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Authors, Readers and Discoverability in the new age of publishing

We are now in a period of disintermediation which essentially means the number of entities in the supply chain between the content creator and the customer have been reduced.   The reason for this is because the supply channel has become incredibly efficient and cost effective.   If you can type up a book in Word, you can publish it digitally on platforms like Kindle and Smashwords.

The challenge authors face right now is this:

Contracts are being signed right now that extend 2-3 years out (and maybe longer). The digital reading market is growing and authors need to be equipped with what that will mean. In other words, if digital market is 30% then only getting 8% royalty will require a much higher advance to recoup the royalty loss. If the digital market becomes a force in 2-3 years or even just a few years beyond that, would you rather have no advance and a higher royalty?

Many authors are looking at the growth in digital, the decline in mass market sales, the reduction of Borders’ footprint, the decreased orders from Wal-mart and thinking, hey, this digital thing might not be so bad after all.   I think with the inclusion of digital book sales by the NYTimes and USA Today, digital books are finally gaining an imprimatur of respectability.   For the record, while at TOC, a bunch of us made predictions about what the digital book market would be like at the end of 2011. I said it would represent 60% of trade publishing revenue.   A year ago, I probably predicted that 30% wouldn’t be achieved for five years.*

As I said in the beginning of 2010, this is both a great and terrible thing:

This is both a boon and a curse.   It's a boon because it means that more books of a greater variety will be available to the reader. It's a curse because that means more books a reader must filter through to find new reads.   Quality will vary wildly.   But the fact is that there is a number of books out in the marketplace that are of low quality, poorly edited, with horrible covers, that aren't worth your time or your money.   When I looked at the free list of books that All Romance eBooks were promoting during the holidays (probably because those publishers participated), it confirmed what I thought already: the dross is already here and in large number.

The current publishing system is a system of filtration.   Authors submit to agents who submit to editors.   The editors produce books that are bought by retailers and wholesalers and the reader gets to choose from that selection.   Except not exactly.   With the rise of online book purchasing, the decline of physical brick and mortar stores, and the rise of digital books, the reader is confronted with a panoply of reading choices.   Too many, in fact.   One reason why 30% of book discovery happens in the bookstore is because readers are being offered a smaller and more manageable selection.

The big question is how do we find good stuff to read in the future?   I’m going to suggest four ways.

1.   Metadata.   Metadata is the text (letters and numbers) that are embedded in the file and identify the contents of a digital book.   Metadata can include the blurb but also keywords associated with the digital file.   One of the reasons that people believe that Google Books will be a dominate player in ebooks is due to its knowledge of search and people’s usage of search terms. But Google will have to seriously step up its game.   This is what shows up for What I Did for a Duke by Julie Anne Long.

Authors who self publish (and publishers of course) need to ensure that the books have metadata that make it easy for readers to find the books that they want. I.e., if I want to read a historical friends to lovers story containing a marriage of convenience plot, I should be able to type that into a retailer site (or somewhere) and have those books pop up.

2.   Social sharing sites.   I get a ton of recommendations via Twitter and I’m sure people say the same thing about Facebook.   I also pick up recommendations from Goodreads.   There are other social networking platforms for bibliophiles such as Library Thing and Amazon’s Shelfari (against which I still hold a grudge because of its terrible spamming of readers).

The takeaway is that you never know which reader will be influencing another reader, but we do so via social networking sites, blogs, and emails.   Authors getting their books out there to readers will be a key to discovery.

3.   Epicenters of influence.   In the future, I think there will be new epicenters of influence such as authors banding together forming coops and editorial epicenters.

Author coops.   A number of really good backlist titles can be found at AWritersWork.com including titles from Patricia McLinn, Patricia Rice, Jasmine Creswell and others.   The problem with these books is that the covers, for the most part, make the books look less than professional.   Compare the covers to these books published by a group of authors under the imprint “Wicked Writers“.   Ironically, I prefer the books at A Writer’s Work to those offered by Wicked Writers, but by covers, there is no comparison and I don’t just mean because there is man titty on the Wicked Writer’s covers.   The WW’s also do something clever by branding each cover with a consistent logo.   If a reader reads a WW book, she can tell almost instantly which books she might also be interested in purchasing.

Wicked Writers Branding

I definitely see advantages to the WW method of self publishing and look forward to books published by groups like Unusual Historicals or The Oddshots.   (This is theoretical and not based on any insider knowledge).   The point is that authorial coops can work like an extreme version of the author endorsement on the book cover.   Of course, there are drawbacks to that type of branding or endorsement.   I have an instinctive recoil every time I see Deborah Anne MacGillivray’s name on anything.   Most of the authors at Wicked Writers I have tried at one point or another and thus it’s not likely I would buy anything under that brand.   However, I think that type of author cooperative works well because it leverages the readers of many instead of just a few.

Editorial epicenters.   Back in 2006, Sarah Wendell mused about whether readers would glom onto editors’ like they’ve glommed onto authors.   Currently, editors try to buy books that sell but there are certain editors that have a flair for a particular type of book.   Cindy Hwang is fairly well known for her paranormal authors (Christine Feehan, Nalini Singh, Meljean Brook to name a few).   Wendy McCurdy has a stable of historical authors (Madeline Hunter, Jo Goodman, formerly Elizabeth Thornton, Sherry Thomas).   If editors start freelancing and offering their editing skills to self published authors (which I believe will happen), editors themselves can become their own sort of publishing imprint.   (I had an idea to do this with the launch of the anthology in the winter, but I think it will be cost prohibitive and by that I don’t want to front the money for putting out quality books and I wouldn’t put out books unless they were professionally edited, copy edited, with a professional cover).

4.   Aggregators.   As disintermediation increases, books will come at the reader from a thousand different sources   and that will simply be too much.   What will happen, I believe, is that there will be aggregators of content.   (This will also reduce the costly time investment in self publishing).   To some extent Smashwords, Scribd, and others are already aggregating and delivering content but I suspect that there will be services that will collect content from various writer coops and then deliver them to readers in more manageable form (searchable, sortable data).

How do you think you will find and buy books in the future?   Do you browse for books online and if so how?   Are you willing to try new authors that are published in non traditional ways or are you sticking with published books and how do you tell?

*BTW:

Oh, how the landscape has changed so dramatically. In preparation for this post, I re-read several posts in the Dear Author archives.   It was under 2 years ago when the president of RWA effectively said that digital publishing wasn’t a legitimate career path!   In 2007, I was writing manifestos to ebooks, trying to justify them to readers.   In 2008, I was begging for publishers to digitize their books and wondering whether the publisher business model would change.   But I was also saying that self publishing equated with inferior to me. My opinions have changed since then, obviously.   I wonder if Pershing’s opinons have changed?

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

88 Comments

  1. Tweets that mention Authors, Readers and Discoverability in the new age of publishing | Dear Author -- Topsy.com
    Feb 22, 2011 @ 04:25:12

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Devaki Khanna, Deborah Swift. Deborah Swift said: Great post for writers to read: Authors, Readers and Discoverability in the new age of publishing : http://tinyurl.com/492ksen [...]

