Episode 110 – Workbooks, Estate Planning, and Amazon Video Direct

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Question of the Week: Will you take additional steps to plan for the publishing side of your estate? Why or why not?

Bryan and Jim are back with more news than you can shake an Author Solutions Star Trek writing contest at! After thanking their new patrons, Bobby Adair (and his book Slow Burn: Zero Day http://bit.ly/slowburne ) and L.J. Burke (and his book Divorced Dad http://bit.ly/daddivor ), the double stack of digital news took on tips about self-published workbooks, Goodreads ebook giveaways, and Amazon’s new Video Direct platform. News stories included Simon & Schuster’s Star Trek writing contest, attractiveness in trad pub contracts, estate planning, The Fussy Librarian’s affiliate troubles, and Hugh Howey’s thoughts on 2009 ebook selling vs. today. This week’s Question of the Week: Will you take additional steps to plan for the publishing side of your estate? Why or why not?
What You’ll Learn:
  • How to get an additional revenue stream from your existing books
  • A new way to run giveaways for your ebooks
  • How Amazon plans to create its own YouTube
  • What message Simon & Schuster sent by outsourcing to Author Solutions
  • Why self-publishing is much more inclusive
  • What you should do to ensure your books keep earning after your death
  • Why Jim thinks The Fussy Librarian issue could be a one-off
  • The difference between selling books in 2009 vs. 2016
Links: 
Question of the Week: Will you take additional steps to plan for the publishing side of your estate? Why or why not?

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  • jamiearpinricci

    I will definitely make provisions for my written works in my will. However, I doubt I will hire someone to handle these things. Instead, I will be sure to leave updated information that will help those who inherit the work to better handle it. I think it is important to make provisions for your work, but believe that for most writers it won’t be worth hiring an expert who may or may not be up to speed by the time you die.

    As an interesting aside, we discovered that my great-great-grandfather, Victor H. Ricci, wrote a book about pioneering in Canada (“Ups & Downs In Canada”). However, we only discovered it AFTER it had become public domain. To our surprise, dozens of people were selling it in print and ebook. Yet when I tried to release the 90th Anniversary edition with new content from the family, Amazon was a nightmare. Finally got it out there, but it took a long time. I wish we had known about the book years earlier.

    • Bryan

      Wow! Writing in your blood, right :).

      • jamiearpinricci

        Indeed! It goes back even further. 🙂

  • Spider McGee

    Google owns YouTube, and Amazon is at war with them for the future of the internet. Also, for our very souls, but that’s as may be. Facebook owns Goodreads, yes? And we all know of the evil that lives there. What about Microsoft? Eeeee-vil. And Apple? Evil like Sunday mornin’. I only got one soul, fellas…you’re gonna have to fight for it.

    • Bryan

      Amazon owns Goodreads, but you’re right with everything else.

      • Spider McGee

        Amazon owns Goodreads? That’s a relief. It’s a good thing they don’t also own a major ebook publisher, because that would be a conflict of…….heeeey, waaaaaait a minute….

  • Spider McGee

    QOTW: I’m asking that all my unpublished works be buried with me. You didn’t want them in my lifetime, and you ain’t getting them now. Remember that really fat guy from the Guinness Book of World Records who died and was buried in a piano case? It’ll be like that, but my dead ass on a stack of tear-stained manuscripts with rejection letters attached to them. Take *that*, short-sighted publishing industry!

    • Bryan

      You tell ’em, Spider!

  • Heather

    I have left plans for the future of my books. Jim said that the checks will keep coming in and this was a flawed answer. They will not keep coming. Once you die, your bank accounts are closed and, technically, your Amazon account should be as well, otherwise, who is going to maintain it? Which heir/beneficiary has the right to the income or management of the assets? What if your estate is split between several people, or no-one left to inherit at all? Doing nothing isn’t fair to those you leave behind and have to sort everything out. If you make no stipulation, your executors could just delete everything from your account, destroy your laptop/pc contents without even knowing what the potential worth might be.

    In the digital world we live in, we need to leave instructions on how to access all of our online accounts after we die (Facebook, Amazon, iTunes, Dropbox etc) so that they can be closed down or managed by the right person. Who that person will be is down to you, but I have left specific provision in my Will for my books. The books don’t make huge amounts at the moment, but the person I have chosen is interested in the writing process and publishing and I am happy that they will make good use of the rights.

    (Yes, I deal with death estates as part of my day job!)

    • Bryan

      Hey Heather. So, what’s the best way to deal with a book that’s already published through Amazon if your accounts get frozen you think? Transfer things to pay over to a joint account and get a joint email setup just in case? It’s all very interesting.

      • Heather

        Hi Bryan
        I have sent an email to the site. I asked Amazon and their answer was somewhat surprising.
        It sounds as though the heir/beneficiary to your assets may be able to take over the account, which would mean that they could simply change the email address and account details.
        I have always assumed that the account should be closed (much as bank accounts etc would be). I would be interested to hear what other legal-eagles have to say about this. I am UK-based and work in tax, so the position may be different in other countries and for other companies – Dropbox, Apple, Draft2Digital etc etc.
        The plot thickens!
        Heather

  • Here here, Jim! “Get over it and get to work,” indeed! We need to quit griping about the “easy good ole” days about self-publishing and keep staying ahead of the trends. A lot of us feel like we’re just one step behind from the “easy fix” option, but that’s the way of business. I mean, it could be worse. We could still be considered taboo for trying to publish on our own! If one wants something bad enough, they’ll find a way to make it happen regardless of circumstances.

