I was asked recently, by Francis de Aguilar, a writer friend, what first caused me to “Become interested in African wildlife.“
A simple question.
I told him it was after visiting South Africa, particularly the time I spent in the Hluhluwe Umfolozi Game Reserve.
However, Francis’s question stayed in my mind; although I answered him, it left a nagging doubt in my mind I was wrong.
After pondering for a few days, the truth unravelled itself. I now knew the correct answer.
My interest with Africa and its diverse multitude of wildlife was first stoked by reading the novels of Wilbur Smith.
Back in the early seventies, I picked up a rather dog-eared and worn copy of ‘When the Lion Feeds’, which I devoured within two days. I followed that book by purchasing ‘The Dark of the Sun’, again read within a few days.
I was about sixteen years old and, for the first time, ‘hooked’ on a particular author.
I read all of Wilbur Smith’s books up to the 1991 publication of ‘Elephant Song’. My favourite book, (excluding any of the ‘Courtney or Ballantyne Novels’) must be ‘Eagle in the Sky’…or ‘Cry Wolf’…or ‘A Sparrow Falls’….or…
But I digress.
The real answer to the question posed to me by Francis is, it was reading these books when I was a young man that stimulated my imagination, made me think about the heat, the vastness, the veld, the bush and, of course, the animals of Africa.
For years, I carried my imaginings of the world Wilbur Smith planted in my head with his words, until one day I had the opportunity to visit Africa myself.
I was not disappointed.
The continent is mind-bogglingly vast. The scenery, the smell, the sun, the animals, the people, everything exceeded my expectations, bettered those imaginings I held onto for so long. This I find is something rare, very few places ever exceed our own imaginative conceptions.
I have returned to Africa many times, to different areas, different countries within this vast dark continent.
You may have heard it said, Africa captures, not only your heart but soul and once you have been, you can never really leave.
These are some of the most honest words ever spoken.
I am here now, but part of me will forever remain in Africa.
Now, being a writer, I cannot leave an article like this with just one conclusion when I know there are always several stories to be told about everything.
Therefore, I would like you to also consider this from Wilbur Smiths point of view; or maybe it is just my own interpretation of what I think his view may, or could, be.
Who knows? But I’ll write my thoughts out anyway.
I wonder if dear old Wilbur thought of me when he wrote his first novel?
I don’t mean me as an individual, as a single person but as a conceptual being. I wonder If Wilbur thought he may influence some young man, somewhere in the world, to fall in love with Africa as he typed out his very first paragraph of ‘When the Lion Feeds’ way back in the early 1960’s. (The book was first published in 1964).
Then, my thoughts ask the very same question of myself.
Do I have an image, a conceptual ‘personage’ in my mind who may, one day, be influenced by my own work, by my writings, by the tiny little black shapes, these strange runes of ink I scattered across countless pages?
The answer is yes, I do have such a notion, albeit a rather intangible abstract.
Which leaves you to ask yourself the same, do you?
Think about it carefully, do you?
If you would like to take part in making my rather intangible abstract notion a reality, then please start by reading ‘Within the Invisible Pentacle’ a collection of thought-provoking stories which are not quite as you may think they may be…
Does this title sound stupid? (Don’t answer that.)
I was trying to come up with a fancy, clever, literary genius of a title, one which would give an undeniable clue to the content of this post.
I got a few good ones lined up and then re-read them. Most were so oblique even I forgot the connection. Others read more like popular newspaper headings than a serious post about writing.
In the end, I settled for what you have above. Which cannot be too bad because here you are, reading me waffling on about something inane.
Okay, on with my post.
Many of my indie author friends, especially those who tend to write in a specific genre, have one or more series of books.
I know writing a book series is no new thing, but it is one which has become resurgent in popularity over recent years. This is partly because of a shift in reading habits, which in turn is partly influenced by film and television ‘franchises’. (I shall not go into the reading trends and patterns regarding general social psychology of the masses here… albeit a subject I love.)
The ideal is to have someone buy a copy of one of your books and like it so much they rush out and by the whole series… or nowadays go to an online bookstore; not so much fun as browsing a ‘real’ shops shelves but quite practical, especially for social hermits.
Anyway… I seem to be digressing.
The problem, it seems, lays with having ‘that someone’ buy the first book of your series.
Herein lies a quandary.
Until such a person has a copy of your book in their sticky mittens, they shall never know how captivating the story is. They shall never know your carefully crafted characters, fall in love with your protagonist or hold disdain for your antagonist.
Neither will they learn how well you write, narrate or how charming a tale spinner you are. Which would all be a ‘bit of a shame’.
Oh, I hear so many of you thinking, “it’s all about promotion and marketing, that’s how you get readers.”
Well, yes and no.
Yes, it is about promoting your works, and NO… Allow me to enlighten you on my reasoning.
It is not all about promoting your books. (‘Promoting’ is a word I shall use as an ‘umbrella’ term to include marketing, advertising and such hoo-ha for the duration of this post.)