  2. May
    Feb 22, 2011 @ 05:39:11

    I watch the change in publishing model with fascinated eyes. As I lived in the country with restricted geography that prohibit me to buy some certain books, I am a little bit afraid of ebook released only.

    Apart from that (cannot buy books I really want to read) I have no problem trying new authors in whatever format. But I would not spend my money on self-published book by the author with no creditability, which I mean published with some publishers before go on the route of self-published. It did not have to be NY publishers but the authors should get published with some respectable publishers. I will get comfortable enough to try their self-published book.

    Maybe it is wrong to think like that but I cannot think of another way to weed a lot of books out there.

  3. Merrian
    Feb 22, 2011 @ 07:06:34

    I agree that the books whether in print or e-book form still need good editing and have read NY print bestsellers where this clearly didn’t happen. It isn’t just a digital issue.

    The idea of agents and author co-ops providing that sort of support will be the interesting thing to watch, especially if it results in quicker turnaround for publishing books. However, I do worry that what seems to be pressure on authors to write faster or write more may contribute to story and quality problems.

    I have found over the last couple of years that self-published work via author websites and smashwords has steadily improved in editing and presentation. I just bought some new stories off smashwords this weekend and enjoyed them very much except for the tiny font in the epub version.

    Channels such as blogs and sites for reviews will become more and and more important I think. I know when I want something new to read I trawl through review sites and pick books according to reviewers whose work I have read in the past and whose assessments or reading preferences match my own.

  4. Mireya
    Feb 22, 2011 @ 07:29:07

    I don’t foresee changes in the way I find my reading material. Why? Because I discovered romance when I discovered erotic romance, and that was online via Ellora’s Cave, back in early 2003. From erotic romance, I branched out to other sub-genres. I always do my searches for romance, online. I do think that as new systems (search engine capabilities, etc.) come into the mix, I’ll adapt accordingly.

    Regarding self-publishing, my experience as a reader has not been successful when trying any. I can only think of one self-published author whose work I can say I had fun reading. Her pen name is Justus Roux and she has self-published for years. Her work is BDSM erotic romance, so not for everyone. She’s a hard working lady, a class act. However, I do have to say that sometimes I thought professional editing would have been a good thing for her, if only to polish further a particular story I was reading.

    My intent is to continue reading readers recommendations. I would also seek (as I do now) sample chapters. I’d prefer at least 1-2 chapters, as one chapter more often than not is not enough to help me determine if a story will hook me. I would try self-published romance authors provided I can read a sample as well.

    I do agree that there is going to be an exponential increase in the dross we will have to sort through.

  5. Jill
    Feb 22, 2011 @ 07:51:47

    I like the idea of editors having a brand and being known in the same way s publishers’ imprints are today. However, I think this would require some careful “educating the consumer” or whatever advertising/marketing groups like to call it today.
    I am not a published author or any kind of publishing professional, so I’m just going off what I know in talking to my non-writing family and friends. Most only have a very vague idea of what editors do. They have the idea they kind of just run spell-check and go over your grammar and that’s it.
    I have two friends in particular who are very smart and love to read, but they like to think about the “process” at all. It ruins the idea in their minds that the story is real. They avoid all the author interviews, book extras, behind the scenes type stuff. As you can imagine, they hate DVD audio commentary as well ;=)
    I don’t think branding editors is a bad idea, just that it will have to be done and done thoughtfully in order not to turn off some readers.

  6. Christine M.
    Feb 22, 2011 @ 08:00:28

    Nowadays I get all my recs from DA (I used to follow about 30 book blogs, but now anymore) and the people I follow on Goodreads.

  7. Ridley
    Feb 22, 2011 @ 08:26:27

    Goodreads sells me 100x as many books as a bookstore browse ever did.

    Browsing physical shelves for romance was not fun for me. Too many options coupled with no assurance from others that a book or author is worth trying inevitably led me to grab only one or two books. I’d grab those books as a stopgap measure, really; just something to tide me over until I could get a box from Amazon.

    Now, I have a number of shopping lists on Goodreads (split between agency, non-agency, Harlequin and paper only/OOP) all backed by my friends’ feedback. When I do my book shopping, either at an ebook retailer or a physical bookstore, I shop off my lists.

    It’s a fabulous system for me. Goodreads works to both rec books to me and let me keep track of what’s caught my eye. When I shop, I might buy a book that intrigued me some 6 months ago that I hadn’t thought about since. It’s a beautiful thing.

    Also, since I can create specific shelves, it helps me keep track of authors free of the Agency 5 racket. I’ve tried a number of new publishers and authors as a result. Totally nifty.

  8. Karen
    Feb 22, 2011 @ 08:27:27

    As a reader, I worry about a future where there is little to no “screening” of books and readers are facing a market with thousands of undifferentiated books to choose from. I choose most of my books based on word of mouth and reviews, and it’s already difficult to find reviewers and readers whose opinion you trust. I know I’m missing out on books that might be enjoyable but just don’t make it onto my radar. I think this is a particular problem for readers who prefer more “traditional” books that don’t get as much buzz online compared with books that are more trendy (such as paranormals and erotica, at least at the moment). I would like to read more series books, for example, but because they don’t get a lot of attention and serious reviews (except for the few reviewed here), I find that I pass them by. I browse at the store occasionally but they all sound the same and it’s hard to find the ones that stand out. I just don’t have the time, money or desire to read 10 so-so books to find 1 good one. And I’m afraid that will be the future – where good books don’t get noticed because they’re lost in a sea of blah.

  9. Courtney Milan
    Feb 22, 2011 @ 08:44:49

    Jane, I’m going to suggest a fourth possibility: certification marks.

    Think of it like the kosher symbol, or fair trade: a trademarked wordmark/design that would certify that the author met some rudimentary quality standards.

    At the low-end, this could mean simply that the author hired a professional editor/copy-editor.

    At the high-end, you could use certification marks to create the equivalent of a category line–much like what the Wicked Writers have done, but with specific guarantees.

    I haven’t figured out a way for a certifying organization to actually break even easily on the certification process for anything except the low end yet, though.

  10. Jane
    Feb 22, 2011 @ 08:47:14

    @Courtney Milan: I love the idea of certification marks but I agree that at the upper end, there would have to be some form of human curation which would mean an organization funded by someone (usually those who benefit from the mark itself).

  11. Darlene Marshall
    Feb 22, 2011 @ 08:51:27

    Great post with a lot to mull over. I was at a SF con this past weekend talking with another author about how digital publishing is perfect for bringing back the OOP books of science fiction authors. They already have some name recognition, there are fans who want these books, and it can be done inexpensively. I expect to see more literary executors of dead authors going this route in the future.

  12. Courtney Milan
    Feb 22, 2011 @ 08:52:09

    @Jane: Yes, and the cost of application would need to be at least a reading fee, which, if you’re giving a book a fair shake, would be both prohibitive and potentially exploitative–and if the certifiers were run by the authors, might begin to run afoul of antitrust (or at least, have the claim be made).

    It makes more sense at that point to just essentially start a joint venture as authors.

  13. Joanne
    Feb 22, 2011 @ 08:56:01

    Am I the only one who got a mental picture of whole bunches of authors pecking at the ground while locked in a backyard chicken coop? Because I’m not quick it took a few moments to realize it was talking about co ops. That’s not a criticism so much as proof that editing means a great deal for the writer and reader.

