e-books

Smashwords Teams with Scribd; Indie Authors

Smashwords Teams with Scribd; Indie Authors

This is big news for indie authors and readers. Smashwords signed a global deal with Scribd. Smashwords is the largest distributor of e-books globally, and Scribd is an e-book subscription service with over 100,000 titles that includes bestsellers and new releases. There are so many benefits to this deal I’m going to post what I found in my inbox, and link to a detailed article about the deal. I would also imagine this is going to benefit all small e-presses as well, especially the part about Smashwords authors getting their own bio pages on Scribd.

From my inbox:

Smashwords Author/Publisher Alert – December 19, 2013

Inside:

1. Smashwords announces global distribution deal with Scribd

2. Smashwords unveils web site redesign

3. Apple tickets help speed distribution to Apple iBooks

4. How smart navigation can help you sell more books

5. Retailer holiday schedules

6. Helpful author/publisher resources

Your Smashwords page: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/RyanFiield
________________________________________

1. SMASHWORDS DISTRIBUTION TO SCRIBD
________________________________________

I’m excited to announce a new global distribution agreement today with Scribd, an online reading community that boasts 10 million readers visiting their site each month.

There are two parts to the agreement:

1. Smashwords will distribute books to their subscription ebook service, where readers pay $8.99 to read an unlimited number of books (read below for the great terms Smashwords authors receive!).  2. Smashwords to sell books on their site.

And this article makes things clearer:

“I’m thrilled to learn about the partnership between Smashwords and Scribd,” said Quinn Loftis, a USA Today-bestselling Smashwords author of nine young adult paranormal romance titles, including the seven-book Grey Wolves series. “I look forward to distributing all my titles to Scribd via Smashwords because I appreciate the opportunity to reach more readers. My fans will appreciate the incredible value represented by Scribd’s subscription service.”

I’m looking forward to it, too. I already use Smashwords because I get distributed in so many other places. I’ve always had mostly good experiences with Smashwords and some that have been interesting and unexpected in a good way.

I also think this speaks loudly for e-books in general. I read a lot lately about how e-books have balanced out and some seem to think they are going to disappear. I don’t get that mindset and these people leave me gaping in wonder sometimes. And news like this global deal confirms what most of us who have been pioneering e-books have believed from the start. I also think it’s a huge boost for indie authors simply because for the first time in a long time I didn’t see them lead the article with term self-published authors. And from now on I’m sticking to indie author as a rule.

 

Rock Hudson Alleged Gay Confession; Barry Eisler on .99 E-books

Evidently, there’s new information about an alleged gay confession from Rock Hudson. This alleged confession was something Hudson told his wife at the time, Phyllis Gates. This is from Huff Po.

Back in 1958, Hudson’s wife, Phyllis Gates, confronted the Hollywood legend about being gay, according to The Hollywood Reporter. That confrontation was secretly tape-recorded by Detective Fred Otash, a private eye who had dirt on everyone from Marilyn Monroe to Judy Garland. Gates had hired him to keep tabs on her husband.

“Rock, your great speed with me, sexually. Are you that fast with boys?” Gates asked Hudson, according to a transcript of the discussion obtained by THR from Otash’s family.
“Well, it’s a physical conjunction [sic],” he replied. “Boys don’t fit. So, this is why it lasts longer.”

It’s also been alleged that Rock Hudson’s wife at the time, Phyllis Gates, was a lesbian who was constantly trying to blackmail him. This is a fascinating article  Fred Otash is mentioned here, too. It really does get into a few details you don’t read about often, and mentions a list of close friends in Hudson’s circles that were just as closeted as he was.

