Wednesday, August 05, 2015

The Insecure Writer's Support Group and Links

It’s time for another edition of The Insecure Writer’s Support Group, founded by Ninja Captain, Alex J. Cavanaugh.

I’m now working on the fourth and final story for my next book. It’s coming together really well. There have been some pauses while I do some quick research. (The story is set just outside of London.) I should be able to finish it off this month.

I’ve also created boards on Pinterest for each one if you’d like to get a feel for the stories:
Four in Darkness I
Four in Darkness II
Four in Darkness III
Four in Darkness IV

In order to do that though, I’m going to take the month of August off from blogging. It will be the longest break I’ve taken in 10 & 1/2 years of blogging, but with many people already on break due to summer, I think it will be okay.

I’ll be back September 2 for the next IWSG post.

In the meantime, I’ll leave these notices for you:

My publisher, Dancing Lemur Press, LLC, is actively looking for submissions. The guidelines are here.

Those of you looking for the benefits of traditional publishing (credibility for the author, established distribution, publisher reputation, professionally designed books, early pre-publication reviews, royalties, etc.) with the benefits of self-publishing (higher profits, more control, etc.) need to check out Dancing Lemur Press’ imprint, Freedom Fox Press.

The Realms Faire is November 9-13, with games and prizes. Participants and prizes are still needed, so contact host M. Pax for details.
(This year, House Wolfe will present the Unicorn Hunt!)

Now if you will excuse me, I have some Minion cupcakes to eat.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Audio Book Sales Increase and Realms Faire is Coming

Last week there was an article at Library Journal about the increase in audio books and audio sales.

Audio book sales were dipping these past few years in a trend rivaled only by the decline of the mass market paperback. But sales last year were $1.47 billion, an 13.5% increase from the previous year.

Audio Publishers Association (APA) credits the rising popularity of the digital download and the fact the number of titles available have increased in the past five years:

Year    # of Audiobook Titles Published
2014    25,787
2013    24,755
2012    16, 309
2011     7,237
2010     6,200

What kinds of audio books are selling? The article said:

"Fiction continues to represent the vast majority of audiobooks sold with roughly 77.4 percent of audios being fiction vs. 22.6 percent nonfiction. The unabridged format continues to dominate with 91 percent of audiobooks sold being in this format."

Are you taking advantage of the audio book revolution as either a reader or an author?

The Realms Faire is coming!

From November 9-13 there will be games and prizes.

Last year, I hosted the Dragon Hunt. This year, House Wolfe presents the Unicorn Hunt:

You are charged with tracking down the unicorns!

Every day, a new blogger will host a photo. You will have to find the unicorns in the image, much like the famous “Where’s Waldo?” Leave a comment stating how many unicorns you find in that image. The most correct guesses wins.

Grand prize:
Ebooks: Hot Pink in the City by Medeia Sharif, 30 Seconds by Chrys Fey, One Good Catch by Heather M. Gardner, A Lizard’s Tail by Bish Denham, and The Circle of Friends Series by L. Diane Wolfe
Plus: a $20.00 Amazon or ITunes gift card

Five images - many unicorns - only one winner!

More prizes are needed. Contact M. Pax if you can donate something to the pot.

Several of the games need more participants:

M. Pax - The Joust

River Fairchild - Beware the Vortex

Cassandra Webb - Dueling Bards

Get involved and have fun!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Book Returns: What they Mean For Publishers and Authors

Returns are the bane of the publishing industry. Book returns can make or break a small publisher and destroy an author’s career before it even begins.

The return agreement between bookstores and wholesalers/publishers has been in effect since the Great Depression. It’s also unique, because no other industry has such a policy.

According to Brooke Warner’s article at the Huffington Post:

“The fallout from being a returns-based industry is that retailers have little incentive to order what they think they can really sell, and publishers rarely push back on what might be perceived as unrealistic orders because they're desperate for a shot at getting their product in a position where it might really move.”

Almost a third of all books are returned, a very sobering fact. Mass market paperbacks aren’t even returned. The cover is ripped off to send back to the publisher and the book is destroyed..

Returns come from two sources—bookstores and the wholesalers & distributors who deal with these stores. Libraries and book clubs don’t return books. And only Amazon returns ebooks.

The standard return policy is 90 days. Stores have three months to return books for a full credit, which includes shipping costs. In addition, returned books rarely come back in the same pristine condition in which they were shipped. Unless they look like they were put through a shredder, the publisher has to give the store credit. And those books become a negative balance in an author’s royalty check.

