7 Reasons for Children to Spend Time Reading Instead of Gaming

philareads.org

This is a guest post from Cassie at Culture Coverage. She asks the question: Why should kids spend more time reading than Video Gaming? Here’s her article:

I would like to thank Sam Ramirez Friedman for sharing this article on his website. He’s helped many authors and potential authors learn about the publishing process, and I’d especially like to recommend his tips on Kickstarter and Wattpad.

Since video games first became popular people have been having heated debates about whether children should or shouldn’t spend hours playing them. While there are excellent arguments both for and against letting children play video games, one thing is certain: reading has more benefits than playing video games.

  1. Reading Improves Academic Performance

For decades parents have been telling their children to read more to improve their school grades, and it turns out that they’ve been right all along. Reading has been shown to improve children’s overall academic performance, as well as their performance in specific areas such as vocabulary, math, reasoning and long-term memory skills. That isn’t to say that playing video games doesn’t have any benefits, but in terms of academic performance, the benefits of reading far outweigh the benefits of playing video games.

  1. Reading Develops Imagination

When children play video games, they don’t need to imagine what things look or sound like as everything is on the screen in front of them. However, not all books have pictures, and none have sounds, so children need to use their imaginations to bring the story to life. Even picture books only depict certain scenes, so children still need to use their imaginations to a large degree. While graphic novels have more pictures than normal books, they still require imagination, and they’re an excellent way to introduce children to reading. Books also encourage children to imagine other things that video games don’t, such as smells and tastes.

  1. Reading Enhances Communication Skills

Communication skills are vital to children’s social development, and reading is an easy way to help children improve these skills. When children read they need to pay attention and comprehend what they’re reading, and both of these activities are essential for effective communication. Children who read books also have better vocabularies and phonology skills than children who don’t spend time reading books.

  1. Reading Reduces Screen Time

It’s undeniable that many children spend way too much of their time in front of screens of some sort. From television to computers to smartphones, children may spend hours each day staring blankly at a screen. Encouraging children to read books dramatically reduces the time they spend watching screens. There is one caveat though: many children prefer to read on e-readers. Nevertheless, reading a book on an e-reader is still reading, so it’s better to let children read books on an e-reader than have them not read at all.

  1. Reading Leads to Better Sleep

Everyone needs to get enough sleep to function well, and this is especially true of children. Many video games are fast-paced and frenetic, which may overstimulate children before bedtime. This will make it much harder for them to fall asleep and also disrupt the sleep they do get. Screens also give off a lot of blue light that can disrupt circadian rhythms at night. Reading a book may be exciting, but it certainly won’t provide as much stimulation as a video game. So, reading is a fun and healthy way for children to relax before bed.

  1. Reading Provides Delayed Gratification

Video games are usually fast paced and provide immediate gratification, whereas books require patience and time to finish. This teaches children about delayed gratification, which helps them understand that many things are worth waiting for and take time and patience to attain. The ability to delay gratification is one of the most important skills that children will ever learn, as it leads to greater success in school and later life.

  1. Reading is Safer

Many of the most popular video games are multiplayer online games, and this means children may interact with anonymous strangers who could be dangerous. Unfortunately, some child predators use multiplayer online games to contact children. If children do play multiplayer video games online, it’s important for parents to supervise them. Using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to hide children’s personal information also helps to keep them safe. Thankfully, books don’t pose this problem and parents can let their children read unsupervised.

Clearly, there are many reasons why every child should put down their video game controller and pick up a book, so tell us about any we’ve missed by posting a comment below.

About the Author: Cassie is a writer and entertainment blogger who is a self-confessed bibliophile. She hopes this post will inspire you to encourage your children to spend more time reading. She can be reached at cassie@culturecoverage.com

Will Authors Quit Writing in 2016?

photo: Wikipedia       

That seems to be the prediction of Mark Coker, Founder and CEO of Smashwords. Via his blog:

“Many indies and traditional publishers alike reported flat or lower sales in 2015. The go-go days of exponential ebook market growth of the early days (2008-2012) are over. As I shared in my November 2014 post, Things Get More Difficult from Here – Here’s How to Succeed, a key factor in the slowdown is an emerging equilibrium for consumption of print and ebook formats. Due to the law of large numbers, ebook sales growth (or declines) will begin to more closely mirror the overall market for all books. The book market is mature and is therefore a slow or no-growth industry.  Additionally, there’s an ever-increasing glut of high-quality low-cost ebooks that will never go “out of print.” These continuing factors paint a picture for a more competitive landscape for authors in 2016 and beyond. Every author will face more competition today and tomorrow than they faced yesterday. In addition to the factors I outlined above and in the “Things get more difficult” post, the growth of Kindle Unlimited presents a new existential threat to the industry (more on this in the next item).