Outing Mrs. Rock Hudson: the obits after Phyllis Gates died in January omitted some important facts: Those who knew her say she was a lesbian who tried to blackmail her movie star husband Advocate, The, Feb 28, 2006 by Robert HoflerPhyllis Gates, the former Mrs. Rock Hudson, died January 4 at age 80, and the Los Angeles Times commemorated her passing with an astonishingly long, 1,000-word, half-page obit a week later. (Would Katie Holmes ever get so much ink?) To read that and other newspaper whitewashes of her memory, you would have to believe that Gates was a loving Brokeback Mountain wife who had been duped into marriage by Rock’s equally gay agent, Henry Willson.

I doubt we’ll ever know the complete truth, and I don’t think that matters anyway. Rock Hudson was a victim of his time and he couldn’t come out. But I think this line in the Huff Po article bothers me the most:

“He was basically a very romantic man. He was like a woman;

This comes from a biographer, Sarah Davidson, who went to the University of Douchebaggery where they obviously taught Gay Male Stereotypes 101.

Barry Eisler on .99 E-books

I post openly about the indie books I have out and how I price them. I’ve found a good deal of success in keeping the books priced at .99 for now. I’ve also mentioned I’ve been on the fence with the Amazon lending program because it makes it impossible for me to distribute the books for three months because Amazon makes me sign an exclusive to be in the program. I have a good readership at places like ARe and I like to accomodate them. But I will be releasing my next indie on Amazon, Internal Desires, and I will do the lending program for the first three months. I want to see how it works out, and I haven’t done it for a while.

In this next article to which I’m linking below author Barry Eisler discusses his thoughts on e-book pricing, promotions, and .99 E-books. I thought it was interesting. I also think that what works for him might not work for me or another author. As I said, I’m always afraid of taking a hit by NOT releasing in places like ARe. But that’s always been the case with anything like this. What I do think is important is that you try everything you can try to see what works for you. I really never have a set plan, and when I think I do and I try to repeat something it always turns out differently than it did the first time. I think the secret is to keep trying and to keep doing different things.

I’ve done a couple of free promos of individual titles through KDP Select, advertising the sales using BookBub and EbookBooster, and the results were good — the #1 free spot for my first novel, A Clean Kill in Tokyo, and the #2 slot for my second, A Lonely Resurrection. I like the free promos because if things go well with the giveaway, the title in question tends to bounce back much higher in the paid store, with more visibility and more sales. Possible shortcomings of the free promos, though, are: (i) the people you’re initially reaching are by definition a demographic that is motivated to download books for free, and that might therefore be less interested in buying them; and (ii) people who get books for free are probably less motivated to read them, meaning fewer new customers and less word of mouth. So I started wondering what would happen if I tried a 99-cent promo instead… and what would happen if instead of doing it for only one title, I did it for my entire backlist.

You can read more here.

E-Book BEA Debate; Michael Douglas on Oral Sex; New Fight Against AIDS

E-Book BEA Debate

When I post about this topic now, I start to feel as if I’m living in an altered universe sometimes. And yet this article from PW talks about e-books as if they were just invented.

In a question from the audience, Ed Conklin, buyer at Chaucer’s Books in Santa Barbara, Calif., said, “I’m not real interested in e-books.” That’s because there’s no way for a customer to buy an e-book in his store. In a follow-up question, Emily Pullen, manager of Word Books in Brooklyn, N.Y., pointed out how little money booksellers make on e-book sales. “If I sold an e-book to every customer who came in my store, I’d be out of business in a week.” To which Friedman responded that e-book pricing is going to level out at higher than $2.99.

While I do often think that e-books are either too expensive or too inexpensive to be realistic, and I would like to see publishers focus more on fair pricing, I can’t help but always take into consideration the near future. And when I say the near future I mean watch kids in grade school, or even in middle school and high school. The tech devices they own would most likely turn someone like Ed Conklin from Chaucer’s Books upside down. If past is prologue, and if history does repeat itself, than all these debates are absolutely pointless.

