by August Wainwright on August 22, 2013
Volume 3 in the Remy Moreau series just went up over at Amazon on Tuesday. I really loved writing this short novella – mostly because we start to get whispers of what will be Remy’s ultimate nemesis. (What a great word – nemesis).
Here’s a brief description of volume 3 in the series:
Chloe Fischer has a problem. When she’s offered a special job with the Red-Headed Order, she accepts for the extra cash. Now that the job – and the Order – have disappeared, she realizes she needs a lot more than the money.
Remy and Watts continue their tumultuous relationship as they go in search of the truth. But another problem arises – when you go searching for the Devil, you just might find him.
Always love to hear your thoughts, so let me know what you think of the series so far.
by August Wainwright on August 19, 2013
For your viewing pleasure, a toast to the printed word from the people at Buzzfeed.
by August Wainwright on August 15, 2013
Over the past few days, articles have popped up on the Washington Post and LA Times websites (which I’m sorry but I refuse to link to as a sign of respect to real journalists) where the authors of the articles lay out why e-book sales are “leveling-off” and “flattening”.
I thought I’d take a moment to shine a little light on the not-so-true and flat-out-wrong statistics that these various articles present.
First, I find it honorable that in most circles where writers are hanging out, when the news of Nicholas Carr’s original article started to make its rounds, a vast majority of authors took roughly 3 seconds to completely dismiss the bent statistics and get back to their writing. I commend every single one of you who are keeping your heads down and focusing on what matters: your own career. It made me proud to call you my peers.
That being said, for those authors that believe they’ve somehow missed the boat and that they’re in the midst of a “surprisingly rapid decline in e-book sales growth” as Mr. Carr puts it, or for those people who are just interested in the conversation, I’d like to take a few minutes to put your mind at ease.
In the original article, Mr. Carr “calls into question the so-called “digital revolution” in the book business” by presenting a few numbers taken way out of context. For instance, here is the growth rate graph chart he presents:
Now, this is most likely what caused the staff writers over at the Washington Post and LA Times to jump on board and declare the digital revolution all but over. It’s a compelling image, right?
But if you’re using Google Analytics (or any other analytics software), I’d like you to do me a favor. Log in to your account, go through the dashboard, and find a graph that shows your numbers going up and to the right. Because here’s the thing: no matter how awful your traffic data, no matter how bad your conversion rate, there is ALWAYS a graph that tracks up and to the right. It’s a joke among business investors – it never fails that when someone comes to them asking for more money to help a failing business, they’ll have some sort of chart showing how they’re trending up and to the right.
This is what Nicholas Carr has done. He’s taken whatever numbers fit his narrative and bent them in a way that shows decline (even though the numbers don’t do that).
Those same numbers can be shown in a different way. For this, I’m going to steal a line from Nathan Bransford and an article he wrote back in April of this year.
Here’s what that looks like in chart form
That doesn’t look like a decline to me.
Same data, much different image. And it only gets better from there.
In doing some research of my own, I shared a few emails with Andi Sporkin, Vice President of Communications at The Association of American Publishers (AAP). Andi is the one who collected the data that Mr. Carr’s article was based off of.
Andi immediately pointed me to an article by a blogger named Nate Hoffelder who writes over at The Digital Reader where he established that he was the original source of information for Mr. Carr’s article, and thus the articles at the Post and LA Times as well.
Here’s what Nate Hoffelder had to say about Mr. Carr’s take on the anemic growth rate:
Mr. Carr carefully neglected to factor in certain details like the fact that this data doesn’t include all publishers much less the self-published, and thus it doesn’t reflect the actual US book market.
For all we know the ebook and book sales not included in the AAP figures might have seen a surge in that quarter.
And that’s not the only problem. There’s also an anomaly in the AAP data.
The sales data for that quarter, both for ebooks and the overall market, is skewed thanks to an unexplained drop in the YA/children’s market. YA ebooks dropped by 30% and YA hardcover dropped by 35%.
It has since been pointed out that the unexplained drop in YA was actually due to the absolutely massive growth in YA this time last year which coincides with the March 2012 film release of The Hunger Games.
And, yet, it gets better still…
In a back and forth with Andi Sporkin, she sent me this:
Here’s what he (Nicholas Carr) did:
- he did a search and found data from the old AAP monthly survey, put out to pasture in 2011. That survey took data from about 70 publishers and had no consistent method to track what they’d tagged as eBook revenue. He used those figures for 2009, 2010 and 2011.
- he then took data from an entirely different survey, new methodology and with more than 1190+ publishers contributing monthly. This has very distinct format definitions. It also cannot be compared in any way whatsoever with pre-2011 figures.
So, first, we had a growth chart which was the equivalent of saying “growing at a slower rate than a comparatively rapid rate might as well be not growing at all. In fact, it’s the same thing as a surprisingly rapid decline.” We were essentially being sold the idea that if you were in a foot-race race against a cheetah and a wolf that, since the cheetah was beating the wolf, then the wolf was obviously the slowest… just ignore the part where the wolf was still trouncing you.
Now it comes out that the growth chart was the data equivalent of comparing apples and elephants, as Andi so eloquently put it.
