Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The big 6 Publishers tightening the screws on Indie Authors

Best as you would think, the trenches between Publishers and Indie Authors could not be dug any deeper, it seems the big Publishing Houses have decided to take out the big spades and digging frantically into the underground as if they could undermine Indie Authoring all together.

Rumours have it, that the big 6 publisher of NY are tightening the screws on Indie Authoring. This time they are using the authors already in their stables as a sort of Gate Keepers by demanding that the refrain from providing Indie Authors or unknown Authors with blurbs and thereby helping these newer authors to advance their works.

This is, said in the nicest manner I can think of, a highly peculiar choice of tactics for a number of reasons:

First of all, artist of all times have had this tradition of helping newcomers on their way. From painters to musicians to magicians and to authors, the established have always felt an obligation to help the new kid on the block to success. Why? Becasue at some point someone did the same for them and they remember how much it meant to them.

Secondly, as stated at the top of this post, the trenches have already been dug deep enough and the effect has been the same every time: the more the Publishers complain and moan and the more they put hindrinces in the way of upcoming authors, the more Indie Authoring is boosted.

A third reason is that the possibilities of the internet completely takes away the Publishing Houses´ monopolylike grip on authors. If they do not up themselves and make firm decisions to listen to the authors and beginning to understand that authors are not their costumers, they are, in fact, their providers and breadwinners, they might very soon find semselves sitting on a branch that starts making cracking noises. Because if they continue to fail, others, like Amazon, are ready to take over.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Books on Feijer - new humorous novel

Hi, here is the prologue of a novel I am working on. Feel free to comment:

It looks quite ordinary, Hickory Street in Walnut Port, but it really isn´t. If you were a tourist driving through it would seem like any other street in small town USA. A few closed factories, a worn down school and a small mechanics shop with rust deterred signs hanging from the few eyes at the wall that had yet not fallen off. Scattered between these sorrow excuses for commercial and public buildings people live in houses that are as well kept as is possible with the means they have at their disposal.But if for some strange reason you would decide to make a stop to see the town, you would get a whole other perspective on Hickory Street.In number five the Friedenhoffs, a family of six children and their parents. They are a bit too religious if you ask their neighbors. You probably wouldn´t, though. It would be a mistake. As a stranger you would get nothing but a grunt or two - and that´s if you´re lucky. Most people get nothing at all.Every Sunday Mr. and Mrs. Friedenhoff walk to their car, an old Volvo Station Wagon with extra seats in the back. They are all dressed up for church and followed by their six well combed kids. Five of them look exactly like their father. The youngest boy not so much. No one knows why, but there are more than enough ideas to go around: the milk man, the post man, the pizza man, even the paper delivery boy, but that´s a bit over the edge. Of course no one says anything out loud. After all, one should be a good neighbor and keep such things to one self. So it´s only during the weekly bridge night at the Wilfords´ or the Hansson´s the talk goes. They meet every Saturday to play bridge and to share a meal. It’s not the only sharing going on, but that´s a secret between Mrs. Hansson and Mr. Wilson. Well, actually one more person knows, but we´ll get to that later.Further down the street we have the oldest house in town, a brick house from 1901. Mr. Hound has lived here for 20 some years. No one knows exactly how old he is, but he was already an old man when he moved in, so he must be at least 80. The kids around the block says about 500 years and they tend to tease him when they can´t come up with anything else to do. And finding a way to tease him is not much of an effort, because Mr. Hound fully lives up to his name. He looks like a bulldog and both his voice and his temper fits perfectly. So, when the kids are bored they ring his bell and when he answers using the door phone he is met with a howling and a barking.There is a narrow window from his bathroom and out to the street, no more than 12 inches sideways. When something really makes his temper boil he flings up that window and starts shouting. Again, if you were a tourist just passing by at such an occasion you would be witness to the strangest scenario:After a two minute howling and barking there would be a short silence. Just a few milliseconds. Then the sound of a narrow window being slammed against a brass pipe hanging on the wall to lead down the water from the roof when it rains. The good people of Hickory Street stop whatever they are doing and turn their heads towards number 5. Then an old rusty voice cries out of a window: “IDONEED AWAKEUP INDA MORNIN BYDA SOUNDODEMKIDS CRYIN AND SCREAMIN LIKE PIGS BEIN FED! - murmur, murmur - NOONE EVER LISTENS ANYMORE ANDAKIDS NOWADAYSAVE NO SPECT FOR DE ELDERLY ANYMORE!”The good people of Hickory Street would be standing still and patiently wait for him to finish. Then he would give the salute that marked the end of his speech: “YA GATIT, IDIOTS! YA GATIT!” and then the sound of the window being slammed shut. After a few seconds of silence with the locals waiting for the final stage of the ritual the window would once again be opened and the end salute be repeated: “YA GATIT, IDIOTS! YA GATIT!”Slam!Silence for a few more seconds and people would go back to what they were doing before. To an outsider this is just strange, but to the residents of Hickory Street it´s an integrated part of their lives and they wouldn’t have the slightest idea about life without it.Mr. Hound has a dog, too. It´s said that most dog owners look like their dog, but in Mr. Hound´s case there is no resemblance whatsoever. As told before, Mr. Hound has the appearance of a bulldog, but Molly looks exactly like an old wrinkled version of Lassie. Mr. Hound loves that dog and takes her for hours of walks every single day. Right in the middle of the street he walks with it. It´s not that he considers the street as his property, but he just hasn´t been able to keep up with the development of the world and hasn´t realized that people actually use the streets when driving. The good people of Walnut Port know this and patiently slow down and so traffic is smooth. Slow, but smooth.When Molly needs to empty her stomach she sits down right on the spot and does her thing. Mr. Hound respectfully moves the poo to the side of the street. He doesn´t use his hands, of course. That would be disgusting. Instead he takes out his comb from his back pocket and uses it to trill the poo inch by inch till it´s out of harm’s way and then he puts the comb back where it belongs.On the corner of Hickory Street and Main Street there is a small house with a flat roof. A woman of indeterminable age lives there. You know: the kind of person that looks the same kind of old from age 50 to age 100. Her name was Susan and she was no taller than 5 feet. The house was placed a bit back on the property and on the front there were rows and columns of grave stones for sale. That´s why they call her Stoney Susan. Every once in a while a truck pulls up and two broad shouldered men with hair between their teeth start unloading the stones one by one setting them on display. For this they use straps. One end for each of them and the straps underneath the stones.One day one of the regulars had moved away and a new guy replaced him. He was a younger man, about 35 years old or so and he seemed like the kind of man you didn´t want to get in trouble with.As usual they started loading of the truck as Stoney Susan came out to them complaining about how they handled the stones:"Set those stones down on a straight line!" she yelled, "how am I supposed to sell anything if you just toss them wherever you like!? People will start thinking this is a jewish graveyard that isn´t cared for!"The new guy certainly wasn´t going to put up with that kind of verbal abuse, so he yelled back at her: "Do you have any idea how heavy these things are? You better behave, Lady! We´re doing the best we can!"Stoney Susan wasn´t ready to let it go. "Oh, please, just do your jobs! Are you men or are you mice?" she said with contempt.The new guy had just about enough so he looked her straight in the eye and pulled what he thought was an ace: "If you don´t stop this right now, you can bl....y unload the stones yourself!" He looked to his partner with a winners smile, but much to his surprise his partner suddenly dropped everything he had in his hands and jumped in behind the steering wheel and slammed the door shut!If Stoney Susan was in a good mood that day or she just gave him some extra slack because he was new is still food for gossip, but she didn´t say anything.Instead she just stepped up to the back of the truck, put her short arms around the nearest stone, lifted it off with her bare hands and placed it on the ground as if it was an empty card board box... The new guy stood completely still, baffled by what had just happened and the man playing hide and please don’t go seek in the truck cautiously opened the door. Being convinced that the danger was over he stepped out and joined his partner.After a short silence, the men finished unloading the truck and none of them, including Susan, ever talked about it since.Then there is the football field where most of the men on Hickory Street go to be men. Samuel Friedenhoff has been the quarterback for the past five years and has brought an old friend in despite the fact that John isn’t one of the locals. He lives all the way on the other side of the river more than 500 yards from Hickory Street. It wasn’t very popular at first, but being the quarterback it´s easier for Sam to make unpopular changes. Besides, John has proven his worth. He is as good a football player as he is bad at keeping a good marriage. So after a few weeks he was widely accepted as one of the guys.Just across the street from number 5 there is an empty house and a sign saying “For Sale.” The sign is marked by dust and wind and the McKays living next to it secretly hopes it will stay that way - at least for now. Mr. McKay owns “The sweet Muffin,” a diner at the corner of Hickory Street and Taylor Avenue and hopes that one day he can save enough money to buy that property to build a bigger diner there. How that goes is where our story really begins…
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Friday, February 3, 2012

The Knight in Shouting Armor raising the roof!

I am absolutely thrilled to announce that the original Danish version of my children´s book, "Princess Lila and The Knight in Shouting Armor" has broken through the Indie Publishing barrier here in Denmark!