 Kindle Unlimited will gut single-copy sales and drive greater ebook commoditization

Earlier this year I blogged how Amazon’s merchandising pages encourage Kindle customers to read books for free as part of a Kindle Unlimited or Amazon Prime subscription. Most of the publishing industry remains oblivious to the long term ramifications of Amazon’s strategy here (not a surprise, because despite Amazon operating with amazing transparency and predictability, most industry watchers and media still don’t understand Amazon’s long term self publishing strategy). The issue of immediate concern is that Amazon’s merchandising tactics discourage readers from purchasing single copy ebooks. Amazon is training Kindle customers to view even 99 cent ebooks as too expensive when other books can be read for what feels like free. Amazon’s success with Kindle Unlimited, which now offers over 1 million books almost exclusively supplied by indie authors is going to gut the market for single copy sales at Amazon. It’ll be death by a thousand small cuts.  The pain will be felt by four publishing industry constituencies. In descending order of pain, and in order of who will feel it first, these constituencies include traditionally published authors and their publishers which I’ll consider as a single group; non-exclusive indie authors; Amazon-exclusive authors; and competing retailers.

Basically what Mark is saying is that selling single e-book copies, or even e-book bundles will soon become obsolete, replaced by subscription programs. The only question is whether the distributors assume an pool-sharing model (where money is collected and distributed equally among contributors as the distributor sees fit) or agency (where the contributor is paid for each book downloaded or read as an individual unit). If Mark’s prediction is accurate, and Amazon shifts more and more e-books into a subscription program, then you should know much much harder it will be for an indie author to make money. Especially since Amazon continues to dominate e-book sales. Read his post; it’s worth your time.

He also writes:

“During the early days of the indie ebook revolution, it was relatively easy for a quality writer to earn good income self-publishing low-priced ebooks. The market was doubling and tripling each year, readers hadn’t really seen 99 cent ebooks before, and everyone was happy.  As I mentioned in the “Ebook publishing gets more difficult from here” post, the exponential growth masked challenges that market’s maturation has now brought to light. Many indies who quit their days jobs to pursue writing full time will find they need to return to a “real” job in 2016, especially authors for whom writing is their sole source of income and they’re already feeling challenged to make the monthly rent. This means production will decline among the indie midlisters. As I’ve been telling the audiences for my ebook publishing workshops for the last seven years, if you want to make a lot of money publishing ebooks get a job at McDonalds instead. Publishing has always been a tough business. Witness the fact that most traditionally published authors must maintain day jobs. Ebook publishing is NOT the path to riches except for a very few authors. Yes, I’ve been pleased see the many Smashwords authors whose indie ebook earnings have allowed them to pay off mortgages, buy homes and save for retirement. These stories inspire me, yet we must remember these are the exceptions, not the rule. In 2015 I witnessed a growing desperation among many bestsellers, some of whom – I can imagine due to their prior successes with indie publishing – had might have changed their lifestyles or quit their day jobs. These authors are now feeling the financial and emotional pain of struggling to make ends meet. I hate to see this pain and anguish. As I’ve advised in the past, your prior success is no guarantee of future success. If you’re among the many Smashwords authors who’ve been blessed and have done well, or if you’re fortunate enough to sell well in the future, please bank that money when it comes. Pay off your debts and be conservative with your savings so you can build up your rainy day fund.”

No one has ever said publishing was easy, but I’ve noticed big-time indies are often more optimistic than the rest of us into the future of indie publishing, in terms of making serious money and not just doing it as a side-hobby. It’s easier to think earning money writing is easy and Amazon is great if you’re one of the lucky few to earn 6- or even 7- or 8- figures a year writing, just as a lot of the blockbuster best-sellers in the traditional system rarely complain about their publishers or support changes to the traditional publishing system that are needed. It’s a matter of whose bread is begin buttered by whom, I guess. I’d guess an author has maybe a 2% chance at best of earning enough money a year to sit around and write (and do writing-related activities) all day. That includes authors who could do that, but who choose to maintain other occupations, such as with non-fiction writers. And that’s just to pay bills; that’s not the lavish lifestyles some of them live.