It is all about promoting you, your books, both individually and collectively, and your author brand, in a certain way.
If I were to cover all these topics, in one post, I would end up writing an entire thesis three thousand pages long, neither something I have time to write in one sitting, or, I am sure, you have time to read. So, I shall concentrate purely on one aspect and follow up, in future posts, on other relevant subjects.
As the amazingly conceived title of this post states, I shall continue discussing your book series.
It has become something of an urban legend, a myth which survives to the present day and one which far too many authors still fall prey to, that is the one which says: “if you give your first book of a series away as a freebie you will gain lots of new readers who will buy all your other books.”
That is a lie, promoted by those who generate financial gain from (often desperate) indie authors. Free may have been a viable option in the early days of the internet when Amazon was just a simple bookstore when indie authors were referred to as desktop publishers and vanity press meant having a book for sale outside of a mainstream publishing house. (See: https://wp.me/p5nj7r-1fn )
There are ways forward, none are push and go or plug and play. Each takes time and consistent effort to achieve and not all will work equally for all authors, their books or series. Book promotion is not an exact science.
Thunderclaps, Daycause, Blog hops, Tweet chains can all form part of your overall promotional strategy… You know, the carefully planned and timed schedule you have designed. The one which ensures you maximise each promotional effort… Yeh, that’s the one, your synergetic multi-arena integrated sales stratagem for the 2018/19 marketing period.
However, few authors consider writing a further book, or two or three or more to help gain and build readership and, on the face of it, with good reason. After all, writing another book is only adding to the series and that takes us back to square one… doesn’t it?
You see, this is about taking a new approach to authors promotions, in this case, Prequels… now, I know prequels are not new; way back when, we had Charlotte Brontë’s ‘Jane Eyre’ (1874); but did you know that Jean Rhys wrote the ‘Wide Sargasso Sea’ in 1966 as a prequel and response, describing the background to the marriage Jane learns about after going to work for Mr Rochester?
How about a prequel with a difference?
Let me ask you some questions…
What if… you could write a shorter book, a book especially targeted at attracting readers to your current series?
What if… a group of authors would help you promote that book?
What if… a book brand would include your book in its promotions, making it constantly visible to a global audience, online, in magazines and via social media?
What if… you became an Electric Eclectic author?
Currently, Electric Eclectic are well known for their ebook Novelettes, their short stories books which help connect readers and authors.
But now, Electric Eclectic is launching a form of book they call a ‘Proquel’
These are Prequels, Character Backstories and Parallels designed specifically to introduce readers to your book series, in fact, the name Proquel is simply an amalgamation of the words promotion and prequel. (Pretty cool, yeah?)
Now… unlike many books, an Electric Eclectic proquel is unashamedly a promotional tool. While there is no compromise regarding the quality of content or storytelling, these books do not have to be full-length novels, but novella’s, with a suggested word count of between 17K and 40K words.
Once assessed and accepted by Electric Eclectic, your book(s) benefit from all the marketing and promotional activities of Electric Eclectic and your fellow EE authors.
You will have your books on the Electric Eclectic website along with a personal author page and much more. You can check out the Electric Eclectic website HERE.
And…this is the BEST BIT… you make money on your proquels too… yep, you still earn full royalties on your book sales.
Electric Eclectic is NOT a publisher and does NOT take royalties.
You will get all the above for a minimal fee… and I mean a minimal fee.
You have nothing to lose.
So, why not find out more about becoming an Electric Eclectic author and, how writing just one other book, could help you sell your whole series?
With major ground shifts and changes occurring throughout the publishing and online worlds, becoming an Electric Eclectic author could be the best decision you make this year.
Once we have learnt about something, once we consider we understand it, think we have mastered it, we like to run with it, to keep it.
We are often loath to stop, to give it up… to alter anything.
Many of us are resistant to change, of losing the little comfort zone we made for ourselves. One can liken such to the reluctance of a child giving up a blanket, or a soother.
If we do make the move, we find it easier to be weaned, to slightly adjust, little by little, so we don’t notice the change, or at least that is how we convince ourselves.
The problem is, by the time our situation has evolved in a way which assuages our reluctance, we find we are far behind the madding crowd, so far behind we have little chance of catching up.
In these days of high tech communications and internet connectivity, it is now more obvious than ever before.
Only the fearful and desperate cling to what once was,.
Only the backward and slow reminisce and wish for those ‘good old days‘ when a Facebook post actually reached ALL your ‘friends’ and not just the 3 to 10% they do with today’s algorithms.
The same is true of your book promotions. This is why your sales do not exceed the minimal expectations you tell yourself are reasonable goals, let alone your wishes and dreams to become a consistent bestselling author.
To give away a book for free is an archaic, outdated and outmoded marketing model. One which no longer holds any credence, but one which so many still cling to with dying hope, like a gambler sliding deeper into depressive debt.
Paying another organisation to give your books away is a sign of utter desperation. A despondent cry for help, for someone, anyone to read your story.