I saw an interesting TV commercial last evening. I forget what the commercial was about in detail, but at the end there was a young woman holding a record in her hands and she says, “I know what these are. I read about them in books.” The main focus was that records are obsolete, and most kids don’t even know what they are. Frankly, I don’t even know what records are because my generation had cassette tapes and CDs. I never had a record collection. My mom and dad owned records. But the underlying irony in that commercial is that in the real world the odds are that the young woman either read about old fashioned records online somewhere, or she read about them in an e-book. And whoever put that ad together didn’t even realize they were being ironic.

Michael Douglas on Oral Sex

Update: Here’s a link that will lead you to a web site that talks in depth about HPV. There’s also a vaccine available, which I didn’t know about.

Actor Michael Douglas talked openly about his ordeal with throat cancer and the kind of cancer it was. According to this article, it wasn’t caused by smoking or alcohol. It was caused by engaging in oral sex. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard something like this. It’s actually more common than most people know.

 In a candid new interview with U.K.’s The Guardian, Douglas admits that his illness was caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV).

“Without wanting to get too specific, this particular cancer is caused by HPV, which actually comes about from cunnilingus,” the “Behind the Candelabra” star, 68, explains.

For those who haven’t heard about this, it’s an interesting article with more links.

New Fight Against AIDS

This comes from Lambda Legal.

As the nation marks the opening of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month, executive directors from 35 LGBT and HIV/AIDS organizations from across the United States have released a joint letter committing themselves and their organizations to re-engaging the broader LGBT community in the fight against HIV. While issues like marriage equality and employment protections for LGBT workers have taken center stage, HIV continues to ravage the LGBT community. Despite making up just two percent of the population, gay and bisexual men accounted for more than 63 percent of new HIV infections in 2010. In fact, gay men are the only group in which HIV infections are increasing.

With all the information out there, the numbers in gay men getting HIV should be declining, and yet that’s not the case. I’ve read that a lot of younger gay men hear that HIV is a chronic disease and there are now medications that can keep them alive so they don’t think they have to be as careful anymore. This is true about HIV in a general sense. Those with HIV don’t get a death sentence anymore. It is treated as a chronic disease.

But that’s not the bottom line, not by any means. The HIV meds have side effects that you may not see for years to come. These side effects can appear in a variety of ways. And none of them are pleasant. I know this first hand because I’ve been acting POA for a friend who is HIV+ and I often go to his doctor’s appointments with him at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. The other factor is the cost of HIV meds. They run into thousands of dollars each month and if you think Obamacare is going to help you you’d better start reading more. The fact is that if you don’t have a great medical insurance plan you’re going to have to figure out a way to get those meds and it’s not going to be simple.

This is the goal. I think it’s realistic if everyone takes the time to read this information.

“The LGBT community always has been at the epicenter of the AIDS epidemic. As the community most impacted in the nation, we are the ones who must step-up and recommit to ending future transmissions. To have a new generation of LGBT young people grow up free from HIV and AIDS will be a fitting legacy to those we have lost to this disease.”

I also think it’s time we took the stigma away from AIDS. Michael Douglas talked about his ordeal with cancer and oral sex in the above article without a hint of shame. We need to be able to do the same thing with HIV as gay men.

New Book Cover: Fangsters; Hannah on "Girls" Gets E-book Deal; CBS Sunday Morning Barbie Porn

Here’s the preview cover for my new book, Fangsters, that’s being published with Riverdaleave.com books on April 30th. I’ve posted about this here. And I’ll post more info with excerpts as I get it back in coming weeks. Here’s the book description:

When organized crime meets the underworld of the living dead, it creates endless possibilities for intrigue and passion. Combine that with a traditional old vampire clan from Sicily trying to mainstream with humans in northern New Jersey as business people, and it winds up becoming an adventure into darkness of epic proportions.

Anton Pagano is from an old Sicilian vampire clan that migrated to New Jersey in the late 1800’s. He lives in a mansion in northern New Jersey with his mom and dad, and he’s never had to worry about anything other than his wardrobe, his latest new car, and the secret love affair he’s been having for years with another vampire in his clan. At a glance, he looks and sounds just like anyone else between the ages of twenty-one and thirty years old.


