer Round-Up

We mentioned several ebook retailers and stores in this post. Here’s how (or if) you can get your titles into them, In order of appearance in the post.

NB This list is hopefully accurate, but doesn’t purport to be inclusive. If you see any errors, or know of other options, do let us know.

  • Flipkart – India’s biggest online retailer. Accessible through Smashwords or Pothi.
  • Amazon India – KDP. One portal to all the Kindle sites.
  • Apple – No india iBooks store, but for other Apple options you can go direct if you have the right i-device, otherwise most aggregators will get you there, including Smashwords, Bookbaby, D2D, Xin-Xii, Untreed Reads and Ebook Partnership among many.
  • Smashwords – As well as being a key aggregator tat can get you into many stores other aggregators cannot, Smashwords also has its own retail site offering an excellent rage of format, does not have territorial restrictions and does accept international payments.
  • Pothi – One of the ebook pioneers in India. Small but worth making the effort for. Go direct.
  • Infibeam – Flipkart’s main rival until Kindle India opened. Accessible through OverDrive or Ebook Partnership.
  • Aircel Bookmate – No direct access. We’re waiting to hear more on their feed-liness
  • Rockstand -No direct access. We’re waiting to hear more on their feed-lines.
  • Newshunt – No direct access. We’re waiting to hear more on their feed-lines.
  • W H Smith India – Kobo partner store but as it’s the India arm of W H Smith UK there’s not much hope of getting in.
  • Crossword – Another Kobo partner store, but it’s just a link to the main Kobo store. Kobo has a localized store but you can’t view it unless you’re in India, it seems.
  • Landmark -India’s biggest bricks and mortar chain. No direct access to their ebook store. We’re waiting to hear more on their feed-lines.

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