In reality, it is authorship suicide; one you may never recover from financially and one which could leave your reputation in raggedy tatters, before you even start.
Book launches and parties no longer pull the crowds. They are a nice way to spend a few extra hours chatting with those you regularly talk to every day; to hear them say nice things about you, your book and “what a marvellous cover” you have.
But such events no longer attract readers. They have been overdone and done over, like an ancient, wrinkled whore, they no longer hold any attraction whatsoever.
Thunderclaps, Headtalkers, Daycause are little more than a (mostly) unseen flash-in-the-pan. A quick blast of tweets and public post which disappear down the scrolling stream faster than Usain Bolt running a hundred meters.
Authors, you NEED to find new ways to promote your works, ways which offer longevity rather than the promise of making a ‘quick buck’ or selling a few more copies of your latest tome overnight… for one night only.
You need to find a simple, ongoing promotional aid which is always working for you, even when you’re not working.
A low-cost way that won’t break the bank, or better still, a way which will pay you a return, a royalty, on your promotional material.
Now wouldn’t that be wonderful…
If only such a thing existed…
Well, such a thing does exist, but only for those who are prepared to move forward, to see the changing lights (mostly red ones) as social media platforms are brought to task and the hyper highway of freedom and unlimited possibility become more crowded, slower and, well… limited.
A small, but growing group of indie authors, are moving forward into the new dawn of altered perception, of interweb reconstruction and publishing future.
It is a group which, (at present), still has its doors open to welcome a few more indie authors inside. Authors with great tales to share, who are well crafted in penning a wonderful story. Authors who are serious about writing, about selling their books, about being authors.
So, what is this group and who are these indie authors?
Simple, we are Electric Eclectic. The book brand which is sweeping the internet.
Before you ask, yes, this is about sci-fi and Robots… but it also about crime fiction, fantasy, steampunk and many other genres. It’s about understanding, imagination and the muse… so read on…
Like all fiction genres, Sci-fi and its many sub-genres must evolve with the times, writers must look to the future. (pun intended)
Czech writer Karel Čapek introduced the word “robot”. It is said his brother suggested using a derivative of the word robata, which means literally “serf labour” and figuratively “drudgery” or “hard work.”
No wonder the robots usually want to revolt, to take over our world. To turn the tables on us!
But, long before the word “robot” was invented, the ideas of mechanical or artificial men was in our ancestors’ consciousness. Early ideas of robots or automata drew inspirations from early writings and figures in mythology, who were described as anthropomorphic and crafted from stone or metal.
Described in the Argonautica as a giant man of bronze forged by the smith Hephaestus, Talos is tasked with patrolling the island of Crete and fending off pirates.
However, he is still partially organic, as is shown in the description of a single blood vessel that runs from his neck down to his ankle. Much like with Achilles and his heel, the vein of Talos is his weakness, and he dies in the story from exsanguination.
This developed into ‘other’ forms of automata,
In ETA Hoffman’s short story, The Sandman, the main character Nathaniel falls in love with the daughter of one of his university professors.
While she is beautiful and elegant, Olympia speaks very little, only responding to conversations with “Ah”.
She is also often motionless for long periods of time.
The people around her find this disconcerting, and it is eventually revealed that she is a lifelike doll.
Enter the early days of Sci-fi as we recognise it now,
Edward Ellis’s Steam Man is an early example of the Edisonade genre of science fiction.
Derived from Thomas Edison’s name, the genre describes stories that feature an ingenious young American inventor, who uses his inventions to go on adventures, solve problems, and defend himself against his enemies. The invention often has many purposes, such as weaponry and transportation.
In this case, the teenage hero is Johnny Brainerd, who creates the steam man and uses it to pull wagons that can carry passengers. Despite its large size, the steam man can run quite fast, and Johnny uses this to his advantage (such as, for hunting buffalo).
An imitation of this story was written by Harry Enton in 1876, called Frank Reade and His Steam Man of the Plains, which also features a young inventor and his robots. Frank Reade’s steam man improves upon the first, with a much more efficient engine due to improvements in hydraulics and use of lighter-weight alloys. Thus, it is faster and stronger. Frank Reade’s son, Frank Jr., would eventually go on to create Steam Man Mark III, and replaced the use of steam with the use of electricity.
This and Steam Man of the Prairies were dime novels, popular fiction that is much like the comic books of today.
Dorothy finds the mechanical man, Tik-Tok, with a printed card suspended from the back of its neck.
The card provides directions for ‘using’ Tik-Tok, such as how to make him speak, think, and move by winding the clockwork in his body. Tik-Tok needs to be periodically wound like a toy to function, as he cannot wind himself up.
Tik-Tok has been referenced in other fiction, and his benign nature subverted into something more sinister, such as in Gregory Maguire’s Wicked and John Sladek’s Tik-Tok.
As I spoke of in the opening paragraphs of this post, the term Robot arose thus…
This famous play, which was successful in its time, describes a factory that makes artificial people or roboti, from synthetic organic matter.