David Boyle of the Society of Authors, based in the UK, writes:

“You worry a little, as an ebook author, that people might be sceptical that you have ever written anything. Or indeed whether all that writing exists in any real sense, since you can’t see it on your shelf. I mean, where is it? You can’t lend it, copy it or give it as a present. Yet bizarrely, online pirates seem capable of giving it away for free within days of it going on sale.

There are certainly advantages to writing the new generation of ebooks that are designed as such, rather than as reluctantly issued e-versions of printed books. They are often a convenient length – maybe a fifth or quarter as long as a traditional book, just long enough to read on a transatlantic flight or a train to Scotland. And they are priced low enough to sell widely. It is a marginal decision to buy a short book at £1.99 or £2.99. You might as well buy it as not.

an ebook writer, I’m only too aware of the problem flagged up by the Society of Authors, that the income of writers is still falling. I certainly agree that authors should get at least half the royalties on ebooks; the big publishers often fob them off with 25% or less. Well, I would say that.

Yet this is not primarily a difficulty with ebooks. It is a symptom of two more fundamental, linked problems. The competition watchdogs have allowedAmazon and the big supermarkets to strangle what had been a working business model. As a result, the remaining, desperately consolidated, mainstream publishers are trapped in a business model that works for nobody – except perhaps for the 5%, the mega-earning authors, who take 43% of all the money.”

Though Mr. Boyle says he will continue writing (and I assume working his financial services job while he writes on the side), no doubt many authors will come to the conclusion that yes, it’s really, really hard to earn a living from writing and the time spent writing could be better done doing other productive things.  I think his concern is more aimed at the Big Five traditional publishers, who are losing to Amazon and who don’t offer a good deal on e-book royalties to their writers. I can’t speak for smaller presses.

So writers of the world: How many of you will continue to write, and how many will decide the time spent writing just isn’t worth it anymore?

Nielsen says: More Dead Trees Coming

A recent blogpost by Joe Wikert, Director of Strategy and Business Development at Olive Software, recaps data from Nielsen Bookscan on the reading habits of Americans. Here is Joe’s analysis:

Self-publishing and the Big Five are crowding out everyone else – According to Nielsen’s data, from Q1 2014 to Q1 2015, self-published books have grown from 14% to 18% of the overall market. In that same period the Big Five’s share has grown from 28% to 37%. Meanwhile, the rest of the market, all the large, medium and tiny publishers, have seen their share decrease from 58% to 45%.

The print/e split is now roughly 74%/26% – Plenty of articles have been written about the plateauing ebook market. Most publishers report ebooks represent anywhere from 15% to 30% or so of total revenue. According to Nielsen, the current state of equilibrium is closer to a 74%/26% split. That ratio varies widely by genre, btw, but it’s worth looking at your own rate to see how it compares to the overall industry average.

Price drives ebook interest – According to Nielsen’s consumer survey, almost 60% of respondents said they’d choose e over p if the savings is at least $4 for the former. Additionally, approximately 50% said they’d do the same even if the ebook is only $2-3 cheaper than the print version. So as publishers wrestle back consumer pricing via the new agency model, driving ebook prices up, it’s clear they’re inadvertently (and sometimes deliberately) nudging consumers back to print.

Consumer prefer print and e, not or – 49% of consumers surveyed said they bought print and ebooks in the past 6 months vs. 42% who only bought print and a paltry 9% who only bought e. Just because a consumer buys ebooks doesn’t mean they’ve abandoned print. This is a huge opportunity most publishers are overlooking. Why aren’t there more digital products that complement print rather than assume the ebook is replacing the print one?

Amazon dominates subscriptions too – It’s been hard to find data on the all-you-can-read ebook subscription market but Nielsen is finally shining some light on the model. And just as they do pretty much everywhere else, Amazon is crushing it. First of all, according to Nielsen only 5% of consumers have signed up for any ebook subscription solution, so the market remains small. Kindle Unlimited led the way with the largest chunk of market share, jumping from approximately 40% in January 2015 to almost 60% in April. Scribd and Oyster were tiny players by comparison in that period, and they’re only getting smaller. Given their teensy share of a small segment, it’s no wonder Oyster is going away soon.

Let’s add that many e-books do not have ISBN numbers and their sales don’t count. If they were, the share of self-published would be higher, between 20-25% of all sales. The takeaway here is the squeeze smaller companies are holding, every single publisher that isn’t the Big Five or one of their imprints. This is worrying, because most publishers are not big corporations or their subsidiaries. If the trend continues, you will see a gap between the select few who get a major publishing contract, and those who self-publish. Those who pursue an indie publisher could wind up at a disadvantage down the road.

