And Another Author Goes Rogue . . . this time on Youtube

This is author Joe Simpson. He’s the author of Touching the Void and now cofounder of DirectAuthors.com.

For those of you that don’t remember, Touching the Void first appeared 25 years ago. It’s the true story of Joe Simpson and Simon Yates and their incredible survival of a mountaineering trip in the Peruvian Andes that went terribly wrong.

In a world filled with CGI adventures that happen in dystopian fantasy worlds, this is real adventure happening to real people in real time. It is stuffed with very human, actual, life-and-death decisions, that leave readers with long lingering “but what would I have done?” moments to ponder in the wee hours of the night.

Simpson is the author of several books but he recently got into a dust up with his publishers over (no surprise here) e-book royalties. He didn’t feel 25% was sufficient, so he’s going to publish the e-versions of a his works on his own, and to do that he’s created DirectAuthors.com.

Venturing out on one’s own is something a lot of authors, well-known and not, are choosing to do these days. We thought you’d find it interesting to hear from an well-known author, who has had a long-standing good relationship with a publishing house, state his reasons for deciding it was better to eBook on his own.

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Self-Published Authors Make UK Amazon Kindle 2012 Bestseller List

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07.01.13 | Lisa Campbell  (Full article can be found on The Bookseller, copyright The Bookseller).

Amazon has revealed that 15% of its bestselling Kindle books in the UK last year were written by self-published authors, with Hodder & Stoughton’s Nick Spalding landing the bestselling self-published author gong [award].

Spalding’s books Love…From Both Sides and Love…And Sleepless Nights sales combined to make Spalding the bestselling digital book author through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) platform last year. The author was snapped up by Hodder & Stoughton imprint Coronet for a six-figure sum last October.

Amazon said overall 15 of the top 100 Kindle books sold in the UK were by authors using its self-publishing tool, with 75 by traditional publishers. Amazon added that since KDP launched, 61 KDP authors have sold over 50,000 copies of their books. It also revealed that 12 KDP authors have sold in excess of 100,000 copies, with 50 authors earning in excess of £50,000 [$80K US], and 11 of these earning more than £100,000 [$160K US].

The best-selling KDP books of 2012 on Amazon.co.uk:

1. Love… From Both Sides by Nick Spalding

2. Only the Innocent by Rachel Abbott

3. Love… And Sleepless Nights by Nick Spalding

4. One Cold Night by Katia Lief

5. Locked In by Kerry Wilkinson

6. Angel Killer by Andrew Mayne

7. Touch by Mark Sennen

8. Taunting the Dead by Mel Sherratt

9. The Tea Planter’s Daughter by Janet MacLeod Trotter

10. Here She Lies by Katia Lief

For Action and Adventure Board “The Enterprise”!

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The Australian High Commission, located in the heart of New Delhi, is anything but what it appears.

An ambitious assistant discovers his reputable place of employment is tainted with corruption. What’s more, his boss the Deputy High Commissioner could be involved. Does he pursue the truth, jeopardising his chances of promotion and risk exposing his own secrets, or does he play the game and get ahead?

In a world where appearances are deceiving and people are not who they say they are, one thing can be relied upon to ruin everything: the Truth.

Well, folks it’s happened again! Another great writer has decided to throw the proverbial hat in to the ring of self-publishing! And we say, Huzzah! to that. MJ Cope has long been a favorite around FAB.

You can preview the first 3 chapters of The Enterprise on Amazon. It is available on Kindle for $2.99. (Not yet available on Nook or in print.) And if humor is your thing, try Cope’s Funny Australian Letterboxes. Basically, you can’t get any more odd box, than OZ boxes. (Yes, that is a full-size trash bin under some corragated tin between two telephone-type posts.)

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One of the reasons we are so passionate about authors going out on their own these days is that so many great writers go unheard because the publishing “gate keepers” don’t really understand what the public wants to read.  This has long been the case and over the holidays this was brought home to us once again when we chanced upon a telling author John Kennedy Toole’s story.

Toole was the Pulitzer Prize winning author of A Confederacy of Dunces. He began writing at an early age, in his teens. But his famous book was penned in his 20s. Upon finishing his opus, he sent it off to Simon and Schuster where it reached noted editor Robert Gottlieb. Gottlieb considered Toole talented but felt his comic novel was essentially pointless.

