Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Tuesday Midday Links: Freebies from Samhain, Writing Contest from Harlequin

Freebies from Samhain:

  • Freebie for month of November: Touching Lace by Anne Rainey |  Amazon |  nook
  • Freebie from November 1 to Nov 14: Carinian’s Seeker by T.J. Michaels | Amazon | nook


Galley Cat reports that a self published author offered a free sample at BN, Amazon discovered this and lowered the price to his book to free.  Part of Amazon’s contract is that if it finds a lower price somewhere else, it will lower its own price, even down to free. The author in this case argues that the book was not free, only a greater sample than what was offered at Amazon.  Amazon is refusing to pay royalties on the books that were downloaded during the “free” period.


There was a dustup among authors caused by pervasive use of offensive hyperbolic statement by author Barry Eisler and JA Konrath which led to a post by Courtney Milan on why using this type of hyperbolic language is not useful.  I’m not going to get into that. I think it’s clear by the comments to Milan’s thread what kind of people we are dealing with.  What I thought was interesting was that Eisler’s adoption of house slaves terminology referenced those authors who are worried about the lower of Amazon’s self published and would prefer to be with traditional publishers because of that. (or at least that is the gist I got out of the many thousand word blog post).

Nowhere in the post did Eisler indicate that he thought the Amazon self published royalty would remain the same and this confirms what I have been thinking about for a few weeks. Amazon is low on revenue.  If Publishers Marketplace numbers are to be believed, 90% or greater of Amazon’s revenue comes from agency priced books.  If self publishing begins to move more product for Amazon, one easy way to increase its revenue is to lower the self publishing royalty from 70% to 35%.  The way that Amazon could do this is to institute tiered royalties for Kindle Direct Publishing based on exclusivity.  The greater the exclusivity you award Amazon and the higher your royalty is.  This would be positive to other retailers like BN and Kobo and whomever else gets in the self publishing market because it would lower the expectation of its consumers (aka authors using the self pub service).  I would not be surprised that next year Amazon announces a new royalty tier based on exclusivity and that other self pubbed retailers would follow.

In some ways, BN’s refusal to carry Amazon’s product gives Amazon a de facto exclusive.  On another related note, Nate confirms that Kobo will be offering both self publishing and acquisition based publishing next year.


HarperCollins made a huge acquisition yesterday. It announced that it will be buying Thomas Nelson for an undisclosed sum.  Last week, Evernote announced that Michael Hyatt would be one of its ambassadors and I thought, how odd, isn’t he the CEO of Thomas Nelson. Not anymore.  According to a 2009 blogpost, Hyatt placed Thomas Nelson as the 9th largest publisher in the U.S.  At least one publishing expert (Sarah Weinman) pointed out that means that HarperCollins, who owns Zondervan, probably controls 90% of the Christian fiction market.  And yes, if TN is the 9th largest publisher in the U.S., that is a huge market.


Amazon has a cloud music player and so do other companies (like Google) but Apple isn’t going to let them into the App Store due to unspecified legal reasons.


Harlequin is launching its second annual online writing conference.

We are hosting Harlequin’s second annual online conference on how to write for series romance Nov 7-11, 2011.

There will be a competition and the Winner this year will receive a contract and have their series book published by Harlequin!

Website(will be live later this week):

Twitter Handle: @HarlequinSYTYCW

Hashtag: #sytycw2

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and 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


  1. Angela James
    Nov 01, 2011 @ 12:11:05

    One important thing I think authors often overlook, when they’re self-publishing, is that they’re not signing a contract. They’re signing terms of service. And those are subject to change.

  2. Annabel
    Nov 01, 2011 @ 12:33:13

    I do fret about the future of Amazon’s royalty rates, but signing an Amazon exclusive contract would be a no-brainer. 95% of my sales, roughly, are through Amazon and its worldwide sites. B & N and Smashwords together brings me about 4% and my sales through publisher sites…they are nonexistent. Maybe three or four copies a month.

    I know every author’s sales patterns are different but for me, losing the higher royalty to maintain that other 5% of sales just wouldn’t be smart.

  3. Mara
    Nov 01, 2011 @ 12:38:44

    Amazing. I’ve been trying for two months to get Amazon to lower the price of my book to free and they won’t do it. This poor author had his lowered without even wanting or asking–and then they won’t pay him the royalties to which he’s entitled.

    It’s depressing that a business run by people so capable of behaving like jackasses and so consistently performing acts of breathtaking incompetence can not only stay afloat, but thrive.

  4. Las
    Nov 01, 2011 @ 12:46:23

    Every time I start to forget why I never buy from Amazon, I hear about their latest stunt and I’m once again disgusted with them.

  5. Kati
    Nov 01, 2011 @ 12:50:50

    When I click the Courtney Milan link, I get a “Sorry, Page Not Found” error.