Like most people, I prefer print books, but I’m more likely to buy e-books. Why? I spend all day on screens, and print books are essentially my “escape”. With non-fiction, I like being able to physically have information I may need later. Anecdotally, most people I know who are not avid readers prefer print to e-books, though nearly all own some type of e-reader (includes smartphones).

The publishers are overpricing most e-books, and it’s pretty clear they want to protect paper sales. That’s partly why paper is still strong- most people figure for $15 they should just get the paperback. Personally, I think that’s a mistake- the e-book ought to complement the print book, not compete against it. If self-published e-books continue to rise, this model may change as publishers much charge a price comparable to an indie-published book, which means growth in e-books.

Subscription models are the new model of business for many distributors, whether or not they’re good for content creators. Increasingly, consumers expect to get a buffet at their business of choice, paying a flat rate for all the products they can consume. The problem is, not all subscription models are sustainable, and many content creators (rightfully) object to some of the practices by the distributors, namely in how little the creator gets compensated while the distributor keeps most of the money. To be fair, a lot of authors have complained about this with the traditional publishing model too, and it is a legitimate topic of discussion.

The conclusion: Continue to write e-books, but don’t stop killing those trees just yet. A lot of readers want them for their books, including yours.

Author Interview: Robert Krenzel, A Veteran Who Helps Veterans

Today’s author interview is with Robert Krenzel, former Army officer who served in the Balkans, Iraq, and Afghanistan with a specialty in Armor and Cavalry operations. He focuses on writing and helping fellow vets suffering Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a serious problem that sadly goes untreated in too many vets. I spoke to him about his new book and his work.

S: You have some great military experience which suits you to write novels based on the battlefield. Can you tell me about how your experiences shape your writing?

RK: I think the equation goes something like this: Experience + Research + Imagination = Story. I have been around soldiers most of my adult life so my experiences with them obviously color my approach to writing about them. For example, I can’t write about British troops without balancing the research I have done (not all of it casts them in the best light) against the incredibly positive experiences I had with British troops in Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan! On top of that there is a warm place in my heart for American troops; for one thing you never know what is going to come out of their mouths! In my upcoming novel there are a few scenes that are based on actual conversations I had with members of my tank crew in Kosovo. I think things like that add some color, warmth, and realism to my work…and I think they are a fitting tribute to my brothers and sisters in arms. Oh, and I know what it is like to be absolutely terrified, although that never really happened in combat (it was in an airplane).

S: PTSD is such a major issue, but one which unfortunately is not well understood by the public at large and is not well treated by the VA. Did you ever suffer from PTSD, and/or do you mentor other veterans, but in particular those who have PTSD?

RK: First of all, every war is different for every soldier, and PTSD is not something that goes away. I have seen and done things I would really have preferred to not have experienced, but I know men and women who experienced far, far worse. Yes, I have been diagnosed with PTSD, and it has been a rough road, but I am doing very well now. I try to help others, and I try to raise awareness of this issue in my books. I also support organizations like Invisible Wound, a non-profit founded by friends of mine, Adrian and Diana Veseth-Nelson. Adrian and I served together twice in Iraq; he was decorated for valor (a well-deserved medal, by the way), and experienced some horrific things along the way. Check out their FaceBook page at https://www.facebook.com/InvisibleWound (BW note: Consider supporting veteran organizations which work directly with vets, such as Invisible Wound)

S: Tell us your thoughts about the self-publishing vs. traditional publishing path for authors. Why did you choose your path?

RK: My genre is not one of the most lucrative, and I was spending more time trying to convince agents that my book was worth their time than I was making the book worth the reader’s time. I also think independent publishing has a tremendous future. To top it off, the process of publishing was both fun and rewarding!

S: Have you ever attended a writer’s conference? If so, what was your experience?

RK: I have never attended a writer’s conference. The closest I came was taking an online course on writing improvement; it involved a great deal of writing and feedback from other writers. I really enjoyed the interaction with other authors and potential authors. That course was so helpful in fact that the opening scene of “Times That Try Men’s Souls” originated as a homework assignment. I got feedback from my peers, developed it further, and am very pleased with the results.

S: How do you deal with negative feedback about your writing? Do you get back more positive or negative feedback?