All this to get to what I really wanted to discuss and what I believe is so often glazed over when it comes to the notion of digital e-book adoption.
My grandmother is in her 80′s. A few years ago, my mom and aunts bought her a computer. At first she was hesitant to use it, but after a while, she was exploring Facebook and “the Google”. I remember a conversation where she leaned over and asked me, “If I want to get one of these MP3′s, how does my computer know which ones I want? Does it just grab them out of cyberspace somewhere?” I explained, but it never really sunk in.
The point, though, is that she was asking about “MP3′s” about a decade after the iPod took off in the mainstream. She wasn’t a part of the groups who were watching those colorfully silhouetted Apple commercials and rushing out to buy the state-of-the-art 10 gig model. She lagged the technology.
As a visual representation, she would be on the far right of this graph:
But what Mr. Carr, and every other legacy voice, is trying to sell is the idea that when you get to the “laggard” stage of the digital book adoption graph, that we’ll somehow be losing ground. When, in reality, it couldn’t be further from the truth.
When the last group of people come to a technology, after it’s been fully adopted by the rest of the population, the numbers would still be going up. If my grandmother ever adopts e-books, she’ll be a part of the demographic that pushes total sales from $15 Billion to $15.2 Billion. Either way, it’s still A LOT more than where we’re at today.
E-books are still young. If I had to guess, we’re probably somewhere near, or just on the other side of, that “Big Scary Chasm in Question”. And places like Canada, the UK, Australia, and Germany are still in the very early adopters phase.
This revolution isn’t going away. And it isn’t slowing down. To be honest, if B&N keeps closing bookstores and publishers don’t start evolving their business models, I wouldn’t be surprised to see an uptick in the rate of change.
So my advice to writers would be to follow the lead set by your peers who give these articles and the bent statistics they throw out no more than a passing glance and get back to the writing.
Let me know your thoughts. Anything to add? Leave a comment below.
by August Wainwright on August 7, 2013
So I’ve been on a bit of a website break over the past few days working on something that I think is going to be HUGE for authors.
Some really great people are coming together to create an opportunity for authors that is unmatched in the marketplace right now.
I know that all sounds like a bunch of bullshit hype – and it might crash and burn before the public ever sees it – but the realization that we live in the age where a bunch of forward thinking nut-jobs can attempt to do what no publishers could ever DREAM of doing – and potentially turn the entire industry on its head again – is completely mind-blowing to me.
And because of the ideas being floated, I’ve been thinking a lot more about the business of being an author.
I’ve touched on the idea of becoming a successful self-publisher and planning for the future before and, as in business, it’s so much more fun and exciting to think about hitting the home-run. Everyone imagines what their life would be like if they had their own version of 50 Shades – just a massive runaway success.
But the reality is that it most-likely won’t happen. And as soon as you realize that, the sooner you’ll be able to take advantage of the space that is left by others who chase the pipe dreams.
I stumbled on an old video of 37Signals owner and Ruby on Rails creator David Heinemeier Hansson, who spends a lot of time preaching the exact same idea: do what you love, do it well, eliminate all the other bullshit, keep innovating and moving forward.
Other than the fact that the interviewer annoys the hell out of me, the video is great. It’s a little long (the actual interview starts around 3:40, but the meat of the interview isn’t until much later) and David doesn’t mince words (aka, he swears a lot), but his points are just as relevant to authors as they are to entrepreneurs and CEOs.
What’s even better is that David Hansson went back on the show just a few weeks ago for a follow-up interview after 3 years and his message is IDENTICAL.
There are more sponsors, the stage and interview equipment is better, the hair is better, the clothes are “better”, (and the host still annoys the hell out of me) but the ideas David is talking about haven’t changed.
37Signals, for those who have never heard of them, creates and sells project management software to individuals and businesses. And although their products are great (I’ve used Basecamp), they might not mean much to an author. But that doesn’t mean that the lessons aren’t symmetrical.
It’s also worth noting that during the 3 years between these 2 interviews, 37Signals probably (there’s no way to verify, they keep their numbers private) increased their revenue by 10X – all by doing exactly what David is talking about.
Take a page from a highly successful business and plan for the future.
I’ll be back with more later; can’t wait to fill everyone in on what will hopefully be an amazing opportunity for all indie and self-published authors.
by August Wainwright on July 30, 2013
You want to know what the problem is with using stock photography for your book cover?
How amazing is that? Almost too good to be true.
This is the main issue with stock images – anyone can use them. And on the surface, each of these authors was probably either:
1. Outwardly happy with what their publishers did with the cover, since they really don’t have much of a say anyways
2. Super excited when their cover designer came back with such a dark, foggy, noir cover for their super unique, super well-written, soon-to-be bestseller that is just so darn… super.
If you’re a self-published author who actually has some say over their cover, I implore you to try something different. If you hire a cover designer, talk to them about where they get their images from, how often they re-use the same image – just talk to them. Make them prove their worth.
Their are a lot of cover designers that are springing up that have no problem taking your $100 and selling you a crappy cover… and then using the same image a week later and selling another version to someone else.
Take the time to find a well-respected PROFESSIONAL. They are out there (more on this later).
Images sourced from Buzzfeed.com