    I’m a hard sell for new authors. They have to come highly recommended from several trusted sources before I’ll try their books. I’m sorry for that but my money tree died. If I want my favorite authors to keep writing (and I do) than I am willing to support them and pay whatever the going rate is for their work. Since that price is going up constantly (why is Nalini’s next psy book in hardcover? Yay for Ms Singh but – geeze) then it takes away from my book buying budget.

    I do and will continue to browse for books online, either by author or trope and then if it’s a new author I absolutely won’t buy without being able to read a decent length excerpt.

    Anyway, it has

  14. Jill Myles
    Feb 22, 2011 @ 09:32:37

    Ever since I’ve gotten my Kindle, I’ve been in a flurry of reading of smaller works, and self-pubbed works. My method is this – if it sounds interesting, I add the sample to my Kindle. Sometimes I add 20 samples at once. And then, when I want to read, I sit down and start reading samples. If it sucks within the first page, I toss it. If I make it to the end of the sample, I usually buy it.

    I think that sample section is really going to become key. You can tell quality a lot faster by reading 3 pages than you can by reading the back of the book or looking at the cover, or reading blog posts about it.

  15. LaurieS
    Feb 22, 2011 @ 10:09:13

    @Ridley: Goodreads sells me 100x as many books as a bookstore browse ever did.

    Yep, same here. I rely exclusively on my Goodreads friends (and other reviews), DA & SB to point out titles that I can’t live without reading. Previously, I would visit blogs, Romantic Times and other sites but it was all too time consuming and hit or miss. Now I’ve got it down to a science and rarely buy something that turns out to be a dud.

  16. DS
    Feb 22, 2011 @ 10:10:19

    I was up to 2 am working on a deadline so forgive me if I am not too coherent. I’ve run into the situation with a couple of coops where they only accept Paypal and I’m currently on the outs with Paypal. I’ve been wanting to buy a couple of books by Jane Fancher (http://www.closed-circle.net/WhereItsAt/?page_id=862) but I have to have my bank send a check to the authors and that just seems retro and inconvenient for an eBook. So far I have not gotten around to doing it.

    I was thinking about buying a couple of mysteries by Kathy Emerson at AWriterswork but I noticed they had the same set up. And none of the books that I want seem to be available on other sites as ebooks. Sometimes I wonder if authors really want to sell ebooks.

  17. Tamara Hogan
    Feb 22, 2011 @ 10:10:42

    One reason why 30% of book discovery happens in the bookstore is because readers are being offered a smaller and more manageable selection.

    THIS. I’m an author, but I’m a voracious reader as well, and there are times I feel positively bombarded by book recommendations and promotion made via social media, blogs, writer loop postings, etc. Sometimes it all simply turns into digital static. I find myself attempting to manage the bombardment by tweeting less, visiting fewer blogs, reading fewer loop postings – generally doing what I can to recreate the smaller, more manageable selection you describe above by being more selective about how and where I spend my time online.

    So many of us count on well-written reviews, word of mouth recommendations and excerpts to help us make purchasing decisions. Note how this, at its core, has not changed, despite the technology now available to us.

  18. Sherry Thomas
    Feb 22, 2011 @ 10:21:21

    Aren’t Joanna Bourne and Julie James with Wendy McCurdy too?

  19. Isobel Carr
    Feb 22, 2011 @ 10:29:08

    @Jill Myles:

    if it sounds interesting, I add the sample to my Kindle. Sometimes I add 20 samples at once. And then, when I want to read, I sit down and start reading samples. If it sucks within the first page, I toss it. If I make it to the end of the sample, I usually buy it.

    This is EXACTLY how I shop. I find things on blogs, on FB, in the “new release” section on Amazon. For me, it's a lot like browsing a physical store, and with the sample feature, I can instantly pick a book up off the virtual shelf and see if I like the author's voice.

    I'm not on GoodReads, but it sounds like maybe I should be, LOL! Will have to check it out.

  20. Janine
    Feb 22, 2011 @ 10:31:01

    I think that agents, who do a lot of gatekeeping now, are also in a position to transition into a different gatekeeping role in the future.

    As for me, I still rely on recommendations from friends with similar tastes when trying new-to-me authors.

    I’ll also add that IMO in the future excerpts from the book will be even more important, since we won’t be able to browse in the bookstore.

    When it comes to determining what I want to read, no amount of recommendations or seals of approval can substitute for reading the first few pages of a book.

  21. Christine M.
    Feb 22, 2011 @ 10:34:19

    “Why is Nalini's next psy book in hardcover?”

    Seriously? Damn.

  22. Ridley
    Feb 22, 2011 @ 10:36:09

    @Janine:

    When it comes to determining what I want to read, no amount of recommendations or seals of approval can substitute for reading the first few pages of a book.

    This is certainly a key part of the process.

    The way I shop is: read reviews/get recommendations from DA/SBTB/Amazon romance forum/Goodreads friends’ updates -> check average rating and friend ratings on Goodreads -> read an excerpt -> buy the book

    If there’s no excerpt, or it’s too short, there’s no sale.

  23. Howard
    Feb 22, 2011 @ 10:41:30

    Quite a good article.

    On the quality thing I suggest that quality is in the eye of the reader. There is ample dross in the professional publishing arena already and it is simply not true that the established publishing route protected readers against sub standard writing. The only concern publishers have ever had is ‘can we sell this title'. Quality was never a controlling factor.

    Jane's points about how readers can find quality eBooks and eBooks that suit them are very well made. Readers will indeed be faced with a bewildering amount of choice and not everyone will be happy to go along with the online best seller sham.

    In my view there will indeed be a huge opportunity for Influencer web sites. Whether they are created by key reviewers or online eRetailers who implement some kind of reliable and consistent filtering, or the kind of social reading sites like Copia, already covered on Teleread in the past.

    I see an opportunity for authors with an established name to make a splash here. An established author with a web site recommending eBooks that they themselves recommend would be a powerful driver of influence and a valuable guide for readers of that author looking for guidance.

  24. Janine
    Feb 22, 2011 @ 11:03:54

    @Ridley:

    The way I shop is: read reviews/get recommendations from DA/SBTB/Amazon romance forum/Goodreads friends' updates -> check average rating and friend ratings on Goodreads -> read an excerpt -> buy the book

    That’s pretty much my process too, except that I don’t use Amazon romance forum or Goodreads, and instead use a few other blogs and the recommendations of friends on Twitter and a couple of Yahoo groups.

    I would like to join Goodreads, if only I could find the time.

    ETA:

    If there's no excerpt, or it's too short, there's no sale.

    The Kindle free sample feature is hugely helpful to me in this regard. I’ve been able to get access to longer excerpts that way.

  25. Chicklet
    Feb 22, 2011 @ 11:09:18

    I haven’t made my way through any self-pubbed books yet, but I can imagine that when I do, my search is going to be like what happens when I glom a new fandom for fanfic: See what my friends and trusted reviewers recommend, and then sample a few authors to get an idea of who is writing what I like to read. Of course, fanfic is free and profic is not, but that’s where the sample that Jill Myles mentions above comes in. I can tell pretty quickly if something catches my fancy or if bad/nonexistent editing is going to hurl me out of the story.