RK: I have been fortunate to get mostly positive feedback. What negative feedback I have gotten has been constructive; I have been able to learn from it and use it to improve my writing. I also bear in mind that no matter how well I write, not everyone is going to like my work. Many people do, and I love writing, so that is what really matters.

S: How many Gideon Hawke novels do you intend to write? And tell us a little more about Gideon.

RK: I will write until the story has told itself. I have ideas for several more books in the queue, and it was a very long war! As long as Gideon remains committed the Cause I will continue to write about him.

Tell you more about Gideon? I will give you a little teaser about “Times That Try Men’s Souls”: Gideon’s biggest flaw is that he is too protective of those he cares about. He is willing to take risks, but he holds back others who are willing to do the same. Let’s just say that causes conflict.

Check out Robert’s website and Facebook page:

www.facebook.com/GideonHawkeNovels

http://robertkrenzel.com/

You can find “This Glorious Cause” on Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/This-Glorious-Cause-Gideon-Hawke/dp/1511465190   

Seeking my Mr. or Mrs. Slave…ahem, Guest Bloggers

I am opening up my space to folks who would like to reach an audience of several hundred unique visitors per month, and have a passion for books. It’s very simple: You reach out to me, and tell me what you want to write about. If I like it, the post is yours for an available post day, which is typically Monday or Thursday.

If you are an author, and you want a review or a interview (author or character), you may message me. Unless I previously agreed to an interview or book review before September 1, I am seeking only children’s literature, or books written by kids. Books can have pictures, but they must be mostly text and targeted at an audience for 8+. Also, you must be 14 years old to request any review or interview. Otherwise, I need a parent’s permission first.

You are not required to offer me a reciprocated post, but if you do, I am more likely to take you up. So go ahead and send away- welcome to Bradan’s World!

bonus if you got the reference in the title. Post it here and let’s see who gets it first!

My Interview With The Wynn Brothers

First, I want to give a big thank-you to Francis Powell, author of Flight of Destiny, for interviewing me for his blog. Check it out, and say hi to Francis! In the meantime, stay tuned for an author interview from him.

I spoke to Todd and Tim Wynn, co-authors of Trespassers, to talk about their sci-fi humor novel. Just picture the premise of aliens landing on earth and searching for that special something…only it’s not quite the something you think it is. Let’s visit the Wynn brothers world:

S: Let’s start with your book. What made you decide to write this book, as opposed to any other concept you and your brother might have had?

WB: Like most writers, we’re always juggling multiple stories and trying to decide which to focus on. In this case, it was as if the novel decided on its own. “Trespassers” didn’t have an outline or any characters in place. It just started with page one and took off from there. It started off so fun to write that we just stuck with it.

S: In Trespassers, you indicate that the real reason aliens might visit us is for vaccination purposes. I LOL’d on this. Give us the in-depth on how you came up with that as the real reason they come here.

WB: Well, the real reason they come here is for vacation, due to Earth’s natural beauty, which is a product of it abundant water supply. The reason they abduct Earthlings is to make vaccines to protect themselves from Earth’s microorganisms, similar to anyone who visits a foreign country. This idea came from simply asking ourselves why visitors from another planet would want to abduct a local. We knew we didn’t want it to be anything that we’d seen before, so the answer was a product of looking for something new and satisfying the needs of the alien vacationer.

S: Is the novel meant to be a stand-alone or part of a larger series?

WB: “Trespassers” is definitely a stand alone, but it’s a world that we could revisit. There are certainly ideas floating around for continuing the story and following these characters. We’ve also gotten many requests from readers for a sequel or even a prequel, so an expansion of this story is not out of the question.

S: What was your favorite/least favorite character to write about?

WB: Our least favorite characters didn’t make the cut for that very reason, and they’re not in the book.

As for our favorite, Bruner was always fun to write, because we were giving him so much to handle—too much for anybody. His success came through his ability to handle failure, and we gave him plenty to handle. But it also showed that he’s driven by his faith to this purpose that he doesn’t even understand, but he can feel it’s there, for better or worse.

S: Did you show this to anyone before publishing it? What was the response to your novel?

WB: We definitely believe in early readers. We don’t rely on them to edit our manuscript, but after we spend so much time with the characters and the story, it’s good to hear the perspective of someone who’s reading it fresh for the very first time.

For “Trespassers,” the response from the early readers was overwhelmingly positive, and we got some very helpful input that made the novel even better in the final edit.

S: If you could have added one thing to your novel that you didn’t in the final version, what would it be?