Just before writing this post, it was the 15th most popular children´s ebook at saxo.com, which is the main Danish retailer of books of all sorts, making it more popular than books by 3 of the most selling children´s books authors in Denmark, Dennis Jürgensen, Renee Toft Simonsen (yes, the supermodel!) and Morten Dürr!

Even more successful is "Nikolines sure tæ´r," which is unfortunately not translated into English and probably never will because it would impossible to translate. This book is the 7th most popular!

But, The Knight in Shouting Armor has been translated and adapted (again because of intranslatable features it had to be adapted as well as translated) for the English speaking audience...

It can be found at Amazon using the link, you see below this post.

I am one happy author and looking forward to see more Indie Authors breaking through in my own country, where the publishing houses are, if even possible, more rigid than in other countries.

Anyway, I just wanted to share this good news with all of you! Have a tremendously good weekend with pleasant dreams and lovely days...

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The demise of ebook indie authoring...?

Are ebooks just hyped tech waiting for the bubble to burst?

According to Ewan Morrison ebooks may be a hyped economic bubble just waiting to implode. Read his post in the Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/jan/30/self-e-publishing-bubble-ewan-morrison?fb=optOut

As you may have already guessed, I disagree and let me tell you why.

Morrisons post is interesting due to mainly two reasons:
1. His points have somewhat of a sting.
2. His analytic part has grave errors in the respect of sorting and adaptation to his own views.

Let me elaborate. Morrison points out the 6 steps in the evolving and collapse of an economic bubble:

Step 1: Disturbance is the beginning of something new in the market. Something that changes the rules to such an extent that it has influence on other areas in the market. Historic examples of such change could be the industrial revolution, where the major improvement of the steam engine plays perhaps the most important part. With this new technology productions costs were lowered to the extreme lowering the prices so much that the market itself grew at an exploding rate. The vast number of people who could suddenly afford buying such things as underwear and fabricated dresses made industrial production rise to a level that had never been seen before and the movement up and down the social ladder had suddenly become ordinary.
There is no doubt that the development of ebook tech has such an effect, although not as important as the industrial revolution. Not even by a long shot. But still this development of new technology has revolutionized the publishing industry and will probably continue to do so.
So, this step IS happening, but it is not particularly connected to economic bubbles. It´s the building stone of any quantum leaps in the market, to put it simply.

Step 2: Rising prices. When the production apparatus can´t keep up with demand, prices will go up. This is one of the basic rules of the market, so nothing new here. But if the pressure of demand on production is suddenly raised to the extreme due to either a collaps in the production of life necessities or the result of successful hyping of certain goods, the result is first a steep rise in prices and then a sudden drop because more producers emerge on the market at the news of easy money. We have seen this in the market of mink fur when the Berlin wall fell and the Russian market was opened to Europe and USA. But in the case of ebooks it´s difficult to find evidence of rising prices. Morrison claims that the rise in prices is to be found, not on ebooks themselves, but on the devices you use for reading ebooks. This is simply not correct. Yes, the iPad is as expensive as ever before and hasn’t undergone the same fall in prices that most other computing technology in the world, but if you look any device aimed directly at ebooks, you will find the opposite to be true. The Amazon Kindle can be bought at a price as low as $79 and even the new addition of Kindle Fire is at $199 which is surprising when you think about the money they have spent on developing it. Other devices that are not aimed at ebooks, but have an ereader built in, usually provide this ereader for free. For free! I might be mistaken, but as I recall, for free has never been the result of prices going up!
You might argue that for my point to hold the average reader of ebooks uses these cheap or free devices. This is true and my claim is that the average reader of ebooks does use these devices. To back up my claim I can point to a survey done by Smashwords.com who wanted to find out which ebook formats to bet on the most. The result was astonishing. The number 1 ereader being used by readers of ebooks was Adobe Digital! Need I say that Adobe Digital is freely available to download on their websites?
Furthermore it seems to be the strategy of Amazon to put their reading devices as such low prices that experts in the area of technology claims that Amazon must be tying dollars on every Kindle Fire being shipped to the consumer. Why would they do this? Because then they can control which products are being promoted on the device! But this also means that the plan is not to make profit on the devices. On the contrary, they aim at making a profit on the ebooks… And I would be very much surprised if we won´t be seeing Apple going in the same direction very soon.

Step 3: Hyping and broad production
This is the one point where I completely agree with Morrision. It is very common that when news of easy money spreads money gurus pilgrimages to the holy spot, in this case ebooks. This is already happening and has been happening for some time, but there a signs that the speed of it is slowing down a bit. The number of Indie Author is still rising, but there are fewer among them, whose quality is at best doubtful and the rise in numbers is not as steep as before.