  26. Hannah
    Feb 22, 2011 @ 11:10:19

    There are so many traditionally published books that I’m interested in that I only infrequently pick up an e-published or self-published book. I seem to be picking up more and more e-published books every month, though.
    I find a lot of book recommendations online from book blogs and goodreads. I also subscribe to RT Book Reviews, the Shelf Awareness e-newsletter and occasionally read Publishers Weekly at work. Sometimes I browse the Kindle store for upcoming releases in the Romance section, and have pre-ordered a lot of titles that way based on cover and description alone. I actually don’t pay as much attention to reviews as I used to because they sometimes have a negative impact on my reading experience even when they’re spoiler-free.

    I have a feeling that I’m way outside the norm, as are most of the people reading this blog and many people are browsing the stacks at local libraries and bookstores.

  27. Jeannie Lin
    Feb 22, 2011 @ 11:12:28

    What a thought-provoking post! I especially am tickled by the discussion around epicenters of influence. I know some editors like, Deb Nemeth of Carina, are very active on social media in promoting their authors’ works. In a similar way, some agents are very active in promoting their clients’ works as well. In particular I’m thinking of the Bradford Bunch, but many other agents are getting the word out there for their clients as well.

    It makes me wonder, do I just notice because I’m in the author pond, or will pure readers respond to editors/agents in this way as well? My agent made a comment that romance is unique in that aspiring authors actually know the editors and are likely to have met a few at conferences. This is not the case in other genres and she’s always so happy when a romance author recognizes the names on her submission list.

    What a change that would be for editors, huh? From reviews, it seems that the publisher and editor get blamed for all sorts of writing missteps that they have really no part in, but no one ever says…”hey, great editing” when the story succeeds. An invisible, thankless job in the public’s eyes.

  28. Zola
    Feb 22, 2011 @ 11:35:33

    I read gay genre fiction only, so i’m used to buying direct from e-publishers or amazon. I use my local public & university libraries for my other reading interests: non-fiction, poetry, research material etc.

    I’m not unwilling to try new authors, but I really want some e-pubs to step their game up regarding sample lengths, and availability of all formats with one purchase.

    Ideally, I’d like to see the first 3 chapters plus a sex scene. I’m tired of books that don’t live up to the opening, and clinical sex scenes.

    Author co-ops seem like a really good way to leverage existing readership & acquire new readers.

  29. Jill Myles
    Feb 22, 2011 @ 11:47:08

    @Zola:
    I'm not unwilling to try new authors, but I really want some e-pubs to step their game up regarding sample lengths, and availability of all formats with one purchase.

    Oh my god, yes. There is nothing more infuriating than finding a book that sounds interesting, downloading the sample, and getting copyright information and THAT’S IT. Instant loss of a sale right there.

    Also, maybe this is just me being a grumpy reader, but I don’t want all that crap up front. I don’t want a sample page at the front that will just confuse me when I get to the actual book. I don’t care if Jennie Sparklies edited your book, I don’t want the editor’s note, I don’t care if this is a revised edition of a book your grandma printed in her garage 20 years ago, I don’t care about where it lands in the card catalog at the library.

    I just want to open the story and start reading. I am perfectly fine with all that stuff (I love author notes and acknowledgments) but I really want them at the BACK of the file, not the front, crapping it up and destroying my will to live.

    (Jeez, I am a little ranty this morning, aren’t I? Lol. Too many bad samples lately.)

  30. Jill Myles
    Feb 22, 2011 @ 11:47:44

    BTW, that first paragraph was a quote of Zola. I just totally fail with quoting around here.

  31. Kerry Allen
    Feb 22, 2011 @ 11:51:27

    @Jeannie Lin “I know some editors … are very active on social media in promoting their authors' works. In a similar way, some agents are very active in promoting their clients' works as well.”

    Anyone involved in the production of a thing saying “This thing is awesome” is useless to me as a consumer. They’re never going to tell you “This is the author’s worst book ever, but it will sell like hotcakes because her name is on the cover” or “This book got dumped on me when another agent/editor left, and I’m embarrassed to be associated with it.” The recommendation of someone who doesn’t have a stake in sales is far more reliable, at least to me.

  32. Elyssa Papa
    Feb 22, 2011 @ 11:55:52

    @Sherry Thomas: @Sherry Thomas: Yes, and she also edits Kaki Warner (who’s historical).

  33. Moriah Jovan
    Feb 22, 2011 @ 12:17:29

    @Kerry Allen:

    Anyone involved in the production of a thing saying “This thing is awesome” is useless to me as a consumer. They're never going to tell you “This is the author's worst book ever, but it will sell like hotcakes because her name is on the cover” or “This book got dumped on me when another agent/editor left, and I'm embarrassed to be associated with it.” The recommendation of someone who doesn't have a stake in sales is far more reliable, at least to me.

    The idea is that an editor would not take on a book s/he didn’t like or regard as an inferior product to begin with. The “brand” of an editor approach only works if the editor’s name AND taste AND backlist is known, which then gives a reader a baseline of “Well, if Editor X liked it AND edited it, I’ll probably like it too.”

    Re circles of influence: At the Writer’s Digest conference last month, Richard Curtis said something interesting (well, it was ALL interesting, but for different reasons) about that. He thinks that the new curators/gatekeepers/tastemakers will come from the ranks of the Amazon reviewers who gather credibility by writing good reviews and whose reviews are then found valuable by other readers. The more stars/ratings/likes the reviewer gets, the higher in tastemaking status s/he is.

    Re front matter in the front of an ebook: All that business needs to go in the back, I totally agree.

  34. Courtney Milan
    Feb 22, 2011 @ 12:36:17

    @Moriah Jovan: Hm. Interesting idea. I know it’s not yours. I think that reviewers will get credibility, but I don’t think Amazon is the platform for them to build it. There isn’t enough branding in the Amazon platform for people to remember many names, unless the reviewer has a serious schtick, which usually undercuts the quality of the review.

    But I completely agree–the very good editors will be like the very good agents today: selective about who they pick.

  35. Courtney Milan
    Feb 22, 2011 @ 12:37:02

    Augh, editing. What I meant to say was, “I know you’re repeating what Richard Curtis is saying, so I don’t want to sound like I’m disagreeing with you.” But it came off sounding a lot more snotty. Sorry!

  36. Ouch
    Feb 22, 2011 @ 12:57:10

    My digital buying is at a low due to high pricing. Greedy. I pay higher prices for ebooks than MMPB and don’t even have full ownership rights to resell or loan.

    Went to buy the ebook version of 2004 “Family Man” by JAK. 16.00 US. Lost sale on that book and will not buy anything further by JAK until prices settle. Why encourage piracy publishers? You don’t want my money? Library wins.

    Kudos to Julie Garwood for releasing some backlist historicals last year affordably priced, so far.

    I’ve read a few self published that were good but needed editing. Badly. I’d read more if they had some stamp of approval.

  37. Moriah Jovan
    Feb 22, 2011 @ 13:01:54

    @Courtney Milan:

    I understood what you meant. :)

    There were a lot of, ah shall we say, interesting things he said.