  6. Ridley
    Nov 01, 2011 @ 13:09:26

  7. Kiersten
    Nov 01, 2011 @ 13:36:46

    What interests me about the Thomas Nelson buy (and has always amused me about HC ownership of Zondervan) is that HC also publishes The Satanic Bible. Apocalypse Nowish?

  8. Joanna Terrero
    Nov 01, 2011 @ 13:49:33

    @Angela James: Thanks. You are so right. I’d never thought of that one before.

  9. Courtney Milan
    Nov 01, 2011 @ 13:58:38

    For me, exclusivity is also a no-brainer–even with Amazon sending out an e-mail to thousands, they’re still around 60% of my revenue. I’m not going to give up that other 40%.

    If you want to see that Amazon is willing to consider exactly what Jane is talking about, just look at the ACX rates. Audible is owned by Amazon, and it gives different royalty rates depending on whether you’re exclusive or not. So it’s not a huge stretch to imagine that they could import a scheme they’ve already adopted into another area.

  10. Kati
    Nov 01, 2011 @ 14:26:47

    @Ridley: Thanks so much! I found it through a little google fu. :)

  11. Isobel Carr
    Nov 01, 2011 @ 14:28:29

    Actually, the issue that kicked off the kerfuffle (and I know, cause it was me via Twitter) was not a concern so much about Amazon lowering their royalty rate (though that’s part of it, and the main thing that got focused on by Eisler), but more the concern that Amazon could end up being the “new New York” with the added issue of being a monopoly (since the vast majority of eBooks are sold through them at the moment). I have hope that Amazon’s competitors will become stronger over time and that NY will catch on and offer more equitable terms (thus retaining authors), but I also have what I think are realistic concerns about basing my future publishing decisions on that 70%, as so many are now loudly advocating authors to do.

  12. Jane
    Nov 01, 2011 @ 14:32:18

    @Isobel Carr I am not as concerned as others are regarding Amazon as a monopoly power because Amazon’s competitors aren’t BN and Indigo and Kobo but Google and Apple. Apple, particularly, with its walled gardens, its capricious censorship, and its power, causes me quite a bit of concern and thus Amazon growing and gaining market power to challenge them is something I welcome. The fact is that all these companies are shitheads to a certain degree and competition is the only thing that keeps them in check.

  13. MrsJoseph
    Nov 01, 2011 @ 16:10:41

    After reading Courtney’s blog post and the responding comments – I’m sick to my stomach with Barry Eisler and JA Konrath – two people who’s opinion I used to respect. They might have no problem making the comments they made to another author…but they should remember that readers read their comments too. And they both have just been added to my “Bad Author, no more buy EVER” list.

  14. eggs
    Nov 01, 2011 @ 20:25:37

    I read Eisler and Konrath’s comments on Courtney’s blog and didn’t think they said anything particularly outrageous. They stated their positions and stuck by them. I think the ‘pot kettle’ back and forth about inflammatory language was fairly accurate, too.

    Personally, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the positions they hold. I don’t happen to agree with them, but nor do I think they said anything that was inherently ‘bad’. I thought it was an interesting debate. Well worth the read.

  15. Andrea
    Nov 01, 2011 @ 23:19:36

    The thing with hyperbolic language is you end up having a huge debate about a particular word or phrase you used, rather than the larger discussion.

    It’s certainly possible that Amazon might mess around with their royalty rate. However, instead of dropping it to 35%, it seems far more likely that they’d drop it to 60% (or by some other smaller proportion), instead of a large shift which would generate content-provider negativity. Or perhaps they’ll just leave it where it is, since royalty rates are one thing which makes self-publishing attractive and Amazon may not want to give authors reasons not to provide Amazon with content.

    And, yep, definitely best to diversify your sales channels. Not just from fear of what Amazon might do next, but because it’s more polite to your readers to give them options.

  16. Gwen Hayes
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 10:25:12

  17. Courtney Milan
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 12:03:17

    @Gwen Hayes: @Andrea:

    And not just to give your readers options (which is awesome) or to fear what Amazon might do next (which is debatable) but because every sales channel is a new chance to do well. Some people sell really well on Apple but not Amazon; some sell great on B&N and not Amazon; some sell on Amazon and not B&N.

    Every new channel you get on is a new and (somewhat) separate opportunity to take off on that channel. I want every chance I can get!

  18. Marguerite Kaye
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 14:51:10

    Mills & Boon are in the final throes of their open competion for ‘New Voices’, with the winner to be announced at the end of the week. Out of over 1000 entries they’re down to 4. I’ve been closely involved in mentoring, and my ‘mentee’ is in the final, and I’ve been astounded by the quality and diversity of the submissions. If you’re thinking about entering the Harlequin comp, it might be a good idea to see what’s been going on in New Voices.

    Oh, and if you do register to vote, can I put a word in for the fabulous Secrets and Seduction!

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