Less like robots and more like androids or cyborgs because of their biological nature, these synthetic people work for humans but eventually organize an uprising, causing the extinction of humans.
Karel Capek’s play is influential for being the first to use the word “robot”, replacing “automaton” or “android”. It is also worth noting that “robota“in Czech means forced labour, of which the robots in the play were made to do.
“Robot:We wanted to be like people. We wanted to become people.
Radius:We wanted to live. We are more capable. We have learned everything. We can do everything.
Robot:You gave us weapons. We had to become the masters.
Robot:We have seen the mistakes made by the people, sir.”
Which basically, and with a giant leap of literary faith, brings us to the time when robots were simply robots, like Robby from ‘Lost in Space’. A time when Isaac Asimov penned ‘I Robot’ and hope for humankind lingered.
We all knew where we stood.
Then along came James Camron who introduced us to Skynet, and all hell broke loose.
So, where does that leave us, how can we tell new, inventive and genuinely futuristic tales of machines, androids and automaton now?
Maybe, a little closer inspection of where we stand now will help us, if we stand on tiptoes and look far over the rising horizon…
Robots are all around us, toiling away in factories and warehouses, busting a gut in landfills and working in hospitals. The NAO model introduces school kids and students to programming and robotics and it also teaches children with autism. Another model, Pepper, was created to work in the service sector; its tasks include attracting potential customers and consulting with buyers.
As the IOActive team discovered, to seize control of NAO you only need to be on the same network as the robot. Experts found vulnerabilities allowing commands to be remotely executed, effectively giving over full control of its actions.
To demonstrate how these vulnerabilities can be exploited, the team forced NAO to demand bitcoins from its human interlocutor.
But real criminals would be limited only by their imagination and programming skills. What’s more, it’s not just NAO that can be infected with ransomware; the more business-oriented Pepper is just as vulnerable, and other models probably are as well.
Just imagine if one fine day a robot teacher or store clerk, in full view of John Q. Public, started swearing and insulting people before going on strike or picking a fight.
You never know.
But why would anyone hack a robot?
What do criminals have to gain here? Won’t it just spoil someone’s day or their life? That might be enough incentive for some hackers, who often do such things just for fun.
But there’s another reason: money.
The profit motive is simple. Buying a robot costs about $10,000; and if it breaks, it must be repaired or replaced.
Both of those require a fair bit of cash, but factor in the downtime cost and reputational loss of having a robot threaten customers and the sum rises considerably.
If an industrial robot is hacked, it can pose an immediate threat to employee safety or production quality.
An attacker compromising a robot in one of those ways might offer a quick solution to the problem, (which they caused), pay a ransom and everything will be just fine.
But, as you might guess, cybercriminals don’t always keep their word. Of course, the vulnerable robot might be hacked again, requiring another payout.
And then, another,and another…
What can be done?
Robots are here to stay (and multiply), so avoiding contact with them is not the way to go. For that, you’d need to invent a time-machine and go back a long, long way as mentioned above.
Instead, users and manufacturers need to be sensitive to robots’ weaknesses to ensure these devices do not go from cutting-edge to catastrophic in the blink of an eye.
Robot creators need to think through security issues in advance before production starts. Today. Better still, yesterday.
Then, after product release, all ears must be kept firmly to the ground to respond promptly to reported vulnerabilities and get them fixed.
…Or some sort of mayhem, a type of life-shattering, civilisation ending apocalypse may just leap from the pages of a book and into reality…
Or maybe that is just my way of stimulating your muse… think on, but carefully and you could join the ranks of Robert A. Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke, H. G. Wells, Jules Verne, Edgar Rice Burroughs and Isaac Asimov.
You see not all sci-fi which includes rouge robots must be apocalyptic, that idea has been done, and done, and done to death. Now it is time for a differing approach.
Take your favourite crime-based books or film, or a combination of both media. Choose a story without any robots and select a character or two.
Now, think of your chosen characters as automaton, combine those two or three films/books plots. (If they are Hollywood or from mainstream publishing, it will not be a difficult task because they use a five, or seven-point, plotline… its what makes mainstream boring and predictable.) and start writing. Don’t copy… No plagiarism allowed; simply let your muse write the story guided by the basic (combination) of the plot(s) outlines.
You will have a brand-new crime story, but one which includes robots. It does not even have to be set in the future or on another planet, it can be urban fiction, steampunk, fantasy… you decide.
What you will have is a cross-genre fictional work which can be promoted to a wider, but targeted audience. That means greater sales opportunities and a much larger readership potential.
Why not make your robot a stooge, a fall guy? Have the reader fall in love with it, empathize with it.
Alternatively, have your robot(s) as the victim, the missing link to solving a situation… not all robots are bad, not all are good, some simply have frailties, others damaged personalities, why, some are even human… aren’t they?
Whatever you do, have fun and visit my website HEREI have a load of crime fiction and other ‘stuff’ you will just love. But don’t just take my word, go and have a look now.
