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Tuesday Midday Links: PubIt! Review Day for Self Pubbed Authors

PubIt! asked Dear Author to participate in their review day event on Facebook. PubIt! posted blog summaries on its wall and invited self published authors to make short pitches. Our blog summary was that we wanted unusual historicals and erotic romances and were looking to review books between 50,000 and 80,000 words. Of course, there were people who didn’t read our requirements who pitched but there were some interesting offerings. I’m going to pick one to read and if the DA readership has a recommendation, let us know.

Pitches here.

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Is the publishing industry faltering or growing? I suppose it depends on how the publishing industry is defined. Despite the AAP numbers showing declining sales in every category except for ebooks, BookStats claims that there has been growth in both net revenue and units sold.

BookStats, a comprehensive survey conducted by two major trade groups that was released early Tuesday, revealed that in 2010 publishers generated net revenue of $27.9 billion, a 5.6 percent increase over 2008. Publishers sold 2.57 billion books in all formats in 2010, a 4.1 percent increase since 2008.

Some of the growth is as a result of ebook sales and higher education sales.  Editors and authors, however, all state that print runs are greatly diminished partly as the result of the demise of Borders but also because of more conservative orders by Barnes&Noble and Wal-mart.  I was told that Wal-mart plans to pull kids books out of the toys section and into the books section, thereby reducing available bookspace which is likely to reduce the quantity and scope of the adult section.  Maybe just as many books are being bought, but not in the same way as in the past.

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Eoin Purcell encourages publishers to sell directly to the public through their own apps now that Apple has forced all the in app buy links from the major ebook retailers.

Think about it, ebook retailers cannot make money from selling ebooks via Apple’s in-App sales because their margins simply won’t stretch that far. In the case of Agency titles they would be losing money, even on self-published works they might be losing money. However, a publisher, selling direct through their own app, or even a branded app in partnership with a number of other publishers in a given genre, could easily afford the 30% charge and even an administration charge too so long as it was kept low

Harlequin has one of the most robust direct to consumer sales systems out there and they haven’t come up with a in store buying app yet so I don’t expect any of the big 6 to jump on Eoin’s very smart suggestion.

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Publishers Weekly posted an article entitled “All Eyes on Amazon Publishing” and suggested that agents were looking at the Amazon imprints with wariness, particularly because Amazon would face resistance in getting its books into the bookstores.  I criticized the article because it failed to mention that an Amazon book did get picked up by Costco.

PW has followed up the article with a report that Barnes&Noble would carry Amazon titles so long as Amazon allowed Barnes&Noble to sell the digital versions.  Ooohhhh.  Right?

Barnes & Noble fell in the latter group, with CEO William Lynch telling PW that the dominant bricks-and-mortar bookseller will stock books published by Amazon, “if we are provided all formats for all of our channels.” Lynch noted that “we will not stock physical books in our stores if we are not offered the available digital format. In recent instances, Amazon’s exclusive publisher deals have prohibited Barnes & Noble from selling certain e-books.”

Your move, Amazon.

Speaking of Amazon imprints. I have been fairly critical of Amazon Montlake.  Yesterday, a reader emailed me that the cover of Connie Brockway’s The Other Guy’s Bride had been updated.  It’s quite a bit better.  Or at least it has a historical feel to it.

Brockway's Other Guy's Bride

I admit I expected so much more from Montlake. It has all this data that it could use to acquire, market and sell books but it doesn’t seem like it is using any of it.  I still disagree with the pricing of $11.95 for paper and $9.99 for the digital books even if they are discounted.

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While the U.S. has got its host of flaws and seems to be restricting more and more individual rights every day, at least we don’t have to face this type of suppression on free speech.  A UK author was awarded 65,000 pounds in a high court for a “malicious” review.

Most of the damages—£50,000 of the £65,000—were awarded for this reason: that Barber’s review included a damaging and untrue allegation. But Tugendhat added another £15,000 to punish her for being malicious. As he explained: “A reviewer is entitled to be spiteful, so long as she is honest, but if she is spiteful, the court may more readily conclude that misstatements of fact are not honest, since spite or ill will is a motive for dishonesty.”

Egads.