  38. Jill Myles
    Feb 22, 2011 @ 13:08:42

    Why does Julie Garwood get the kudos? I am guessing it was her publisher that made the decision, not Julie herself.

    (Unless I missed something on that atrocious website of hers)

  39. LaurieS
    Feb 22, 2011 @ 13:15:03

    Personally, I don’t find Amazon helpful at all for most of the ebooks I read. I read many small presses that Amazon doesn’t even sell. I much prefer the GoodReads platform and my friends reviews for my recommendations. Also, if you looksee at who is the #1 reviewer it is not base on quality but quantity. Just sayin’.

  40. LaurieS
    Feb 22, 2011 @ 13:16:11

    Also, Amazon chopped up my reviews so badly that I stopped posting them a few years ago. I will now occasionally post a review but I tend to forget about Amazon.

  41. Isobel Carr
    Feb 22, 2011 @ 15:29:11

    He thinks that the new curators/gatekeepers/tastemakers will come from the ranks of the Amazon reviewers

    Interesting. I know I have a couple of reader/reviewers that I've followed on Amazon for years now. Once I figure out that our tastes align, Amazon reviewers can be a great source of recommendations.

  42. Theresa
    Feb 22, 2011 @ 15:42:06

    Those are very interesting points, in original article and comments.

    I can´t even keep track of which authors are published by which publishers or imprints, there is no way I am going to pay attention to editors or other things.

    Mostly to find books I want *opinions* – not reviews necessarily, more opinions of people whose taste and honesty I find interesting. Reviews often are TLDR, or go somewhat spoilerish. I like to read reviews after I read a book, but not before. So goodreads friends, or just plain ordinary word of mouth between friends is how I find books. And it is important for me that friends give negative opinions of books. It saves me money. My time and money are finite, if I buy a dud I will not buy something *better*. If you are my friend you got to help me avoid bad books if you are my friend.

    I got a stupid thing in that I used to trust and buy books recommended by authors whose books I really liked. I have gotten burnt too often for that now. No more. At the same time, when seeing authors recommending other authors, and I have not read the recommender I can judge the recommender or be interested in what she writes by what she is recommending. There is no bigger turn-off for an author I have not read than she recommending something I loathed. Not totally logical.

    I really like goodreads, because it does for me the part of compiling opinions of all my friends on a certain book. Even when a lot of my friends got blogs, there is no way I can remember now that X wrote about this book 2 months ago, and Y 1 year ago, and that Z is going to read this soon.

    A seal of quality or any certificate does not sound useful to me personally. I have read lots of duds, which are professionally edited, marketed with lots of money and which have lots of hype. But friend´s opinions matter – of course, my friends and mine opinions sort of match because we became book friends based on that.

  43. Ouch
    Feb 22, 2011 @ 15:42:25

    @Jill Myles:
    Garwood sprang to mind due to a lot of readers anticipating her historical digital backlist. The publisher could have gouged readers very easily yet chose not to. Remains to be seen if The Bride is released.

    Just checked the publisher of the JAK book I wanted and is published by the same publisher as Garwood, Simon & Schuster. I don’t know the dynamics on publishing and royalties, but the reader is getting royally screwed on the JAK.

    There are/were some other authors with decently priced backlists, for now.

    (Agreed on Garwoods website. Useless)

  44. Merrian
    Feb 22, 2011 @ 15:59:43

    @Jill Myles:
    What Jill Said! I have recently read several e-books where I get sucked into the first chapter and find out it is the sample and have to jump around to skip all the forewards and printing info and then the actual first chapter but hey was the sample the whole or only part of the chapter? So then I have to click through pages before actualy getting into the book at the point where the smaple ended which is not what I signed up for.

  45. Lisa
    Feb 22, 2011 @ 16:42:03

    I feel overwhelmed by all the new content on line. Even at audible where there are smaller press editions now. If I don’t know what I’m looking for I can’t find it. That doesn’t mean I won’t look at those choices but for the price of an aubible book I’m far likely to buy an established author I know. I struggle to get to them for all the choices. DH has two narrators he loves and he just picks books based on those narrators. He discovers new authors that way many times.

    I think lots of people go to the bookstore to find what we want to buy elsewhere. So if those bookstores are gone, and the new content overwhelms people like me, will we only go to the people we already know? I think that would be my first choice and I’d be less likely to buy new authors. I cringe just typing that. In the store I can pick something up and thumb through it in seconds, and then another, back to back. If that is gone, I am not sure I think I’d look more on reviews. Anything to shrink the possibilities.

  46. Patricia Rice
    Feb 22, 2011 @ 16:52:12

    This is a discussion that’s been happening in author circles for several years, or at least in the circles where digital has been recognized at the next generation of books. We developed AWritersWork in hopes of drawing large numbers of well known writers to form a “filter” of sorts. The problem with this is that we’re all still writing, and our time for experimentation is limited, and that’s all most of us at AWW are doing–experimenting, with ebooks, with marketing, with covers.

    Another website is forming, http://peroozal.com/ where they’re hoping to have authors recommend authors, but again, we simply don’t have the time required to make extensive recommendations.

    So maybe Amazon readers are the only choice. Considering I have reviews on some of my Kindle books that obviously belong to someone else’s books, that makes me a little nervous!

  47. Honeywell
    Feb 22, 2011 @ 18:56:25

    Metadata is going to be the key and I can’t wait for a site like FantasticFiction to pop up with a professionally maintained database that can be searched by genre, category, trope, etc. Once I’ve narrowed it down and I know there’s a chance I might like the book it only takes a few seconds to dismiss any books that don’t have professional cover art, read a blurb and if I’m still interested, look for reviews and read an excerpt.

    It’s why a large portion of my book buying budget goes to Samhain now–I adore their site layout because it’s so easy to find books to read. The new browse by theme is awesome and I’ve even found books published years ago that I’ve never seen because of it.

    I’ve discovered more books online than I’ve ever been able to find from a bookstore shelf and as the mainstream publishers catch up with the epubs I imagine it’ll only get better.

    I really don’t think seals of approval or anything like that will amount to anything other than noise I don’t pay attention to anyway–like all of those ribbon, cup, lip awards/reviews that are plastered on everything. And honestly, the vast majority of the romances I read and enjoy are just ok books anyway (some are even bad) with a trope I like.

  48. Pat
    Feb 22, 2011 @ 19:34:12

    Ah, me.

    I can see all the advantages of e-books. I can see all the possibilities it presents for both readers and writers. I can see the problems for quality control or whatever you want to call it.

    But for me, the real problem is that I don’t really like reading on my Kindle. I would infinitely prefer to read a conventional book.

    I feel old.

  49. Howard
    Feb 22, 2011 @ 20:09:28

    .Honeywell – I cannot see how metadata can help us find books we will like ? It can classify style, genre, author. But how can it possibly be an indicator of quality or taste ?

  50. Castiron
    Feb 22, 2011 @ 20:50:06

    I still wish that some large company with kick-ass servers (or group of small companies footing the funds for kick-ass servers) would make Dave Howell an offer he can’t refuse and get Alexlit’s Hypatia up and running again. That was the best book recommendation site I’ve ever seen; I discovered tons of authors I’d never heard of or hadn’t thought I’d like. Hypatia was where I first learned of Laura Kinsale’s books, which started me on the road to more romance reading.

