You Win When You Create Value

Penguin launches “self-publishing” services. But wait, it’s total crap. From Linda Welch’s blog.

They offer three self-publishing packages: $99 for user-formatted books. (User formatted means the author does their own formatting.) $299 for a user-formatted print book and e-book. Hm. The author still does their own formatting. And $549 for a professionally formatted print and e-book. Yipee! You get formatting for $549. Not only that, you can choose from six cover styles (you heard me – six – wow) which correspond to your genre. You can also choose distribution. Wide range distribution puts you on Book Country, Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble, Google, Kobo and “others.” Basic is on Book Country only. There is no mention of the most vital facet of putting out a good product – editing.

Now hold on one cotton picking minute. I already sell on Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble, Google, Kobo, Sony, Smashwords and Diesel. And it didn’t cost me a penny. If you go through Penguin, you pay them a percentage of sales. This means if your e-book sells on Amazon, both Amazon AND Penguin take a percentage. Same for everywhere else.

Like I said, crapola. Here’s a lesson for anyone like Penguin, or anyone else, when creating services.

You MUST create value. Otherwise, you lose. And you must think about the customer first, not yourself. Penguin obviously just wants to get over on new authors. That, my friends, is a sure-fire way to building a crappy long-term business.

Too often I see business not get this. They put profit first, when instead they should be putting profit for the customer first. VALUE! Eventually, what is going to happen is you’re going to be left with a bunch of unhappy customers who felt ripped off. And in today’s social world that is more dangerous than you think.

Sigh.

More reaction at Konrath, Katie Salidas and Passive Guy.

Make Your Own Luck

One of the recurring themes you will read when you follow successful authors is that they always lean back on luck as one of the major reasons they were successful. As a marketer, I can’t concede that luck is the primary reason success happens just as much as a scientist can believe in something that doesn’t have empirical proof.

Luck to me is what happens when you bust your ass off.

Sure, I think there’s a little luck involved in most things in life and business. However, I also believe that your chances of that luck happening come from hard, hard work and consistency, and not giving up. It’s like saying that “statistically, air travel is safer than car travel.” Well, duh, of course it is, more people travel in cars than in planes so…

If you work harder than everyone else. If you produce content (books, videos, podcasts, whatever), better than everyone else. Then eventually, you will get “lucky”.

Far too many people walk around waiting to “get lucky”. They look to a few select people who have won the lottery, or been born into the lucky sperm club, and they say “why isn’t that me?” Well here’s the truth. The vast majority of successful people get lucky because they kick ass and take names.

Stop having a pity party for yourself and hoping you’re going to win the lottery. It’s not going to happen. You want something? Go out and take it and put the effort in.

Then “luck” will come.

New eReaders Guarantee eBooks Will Dominate

Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, said that for every 100 printed books they sell, they sell 180 digital books. And that number is growing every single month. Do you have any reason to think that that growth is going to stop? I don’t.

Look at the ereader market. Amazon just released the Kindle Fire. Barnes & Noble is about to release the Nook tablet. We already have regular Kindles, and Nooks, and iPads, and a bunch of other ereaders. Not to mention that you can pretty much install the free Kindle app on any device, even your phone.

The future is in digital, no question. The competition is getting fierce which is great news for self-publishers, and great news for readers. Why? Because competition lowers prices and drives innovation.

I for one cannot wait to see what this market will look like in a year’s time. Grab on to something solid and hold on. It’s going to be a wild ride.

So why aren’t you publishing your own books yet?

Owning Your Book

Perhaps the biggest thing I can’t get past when talking about doing legacy publishing deals is that you don’t own your own work. Ok, well, the piddly 17.5% you get from sales sucks too. But, not being to own your own work?

When I signed on Attention! with my publisher, I had all kinds of dreams of big money and big things for it. Of course, I later realized that a lot of promises were broken, which lead me to here, writing about self-publishing.

To this day, over a year and a half later, I’m still upset that I can’t own my work. They have it. They can do whatever they want with it. They can price it how they wish. They can sell it where they wish.

I’m stuck.

So what would I do if I owned it? I’d re-title it. Then I’d redo the cover. Then maybe I’d even break it up into two smaller parts and sell it that way. I’d also reprice it and sell it direct print on demand.

So many options when I have control. But I don’t.

So think twice about choosing to sign with a “big” publisher. It may not be all that it used to be cracked up to be.

Strong Voices in Self-Publishing

Bob Mayer says the rhetoric is getting out of hand. In his post, Writers for traditional publishers = slave? Indie authors= f%ck wad? Come on!, Bob argues…

Let’s get real. The rhetoric is starting to get out of hand. We’ve got people equating having a book contract to being a slave. I don’t think slaves signed a contract or got paid or sat around in pajamas and typed. It’s insulting to the legacy of all whose ancestors endured it and also to the millions who are currently enslaved around the world. And then we’ve got those trumpeting the American credo of “doing it all yourself”. Well, if you’re truly an indie author, you aren’t even giving Amazon 30%, because, you know, they’re the biggest ‘man’ out there. You should be selling your books all by yourself. And many of the flagship authors everyone trumpets as the pinnacle of success in the indie world are now working for Amazon, St. Martins or other “overseers”, apparently bowing to the vicious whip as they cash their checks.

Bob is a great example of strong voices in the new wave of publishing that is upon us. There are some very strong voices on the fringes in the publishing industry right now, on both sides. You have the famous Joe Konrath who is the poster boy leader for the self-publishing movement. Then you have people like Tobias Buckwell. And you have people like Bob, and well, I’m trying to catch up and help.

I think it’s wonderful to see so many voices discussing the industry that is changing so fast. How else are we supposed to learn? I started this blog to help share my thoughts with you about my experiences in the business, from past successes/failures, to future successes and failures.

Who else is a strong voice in the community that I should be watching? Please leave a comment with your suggestions.