This year 2017 has seen some seismic shifts in the publishing and advertising industries as major issues such as transparency (Note Facebook revealing their loss of Data a short while ago. This note added April 2018) and brand safety have taken centre stage. Next year is shaping up to be no different, as the industry looks ahead to key issues which will dominate the news agenda over the next 12 months and beyond.
“GDPR will hit in May 2018 and with just seven months left to be ready, many within the industry are only just learning about the implications. People are spending more time online across a wider array of devices and are becoming smarter at consuming online content. Consumers are hungry for real content and will be looking for ways to cut out fake news and time-wasting content by seeking out better quality content providers and starting to pay to access the best content.
2018 will continue to deliver opportunity; we all need to think about building interactive audio relationships via Amazon Echo, Google Home and other voice controlled devices, and how virtual reality devices like Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR and augmented reality via the latest generation of iPhones will affect the way we communicate brand messaging to our audiences in new and innovative ways.”
“Native advertising has rapidly gained momentum this year and will continue to do so in 2018. With native ad spend expected to reach more than €13 billion across Europe by 2020, it is safe to say it is no longer just a buzzword, but an essential part of the marketing mix that is finally getting the recognition it deserves from the industry.
“As publishers look to focus on brand safety, transparency, and the user experience, I expect we will see more of a migration to native as developments in creative technology bring more flexibility. By harnessing the capabilities of programmatic, the scale and efficiency of this flourishing format will be a force to be reckoned with.”
Electric Eclectic books incorporate aspects of Native Advertising in their marketing strategy assisting indie authors book sales. The amazing thing regarding Native Advertising is most people will not recognise or notice it occurring because it is an almost subliminal method of carrying your brand message.
THE CONTINUED RISE OF INDIE AND HYBRID PUBLISHING
Traditional publishers may offer prestige, but also limited creative control and royalties. In recent years, independent publishers have accounted for an ever-larger share of the market, with the help of high-quality cover designs, writing, and marketing plans.
Last year, data showed for the first time the share of self-published books and books published by small publishers, at 42 percent, was larger than the market share of big-publishers, at 34 percent.
Ascendant is the phenomenon of hybrid publishing, which includes a variety of publishing models which straddle a middle ground between traditional publishing and self-publishing. Veterans of traditional publishing have left behind their larger companies to bring top skills and experience to the world of independent publishing.
More and more authors are opting for hybrid publishing, which allows them to hold on to creative control and royalties while benefiting from the best of the traditional publishing world.
LONGER SHELF LIFE WITH EBOOKS WILL MEAN INCREASED COMPETITION
With the rise of digital book listings, we are seeing a change in the lifecycle of books. When keeping books available depended on a limited quantity of physical shelf space, it meant books that no longer sold well were removed from shelves as soon as possible.
With digital retailers, there is no such premium on shelf space. With books remaining discoverable indefinitely, authors and publishers may want to take a fresh look at “legacy titles” – books published in the past that are no longer a focus for your attention.
Consider reinvesting in a new cover, book description, and marketing resources to revitalise these titles.
Remember, in this age of digital ebooks and kindle, the more books you have available, the better chance you have to grab your share of the crowded eBook market.
This is one reason you should have a minimum of three marketing branded books working for you and all your prime titles. Electric Eclectic (part of CQ International) is the fastest growing and most inventive brand. Take a peek at their Website.
MORE BOOKS, STAGNATING READERSHIP
According to Pew Research Center, about 73 percent of Americans read at least a book a year.
This is a figure which has remained stagnant since 2012. Meanwhile, the number of books published in the US has grown exponentially since 2010. Self-published titles have grown from 133,036 in 2010 to 727,125 in 2015, an increase of 446.5 percent. (latest full figures available.)
Getting your books to readers has, therefore, become an increasing challenging.
Authors need to work towards “discoverability”, working to develop their own audience as an author and creating strong brand marketing for their books.
Many self-publishing authors also face criticism for poor editing and packaging – with more books on the market, the pressure to create and maintain high-quality presentation is becoming paramount. Pay special attention to your design choices; editing and marketing can help self-published books rise above the rest. But a great cover is your first opportunity to attract readers to your book. A professional cover will help you gain sales. Check out PeeJay Designs by Paul White. They offer a professional, but friendly and communicative service HERE
AUDIOBOOKS ARE GROWING
Audiobooks are the fastest growing sector of the publishing world.
In 2015, the audiobook industry was valued at 2.8 billion dollars. 43,000 books were released that year alone, compared to 36,000 in 2014 and just 20,000 in 2013. (Latest full figures available.)
Since audiobooks do not follow the same agency model as eBooks, publishers have been more willing to experiment with distribution models for audiobooks. In particular, subscription models, such as that of Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited platform, are on the rise. In a similar approach to Netflix or Spotify, the service offers unlimited access to 2,500 audiobooks.
While the cost of creating an Audiobooks is higher than most forms of book creation, including many hardcover formats, it is one of the publishing trends to seriously consider.
As with all relatively new markets, audiobooks platforms, production and distribution methods are only in their infancy, so invention and initiative are prime.