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

26 Comments

  1. Joanna K.
    Aug 09, 2011 @ 12:35:20

    I’m still pretty upset with Apple’s move to remove all apps and download links for other readers in its store. If publishers can sell their books through their own apps without resorting to buying directly from iBooks/Apple, then I’m all for Eoin Purcell’s suggestion.

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  2. jude
    Aug 09, 2011 @ 12:44:33

    Go Eoin!

    Reading through the PubIt posts now. The misfires are painful to read. If I were an agent, I’d die of sympathetic humiliation after a week of reading misdirected queries.

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  3. Susanna Kearsley
    Aug 09, 2011 @ 13:14:28

    It doesn’t sound like it’s either an unusual historical or an erotic romance, but I kind of like the pitch for Hero of Her Heart, by Lindsey Brookes. It made me click through to the B&N listing to read more, anyway (but I’m admittedly a sucker for the boy-next-door trope…:-)

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  4. Christina
    Aug 09, 2011 @ 13:20:01

    Jane, do you have any guesses on why there seems to be such a difference between one Amazon imprint (Thomas & Mercer) and another (Montlake)?

    Of course, that’s assuming you think there’s a difference, but if so I’d be interested in hearing thoughts as to why.

    I remember thinking when Amazon announced Montlake that they were in a position to do it in a really great way, and as a reader I was excited about the potential. I see the promise of that in their Thomas & Mercer imprint–some really great acquisitions, high profile names, etc.– but not so much with Montlake, at least so far. I mean, have they even announced any new authors recently?

    That’s not even getting into the issues of lack of editing, cover art, and holy hell $9.99. (Does that mean the sale price of $4.99 will end and it will be 9.99 at some point or will it stay 4.99 and the 9.99 is only there to make us think we’re getting a deal?)

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  5. Christine M.
    Aug 09, 2011 @ 13:22:22

    Will read the PubIt! posts as soon as I get home, see if something tickles my fancy. One way or another, I find the concept v. interesting.

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  6. Vi
    Aug 09, 2011 @ 13:30:35

    $9.99??!!! No thank you.

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  7. Keishon
    Aug 09, 2011 @ 13:51:54

    *whistles* $9.99? Oh wow. What the poster said above.

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  8. Lynne Connolly
    Aug 09, 2011 @ 14:46:20

    Trouble is, so many of the pitches aren’t romance-centric. The Susan Rushmore looks nice – not innovative, but a small town romance. I wouldn’t recommend the Amy Atwell “Regency.” Anyone who thinks a man can give a dukedom away as he pleases (the extended blurb says the hero will “grant the dukedom to his half brother”) has done no research at all.and there’s a Marsha Canham! (that Marsha Canham?)

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  9. Faye
    Aug 09, 2011 @ 14:53:48

    The two PubIt! pitches set in Nigeria (with Nigerian heroes and heroines, even) sound intriguing- they seem to be fairly standard romance plotlines transposed, and I’d be very interested to see how that plays out.

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  10. Brian
    Aug 09, 2011 @ 15:23:56

    Barnes & Noble fell in the latter group, with CEO William Lynch telling PW that the dominant bricks-and-mortar bookseller will stock books published by Amazon, “if we are provided all formats for all of our channels.”

    So I guess this means they’ll be dropping the print versions of Amazon books B&N currently sells? They only have print versions for those, not digital, and have sold them for quite some time.

    $9.99??!!! No thank you.

    $9.99 list price, $4.99 actual selling/street price (this is little to no difference than pricing from a lot of non-agency/discountable publishers).

    and there’s a Marsha Canham! (that Marsha Canham?)

    Yes, that Marsha Canham. She’s self pubbing her backlist (the book pitched was a 1992 release originally).

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  11. MaryK
    Aug 09, 2011 @ 16:11:31

    I’d pick one of Cate Rowan’s because there’s not a lot of fantasy romance around. Karen Newton’s sounds interesting but I’d want to know more details about the plot.

    I can see why pitches are so hard. Some of these don’t give enough info to interest me, some of them make me doubt whether they’re really Romance*, and some are confusing. It took several read throughs of the Brookes’ one before I figured out how a Sheriff could be four years old.

    *I mean some of them obviously aren’t Romance, but some of the others that claim to be are iffy, IMO.

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  12. Ros
    Aug 09, 2011 @ 17:01:34

    I agree, I’d like to see a review of that one.

