Archive for 24 November 2013

Bibliocracy The eBook Retailer Bites The Dust

Bibliocracy LogoEarlier this year I mentioned Bibliocracy, a small ebook retailer, in passing when adding multiple sales links to increase ebook sales. After I submitted three ebooks for sale, the submission page shut down. I periodically checked to see if the submission page re-opened (nada) and any sales were made (nada). An email arrived yesterday that ebook retailer has closed for business to transform itself into a social media darling called Bibliocracy Nation.

That saves me the trouble of sending a withdrawal notice for my ebooks.

After I halted my ebook publication for another summer break, I made a series of decisions to simplify my life as a writer and ebook publisher. One of those decisions was to withdraw from smaller ebook retailers like Bibliocracy and eBookPlus, especially if they can’t carry my entire ebook catalog, and focus on publishing ebooks for the big three: Amazon, Scribd and Smashwords.

As much as I want to see my ebooks break into new markets, I don’t want to deal with the hassle that comes from formatting the ebooks for each particular market. With my catalog at 50 titles this year, adding another 25 titles next year and perhaps 25 titles every year after that, I need to streamline this process as much as possible.

Focusing the top three ebook retailers has advantages and disadvantages.

Amazon

Since Amazon introduced their exclusive KDP Select program in 2011, sales for all indie authors have fallen off the cliff. Those who left other ebook retailers to join Amazon at the hip are hurting the most by relying on a single shrinking income stream. Whereas Amazon was 20% of my sales for the last few years, it’s 10% or less this year. If Amazon sales keep sliding into the abyss, I may abandon the world’s largest market by the end of 2014.

Scribd

Making money on Scribd remains something of a mystery. I never had a direct sale in the three years that I published my ebooks there. That may change with the new “all you can read” subscription plan. The reading engagement time on my ebooks have gone up across my available titles (the remainder of my catalog will become available next month), suggesting I might have an audience on Scribd. But… I’m still waiting to see the money. If that doesn’t change by the end of 2014, I’ll abandon this market as well.

Smashwords

Besides being 90% of my sales, Smashwords ranked as the number one producer of indie ebooks, continues to expand into new third-party markets (i.e., the Oyster subscription service and Flipkart in India) and added new features (i.e., author interviews, pre-order distribution and series manager). If Smashwords ever has a third-party distribution agreement with Amazon and Scribd, that would streamline my process significantly.

If I do return to smaller ebook retailers, it’ll be after I published my first 80,000-word short story collection next year. A single full-length ebook will sell better than a flood of short ebooks in a smaller market.

Boycott The Movie Because The Author Is An Anti-Gay Bigot?

Ender's Game Movie PosterI’ve never read “Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott Card. I read one short story that I found in an anthology, and “The Elements of Fiction Writing: Characters & Viewpoints” from Writer’s Digest Books, as a teenager in the 1980’s. He never caught my attention as a “must read” author since I preferred horror over science fiction. The trailer for Ender’s Game: The Movie surprised me, as was learning that Card supported the anti-gay marriage Proposition 8 in California.

Not surprisingly, a gay rights group wants people to boycott the movie.

As a moderate conservative and a Christian kicked out of a nondenominational church over eight years ago, I have no interest in re-fighting the culture wars that dominates the political discourse of the United State. If gays want to embrace marriage—and the consequences of marriage, say, a messy divorce when things don’t work out—I don’t have a problem with that. Politicians, especially those god-fearing politicians who keep their homosexuality in a locked closet, need to focus on the economy and not where people stick their yank at bedtime.

My friend and I debated whether or not to see the movie. While we’re both sympathetic in not wanting to support an anti-gay bigot, this was a Harrison Ford movie. While Card wasn’t a “must read” author, Ford was a “must see” actor. We watched Ford make his rounds on the late night shows, explaining how the 1985 novel predicted the Internet, how warfare would become a video game, and his role in the featured clip from the movie. The boycott got mentioned only briefly.

We saw the movie last week. No protesters stood in front of the theater. We got there early to watch the theater fill up. If there was a boycott, these people haven’t heard about it. As for the movie itself, it was okay. I really didn’t want to like the movie at first. The idea of training young children to become military leaders in a far-flung war should offend the sensibilities of people. That’s a war crime in today’s world.

My perception didn’t change until Ender tried to avoid a confrontation with his bullying superior officer, who ends up with an accidental head injury that sends him home from the war, and showed remorse because that wasn’t the outcome he wanted. Caught between the desires to have his fellow students like him, doing his best despite what other people may think of him, and being pushed to become harden soldier without compassion for the alien enemy, he must navigate this obstacle course while keeping his humanity intact.

I later read that Ender’s Game was the beginning of a new young adult movie franchise like The Hunger Games, if the movie does well. Ender’s Game did well for the opening weekend, but dropped 60% this weekend as Thor: The Dark World dominated the weekend. Another Ender’s movie is unlikely, but a TV series might happen. With or without a boycott, I’m not sure if I’ll watch that.

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