Despite several revisions, Gottlieb remained unsatisfied, and after the book was rejected by another literary figure, Hodding Carter Jr., he shelved the novel. Suffering from depression and feelings of self-persecution, Toole left home on a journey around the country. He stopped in Biloxi, Mississippi and ended his life by running a garden hose in from the exhaust of his car to the cabin.

Over a decade later, his mother brought the manuscript of Dunces to the attention of novelist Walker Percy, who ushered the book into print. In 1981, Toole was posthumously awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. This is what happens time and again; publishing houses don’t recognize real talent. Had Toole been able to publish his own work on Kindle, he might not have killed himself and the world might have many more great works.

Now, we’re not saying MJ Cope’s The Enterprise (or Funny Australian Letterboxes) is going to take a Pulitzer, but we’re pretty sure the public’s going to love it! Do yourself a favor and bust out that new Amazon tablet, grab that Amazon giftcard, and get reading!

MJ Cope formerly had long-running blog on WP (MJCache.wordpress.com) which we linked to, so many of you know about MJ. Sadly, it was recently deleted and for some reason there was no final post sent out to its subscribers redirecting them to her new blog. We call that “a lost marketing opportunity.” Remember, if you build a following on your blog, you want to keep that following because those folks will be your first buyers, they already like you, and they’ll likely give your book a good review. If you no long wish to use your original blog anymore, NEVER DELETE IT. Instead, make all its posts private except the most recent one. Your one public post should be redirecting your followers (and new folks who stumble onto it) to the new blog you want your readers following.

Is a Tablet in Your Favorite E-Reader’s Future?


E-book consumers are increasingly shifting to tablets from dedicated e-readers as their first choice for reading e-books, according to the Book Industry Study Group’s Consumer Attitudes Toward E-Book Reading Survey, powered by Bowker.

In August,

  1. 17% of e-book consumers cited Amazon Fire as their first choice for reading e-books (up from 0% last August),
  2. 7% cited B&N’s Nook (up from from 2% the previous August).
  3. 10% Apple’s iPad (a number which has remained constant).

Tablets are now the first choice for about a third of the e-reading public. Simultaneously, dedicated e-reading devices have slid in popularity in direct proportion to the growth of tablets. No surprise there.

Of frequent e-readers–people who purchase e-books at least weekly– 38% indicated that tablets were their primary e-reading device, compared to 19% a year earlier. Reading by frequent e-readers on dedicated e-reading devices meanwhile slipped to less than half from more than two-thirds a year earlier.

UPSHOT: Those who like to use technology for reading, like that reading technology to be a part of a more versatile technology they are able to use in other ways. So does that mean you should buy your reader a tablet? Read on.

According to an online poll of e-book readers conducted in June and July and sponsored by OverDrive with the American Library Association’s Office for Information Technology Policy . . . .

Devices on which e-books borrowed by patrons of libraries were read included

  • 84% dedicated readers;
  • 20% desktop or laptop PCs;
  • 19% smartphones;
  • 18% tablets.

People who borrow ebooks from libraries tend overwhelmingly to own a dedicated eReader, however, they might equally used other technology to read that ebook! See, people who like eReading like versatility. Moving on . . .

  1. 57% of respondents said that the public library is their primary source of book discovery.
  2. 44% said their e-book purchases have increased in the past six months.
  3. And 35% purchased a book (print or e-book) after borrowing a copy of it.

Also, on average, library e-book patrons buy 3.2 books (both print and digital) a month.

UPSHOT: Readers are a highly individual bunch. Just write off eReaders and Tablets as gifts. Stick with bookstore gift cards so your beloved reader can buy the type of book they want and read it the way they want.

Published in: on November 19, 2012 at 1:19 AM  Leave a Comment  
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Before You Buy That E-Reader As A Holiday Gift . . .

Here’s the skinny– Over One Third of All eReaders Are Used Just Once Before Being Set Aside and Kindles topped the survey list of unused devices!

A recent poll showed that a third of US ereader owners said they only used their device once before putting it away or selling it.  (A survey conducted in the UK yielded an even more anti-eReader message: nearly half given as Christmas gifts had yet to be opened a month later.)