WB: We’ve learned not to look back on a finished work and not to second guess it. We’re happy with the final version, and we’re looking forward.

S: What’s next for you two?

WB: We’re currently working on a novel set in the Midwest during the mid-1800s. It’s filled with murder, tornadoes, and three strangers who come together to form a search party to track a wanted man into uncharted lands. And anyone familiar with our work will know to expect plenty of twists and turns that change the way we see each of these strangers.

Buy Trespassers here

Amazon to pay you for giving away free samples

In a move which may make some authors happy, Amazon has decided to pay authors by the number of pages written:

“(Reuters) – It could soon pay more to write lengthier books, if you are an author self-publishing on Amazon.com Inc’s Kindle ebook platform.

Starting next month, the e-commerce giant will pay independent authors based on the number of pages read, rather than the number of times their book has been borrowed.

The move is aimed at authors enrolled in Kindle Direct Publishing platform – which lets authors set list prices, decide rights and edit the book at any time – and is applicable to e-books made available via the Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Owners’ Lending Library programs.

Self-publishing has transformed what it means to be an author. Simply uploading a document and adding a cover layout to it can turn anyone into a published writer on ebook platforms such as Kindle and Smashwords.

Amazon said on Monday the move would better align payout with the length of books and how much customers read.

“We’re making this switch in response to great feedback we received from authors,” Amazon said on its self-publishing portal.

Amazon uses a complex method to determine payments for independent authors – payouts are based on a fund, the size of which is set by Amazon every month.

Under the new plan, authors will get a share of the fund proportionate to the number of pages read.

While independent authors have largely embraced Amazon’s self-publishing platform, the company has in the past been involved in bitter fights with large publishers.

The company had a stand-off with publisher Hachette Book Group and some authors last year over pricing. The fight ended when Hachette and Amazon reached a multi-year agreement for e-book and print book sales in November.”

This change appears to be encouraged by other self-published indie authors but the gist is this: For those who were in Amazon’s KDP program or in Kindle Unlimited, writing longer stories didn’t benefit the writer, so many self-published authors began writing novellas and publishing those as they were shorter and the payouts were better. This way of doing business allowed people who sold short stories at 99 cents to make as much as an author discounting a book to 99 cents. if you get the same rates either way, then why write a 70,000 word book when you can put a short story trilogy of 25,000-30,000 words and sell that?

Everyone gives away page samples, and this move encourages authors to give away more free pages. This way, if someone “tries it before they buy it” you can still get paid. It’s along the same lines of the whole Taylor Swift vs. Apple controversy where Taylor called for Apple to pay artists for songs people streamed during their free trial period. No word if Amazon’s timing was perfect or if they reacted immediately to what was happening with the music industry.

The only catch is, you have to be in KDP to get this benefit. One argument going around is that this is a move by Amazon to try to convince more authors to go exclusive with Amazon. If you can get paid for free samples, versus putting up your book elsewhere and not getting paid for free samples, where you would go?

Actually, that IS the question for all of you. Who among you would take up Amazon’s offer to pay you for sample pages read, in exchange for going exclusive?

New Author Earnings report. And…very good for indie #authors

The friendly folks at Author Earnings have taken it upon themselves to measure how much we’re making-at least if you’ve published anything, which I have not (yet- stay tuned, yung’ns). And a look at this says that if you’re an Author Going On Your Own (AGOYO), the bag is mostly good, but some data is still incomplete, IMO.

First, the bad: Indie book sales per title dropped from a high of $4.26 in October 2014 to $3.87. Some people might say this is great, lower prices=more sales, even if you give away the occasional freebie.

BUT (and there’s always one of these) the average e-book sale price of:

small/medium publisher- $9.53, down from $10.81 in October 2014

Amazon Imprint- $4.29, up from $3.95 in February 2015

Big 5 publisher: $9.83, higher than $9.58 in February 2015.

