Traditionally Published Author Intervention

It’s become painfully obvious that I must take matters into my own hands and stop my friends from continuing to traditionally publish their books.

Yes, I need to have an author intervention. This letter (below) is for you, my well-respected friends and associates who have at least one traditionally published book out, and are continuing on with another one instead of going the self-publishing route.

I will not name names, but you know who you are.

Dear Author,

I’ve gathered you here among your friends, associates, and readers to express some concerns we all have about your future. It’s become aware to us that you have decided to continue to work with a legacy publisher for your next book, as opposed to pursing a self-publishing option.

We feel that this is very destructive behavior and we wanted to get you here to tell you about it so that we might be able to help you change your path and not suffer the long-term consequences you will face down the road.

For instance, you do realize that by continuing to sign contracts with a traditional publishing house you are signing away the rights to your book for years and years, right? That means that you have no control over your content. You can’t change the book content or cover without their approval. You can’t adjust pricing. You can’t play around with new forms of digital distribution. You can’t do anything unless they say you can. This is truly destructive to your future as an author, we hope you can see that.

You have read your contract, right? How many years do they own it? Please think about the future. Do you really believe that the landscape will be the same in a three-years, or even one-year?

What about the commission structure for your book? The average traditionally published author is taking home 17.5% of their book sales. When the bookstores go out of business for good, and your book is being peddled digitally and the vast majority of sales are coming in that way, will you still be ok with only earning 17.5% on each book sold? Amazon offers 70% to you now. What will it be in a few years? Why will a publisher still need to make so much money on your blood, sweat and tears? For what? You could have easily put it online digitally without them. You could easily create a cover and get it edited and proofed yourself.

We know, we know, you choose to legacy publish because you use your books for speaking or training or consulting. Yes, that all makes sense for you, the .0000001% of authors in the non-fiction space who make money that way. But think about the future consequences of not owning your brand. Think about the future of your sales. Think about how those are bad business decisions. Take the emotion out of it. Take the vanity out of it. And really think about how your future will look if you continue down this destructive path to doom!

We love you, and we’re here for you. We just want you to get better.

Sincerely,

Everyone

P.S. Quit signing contracts that give the first right of refusal for your next book to the publisher. Just “don’t do it. Have it removed.

All that being said, I hope you took this post in the fun it was intended to be in. But I hope it made you think a bit too.

If you haven’t read my post on my experiences with a legacy publisher, check out my Broken Promises post.

Amazon Selling Over 1 Million Kindles A Week

In my presentations that I do I have a screen where I show a quote from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos from the fall of 2011 where he says that “for every 100 print books sold on Amazon.com, they sell 180 digital books”.

Wow.

Well, here’s more data to back that up. According to Amazon, they’re selling over a million Kindle’s a week now! A week!

Still think that digital books are a fad? Look in your crystal ball a year from now. You know what you’re going to see.

Customers Purchasing Kindles at Rate of More Than 1 Million Per Week for Third Straight Week

Kindle Fire continues to lead the way as the #1 bestselling, most gifted, and most wished for product across all of Amazon.com since its introduction 11 weeks ago

Kindle Fire sales increase week over week for each of the past three holiday shopping weeks

SEATTLE–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Dec. 15, 2011– (NASDAQ: AMZN)—Amazon.com today announced that Kindle devices remain the hottest products this holiday season – for the third week in a row, customers are purchasing well over 1 million Kindle devices per week, and Kindle Fire remains the #1 bestselling, most gifted, and most wished for product across the millions of items available on Amazon.com since its introduction 11 weeks ago. To learn more about the all-new Kindle family – the $79 Kindle, $99 Kindle Touch, $149 Kindle Touch 3G and the $199 Kindle Fire – visit www.amazon.com/kindle.

“Kindle Fire is the most successful product we’ve ever launched – it’s the bestselling product across all of Amazon for 11 straight weeks, we’ve already sold millions of units, and we’re building millions more to meet the high demand. In fact, demand is accelerating – Kindle Fire sales increased week over week for each of the past three weeks. People are buying Kindle Fire because it’s a simple, fully-integrated service that makes it easy to do the things they love – watch movies, read books and magazines, listen to music, download apps, play games, and surf the web,” said Dave Limp, Vice President, Amazon Kindle. “Our family of Kindle e-ink readers are close behind Kindle Fire on the Amazon.com bestseller list. Customers continue to report preferring their Kindle e-reader for long-form reading, and in fact we’ve seen many customers buy two Kindles – both a Kindle Fire and a Kindle or Kindle Touch – this holiday season.”