But when Anton’s dad, the head of their clan, decides it’s time for Anton and his vampire cousin, Digger, to get into the family business, Anton’s not all the excited about it. Until he meets a sweet young human man named Leo on his first night at work. They wind up spending the rest of the night together, and then things get even more complicated when they bring Anton’s secret vampire lover into the picture a few weeks later.

After a bloody battle with werewolves, and the beginning of what Anton predicts will be an all-out war between two vampire clans in New Jersey, Anton and his secret vampire lover decide it’s time to consider turning Leo into a vampire so all three of them can be together for eternity. But thanks to fate, nothing is as simple as it looks, and they wind up doing the one thing they ever wanted to do to Leo as a last resort. 

Hannah on Girls Gets a Book Deal

I’ve made no secret of how much I love the TV show, Girls On reason I love it is because of how it focuses on “new adults” and how I’m a huge fan of the upcoming genre, new adult fiction.

I also like Hannah as a character. She’s annoying and adorable at the same time. She’s also smart, and trying to figure things out like so many young people her age.

In an episode last night, she gets an e-book deal and I thought it was interesting how they treated the subject of e-books on the show. For the mainstream, it’s obviously something so new the writers have to emphasize that it’s an “e-book” deal. When those of us who have been writing and reading e-books for so long now just call them books, not e-books.

It was also interesting…and entertaining…to see Hannah’s reaction when they told her she had a one month deadline for the e-book they wanted her to write.  I once had a three week dealine for a 60,000 word novel. Anyone who has ever worked in e-publishing can understand this.Your first instinct is to run. The next is to sit down and start writing, because publishing is NOT the slowest industry in the world anymore. Far from it.

CBS Sunday Morning Barbie Porn

I talked about how CBS Sunday morning was going to do a segment about erotic romance in the mainstream this past weekend. I did DVR it and I did watch.

Of course they did what the mainstream usually does: they made funny haha jokes that aren’t really funny, they use terms like “mommy porn” that make no sense to most of us, and they refer to erotic romance as porn instead of love stories with sex added into the storyline. (I proved, once and for all, an erotic romance can be a book without sex when I released “Chase of a Dream” in abridged and unabridged versions last year…with and without sex…and it didn’t change much about the storyline when the sex was removed.)

But overall, I found the CBS segment about erotic romance entertaining, especially when 76 year old author, Desiree Holt, gave Bill Geist a first hand example of how she uses physical props in order to get sex positions right in the sex scenes she’s writing.

In order to do this, Ms. Holt uses Barbie and Ken dolls. She claims it gives her a first hand account, up close, of the way real people might pose during various sexual acts. And CBS actually blurred out the heads of the dolls during a Holt demonstration. I’m not joking. It was highly amusing. Evidently, Barbie porn isn’t okay on TV, especially on Sunday morning.

I thought Desiree Holt was adorable and I thought she did a great job talking about erotic romance, considering how Bill Geist seemed to have a proverbial stick up his ass, and how he kept rolling his eyes. But he could have been joking around, too. The overall interview and segment wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it might be. And, of course, they had to mention Fifty Shades of Grey, once again, as the book that started everything and all about erotic romance. What can I say? I guess they honestly don’t know we’ve been writing books in this genre long before E.L. James jumped out of the Twilight fanfic pile. But you take what you can get, with a great big smile.

As a side note, although I did find the use of Barbie dolls as props entertaining, I have never actually used props like that for my own erotic romances. I draw from personal experience, thank you, and I’ve created my own positions many, many times.  

Would You Invest Your Money In a Brick and Mortar Bookstore?

I’ve read a great deal recently about how e-book sales have been leveling off, and with these articles I’ve found an enormous amount of commentary about how print books aren’t going to disappear and e-books will never really take off. This one is interesting.