So while the authors who actually had their book published “legitimately” saw there average price per sale go up, indie sales went down. This isn’t great, because this is the average price for what people actually paid, sans freebies. A lot of this is due to authors who can “box” their books, 3 for 99 cents. This may drive total sales, but the cost per e-book is dropped way down. So what’s the actual sales volume?

may-2015-combined-titlecount

Small and medium indie publishers really took it here!

may-2015-combined-unitsales

201505-marketshare-trend-unitsales-datefix

This chart is significant. For the first time ever, 2015 saw the year where Indie sales actually surpassed the collective sales of the “Big Five”. But this is what happens when you charge $12.99 for an e-book, which is merely a digital file. B&B understands the need to pay for more than one editor, book cover designer, etc., but that is a LOT for an e-book. The authors least bothered? Those who earned success in the pre e-book era (pree-book)

Screen Shot 2015-05-03 at 3.28.19 PM

This is one of the charters I was looking for. Rather than a pie chart which just compares slices of pie versus the total sum, this one shows that every day, indies are selling about 370,000 books, about 100,000 more than “Big Five” published authors. Figure in the high pricing of the e-books.

Author Earnings has their own take on it, which you can read on your own. Here’s the B&B spin:

First, AE is missing one thing- total sales split between the bestsellers and total. The reason we need to see this is to know how much bestsellers are bringing up the market. While 370,000 a day is insanely good, what if the top 25 indies are selling 60% of that. Suddenly the numbers don’t look so appealing to the rest of us. The same with the other published- how many sales are by the bestsellers, versus the rest? I’d like to see that. I have a feeling more than half of total Big Five sales are from the big names and not the midlisters.

Now, to play devil’s advocate, the trad-pubs still have a lot to offer. Since many people still buy print books, medium and larger publishers still have that market cornered since most indies are not very good at handling their own shipping and distribution network. Book translations? Big pubs can take care of that faster than you can, and at no immediate cost to you (though the QUALITY of translation remains to be seen). Want to see your movie on the big screen? While a small number of indies have made it, the largest share of books-to-movies comes from trad-pubbed books. The biggest blockbuster franchises, besides 50 shades, are all trad-pubbed. Indies make a lot of money by quantity more than the other models have.

But the reality is in: cheaper, affordable e-books, written by people who have great stories and were simply not given the time of day by lit agents or publishers, are what readers crave. Authors who can connect with a loyal audience do much better than those who barely acknowledge their fans, except maybe for the occasional retweet or Facebook like. Authors who offer some promo item, whether a “buy 2 get 1 free” deal or a piece of merchandise with every print sale, can engage much faster and more efficiently than when your work is being managed by someone who has one too many authors to promote, and all of them are more famous and respected than you. Also, I am still amazed by how incompetent the publisher’s marketing is. The number one challenge is not to redistribute the wealth, but grow that pie of people reading for pleasure. Put me in charge and you will see book sales increase as I go out to engage kids and adults who might try a book 5 hours a week instead of more Netflix shows.

Finally, to  quote from Author Earning’s October 2014 report:

“What the data tells us, then, is that self-publishing is just as viable as any other form of publishing. Perhaps more so. No one can halt your career because an early title underperforms expectations. You get to hire the editors and cover artists you want to work with. You get to write whatever you want and publish whenever and however often you like. And you can publish every which way. Self-publishing used to close you off to other avenues, now it simply opens them up. Many authors publish in several ways simultaneously.”

“Every author will need to find their own path. There is no one right answer. If there’s anything the data tells us, it’s that readers are starving for great stories at fair prices, and whoever can deliver that consistently has a chance at earning income doing something they love. Maybe not a great chance at earning a full-time living, but a better chance than at any other time in human history. And that must be celebrated, however you crunch the numbers.”

So if you are indie or represented by a small/medium publisher, you could pop the bubbly right about now. While I do not cheer for the demise of the larger publishers, they had it coming. Without being able to tell the reader why one story was better than the other, their high-priced model faltered. Without being able to properly measure quality and an author’s ability to generate sales volume, rather focusing on the already-built “platform” which the author had without the publisher’s help, they struggled to move books. Without the appearance of customer-friendliness as opposed to selling to bookstores and wholesale distributors, they saw their numbers fall.

So if you’re indie, congrats. If not…I sincerely hope your book is getting turned into a movie or tv show soon. Like this author, whom I like a lot.

all graphs in this blogpost were originally published by AuthorEarnings.com

Your Thoughts: Are Novellas the “New” Novels?

What do you think? Given the advent of e-books and free-books and the cost associated for an indie author to pay for editing and other services, plus the sheer number of content available for download and purchase, will the novella form see a revival? or will novellas, which are like “long short stories”, become a fad because people decide they want longer stories (but not too long!) with more substance? From io9:

“Tor.com is moving aggressively into publishing novellas (or short novels) in e-book format, and they just announced their first list of titles. But why is Tor.com (and everybody else) so convinced that shorter is better for e-books? Editorial assistant Carl Engle-Laird explains.