PUBLISHING TRENDS 2018 – SUMMARY
The publishing trends of 2018 are likely to follow the broader patterns seen throughout the decade; the rise of small publishers, digital platforms and new formats.
In other ways, the publishing world will continue to see a backlash to traditional, restrictive and controlled marketplaces during in 2018.
Keeping an eye on such trends can help publishers and authors get a sense of where things are headed in the years to come. The future will be about development, choice and ‘canny’ marketing.
The data reveal what some might consider a surprising generational pattern in book reading.
Young adults, those aged eighteen to twenty-nine, are more likely than their elders to have read a book in the past twelve months.
In 2014, there were more hugely successful movies based on young adult books than ever before. Divergent, The Maze Runner, The Fault in Our Stars, If I Stay, and The Book Thief all appealed to a younger audience and may be causing this surge of interest.
We’ll have to wait to see if this is a passing phase or a longer-term trend.
The survey also noted women are more likely to be the book readers in a household. The average woman reader read fourteen books in the past year, compared with nine books for men.
In 2014, Pew reported that 50 percent of Americans have a dedicated handheld device, either a tablet computer like an iPad or Kindle Fire, or an e-reader such as a Kindle or Nook, for reading digital content. This is up from 43 percent in September 2013.
While tablets are still the most popular electronic way to read digital books… at present, last month The Wall Street Journalpredicted they may be pushed aside by smartphones in coming years.
In the first three months of 2015, 41 percent of ebook buyers read digital books primarily on their tablets, according to the newspaper (citing Nielsen data), and 32 percent read ebooks primarily on their e-readers. However, the publication also reported on a Nielsen survey from this past December that found 54 percent of ebook buyers read on their smartphones at least some of the time. In 2012, that number was just 24 percent.
Fortune cites reasons for the adoption of reading via smartphone:
“Convenience, of course, as well as ramped-up technology that makes reading on mobile phones a more pleasant experience. Smartphone screen sizes, too, are getting larger.”
Okay, that will do for today.
There is a mass of indicators which will need your careful consideration when deciding which tactics to adopt in your overall marketing strategy.
Chose carefully and wisely, invest well and reap the rewards.
Thanks for reading another of my rather out-of-character serious postings… my normal, regular Ramblings shall resume shortly.
I often hear authors sound flabbergasted when their books, even their newly launched publication, the one they have been working on for so long and spent a fortune, in both time and effort promoting and marketing, shows as OUT OF STOCK on major bookstore sites.
I mean, how can a brand-new novel, only published yesterday, already be out of stock? Besides, it has been published as a POD (print on demand) so it can never be out of stock… can it?
Why, if it is available from one site, is it showing as out of stock in another? It all seems so confusing.
I have been asked, “Surely if my potential reader sees out of stock against my book, they will simply by another book, someone else’s book… won’t they?”
My answer is “It is a possibility, even a probability.”
So, why can/does your newly published book show out of stock on some site and stores listings.
There are a few reasons. Much depends on who has published your book. CreateSpace, another online book publisher like Babybook or Smashwords, or a private printing company and, who holds your prime stock, if any?
That last part may sound a strange inclusion when speaking of POD books, but some places will/do hold stock, physical stock of POD books… I bet you never considered that before, did you?
Okay, so let me clarify some of this.
First, let’s speak of those who may hold actual stock of your books.
These are varied, so this is a general overview rather than a focused statement.
Many high street bookstores, even some of the larger chains, do hold some independent authors books. You may have to get ‘lucky’ (or have a proven ‘bestseller’) for your book to take up valuable shelf space which is at a premium at this level of retail, but it can happen.
There are even a few re-sellers and wholesalers who are looking closely at getting more indie authors books in front of the high-street public… but that’s another story (Pun intended.)
Bookstores generally order their books on a fortnightly basis, often guided by their sales/buying/distribution agents convoluted algorithms, which are designed to predict purchasing patterns. Hence, if your book has continued/constant high-volume sales on a site such as Amazon, your book could, possibly, maybe, end up on the shelves of your local bookstore.
This is how the bookstore, should they have an internet presence, (I don’t know one that does not), may list your book as out-of-stock. This does not mean your book cannot be purchased via that particular site, only that the store does not have it on the shelf, or on their warehouse, but your order will be dispatched as soon as the new fortnight’s order arrives from the wholesale/resale company.
The agent will order your book as a multiple/bulk order and distribute copies to the relevant stores they supply the inventory for the two-week cycle. It is these companies who would, for example, buy from Amazon as part of the ‘Expanded distribution’ should you have enabled that option.
Now, let’s get to grips with the sites that do not hold any, or very little, stock and why they may mark your book as out of stock. (This post is Amazon focused, simply because they are the largest bookseller and I am certain almost every indie has or has had, dealings with them.)
Historically, the biggest times of out of stock, or two to three weeks delivery notices, came when Amazon was solidifying its position as the major book distributor in the world. It had a long ongoing, but quiet battle with Lightning Source and the two main suppliers Amazon used as dropships, Ingram and Baker& Taylor.