Having survived 500 years of technological upheaval, Gutenberg’s invention may withstand the digital onslaught as well. There’s something about a crisply printed, tightly bound book that we don’t seem eager to let go of.

But, would the author of this article, a Mr. Nicholas Carr, actually invest his money right now, at this point in time, in a brick and mortar bookstore? For a while this concept opening a small bookstore almost became a cliche, in both real life and chick lit. After a bitter divorce, the ex-wife would take a large chunk of her settlement and go into business by opening a small bookstore/tea shop. Two years later, she’d be in nursing school trying to figure out how to support herself and cut her losses. I saw that too many times to even count.

Don’t think like a reader, a book lover, or even an author. Think like a businessperson this time. In order to survive, brick and mortar bookstores have been selling everything from stuffed animals to pots and pans. I’m surprised they aren’t selling turkey dinners with dressing. And even with the addition of new product, along with print books, they can’t seem to remain afloat. Not even the large chains.

I remember when all this started back in the 1990’s. I had just opened my art gallery and I was two stores away from a very nice brick and mortar women’s bookstore. In New Hope, we get thousands of tourists passing through town on any given week at certain times of the year. So with that kind of foot traffic you’d think that a brick and mortar bookstore would be able to at least make a decent living for the owner. I was in business for ten years. I did okay and never had trouble paying my rent with the gallery. But I never saw a brick and mortar bookstore last more than a year or two. Most left in the dead of January in the middle of the night never to be seen again.

At the time, you couldn’t blame e-books. No one even knew what they were. What the owners of these small brick and mortar bookstores claimed at the time was that the bigger stores like B&N and Borders were eating them alive and they couldn’t compete. I think that’s partly true. But I also think that reading habits had changed by the 1990’s and people were just reading a lot less in general. I think publishing in general went through a stale period around that time. I used to belong to the book of the month club and I remember hearing they were having trouble making a profit.

In any event, I wouldn’t have invested my money in a brick and mortar bookstore back then, and I certainly wouldn’t do it now. I highly doubt Mr. Carr who wrote the article I linked to above would either. All you have to do it take a look at kids from three to twenty years old and see how they are reading. It’s not print books.

So while e-book sales may have leveled off for the time being, I doubt they will disappear any time soon. I wouldn’t be so radical as to predict that e-books will take over completely by the year 2020. However, I don’t think it would be unrealistic to predict that it could happen by the year 2030. And it could take that long because we still have to get through one or two more generations who refuse to even look at an e-book. I understand that to a certain extent. But not completely. I can’t imagine going back to reading print books anymore. Or, paying the prices I used to pay for print books. Or not being able to order a book on Amazon at midnight and have it delivered instantly to my tablet.

There are still a lot of things to be worked out with e-books, like sharing for one, and pricing for another. But even with all the issues going on right now, I wouldn’t invest my money in a brick and mortar bookstore unless I wanted to take a loss on purpose (people do this all the time for tax purposes). I actually haven’t used either of my two e-readers in a while. But that’s only because I’ve been reading on my tablet and my phone, not because I went back to reading print books. And that’s even more interesting. While I have heard all kind of statistics about how e-book sales have leveled out, I have not yet heard once where anyone who made the switch to reading e-books ever went back to reading print books entirely. I’ll admit I’m not as exicted about e-books as I was five years ago because it’s so common to me now. But that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped reading e-books.

Erotic E-books Inspire Lending Across the Pond

 

I’ve had this article in my in-box all week but didn’t have time to post it. It’s about how erotic e-books have affected the overall digital market in the UK, and how people are lending/borrowing e-books. I have to admit I’m a little surprised because I didn’t think lending erotica was all that popular. In other words, I’ve always thought of it as a discreet genre where people would hesitate to borrow either e-books or print books. I always thought of them as purchases. But I guess this is becoming more popular now, and no complaints from me.

