Thursday, December 8, 2011

December Odds and Ends

So, December is shaping up to be an interesting month for a variety of reasons.  Let's get to it!

First, as many of you know, I had published my first short story a couple of months ago.  I did this for a number of reasons, not the least of which was so that I could get the epublishing details worked out ahead of when my first novel would be done.  I chose to go direct with Amazon via their KDP platform, PubIt platform for Barnes &, and Smashwords for everything else (Diesel, Apple, Kobo, etc.).  So, between this and what I do for my day job, I got a good education on how to do it.

Unfortunately, I also learned that I had chosen a completely worthless title for this first short story - I titled it "The Collection".  At the time, I really liked it as a title and thought it was intriguing.  After a while, I discovered that when one does a search for the word "collection", one will get ACTUAL collections of things: collections of short stories, collections of books, collections of DVDs, etc., but no short story with that title would ever come up anywhere near the top of the list.  So rather than continue to beat my proverbial head against the wall, I chose to rename my short story, give it a new cover, and revise the interior of the book with a black and white image of the book cover (like the big boys do!) and add a section at the end about me, the author.

Overall, I like all of these changes, and I'm hopeful that this will make an impact on sales and just plain having people find the darn thing!  Oh, and along with all of these changes, I also dropped the price back down to $.99.  At one point about a month ago I had thought I perhaps had priced it too low, and raised the price to $2.99.  That didn't help a bit, most likely because of the above reasons that I have now addressed.  Plus, it seemed like too high of a price for a short story, so I'm much happier back at the lower price.  What's the new title for the short story?  Glad you asked!  "Pins And Dolls".

Okay, on to more news.  I'm fortunate to work at a company that has many people who are used to using a lot of technology, both for work and personally.  As such, I was able to get a look at a new Kindle Fire that a co-worker had just gotten.  I must say, it's impressive for such a compact device!  It's definitely a slick gadget, and would be great for many applications.  However, I don't think it will become the big-time ereader like the regular Kindles have become because of the backlit screen that it uses.  I'm sure in a few years we'll be inundated with ereaders that have color E-ink screens, but until then this is a good competitor to the Nook Color and the iPad.  Keep in mind that the iPad has a screen that's about twice as big as the Fire or Nook Color.

Also, Black Friday.  From the anecdotal reports that I've heard, Amazon sold "millions" of Kindles over the Thanksgiving weekend.  This is on top of the 5 million plus Fires that were pre-sold and shipped earlier in the Fall.  These items plus the fact that more people will probably purchase new Kindles, Nooks, and other ereaders in the new year with their holiday cash mean a whole slew of new potential readers for indie authors to take advantage of.  I need to get my butt in gear, but my above changes to my short story are the beginning of me doing just that.

Finally, Amazon announced this morning the new feature for people publishing on the KDP platform:  the Kindle Lending Library.  Previously, this had gotten publicity due to the fact that they included many large publishers in the program, some against their desires even though Amazon promised to pay them for each ebook loaned.

Now, though, it's possible to add your ebook to the Lending Library program - IF you agree to publish EXCLUSIVELY with Amazon.  That's right, you will need to not have your ebook available anywhere else in the world, including your own website/blogsite (at least, that's the scuttlebutt).  In return, there is a pool of a HALF-MILLION DOLLARS that will be divided up amongst all Lending Library participants for the month of December.  Wow, what a deal, right?

Well, not so fast.  Let's think about this for a moment.  Is this really a good deal?  Perhaps it is, if you only publish on Amazon and/or the majority of your sales come from Amazon.  But for others who sell a significant portion through other retailers, or those that wish to, it's not a good deal even with the limited 90-day agreement.  Why?  Well, have you been paying attention to what's been going on globally with ebooks?  If not, you best start paying attention, because while Amazon will try to make inroads (i.e., Amazon Spain, Amazon Italy, etc.), the fact is that there are plenty of other ebook competitors that are better positioned and funded to reach the European markets and beyond.  Kobo, specifically, has made a series of moves over the past 6-8 months that will help it to become the go-to ereader and ebook store in Europe when things explode there in the next couple of years.  Why would you want to limit yourself just to Amazon when you could become a best-seller in France or other countries?

The basic tenet of "Buyer Beware" holds true here.  Read up on the positives and negatives of the Lending Library before you agree to anything.  Know what you have to do to comply with their terms and conditions.  And think long-term, not just for the next 90 days or so.  Amazon is big now, but Barnes & Noble or another ebook retailer could make the right moves and really attract a following that would give Amazon a run for their money.  Do you want to be locked in to that and not be able to take advantage of things when they shift?  Not me, I want to keep playing things fast and loose!


Donna White Glaser said...

I'm trying out the KDP Select program. I understand your points about not closing out other sales venues, but frankly, I wasn't selling much at all on BN, and zero via SW. So it wasn't too difficult to try the KDP-S out. Plus you only commit for 90 days--watch for the auto-renewal! It's worth an experiment anyway.