Step 4: Accelarating prices reaches a maximum. Well, there is not much reason to comment here, as this is built on the notion of step 2…

Trin 5: Insider profiting
Insider profiting is when people inside an area make more money on new comers than on the actual market. That is: instead of making money by selling your product to the consumer, you make money on selling services and tips to new collegues on how to sell your product to the consumer. You might call it sector cannibalism, because most money is just shifting hands inside the sector than between sectors and the amount of money going in the sector is less than the amount going out. Mostly this happens when the more experienced realize that the gold they came for is not as abundant as they thought and to get at least some of the establishing costs covered they start giving new comers advise for money.
However there is one major difference between Indie Authoring and most other such money adventures: self publishing is, in itself, a cheap adventure. To establish myself as an ebook author, all I need is a computer and the internet… That´s it… Yes, if I want, I can buy all sorts of different services and there is no doubt that some scribblers fresh out of euphoria school will probably indebt themselves in those services. But here´s the thing: This has nothing to do with the concept of self publishing. This is just plain stupid! Will it happen? Yes, of course! Will it be hurting the pople involved? Definitely! But I seriously doubt it will have much impact on a broader scale. Remember, that most people with a dream to become an author never come even close to being able to publish through ebook format platforms, if they do not have at least above average writing skills and as such, most of them will be able to see through the doubtful promises of money scamming “service providers.”
Morrison claims that the establishing costs are not low and from an economic point of view, he is absolutely right. Being an Indie Author you do spend many hours marketing yourself and your books. You write books, you promote them, you blog, you participate in debating forums, you put links and pictures inside your emails and all of this takes time. And time, as the economists would say, is money. And if you´ve already spent money, one of the most basic rules of  economic behavior is, that you tend to spend more. Most of us know this pheanomenon from our trips to the mall. When we start spending money on the things we set out to buy, most of us come home with much more than we really wanted.
But what Morrison fails to realize is that most people don’t think like economists. Most Indie Authors don’t think of the time they spent on promoting their books as money used. They think of it as time spent on other things than family and friends. Spending money to compensate for that time just doesn’t comply. Or said in another way: to naturally think of time as money you really need to be a hard core economist. And it really shouldn’t be a surprise that an author being in a creative field of work, he or she is probably not much of an economist.

Step 6: Panic!
When you find out that your investment is about to be null and void you try to limit your losses and to most producers of goods this means: get as much of your stock out, because getting $1 per item is better than letting it rot in the warehouse. This is probably even stronger when we talk about ebooks, because all the goods you have in stock is worth absolutely nothing before you sell it. If you sell car parts or bread or whatever physical product you have a certain number in stock and when your warehouse is empty you invest money to fill it up. But digital goods are literally in unlimited stock, so if you think you can get 100.000 copies sold if you dump the price to $1 and know you have sold 10 copies at the price of $9.99 the better choice is obvious.

And I can´t in any way disagree with Morrison that this will happen. In fact, it already is happening. But here is the peculiar thing: Dumping prices doesn´t help! In fact, it usually make sales go down! What?
Yes, if you dump the price on your ebook, you sales will go down! Why?

Well, think about the way you decide what to buy and what to steer away from. Let´s say you want to buy a pair of shoes and you go to several stores to see what they can offer. You found just the right shoes in two or three stores. One of these stores tags the shoes at $1.99 and all the other stores tag these shoes at prices between $50 and $100. Do you buy the shoes in the cheapest store? Probably not, because you can´t help thinking that something must be wrong. Maybe the shoes are not original but cheap copies, they may be stolen or they may just be of very poor quality. The same goes for ebooks. To check if my claim is true go to any internet ebook store and find the 10 most sold ebooks. Then check the number 100 or the number 500 most sold. Is there a general price difference?

Coming to the end of this post I just want to say that Morrison´s post made me think and although he does have some very important points that we need to keep an eye on, this scenario of the demise of Indie Authoring is something I really cannot see coming. More likely we will see a fall in the number of Indie Authors before all of the above happens, because the very soul of ebooks and the internet is quick pasted. Unsuccessful authors will react before they spend too much money on their dream and most of them will instead just publish free or almost free books for a short time and then stop because no one will read it.

What is much more interesting is what will happen when it comes to the development of ebooks to be more complex and interactive, which is the subject of this post by Ted Summerfield, head of Smashwordsforum.com: http://punzhupuzzles.wordpress.com/2012/01/27/interactive-ebooks-and-their-problems-for-indie-authors/