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  13. SonomaLass
    Aug 09, 2011 @ 17:30:17

    As long as I can buy for my e-reader apps through Safari on my iPad, I don’t really miss the in-app buy buttons. All they did was open a Safari window anyway; a bookmark does that. While I agree it was a dick move on Apple’s part to take this approach, I don’t think they are going to see much profit on it from ebooks. On games, especially sequels and updates, I expect they might.

    I like the PubIt idea. I’m in favor of anything that helps us navigate the vast sea of self-published fiction. I am sure there are some gems out there, but slogging through to find them is not worth my time.

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  14. SonomaLass
    Aug 09, 2011 @ 17:34:32

    Ha! Auto-correct tried to make “some gems” into “Sime Gen” — it obviously knows me too well.

    I know Kidsis the Nook user would love to reduce the number of Kindle-only titles.

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  15. Christine M.
    Aug 09, 2011 @ 22:12:05

    All right I finally got around reading th epitches and the most interesting ones IMO are Annabel Joseph’s and Miriam Minger’s. One because of the music theme, the other because of the unusual setting. :)

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  16. Helen
    Aug 09, 2011 @ 22:31:25

    I love the tag on this one-

    Bleeder (Apocalypto 3) – A Post Apocapunk Fantasy
    by L.K. Rigel

    The blurb sounds interesting too. I’d love a review of it (come on Apocapunk…has kind of a ring to it).

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  17. Emily
    Aug 09, 2011 @ 23:40:53

    I would do the Myne Whitman’s because I’m Nigerian and I don’t believe I’ve ever read a TRUE Nigerian romance novel. Actually I already purchased the Myne Whitman book I was so excited. Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche is the best Nigerian fiction I’ve ever read. It has some romantic elements but isn’t a romance novel.

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  18. MaryK
    Aug 09, 2011 @ 23:49:52

    LOL, that was on my “what are the chances this is really Romance” list.

    I love how some of the authors just threw up a link to the book. Maybe we should be ripping apart pitches instead of first pages.

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  19. jmc
    Aug 10, 2011 @ 00:26:15

    I would hesitate to curtail freedom of speech for anyone, but have to point out that Barber was known as being antagonistic and often nasty toward her interview subjects. Some might interpret that as dry humor and others as malice.

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  20. Jane (no, really)
    Aug 10, 2011 @ 08:37:06

    I’m not Nigerian and that was the only book I clicked through to Barnes and Noble to check out. I’d love to see a review of that!

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  21. Susanna Kearsley
    Aug 10, 2011 @ 09:53:15

    Ooh, how did I miss the Nigerian ones by Myne Whitman? I’d love to see an Africa that isn’t viewed through a white colonial lens. Modern-day Lagos? Real romance? And by a Nigerian? Yes, please.

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  22. DS
    Aug 10, 2011 @ 10:41:04

    I read the Publit pitches. Most of them seemed very bad– I’m not sure how the fantasy– the head honcho needed a healer but he didn’t expect it to be a woman in fantasy land is much different than all the books where some professional is needed by some head honcho and *gasp*, it’s a woman.

    I might be tempted to read the one about the aliens running a tea room in Kentucky but I’m hesitant about actually putting down money for it because the non-con pheromone induced sex and alien cops are tropes filled with potential for disaster.

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  23. Ros
    Aug 10, 2011 @ 12:12:50

    I don’t think the Barber judgement curtails anyone’s free speech. The damages were awarded primarily for factual inaccuracy and secondarily for the belief on the part of the judge that the factual errors were not made innocently but maliciously, i.e. with the intent to damage. Free speech doesn’t give anyone the right to make damaging libellous statements with impunity, whether or not they are a literary critic.

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  24. Jane
    Aug 10, 2011 @ 14:11:12

    One reason you don’t see more indie and small presss reviews here at Dear Author is because of pitches like you see in the thread. Unfortunately, many are garbled, full of errors, and often not even romance centric.

    Thanks for your input. It looks like the Nigerian one is the leading contender.

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  25. Ridley
    Aug 10, 2011 @ 14:44:29

    I think I’m gonna grab the Annabel Joseph one. That sounds interesting and I liked what I read of hers before.

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  26. Isobel Carr
    Aug 10, 2011 @ 16:42:17

    That was my take too.

    ReplyReply

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