In a 3-month period, an author’s new book sells 10,000 copies to bookstores. The royalty statement would reflect royalties based on the amount of books that went out. But during that same 3-month period, 3000 books are returned. That is then deducted from the royalty to be paid to the author.
What’s worse, is that after its initial release, in the next three months only 1000 books are sold. But returns are continuing to come in. What if another 1000 are returned? Or even worse, another 3000?
And don’t forget the publisher who is now in the hole for production and marketing costs of those returned books.

Brooke Warner says:

“...most authors want their books to be in B&N, and it's good for a book to have the "chance" to be in B&N, but their returns (on a given title) are often higher than 50 percent, when the industry standard is 30 percent. They're also notorious for sending back damaged books.”

Returned books often can’t be resold as new. What are done with remainders and less-than-perfect books? Sometimes they are sold at a discount, donated to charity, or trashed and written off as an expense. That means the author gets a much, much smaller royalty from a returned book if it’s discounted and sold. Donated and trashed books are counted against the author’s royalties.

Plus an author with a lot of returned books won’t likely see a contract for a second book.

What do you think? Is it time the industry changed? Can it be changed?

Monday, July 13, 2015

Amazon Review Policy, NetFlix for Books Models Want You to Read Less, and The Circle of Friends Series Release

First, I am proud to announce the release of my series in a boxed set. Newly revised and edited, at the $8.99 price readers are getting 5 books for the price of 3. If you like contemporary stories with a positive twist, prepared to be inspired!

The Circle of Friends Series by L. Diane Wolfe
Ebook ISBN 9781939844125
New Adult/Young Adult

Get inspired to achieve your dreams!
Book I...Lori - Driven by Olympic dreams, the swimmer appears destined for success. But something is holding her back. Can the star quarterback help Lori break free and achieve her dreams?
 Book II...Sarah - There are no rewards for second best. Estranged from her father, envious of her best friend’s perfect life, Sarah’s unable to measure up to expectations. Can a future NFL receiver with baggage of his own make a difference?
Book III...James - Haunted by a troubled past, he’s determined to break free of the abuse and start a life with Maria. When a life-changing crisis erupts, James nears the breaking point. Can he find peace before the mistakes of his father destroy him?
Book IV...Mike - A prisoner of guilt for so long, he’s consumed with condemnation and unable to forgive himself. When Danielle enters his life, he can no longer hide the past. Will she be able to reach him or is Mike past the point of redemption?
Book V...Heather - When confidence turns to frustration, she finds her dream of coaching basketball tarnished. Heather struggles with a dying father, a troublesome sister, and a cocky player. Can Mark help the feisty woman survive?

There is a campaign right now to change Amazon’s "You Know This Author" policy. Since many fans follow their favorite authors online, this can be misconstrued as a personal relationship. And even if the reader knows the author, why should that review be any less legit? (Granted this sometimes results in inflated 5-star reviews, but you can’t discount them all.)

To add your name to the petition - Change the "You Know This Author" Policy

Another policy of Amazon’s I wish they would change is their return policy. They are the ONLY one who allows ebook returns. (And that after a whole 7 days.) Many people abuse this system by either downloading a book long enough to read it or to gain “Verified Purchase” status. With digital purchases, there should be no returns.

What do you think about either of those policies?

I found this interesting article on Wired:

Netflix-Like Book Services Would Be Happy if You Read Less

These services are more successful the less people read. However, romance readers are voracious readers. And for these companies, that’s bad.

According to the article:

But in a recently leaked letter, San Francisco startup Scribd revealed the company was planning to pull thousands of romance titles because their popularity was costing the company too much money.

...Scribd and its closest competitor Oyster pay publishers a sum of money each time “a fair portion” of a book is read. That and the fact that both Scribd and Oyster offer valuable reader data made for apparently sweet deals for publishers, who have lined up behind these services. But the deal in the end wasn’t so sweet for Scribd.

“We bore the majority of the risk when establishing a business model that paid publishers the same amount as the retail model for each book read by a Scribd subscriber,” the company noted in its letter. When readers read too much, as romance readers apparently did, the costs become too much to bear. Which points to a funny irony for e-book services: as long as they pay publishers every time a book is read, their businesses are more successful the less people read.

Is that not ironic?

Finally, I have been working to update the Conferences, Workshops, Etc. and Publications page at the Insecure Writer’s Support Group site. We now have a full list of conferences, conventions, workshops, festivals, retreats, and seminars. There are still more to add, so I will continue working on it this summer.