    As it is, I discover new authors through reviews on blogs I read, friends’ reviews on Goodreads and Dreamwidth/LJ, and other sites that mention books. If it’s interesting-sounding, I check my library for it, and if they have it, I put it on hold.

  51. Honeywell
    Feb 22, 2011 @ 21:08:23

    @Howard: It can’t but the real problem with ebooks/self publishing is the sheer amount of books that get published each year–it’s in the millions now I think? And none of them go “out of print” so the volume of books to sort through is increasing exponentially. You have to be able to break the books up into reasonable chunks to browse so that’s why I think the metadata is going to be absolutely crucial. Much more so than quality which has always been hit and miss.

    Once you have a more manageable number of books to browse it’s not hard at all to weed out what isn’t acceptable to you–all of the same techniques people rely on now to make their book selections can be applied.

    For me it’s cover art (helps weed out the self published taking short cuts–$500 isn’t a big investment if you’ve put the time in, imo), blurb, sample and then reviews if I’m just browsing online like I used to browse in bookstores.

    The only problem I’ve had with buying books online was in the beginning when I assumed books published by the epubs were edited (sometimes I don’t even think they’ve been spell checked). Now that I realize that’s not the case I know I need to read the excerpts, no biggie.

  52. Liza Lester
    Feb 22, 2011 @ 22:00:43

    If editors develop brands or fan followings, and the novels they publish reflect on their reputations publicly, how will that change the author-editor relationship? Will editors edit differently when style and content, not just sales success, of the books they edit could affect them personally?

  53. Courtney Milan
    Feb 23, 2011 @ 00:11:46

    What we need is Pandora for books: something that will say, “You liked X; maybe you will like Y.”

    Amazon has a very rudimentary version of this with the “X who looked at Z bought…” thing, but I think a much smarter approach could be built.

  54. Patricia McLinn
    Feb 23, 2011 @ 01:06:32

    DS wrote: “I was thinking about buying a couple of mysteries by Kathy Emerson at AWriterswork but I noticed they had the same set up.”

    I’m sorry you’re having trouble with PayPal — I use my CC with PP and sign up as a “guest” each time. Perhaps that would help?

    Believe me, we definitely want to sell books . The catch, of course, is that there are infinite variables in putting together a website like AWritersWork.com, and another infinity in publishing each e-book. Just reading the msgs here gives a glimmer of the differing opinions/desires individual readers have. For each reader who wants hotter covers , there’s another who says they love mild-mannered covers.

    As Patricia Rice said, AWritersWork.com is run by authors experimenting with this e-world while we still write and mostly continue to publish traditionally. Our focus is on bringing out books directly to readers, keeping the site and options simplified to keep the cost to our readers low.

    We hope you’ll come visit!

    The filtering/curation issue Jane brought up is going to be fascinating to watch. I love that it’s the Wild West, and I hope it doesn’t settle down. To me, it leaves lots more doors and windows open for idiosyncratic books that otherwise can be lost in the latest hot trend.

    Rebel? Who? Me?

  55. Howard
    Feb 23, 2011 @ 07:53:47

    .Honeywell

    I guess we all agree about the coming problem. The solution is the difficult thing. I spend a lot of time over at Teleread.com discussing eBooks.
    My own personal view tends more toward the potential of influencer web sites. When the mass of ordinary readers comes on board in the next three years or so they won’t be interested in trawling to the extend we might do imho. They will look for influencer sites and reviewers.
    This is why I think now is the time for people to get into this business. It is a great opportunity for anyone with dedication and consistent taste to start to establish a reputation for recommendations. I can see a web-ring forming that would lead readers from one to the other.

  56. Howard
    Feb 23, 2011 @ 07:55:04

    .Liza Lester

    I agree with you. If Editors entered the influencer sector it would be a real conflict of interest.

  57. Patricia Rice
    Feb 23, 2011 @ 08:09:25

    A web ring is one of those things authors have discussed. We thought it would be lovely to have a website with multi-pubbed contemporary romance authors, one for fantasy, one for historical, etc.

    But very few of us are technologically adept, so this costs more money and time than we can invest in the interest of experimentation.

  58. Howard
    Feb 23, 2011 @ 09:27:51

    .Patricia Rice

    Your idea of a web ring is a very different thing and is unlikely to be a success except at the margins imho. If authors cooperate to create it then it is simply another marketing tool that readers will see as such. It will bring together cooperating authors and not authors whose style/quality will match readers desires.

    What readers need is help to find titles they like, not authors who happen to get together to promote themselves. (Not that there is anything wrong with authors doing so!)

    A web ring of influencers would be much more powerful tool for readers to find what they want.

    As an aside .. a web ring is the cheapest kind of web presence imaginable. It can simply be made up of a number of sites that include a common reference list in the sidebar linking to each other under a title that could read “other great recommendation sites”. Or it could consist of a central web site “www.ebookwebring.com’ consisting of just one page with a list of site links that are included in the ring.

  59. LaurieS
    Feb 23, 2011 @ 10:06:29

    I guess I’m a lazy internet surfer who would rather be reading. I much prefer one hub to find my recommendations than surfing from link to link and rarely use things such as a web rings and don’t plan to use them in the future. This is why Goodreads works so well for me. It has just about everything I need. I’ve found a nice group of friends who share similar tastes and have joined several groups in various genres to keep track of new releases. The only two blogs I frequent now are this one and SBTB.

  60. Ridley
    Feb 23, 2011 @ 10:39:27

    Wow. I haven’t heard the term “web ring” in years. Not since the AOL and Angelfire days, I don’t think.

  61. Howard
    Feb 23, 2011 @ 10:42:05

    .Ridley

    You are so right :-) It’s an old concept but one which I believe is very relevant in this process.
    (I used to manage a web design business quite a few years ago ..)

  62. Brian
    Feb 23, 2011 @ 11:23:42

    I’ve found the “Visitors to this page also looked at these authors” area at the bottom of the author pages at Fantastic Fiction to sometimes be helpful when looking for new authors.

    There is also Literature Map, but my success there has been hit or miss…
    http://www.literature-map.com/

    Unfortunately both of those options leave out a great segment of stuff that’s published digital only and there’s some good stuff in that realm.

  63. Honeywell
    Feb 23, 2011 @ 12:55:08

    @Howard: When the mass of ordinary readers comes on board in the next three years or so they won't be interested in trawling to the extend we might do imho. They will look for influencer sites and reviewers.

    But that type of system is already in place and while there’s certainly room for more sites those new sites are likely going to spread the word about books already being rec’d on all the other sites readers like to visit.

    Example: I read and enjoy a book rec’d by DA, add it to my bookshelf at GoodReads, leave a review for it on Amazon, and start a discussion at AAR. I don’t need to blindly click links in a web ring to find those recommendations– the readers in the community will bring those recommendations to whatever site or sites I like to visit.

