F#$% Amazon

Someone in the traditional publishing business once said to me, and I quote, “F#$% Amazon”. And it was said with such vitriol that it made me feel uncomfortable, for them. I guess I would be that bitter and angry as well if I was being destroyed little by little too.

I don’t blame them for feeling that way; it’s just human nature. Although, I do think it’s their own damn fault.

As Joe Konrath points out on his blog, the big publishing firms never competed against each other technically. Sure, they competed for authors with signing bonuses and crap like that, but not one of them ever came out and said, “Screw this, I don’t care that XYZ Publishing down the street and everyone else is paying out 17.5% to authors. We’re gonna raise that up to 50% and eat their lunch.”

None of them did that, and guess what, Amazon and others are doing it, and now they suffer. Competition is good. It creates a marketplace that favors the consumer, or in this case, the author.

F#$% Amazon? Actually, it looks like the actual F#$%ing is going the other way.

Here Come The Hybrids

It’s extremely interesting to me as I watch the traditional publishing business collapse into dust how all of these hybrid “new” businesses are being started that are spinning the business model. I say “new” because it’s not really new, it’s just a spin on the old way. Meet the old boss, same as the new boss, with perhaps a different tie.

For example, if you look at this new company called Hyperink, you’ll see that they offer authors, the ones they hand-pick and approve, the ability to publish through them. And they only take about 50% of the profits. But to their credit, they offer everything from cover design to editing to digital conversion, distribution to the major players and of course, marketing. All the food groups a healthy successful book must have.

The other interesting thing is they are looking for regular people who know a lot about something. So, maybe they publish a book from a person who happens to know a lot about designer handbags, or someone who knows how to train you to become an organic chef. Pretty neat. I’ve always maintained that everyone knows a lot about something. In fact, that’s the tagline for a company that I am a partner in in the online education space.

This new breed of niche, hybrid publishing companies is very similar to what I’m seeing that Seth Godin’s Domino Project does, sort of. Also, what Amazon is doing themselves.

I think this is great. If you are lucky enough to get a deal with one of those new hybrid publishing houses, I say go for it, assuming you don’t just self-publish which I recommend. If I wasn’t so entrenched in doing it myself, I’d probably see if they would publish something from my brain.

It’s Not The Size That Matters

Excuse the flagrant use of suggestive headline above. Of course, I’m talking about the size of your book. Get your mind out of the gutter! Oh wait, I started this.

It’s not the size of your book that matters. Gone are the days when you were required to produce a gigantic book. My book, Attention!, came out at over 75,000 words, only because that’s what my contract said from my publisher. Looking back, I would much rather have broken the book up into 2, or maybe even 3 parts. Which is exactly what I’m doing with my Business Around A Lifestyle books (3 parts).

Here’s what you need to think about and understand when it comes to writing a book and how long to make it.

1. Worry about quality, not quantity. Your book could be 5,000 words. As long as it’s good.

2. Don’t waste people’s time. There probably nothing worse than reading a book that is 95% too long. You get the book, all excited to read it, only to realize later that everything you needed to know could have been summarized in 5 pages. Yet, you had to read through 200 pages to find that out.

Is there anything worse than wasting somebody’s time? I think not. If you can say it in 5 pages, then do it! You book is no less a book because it’s short. That’s the publisher talking. Provide value and you win, period.

3. Nobody wants War & Peace anymore. If you haven’t noticed, most people have ADD nowadays and even if they don’t, they are multi-tasking ten different things at once, and working 2 jobs and in general running around like chickens with their heads cut off. Who has time to read something that’s over-bloated? Consider breaking up your book into pieces parts.

I love this strategy because you can let people consume your content in smaller sections. And assuming you’re a good writer, you can hook them with the first book, then get them to consume the rest of your work, one by one. This technique also allows you to price at smaller amounts, and if you haven’t noticed, Amazon is squeezing authors on price these days. The days of $25 books are gone.

Game Over For Publishers (Video)

I love Gary. He gets it, always has. In his latest video he talks about the publishing industry.

Best line in the video: “Unless you bring value in the middle, you shouldn’t exist.”

He’s right, the middleman is in play. It’s time to go direct. I wonder though, now, if Gary regrets signing that 10-book deal. I bet he’d like to get a contract with Amazon right about now.

The Publishing Industry Isn’t Going To Die

It’s just going to change. An article at Forbes really set me off today because of the headline. Yet another “something is dead” headline to grab attention. Is this 2006 all of a sudden? I thought link-bait like that didn’t work anymore. Oh, wait, it worked on me. Anyway.

Jame Altucher writes a piece entitled “Why and How to Self Publish Your Book (and why the Publishing industry is dead)”. He goes on to give pretty solid reasons for his opinion. Look, I/we get it. But to say it’s dead is overstating and, well, just wrong. Here’s what I wrote in the comments of that post.

I’m certainly no fan of the current “traditional” publishing industry, but it’s not dead. It’s just changing. Sure, it’ll be downsized and business models will be adjusted, but it won’t die.

Amazon will keep it alive for one. They’re already signing up authors for better commission deals and guaranteed distribution on their site. And they’re paying out signing bonuses as well.

So it’s not going to die completely, it’s just going to change.

I’m interested in your thoughts on this topic.