A group of almost 2,ooo ereader owners, when questioned about average usage

  • 17% used their ereader at least once a week.
  • 29% use it once a day.
  • 35% indicated that they used the device just once — ever.

The survey went on to ask why those owners who only used the ereader once, did so.

  • 57% stated they didn’t have the time to use it; they are too busy.
  •  22% said that they’d received it as a gift and didn’t have a need for it.
  • 25% simply preferred to read actual physical books.

The survey data went on to show that 37% of the regretful ereader owners did not think it was a good buy, and another 29% planned to get rid of their ereader because they used it so rarely.

Upshot?

  1. Only buy an ereader for yourself. It’s a waste of money buying it for someone else. It won’t be used, it won’t be appreciated.
  2. If you plan to buy an ereader for yourself, buy it after Christmas when unhappy owners are unloading them.
  3. If you plan to buy a gift for a reader, the best gift is still a real physical book or a gift card to a bookstore!

(This post was based on an article by Nate Hoffelder of The Digital Reader that ran Nov 11, 2012. We encourage every would-be gifter to read it!)

Published in: on November 15, 2012 at 1:53 AM  Leave a Comment  
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The Roofs of Tibet

We’ve been reading a lot of ePub-related posts lately. In doing so, we stumbled onto a video by author and designer Craig Mod, which was posted on I Love Typography (one of our fav sites).

We highly recommend everyone interested in ebook and the future of books to take a look. It’s worth the 40 minutes.  But we will tell you up front, it’s a story without an end.

Much as we loved the lecture, we kept coming back to the opening. We wanted to know what happened on the roof in Tibet as a result that might not have happened if the protagonists had been holding ebooks.

Also, we want to put forward our little thought for the future — that someday eReaders will be ultra thin and come with flexible video displays (such as the OLED shown below by Sony — so it’s on them to make this thing work) wrapped to them.

With an OLED wrapped onto an eReader we could display the cover of the book being read (as an option — obviously if the reader didn’t want it displayed, it could be turned off). If this were accomplished, a reader could hold a book in his/her hand that would be paper thin and yet show the cover on the back in a reasonable size.

If the OLED flexible video display could be wrapped onto reader or tablet made with a thin plastic cover protector hinged to it to keep it on the front or fold completely to the back (so in essence it could open like a book), the reader could then have an actual front and back cover, that could still be all books with all covers all the time.

In essence, the reader would be holding a book, that was every book in the world, able to displaying a new cover each time they chose a new book, and therefore retain that shared experience of “You’re reading that too?”

Anyway, that’s our vision. Maybe Craig and Sony can give us a call to discuss it further?

Ebook Conversion, Redux

copyright Joshua Vizzacco

As you all know, we tried a while back to do some epubs and gave up. However, the new book (coming out in Oct) has created a bit of a hiccup. In part it’s down to the cover. Adult minds just naturally go in the wrong direction. In part it’s the content. There truly are adult themes, erotic events, and vulgar language contained within, but all perfectly within reason and within context.

Of course, most people simply react to the cover and title, and jump to the wrong conclusion. (We’ll be posting the cover image Oct 1st.)  This is how we ended up having to buckle down and crank out the book and the ebook ourselves.

Was it easy? Not so easy we didn’t want to kill ourselves now and then . . . but we did managed to create the Adobe Digital Edition epub, Amazon mobi file, and B&N Nook epub on our own in about a week. It took that long because as much as everyone says just create an epub and convert it, that isn’t quite true.

So, with the help of Anne-Marie “Her Geekness” Concepción of Lynda.com, Liz  Castro’s Epub Straight to the Point, and a great advanced tutorial from BBebooks, all of whom together we needed (because no one had all the answers, drat) and without each of which we could not have succeeded, we finally approved the ADE proof today. Yeah.

Would we recommend using a professional converter? Yes. If you don’t know much about CSS or hand coding, it’s not that much fun to make an epub. It’s not difficult to learn, but if you simply want to write (or design books), it’s probably better to let a professional ebook maker do that step. They will give you a product that is both beautiful and functional across multiple platforms.

Check out ePub Zen Garden for examples of beautiful ebooks. Not every e-reader is going to be capable of translating a great design, but being able to take advantage of the options you as the author do have at your disposal? Priceless.