    This is why I think now is the time for people to get into this business. It is a great opportunity for anyone with dedication and consistent taste to start to establish a reputation for recommendations.
    The infrastructure is already in place to spread the word about the books we like. There’s room for more, of course, but frankly if you’re looking to get in on the ground floor you’d be better off learning how to create a kick ass database so the people who do the recommendations (or run out of recommendations) can browse the books, to find the gems, to spread the word. And metadata is going to be the key to that.

    Create the database, people will use it, and publishers will play catch up and start including accurate and detailed metadata to take advantage of it.

  64. Honeywell
    Feb 23, 2011 @ 12:58:49

    @Honeywell: Double post to correct the missing quotes, hopefully.

    @Howard:
    “When the mass of ordinary readers comes on board in the next three years or so they won't be interested in trawling to the extend we might do imho. They will look for influencer sites and reviewers.”

    But that type of system is already in place and while there's certainly room for more sites those new sites are likely going to spread the word about books already being rec'd on all the other sites readers like to visit.

    Example: I read and enjoy a book rec'd by DA, add it to my bookshelf at GoodReads, leave a review for it on Amazon, and start a discussion at AAR. I don't need to blindly click links in a web ring to find those recommendations- the readers in the community will bring those recommendations to whatever site or sites I like to visit.

    “This is why I think now is the time for people to get into this business. It is a great opportunity for anyone with dedication and consistent taste to start to establish a reputation for recommendations.”

    The infrastructure is already in place to spread the word about the books we like. There's room for more, of course, but frankly if you're looking to get in on the ground floor you'd be better off learning how to create a kick ass database so the people who do the recommendations (or run out of recommendations) can browse the books, to find the gems, to spread the word. And metadata is going to be the key to that.

    Create the database, people will use it, and publishers will play catch up and start including accurate and detailed metadata to take advantage of it.

  65. Howard
    Feb 23, 2011 @ 13:27:38

    .Honeywell

    I take your point. But with respect I think the kind of sites you are talking about are completely different to what I am talking about.
    It works for early adopters and web experienced people but I believe when the wider masses of readers come to the game they will look for people of reputation that they trust. Sites like GoodReads require someone to have a kick off point and people they know already on it.
    The kind of people I know who are potential readers are those who would value a different way.
    I am not challenging the validity of your way of doing things. Just expressing my view that the greater reading public will want something different and metadata, like with music, will be a useless tool for that.

  66. Honeywell
    Feb 23, 2011 @ 13:58:26

    @Howard: I think where the disconnect is happening is that you’re referring to the “greater reading public” and I’m talking about romance readers specifically. We’ve been making lists of books–and recommendations from those lists–for years based on exactly the type of information that can be included in metadata.

  67. Patricia Rice
    Feb 23, 2011 @ 15:05:39

    I’m seriously loving this discussion, thank you! I’m exhausted thinking about it, but it does give me insight on what I have to do to reach readers in the future. I’m from the old school where we used to travel for days, signing at bookstores across the country to meet readers and booksellers. The internet allows me to connect with readers in Australia, now, but the information highway is really cluttered and I’m looking for the best roads to follow. I don’t think it’s quite clear yet, but I’ll drive around a while and see where I end up!

  68. Patricia McLinn
    Feb 23, 2011 @ 16:03:05

    @Honeywell wrote: “Example: I read and enjoy a book rec'd by DA, add it to my bookshelf at GoodReads, leave a review for it on Amazon, and start a discussion at AAR.”

    I think this reader-to-reader word-of-mouth will be the core of the rising class of filters, rather than formalized system where “experts” hand down opinions to the masses.

    Reader-to-reader word-of-mouth has always been the most powerful (what a reader will listen to most), and now the technology is making it possible to have it spread far and fast, uninhibited by geography.

    Readers find like-minded readers and connect and share. And that’s how a lot of these blogs have arisen.

  69. Howard
    Feb 23, 2011 @ 17:22:56

    .Honeywell

    Actually I am thinking about that portion of the greater reading public that read romance. But are you suggesting that those who read romance will behave differently ?

  70. Honeywell
    Feb 23, 2011 @ 21:19:55

    @Howard: Absolutely. Romance readers not only will behave differently we already do.

    One of the biggest reasons for the differences, I think, is the large number of books we read. A reader who’s new to romance can usually read for a few years quite happily reading some really great romances from the favorites/bestselling lists and glomming authors backlists. After that, it gets a little trickier.

    We have our favorite authors but what do you read while you’re waiting for your favorites to publish one or maybe two books a year? You branch out and start looking for the books that don’t make the recommended lists. After reading hundreds–if not thousands–of romances you know what tropes you’ll almost always enjoy as long as the writing is fairly competent. Just like you know what tropes won’t work for you unless it’s in the hands a really talented author. That’s why the searchable database based on the books metadata would be welcome–we love that stuff. Just look at the popularity of Goodreads and Calibre.

  71. EC Sheedy
    Feb 24, 2011 @ 01:55:20

    @Jill Myles: This sounds brilliant to me. Longer excerpts, samples–anything where I can judge the quality and maybe hear the voice of the author would work for me.

    So far my e-reading has been restricted to known and previously print-pubbed authors, but I find myself anxious now to branch out and try some new authors. I haven’t so far, because the task of selecting them just seemed so overwhelming. Gotta get over it, I guess.

  72. Theresa
    Feb 24, 2011 @ 06:49:09

    Metadata will only be useful to the subset of romance readers who want to read one particular subplot or setting. Even now that is not so hard to find, without any metadata, particularly if the synopsis is good and has lots of keywords.

    But I think most readers want recommendations of *quality* reads, whatever the setting, perhaps even particularly if in genres and settings they do not usually read.

    Hypatia was great indeed, it had an incredibly good sucess with me in several genres. But I was also much younger and had read a lot of less romance/sf/fantasy way back then, not sure if it would still be able to calculate accurately my tastes so well.

    Howard, some of your posts, I was thinking precisely, that is exactly how I think as a reader.

  73. DS
    Feb 24, 2011 @ 08:23:23

    @Honeywell: Goodreads and other social reading sites actually are taking over the same function as the local romance friendly used book store (UBS) in the past. Often these stores would have a small selection of used books, but the real pull was the chance to talk to the owner and connect with other readers– pass around recommendations, warn someone off a book that was a failure, discuss an upcoming book by a favorite author.

    The internet increases the people participating by magnitudes.

  74. Bob Mayer
    Feb 24, 2011 @ 10:25:07

    I printed this out and will have to read through it slowly. As an author, I”m finding it a bit overwhelming– all the different sites and learning their ins and outs. Just finally became part of Kindleboards the other day and it took a while and help from LJ Sellers for us to figure out simply how to do our signature line. I’m still a little confused on what is allowed where. A concern is an author can spend too much time trying to promote and not enough writing. I’ve found I have to discipline my self to set strict time periods to promote, then shut the internet down and write. I know there are companies that will do that for an author, but I believe readers want the personal touch of the author, not a company fronting for the author.
    Ultimately readers will determine who succeeds or fails, but as you note, they are going to get overwhelmed soon. I notice an interesting thing: most authors are focused on Kindle, which I believe now has 208,000 eBook titles and growing every day. PubIt has 60,000 titles. Thus I see my sales at PubIt almost equal to my Amazon sales, even though more people buy through Kindle than B&N. What that tells me is that one can get lost in the sea of books flooding the market.