Go Direct, It’s the Future

JK Rowlings gets it. She’s going direct to her readers with Pottermore. She’s cutting out the publishers and Amazon. Because of that, she’ll make another billion. I’m not JK Rowling, but I did go direct to my audience to raise over $35k to pre-fund my new books.

Even a comedian can do it. No, it’s not a book, but the point is still the same. Louis CK just made a video of his comedy and released it direct to his fans, and made over $200k from it. No middleman.

Comedian Louis Szekely, better known as Louis C.K., is profiting handsomely from a $5 video of his latest standup routine, which he produced and distributed himself.

Instead of partnering with a studio, C.K. hired a team with six cameras to tape two of his performances at the Beacon Theater in Manhattan. He distributed the video through a website specially built for that purpose. Within 12 hours of going on sale Saturday, 50,000 people purchased the video, covering all of costs incurred for its production (around $170,000) and creation of the website ($32,000). By day four, he had sold 110,000 copies, making an additional $200,000 off the venture.

C.K. admits that $200,000 is less than what a “big company” would have paid him for rights to create the video, but the added value for the fans makes up for the difference. Had another company produced it, they would have charged $20 for a video that would have been encrypted and regionally restricted, and fans would have had to fork over their personal details for the company’s own use.

“This way, you only paid $5, you can use the video any way you want, and you can watch it in Dublin, whatever the city is in Belgium, or Dubai. I got paid nice, and I still own the video (as do you). You never have to join anything, and you never have to hear from us again,” C.K. posted on his website Tuesday.

Amazon KDP Select Is Awesome?

I put my book Internet Marketing for Business Answers up on KDP Select this weekend, then started the free 5-day promotion of it this morning (Monday). If you don’t know what KDP Select is, click here.

Since it started running, I’ve had over 600 downloads and counting. A couple of thoughts.

1. It seems to me that for authors like me that need/like wide distribution, having that free promo is pretty awesome. Do you have any idea how many new clients I might pick up out of thousands of reads of that book? Or speaking gigs?

2. I’m also #1 in my category. And their site says that that will effect “regular” category rankings as well. So assume that when I get off free I might still see a jump in sales? We shall see.

3. I have no idea how much money I’ll end up taking out of the “pool of money” but for me, for this book, it will probably be more than what I was selling on it already.

4. My gut is telling me that for non-fiction authors this is a game-changer, because non-fiction is so slow in eBooks.

I’m trying to see the downside of this for my situation, but I can’t. Anyone?

Amazon is the New Wal-Mart

Jeff Bezos is channeling Sam Walton these days. The WalMart founder knew how to crush his competition through competitive pricing and innovative distribution. And despite what you think about WalMart, there is no denying what a powerful force they have become.

Amazon must have been paying attention, because recently the moves they have made have really made some news and caused some waves.

Look at some of these comments.

By the way, that’s what happens when you win, you make waves.

I get the detractors. However, what I think they fail to realize is that it’s just good business. And that’s what most people are overlooking. The world of publishing is full of a lot of people who consider themselves “artists”. It’s a world driven by a lot of vanity.

Here’s a news flash for you who still think that way. The publishing world has changed. Now that anyone can publish a book, and the gatekeepers have been removed, it has all become a business. Gone, or soon to be gone, are the glamorous days of “traditionally published” authors who were looked upon like celebrities or special people because of their hard to get fancy publishing contracts.

You may not like that fact, but it’s reality. The sooner you realize it and jump on board the better off you’ll be.

As an Internet marketer, this is very similar to what a lot of people think about Google. Some people hate Google. They refuse to play nice with Google. They don’t like that Google has so much control. Fine, you go ahead and do that, but that again, is just a bad business decision.

I have to ask you. This is a gut check question. Are you writing books for business/career reasons, or are you writing them just for vanity reasons? If you are writing for vanity reasons, just admit it. The rest of us, we’ll just be publishing for business reasons and liking companies like Amazon that help us reach our goals.

Finally, let me ask you one more question. In terms of Amazon KDP Select. Time will tell if it makes sense for authors. But I would ask you this though. If Google did the same thing, and said, we don’t want you to have your site listed in any other search engine besides ours, would you do it? I’d say yes. Because any other answer is a bad business decision.