“When asked why Tor.com is focusing on publishing shorter works as e-books, Engle-Laird tells io9:

When the book wars sweep across the galaxy, and the blood of publishers runs down the gutters of every interstellar metropolis, the resource we fight for will not be paper, or ink, or even money. It will be time. For our readers, time is the precious commodity they invest in every book they decide to purchase and read. But time is being ground down into smaller and smaller units, long nights of reflection replaced with fragmentary bursts of free time. It’s just harder to make time for that thousand-page novel than it used to be, and there are more and more thousand-page novels to suffer from that temporal fragmentation.

Enter the novella, an old form with a new lease on life. We expect that the reader who has to fit their reading into their daily commute will appreciate a novella they can finish in a week, rather than a year. We’ll be releasing books that can be begun and completed on just one of those rare evenings of uninterrupted reading pleasure. And we think this will resonate especially with those readers who have so much reading to do that they’ve compressed their habit into a portable device.

Of course, Tor.com won’t just be a science fiction publisher. Our fantasy sensibilities insist on reminding you that novellas aren’t just the future of genre, they’re also our past. Science fiction and fantasy were born in penny dreadfuls, came of age in magazines, and novellas have been essential to their development, from The War of the Worlds to The Shadow Over Innsmouth to Empire Star. Tor.com wants to carry that fantastical history into a future that is beginning to outgrow its magazine predicates, but has no need to outpace its love of excellent stories at the length in which they were meant to be told.”

The Minimum Wage’s Negative Effect on Bookstores

Last year was a breakthrough year for those who believe the minimum wage (MW) needs to be increased. Even as those who showed up to vote last November voted mostly Republican, minimum wage hikes were passed in four states: Arkansas, Alaska, Nebraska, and South Dakota, all with large conservative populations, voted for some type of minimum wage increase. Other locales like San Francisco voted to raise their minimum wage to the $15/hour mark, a move which will be gradually phased in over time.

Why are MW increases so popular? It’s not that hard to see why. If you work an hourly job (your job is paid by the hours you work and is not guaranteed like a salary) you are being told you will make more money from your “greedy” employer, typically a fast-food or big-box chain, who is deliberately screwing you over to keep profits for themselves. Therefore the government will “give you” a higher salary, which will come out of the profit margins of big-box stores and their ilk. The truth is most business owners do not intentionally pay low wages in order to “screw over” their employees; market forces and other factors like cost of living and tax rates impact how much a business owner pays workers. $10.10 an hour in South Dakota is sufficient for the average worker to get by (wage does not count other federal or state benefits for low-income workers which are available), but $15 an hour in Manhattan would keep a worker in poverty. Now $10.10 an hour isn’t going to make people wealthy, but if you’re being promised a few extra hundred or thousand in take-home pay, you’re going to be supportive of these measures.

Also a large number of MW employees are young people or immigrants, a fact which is not often highlighted.

What tends to be missed though, is the effect MW hikes have on small businesses without millions or billions in annual sales. For Costco and other large companies, increase wages is manageable due to their size and for some businesses paying employees more is a benefit because they can retain workers and keep turnover low. If the costs are prohibitive they larger businesses can always charge a little extra for their products or services and if customers are willing to pay more for goods or services to support higher wages for employees (or healthcare for employees), this works for some businesses.

Indie bookstores are in a unique position, which is why I’m focusing on them today. Unlike most businesses, book prices are printed on the books by the publishers and indie bookstores don’t have flexibility to adjust their prices upward to cover the rising MW. Coupled with increasing demand for e-books and Amazon’s increasing status as the go-to place for books, a lot of indies are in trouble. The most recent news here was the closing announcement from a San-Francisco bookstore which came to the conclusion that the “City by the Bay”  was going to have MW wages too high to keep the bookstore open past the end of March(note: the owners say they have a cafe in the store which can survive the MW increase). They aren’t the only SF bookstore to take a hit, either.

Shelf Awareness has an entire article dedicated to this issue facing all bookstores, but especially indies. While many store owners or managers say they’d like to pay their employees more (this is a common sentiment for the vast majority of business owners- very few are truly miserly), economic realities just don’t allow for it for them. Between increased costs, inflation, and competition from Amazon and other e-book distributors, MW hikes have a real shot at closing down a lot more stores than Borderlands.

Of course some will argue Amazon and other e-book distributors are the real “culprits” but MW increases have a real chance at hastening the demise of the indie bookstore.