  75. Howard
    Feb 24, 2011 @ 10:30:09

    .Bob Mayer

    Interesting comments. Personally I pay not attention to the ‘who’s got more eBooks’ comparison. What matters is who has the best ones and who has the ones that matter.
    I believe you are among many many authors who have decided to self publish and now have to face the task of learning how to market. It’s a daunting task for some I have no doubt. I am sure however that over the next 2 years a new breed of ‘producers’ will replace the old Publishers, and will offer Pick’n Mix services for self publishing authors at a fair price.

  76. Kerry
    Feb 24, 2011 @ 12:45:13

    @Moriah Jovan “The idea is that an editor would not take on a book s/he didn't like or regard as an inferior product to begin with.”

    And in an ideal world, everybody does their job because they enjoy and take pride in their work, not because they have to do something to pay the rent, and everyone can follow their heart and never has to make a professional decision based on productivity quotas or pressure from Accounting.

    In the real world, publishing, like just about every other business, runs on money, and people who rely on getting some of that money to buy cat food may from time to time be called upon to work on and promote products with which they are less than enamoured.

    If the editor never says “My boss made me do this one” or “I had bubonic plague while I worked on this and didn’t know what the hell I was doing” or some indication that every book that passes through her hands is not absolute perfection, I don’t see how that is in any way more reliable than a Harriet Klausner review.

  77. Moriah Jovan
    Feb 24, 2011 @ 13:32:20

    @Kerry: I was thinking of it as a freelance operation. As a freelance ebook formatter and (sometimes) book designer, I can and do refuse to work on projects that I find a) not worth the trouble or b) offensive to me in some way (or too offensive for me to bear working on it, anyway) or c) any number of other reasons. I’m not hurting for work.

    When I went shopping for an editor for my first book, two freelance editors turned me down before I found one willing to do it. There’s no reason a “name” editor at one of these houses couldn’t strike out on her own on the basis of her previous titles and make a freelance name for herself.

  78. Courtney Milan
    Feb 24, 2011 @ 14:06:06

    @Moriah Jovan:

    I totally agree with this. Think about agents today: AUTHORS hire agents. AUTHORS pay agents. Nonetheless, agents only take on a fraction of the clients who want them.

    Good editors are not a dime a dozen. Why wouldn’t we imagine editorial scarcity?

  79. Howard
    Feb 24, 2011 @ 14:10:36

    .Courtney Milan

    But agents take on authors for the purpose of promoting them and earning a cut.
    Why would a freelance editor working for a set fee care about choosing which books to edit except maybe they might avoid a genre that they find distasteful ? I don’t get it.

  80. Angela James
    Feb 24, 2011 @ 14:13:59

    @Howard:

    Only someone who’d never done freelance editing and seen what’s out there would say that :P

    Most editors would want to be selective, not just because of genre and content, but because of the sheer variety of writing skill and level of work needed. If a book starts out needing a huge amount of work, and you don’t know the author or how skilled they are edits, you may not want your name associated with the “final” product.

  81. Moriah Jovan
    Feb 24, 2011 @ 16:12:42

    @Howard:

    Think about medical malpractice and personal injury lawyers who work on contingency. Yes, some are simply ambulance chasers, but the ROCK STARS won’t take what they see as a bad case, period.

    Authors who are serious will want the ROCK STARS and they will PAY for the privilege of putting that editor’s logo on the spines of their books to be able to say, “Self-published book edited by X.” Voila. Doors open that wouldn’t have without that “edited by X.”

  82. Moriah Jovan
    Feb 24, 2011 @ 16:34:34

    Oh, yeah, one more point.

    A freelance editor’s name will be associated as much with their TASTE as their actual editing.

    They would become PART of the metadata, and readers could look at a book edited by X as an actual book rec, much as they would a friend’s whose recs they trust.

  83. Ebook Numbers Exceeding Expectations Wherever You Look | Bookbee Ebooks
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    [...] service and NOOK Kids children's digital library.”Via Jane at the popular, romance-centric Dear Author blog:Many authors are looking at the growth in digital, the decline in mass market sales, [...]

  84. Ebook Numbers Exceeding Expectations Wherever You Look | Bookbee Ebooks
    Feb 24, 2011 @ 18:59:09

    [...] service and NOOK Kids children's digital library.”Via Jane at the popular, romance-centric Dear Author blog:Many authors are looking at the growth in digital, the decline in mass market sales, [...]

  85. Theresa
    Feb 25, 2011 @ 15:04:40

    I am really not convinced readers will care about who edited a book, or ever bother to check metadata on that. I never heard of anybody who ever paid any attention to it, outside sf circles, particularly when regarding magazines. I certainly would not consider it worth pursuing.

    Bob – “A concern is an author can spend too much time trying to promote and not enough writing”, as a reader, i think the most important for authors is for them to write and polish what they write as well as possible. If the book is seriously really good and I think so I will be pushing it on my friends for you. And chances are a friend of mine will have recommended it to me.

    How much an author or publisher self-promotes and markets a book is not, in my mind, a good indicator of quality of the writing, just of quality of the marketing. It might help reach more people, it might be very important for the first or the breakthrough book, but if the book disappoints too many people, the career will stall. And I have seen not too famous favorite books of mine became really popular slowly through word of mouth. So write as well as you can. Promote it a bit, just because. But it is the writing that matters.

  86. Howard
    Feb 25, 2011 @ 15:17:45

    Theresa – I am glad someone else said it before me :-)
    I have never ever heard of anyone who either knew or cared who the editor of a book was, and I cannot see it ever changing in the future, irrespective of metadata. It makes no sense whatsoever to me.

    On Editors above – I bow to those who are more in the know. However (there’s always a however isn’t there … LOL) times they are a changing. The big publishing houses will not be around for long. New streamlined entities will be developing.
    Freelance editing and marketing will increase enormously as self publishing increases. I am not completely convinced about the points by Angela and Moriah.

    On time devoted to marketing. It depends on the author and what s/he wants. If the author wants to be a pure writer and avoid the grubby world of marketing they are free to do so by signing up with a publisher who can do the marketing and accept a lower royalty. If the author wants to self publish then they will have no other choice.

    As others above have already stated, finding good reads is going to get a lot harder. There will be a lot of quality coming from self publishing. Readers need to find out about the title somewhere. A few satisfied readers is NOT going to be good enough.

    Self publishing authors will need to work hard on getting their title known and getting eyeballs on it to earn that increased royalty. These authors will need to devote a chunk of every week to doing what they can to get eyeballs on their title.

  87. Sunday Self-Publishing News for Kindle authorsKindle Writers from Taleist
    Feb 26, 2011 @ 20:24:12

    [...] Finding authors and books in a digital age [...]

  88. Denise K. Rago
    Mar 03, 2011 @ 11:15:00

    Very interesting article. Lots to mull over and as a self-published author, social media is both a blessing and a curse. Yes, we are in total control of our marketing, etc., but it is almost a full-time job that takes away from the business of writing. We can publish e-books that take away the middle man and guarantee us profits, submit our novels to bloggers for review and it is all so exciting, however, some days I spend so much time doing all of this that I have no creative energy left to write. Not a complaint, just a reality.

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