As part of the ever-growing Amazon domination, it needed warehouse space and to reduce costs, which can spiral, expediently even for a massive organisation.
Thus, Amazon reduced its stock levels of all POD books re-ordering necessary stock on a daily basis. But this was not always enough time for POD printers to supply demand in the timespan, hence out of stock messages appeared.
Now, all this and the continued adjustments since created a shift change in the marketplace. CreateSpace is now undoubtedly the main supplier of indie books to Amazon, as it is an Amazon-owned company. (Even so its demise seems imminent as Amazon is moving this service into its KDP stable.) So, for the least chance of having your book listed as out of stock, or as a delayed delivery, CreateSpace is your best bet at this moment.
Lightning Source, Blurb, Babybooks, Lulu and so on take a secondary seat in the ongoing war for profits, which is what effects your book sales the most. You cannot blame Amazon or Barnes & Noble, Ingram or anybody else, this is what business is about, maximising revenue and profits.
So, on that basis, not one of these companies actually cares about you, or your book. (on an individual basis). It is nothing personal, your book is just another item of stock/listing among the many millions, which needs to be sold. So, if your POD company does not supply in time, has an issue with Amazon, your book may be tagged as out-of-stock.
Oh, occasionally it is a genuine mistake, someone clicks the wrong button, but that is far and less often than many would have you believe.
Even if your book is not listed on the major sites, the POD wholesale/agent distribution factors do still influence the availability of your book.
The note to take from this post, if nothing else, is the misconception most indies have in believing all orders from a POD publisher are printed there and then, to order, on the order/request of each customer. This is not necessarily true, as I have explained above.
Which is why you could see that unwanted message, ‘out of stock’ on your books sales pages, no matter which site(s) you use.
Finally, as a personal disclaimer, arse covering statement… there are far more book publishers/printers/distributors/suppliers than I have mentioned here, like TOAD Publishing… oh that’s my own!
The secret is to choose the one, (or the several), which suits you and your needs the best.
That’s it from me just now. I hope this post has been helpful.
Please subscribe to Ramblings from a Writers Mind, then you will know when one of these sporadic articles has been posted.
In the meantime, you could sit back and relax with some Tales of Crime & Violence… go on, you know you want too. https://goo.gl/8aY9XR
Choose from volume 1, 2 or 3. Better still, grab all three and save yourself from coming back for another!
Like many writers I have a store of part written works. Literary orphans, many of whom deserve better parenting than I have given.
Some, are first drafts of short stories, ones which need attention before I could possibly allow others to set eyes upon them.
Some, are beginnings of new books and novels. Many are several chapters – or more – in length. A few far longer, yet abandoned and gathering dust in the archives of‘I’ll take another look at it, soon, one day, when I have time, sometime.‘
Some, are mere scribblings, outlines of thought, rough drafts of similar concept, or of unjointed notes, sort-of-bullet-points, fleeting notions.
Occasionally, I have pulled the odd page from the depths of neglect. In a few instances, I have reworked such a piece, even developed it into a viable story.
But those times are seldom.
Generally, when I unearth an old unfinished, partly written, abandoned tale, I quickly scan it, faintly recall its birth and return it, with a promise of coming back and spending some time with it ‘when I can give it the attention it deserves.’
Which is probably, almost certainly, a long way off from this current day, like… never.
We make the excuse of having more pressing and urgent tasks as current commitments. We enjoy the conception of creation, of having new babies in the making and we look forward to the birth of out next.
That is, if they reach as far as the publicatory birth. If our current focus is not waylaid or distracted by another fancy, another attractive proposition of literary lust which causes us to forsake the unborn penned pages, formed only weeks ago, during our crazed desire to conceive another narrative fable.
We, as writers, are not good role models for caring and nurturing our creativities.
This is, as you can tell, one of the ‘things‘ which I have been silently musing over during the past however-long it has been.
I wanted to understand why I could not simply open a file, drag out the unborn foetus of past indulgence and continue writing where I had left off. Even a re-read and re-write, rather like a genetic splicing of characteristics, to take each past, abandoned child of mine, from infantile scrawling to full blown manuscripted beauty and let them loose in the world.
So, I tasked myself to do precisely that. To wrench open the doorway of dusty archives and let the light flood in.
I was astounded by the mass of unloved writings huddled in the dank corners of my RAM. However, I was determined to make amends for the neglect suffered by these poor, unassuming, word documents. After all, they never asked to be created.
One by one I read the works.
By the time I reached mid-way point of the fifth part-work, I had my answer.
It is all to do with mood, muse and moment. At least it is for me.
Allow me to explain…
As I said earlier, literary lust and crazed desire set us on a special relationship in the attempt to conceive a beautiful outcome, a desired work of the bestselling nature.
While our mindset is concentrated, focused on a single relationship we flourish, some of us are capable of holding two, maybe three such affairs on a steady and productive track.
