Sunday, March 30, 2008

The 500-Pound Gorilla

Amazon recently decided that any POD (Print on Demand) books must be printed by their own printer, BookSurge. Here's the long article by Angela Hoy of BookLocker in Writers Weekly explaining what it means. But, here's the short form of how I understand the problem.

"So what?" you might wonder. It's a huge deal to not only self-pubbers, but also to a lot of tiny presses that use POD for their books, but happen to be using LightningSource, another of the big POD companies. Lulu, a self-pubbing site, for example uses LightningSource.

What will Amazon do for the huge number of POD books already on their site? They will remove the Buy Now button (meaning the sale is direct from Amazon, who will then order the book and send it to the customer). Still confused about the problem? Those books not purchaseable directly from Amazon can only be sold through 3rd party vendors. While some of the 3rd parties undercut the Amazon price, they do have a set (by Amazon) shipping cost applied while Amazon has their Shipping Free on Orders Over $25.00. This difference, naturally, sets the Amazon price slightly lower than the 3rd parties.

Amazon has made the first step by cutting the Buy Now buttons off any books from PublishAmerica. While PA is worthy of loathing, everybody can feel sympathy for the poor folks who self-pubbed through PA. Unlike other self-pubbing companies, the authors are caught in a seven-year contract, so they can't even take their business elsewhere.

Now, I bought my own ISBNs for "Tales of a Texas Boy" so I'm free to take my book away from Lulu and sign up with BookSurge if I'm inclined. Biggest problem is that the file formats are different and I'd have to figure out how to convert them all over again.

As an experiment, I signed up for CreateSpace, also an Amazon possession, to see if I could get my book into their format. Well, not too successful so far and I'm waiting on an answer from their Customer Support as to why exactly they decided my 6"x9" book was suddenly and without my say so converted to an 5.25"x8" format (trim size is the name for this). And the selector for trim size is disabled so I can't change it back. Of course, my uploaded files are in 6x9 format. And, trust me, that's not so easy to just change.

Then, there's distribution. BookSurge doesn't list books in Ingram, because Ingram owns LightningSource. However, Ingram is the main list from which bookstores select what to carry. BookSurge mainly supplies only to Amazon. That leaves Barnes & Noble and Borders out of the picture for anyone going with Booksurge.

I'm hoping that Lulu, iUniverse, and other legitimate self-pubbers, along with the small presses, are not caught up in Amazon's attempt to take over the world. Can you spell "anti-trust lawsuit"? Amazon might have a surprise coming if they attempt to monopolize the market.

On the other hand, maybe they just hate PublishAmerica.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

IAG Spotlight

The Independent Authors Guild is a group for authors who, for one reason or another, decided to publish their books through one of the assisted publishing companies. Okay, self-published. But that doesn't mean lack of quality. That's why the IAG was formed: to help these authors put out a quality product.

One of the members, Dianne Salerni, decided to create a spotlight page on her website focus on independent authors' books.

Click here for the Spotlight On... page. I've also included the link as a permanent fixture in the left-hand column. Check back each month for a different genre.

March is Westerns month. The offerings include books such as:

"Shalom on the Range" by Michael Katz. Now that title ought to pique your interest.
"To Truckee's Trail" by Celia Hayes
"Tales of a Texas Boy" by lil ol' me
"Beyond the Orphan Train" by Donna Nordmark Aviles
"The Confederate War Bonnet" by Jack Shakely

Maybe you're seeing the pattern here. These aren't your average Zane Grey type westerns, but are historical (accurate to the nth degree) novels that just happen to be set in the US West.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Pat Wood's LOTTERY Nominated

First-time authors find favour on Orange longlist

Lindesay Irvine
Tuesday March 18, 2008

Debut novelists make a strong showing once more in this year's Orange prize longlist, announced today, squeezing out two much-praised novels by established authors.

Seven of the 20 books which make the list are by first-time authors, with Anita Amirrezvani, Sadie Jones, Lauren Liebenberg, Heather O'Neill, Dalia Sofer, Carol Topolski and Patricia Wood nominated for debut novels.

The broadcaster Kirsty Lang, this year's chair of the judges, suggested that the list struck a good balance between first novels and writers who "haven't perhaps had the recognition they deserved."

Why am I mentioning this? I'm proud to say I interviewed Pat just about the time that "Lottery" was published, maybe a bit before. It really pleases me to find accolades for writers I know, even if only through the Cybernet.

Read my Pat Wood Blog Interview here: Pat Wood - Hot, Hot, Hot!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Help Defend Preditors and Editors

Unfortunately, there are those who do not like P&E or its editor because we give out information that they would prefer remain hidden from writers. Usually, they slink away, but not this time. P&E is being sued and we are asking for donations to mount a legal defense in court. Please click on the link below and give if you can to help protect P&E so it can continue to defend writers as it has for the past eleven years.

This is the link to the P&E page with the donation button. Scroll down past the other news items.

If you don't know Preditors and Editors and you're a writer, then you haven't been doing your homework. P&E lists publishers, agents, editors, etc. and is not shy about posting Not Recommended for those entities which are incompetent, cheaters, stealers, scammers, and whatever else they've done wrong. Note that this is not the subjective opinion of Dave Kuminski, but based on factual information.

P&E has been active in letting writers know that PublishAmerica is the worst possible vanity press. There are other, legitimate, self-publishers who can help a writer to self-pub if that's the way they want to go.

For more information, go to the Absolute Write forum to see the discussions on PA and for much more valuable information about the publishing business.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

It's Time To...

March 15th! Write it on your calendars. A Time To... Volume 2 will be out in all its radiant glory.

Read the blurbs about both Volume 1 and Volume 2 here.

That's okay, I'll copy some of it here, so you don't wear out your clickie finger (that's the index finger on your right hand if you aren't sure).

Oh, yeah. Two of my stories are in this volume. Woo hoo! Check it out to read "A Visit to Potter's Field" (you never know what you might dig up) and "The Delegate" (what will racism be in the future?)


A wonderful collection of well-written stories. I found them exciting, poignant and fun to read. Humor, drama and mythical mystery of powerful female characters. Thank you for the opportunity to view a fine collection put forth by your very gifted, thought-provoking writers. Your readers will not be disappointed. Paula Blois, editor of The Deepening, short story author and poet

While reading the first poem I knew A Time to....was a keeper. With it's innovative storylines and clever plot twists, the stories were a welcome escape after a frazzled day. It would hard to pick a favorite, but one of the stories that stayed with me long after reading was Tempting the Fates, by J.J. Fellows. Why? I guess you will have to read the story to find out. Barbara M Hodges


What is a woman? Is she shy or determined? Merciless or nurturing? Unyielding or pliant?

Whatever you may think of the "fairer" sex, within the pages of this anthology, you will find eighteen stories that will challenge the preconceptions you have. You will meet women blinded by enchantments, driven by vengeance, or replete and serene. You will meet women with centuries of experience, and ones with scant decades. You will meet witches and scientists, friends and rivals. But, despite their differences, the women in each tale have one thing in common: they are all females who find ways to master situations out of their control, who pursue their own paths, and create their own destinies. Join us as we briefly peer into the lives and decisions of these women.

"A Time To..." Volume 2 is the second volume of an Eppie-nominated anthology and showcases the very best of The Lorelei Signal for 2007. Come and delve into the pages...and let your imagination soar.