A rare bit of good news for the nation’s beleaguered local libraries: erotic fiction is being credited with a boom in e-book loans.

Surrey County Council has experienced a rise in loans from 16,231 in 2011 to 19,847 in 2012 with this January seeing the busiest month in the authority’s e-book history with 2,469 loans.

The most popular e-book in 2012 was romance novel ‘At the Argentinean Billionaire’s Bidding’ by India Grey, followed by ‘Bedded By The Greek Billionaire’ by Kate Walker in second, and ‘Beauty And The Billionaire’ by Barbara Dunlop in third.

You can read more here.

The article is from Huff Po UK, and I’m not surprised at all to see how many readers in the UK enjoy erotic romance. I’ve found a good deal of my own sales come from the UK, and so do a lot of my personal e-mails from readers. It’s an interesting article, with book covers, and I think it’s worth reading in full. It gets into how erotic romance is a guilty pleasure, and how digital books are changing the rules now. These are things a lot of us already know. Hell, I write it because it’s a guilty pleasure for me. But I also think a lot of other people are just beginning to get turned on to it.

What is "Windowing" an E-book?

I was reading an article last night about “windowing” and I noticed a lot of people in the comment thread didn’t know what “windowing” meant. So here’s a quick post about it, with a few comments from me below.

From Teleread:

Delaying (which is to say, “windowing”) the e-book has been tried, but not all “serious readers” are so biddable as to let themselves be pressured into buying the hardback. Many of them will submit one-star reviews on Amazon decrying the publisher’s asinine anti-e-book position and not buy it at all out of spite, and others will go out and pirate the book as soon as some enterprising pirate scanner makes it available—and then not buy the e-book when it is released.

In other words, windowing means they don’t release the e-book at the same time they release the hard cover. The mind set behind this seems to be that we will all run out and buy the hard cover first, which most of the time costs more money and keeps brick and mortar bookstores in business. I guess this could be compared to the way films are released, where they open in movie theaters, then go to DVD, and ultimately wind up on cable.

Also from Teleread:

Harper Collins has chosen to delay the Kindle release to assuage its fear of cannibalizing sales. In the process of assuaging these fears—whether rational or irrational—it has set loose a whole different set of cannibals: potential Kindle book buyers.

The ensuing firestorm has directly impacted the book’s ratings as many Kindle customers have chosen to use a controversial tactic to voice their chagrin. I am alluding to the use of a one-star review, in which a commenter slams a book or publication for reasons concerning pricing and/or availability.

What this is basically saying is that you don’t screw around with people who read e-books. If you do they are going to blast you with one star reviews whether they’ve read the book or not. I know this from personal experience because I once had a one star review on Amazon by someone who hadn’t even read the book. He/she left the one star review because they’d seen it priced cheaper and they wanted to rant about it. I didn’t take it personally, nor did I take it as a reflection on the book. I don’t think the reader meant it that way either. And I think most readers know authors don’t control book prices.

But you don’t screw around with people who read e-books. I’m one of them. If a publisher thinks that by delaying the release of the e-book…or windowing it…will get people to buy more print books instead, it’s just not going to work. As a reader I don’t buckle to that kind of pressure and I’m more than willing to wait for the release of the e-book, no matter how long it takes. I didn’t pay hundreds of dollars for two e-reading devices, a tablet, and an iPhone for a publisher or author to dictate what format I’m going to read in. My last print book read was “Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet,” and I have no intention of going back to print books in the future.

A better example about how I feel about e-books would be the e-book I’m reading right now, “The Front Runner,” by Patricia Nell Warren. It’s an LGBT classic that I’d read years ago in print. A few months ago I decided I wanted to re-read it and saw it wasn’t out yet in digital. I didn’t go out and buy a new print copy. I waited until it finally was released in digital and I just started re-reading this week. Had it not been released in digital, I probably wouldn’t be re-reading it at all.