But each and all of these are balancing on a knife edge of frustration, distraction and boredom. Unable to help ourselves, our minds are constantly on the look-out for other attractive propositions and exciting ventures.
Therefore, once our muse is diverted, the love for what is under our fingers wanes. Rarely is it lost, just lessened, it diminishes, at least for the present.
Then, one day we find these lost loves, or that which we once begat from such a relationship; they reach out, arms feebly grabbing for our attention.
But are we ready to take them to our bosom once more?
Most time, the shame is, we are not. We are not ready or willing. So, we slam the door in their faces, committing them to the darkness of closed files one again.
Why are we so cruel in our neglect?
The answer I have found is that mindset I mentioned earlier. To pick-up and move forward from our past indulgences, we must rekindle the fondness we felt before, relight the old flame of particular creation.
Without us being ‘in the zone’ with regards to each individual story, we shall never see them grow into the works they surely deserve to be.
Maybe, to assuage your guilt, the shame and self-reproach I have now raised in your heart and mind, because of your own wicked neglect over your part works, maybe you should unlock the archive doors and take some time with your unborn literary children.
Bring them out of the shadows, let them dance in the sunlight of new development and re-writing nirvana. You never know what wonderful orphans you may have forgotten.
Thank you, for reading another of my Ramblings. I hope you took something away with you from these words?
Please share Ramblings from a Writer’s Mind with your friends and don’t forget to follow this blog too.
Perhaps you would like to read more of my writings? You can find my books and links to my other blogs on my website.
I first posted this about two years ago, but like many bits & bobs, it became lost in the never ending scroll of past posts. I guess that is a modern phenomenon we all have to come to terms with.
Anyway, on with the post…
Tonight, I walked home along the same route as always, habitual, predictive.
As I turned the corner onto Star Street, I noticed at the entrance to the multi-story car park, next to the twenty-four-hour parking sign, an illuminated soda machine. My stride faltered, I paused, standing looking with curiosity.
I passed this way a hundred times, a thousand times without noticing the machines existence. How could that be? How could I not notice such a prominent fixture, a glowing block of red and white? The machine was designed to scream out ‘look at me’.
Silhouetted against the glowing structure was a woman’s figure. She was standing still, totally immobile. The hair on each side of her head was like sharp shards radiating outwards. I wondered for a moment if she had been struck by lightning, or shocked by the machine.
I looked on, the woman remained immobile. It was then I noticed how quiet everything had become. Vaguely, in the background was the ever present rumble of city life, a cacophony of indistinguishable sounds, punctuated by the occasional siren.
But that was it.
Here, within the realms of my vision, all was still. No cars, no people, no movement. This is when my seventh sense kicked in, my writer’s sense. My mind started to ask me questions, sparks leapt from one neural pathway to another, reflection, consideration, conjecture meshed and melded into a fast flowing string.
Was this a frozen moment, a rift in the time-space continuum? What choices did I now have and what were the possible outcomes? Was I standing at an intersection of the multiverse? Was this the place where a thousand possibilities lay, invisible threads, a twisting mesh of crossing fortunes, a complex delta of potential and probability?
Would my next actions, or inactions, lay my out future, would they alter my destiny. Wealth, fortune, life, death. Choices. Or was all predestined? Was I merely following a predetermined path towards an inevitable future?
Did she, the silhouette, hold the key, the answers? Was the light surrounding her flooding from the soda fountain or emitting from her very being? Did she hold the secret?
My heart was pounding. I wanted to approach her, ask her. Yet something held me back. I do not think it was fear; apprehension maybe, or something undefinable, something there are no words to describe.
The woman moved. Walking forward towards the machine. I heard three coins drop. Saw a slender finger extended, pushing her selection. A rattle and thump as the can fell. Still not moving I watched as she stooped and retrieved the can.
A click, a hiss. The woman tilted her head back and drank thirstily. Gulping the contents. Lowering her head she drew a cuff across her mouth and casually tossed the empty can into a waste bin before turning and walking away.
Once she had been swallowed by the darkness. I found the ability to move. I sauntered over and looked into the bin. An excess of brown fluid was still dripping from a Dr Peppers can onto the waste below.
My imagination had not finished with me yet. Questions kept springing into my mind. Had she actually brought a can of Dr Peppers? Or did the fact I looked, that I observed, changed the very nature of this reality? Had my presence altered the state of things, transformed the material quality of being? After all, our actions, our existence is subject to the laws and principles of quantum physics, are they not?
A car wound its way down the ramp, headlights blazing as it exited the car park. A group of people wandered around the corner, talking, joking, and laughing. Their voices seemingly activating an ‘on’ switch. Suddenly the city sounds became loud and clear. No longer the muffled white background noise they were a moment ago.
That was it.
The quantum gate had closed. The rift sealed. My chance to alter my destiny whipped away by an ethereal wind, stolen by inexorable march of time. Yet my writers mind still wrestles with the possibilities.
Maybe my thoughts, at least some of them, will find their way into a story, or become the premise of a future novel. Or maybe they shall just haunt me forever more?