    • Spider McGee

      Jim’s right. If he means the good old days weren’t always good, and tomorrow ain’t as bad as it seems, I agree. Thanks for keepin’ the faith!

      • I learned stick ball as a formal education.

        • Spider McGee

          Y’know, at the end of that music video, where Joe hands the shoeshine boy $100 as a tip…I bet he wishes he had that money back now. Just sayin’.

    • Bryan

      Jim Kukral takes no prisoners.

  • I think of my legacy all the time. Jim isn’t right when he says the cheques will keep coming. All accounts will be frozen, the tax interviews on all vendors will become instantly obsolete, when the beneficiary changes etc.

    I’ve left a letter with a long list of passwords, URLs for dashboards etc, but those are only basic measures. Kris is so right about planning ahead. Ask Hugh Howey if he’s made arrangements, and then remember he was one of us. It could happen to Bryan, or me, or anyone. Knowing my luck, the week after I croak the movie people will come knocking.

    I would seriously pay good money to a company built for and by indie authors, to handle this stuff. Imagine a co-op of indies, like a board of trustees, who could run multiple author’s affairs after they pass on. Imagine they know the business, and can handle all the rights, and can maintain the works, not just let them fade away. Imagine a group of people just like us, trusted to take 15% off the top, while passing the rest to our descendants.

    That’s what is needed, not agents or IP lawyers handling individual authors. A company like that, would have the movie guys sniffing around too I shouldn’t wonder. And that’s another thing. Leasing rights of dead authors should be the rule, not selling them outright.

    • All the above, and I could see many different models. They’d need some operational income now so how about 0.5 or 1% with access to rights. I’d pay for this just as I pay for insurance. If I die, they then get 20% and my beneficiary gets 80% (both in perpetuity). They could even offer a viatical option where a retiring/dying author accepts a lump sum or that same percentage to handle his book affairs.

      I’m currently helping the family of Aaron Bank, Father of the Green Berets, get his out-or-print memoir in digital format (Createspace, Kindle, etc.). Most of the old copies available are expensive, so I’ve suggested they preserve this history by making it more easily available. They researched and found that the publishing contract has expired. I’m going to help them with scanning/digitizing, formatting, cover, etc. and submission with online retailers. The theoretical coop could also provide this type of service.

      This may not be as needed now, but will as self-publishing grows and we get older.

    • Bryan

      I like the idea of indies running a service for this.

      • Heather

        I think this is an excellent idea as well and totally makes sense, rather than leaving it up to individual heirs/beneficiaries.
        Providing they acted ethically and Darren’s points below are sensible as well. Who’s going to start this company?!

  • Offtopic: I also love Sunrise Calendar, but just today they hit us with an announcement that they’re closing down to move to Outlook. Stupid Microsoft!

    • Bryan

      Ugh, just saw that. Boo!

  • Ran the numbers again, and although I’m no mathematician, if Author Solutions’ 200,000 authors sell 600 books a day, that’s .003 books per author per day. Your figure was bad, Bryan, but the real one is worse!

    • Bryan

      My numbers were right, I just misspoke. I meant a little over a copy sold per author per year :).

      • Per YEAR, ah–that makes more sense.

      • Simon Goodson

        Yep – I thought you’d misspoken, and that number is amazingly bad!

  • I’m lucky in as much as there’s only my wife and daughter, and both of them are creatives familiar with the issues of managing one’s works. As I see it all they need is the correct contact information to the different distributers I’m selling through who, I assume, have processes in place for issues like this.

    Of course, it wouldn’t hurt to include such information with our wills to make the process easier.

    • Bryan

      That’s good! More info is always helpful in these kinds of things.

  • As someone who has lost both parents and a brother, I can say any preparation you can do before the end is much appreciated by your survivors. If I’ve invested years and years learning the business and honing my craft, you’re damn straight I’m gonna make sure some well-meaning newbie isn’t going to screw things up after I’m gone. I write for my wife. I want to make sure whatever income I’m generating from my books goes to her for as long as possible.

  • Simon Goodson

    On the affiliate links issue… Amazon gives up a small chunk of money for every referral. Could they be clawing back more money from people they are sure will keep sending business their way even without paying that referral? The Fussy Librarian (who is great by the way!) can’t afford to stop including links to Kindle books.

    • Simon Goodson

      And another great show, by the way!

      • Bryan

        Thanks, Simon!

  • Barb Asselin

    Love this question! Definitely something I have thought about quite a bit. Probably because of my legal background, but I think it’s something we should all think about. I have written a “publishing manual” for my family, but your news item on this topic prompted me to create a skeleton version and offer it to my blog subscribers. Here is the link if anyone wants to start building theirs: http://www.asselingroup.com/can-you-sell-books-once-youre-dead/

  • Crissy Moss

    How do I contact Jim about the coloring page win?

    • Bryan

      @jimkukral:disqus Consider yourself paged :).

      • Hey Crissy, I got your email about this way back when. But the email address you put on the contact form was wrong and it got returned. Email me direct to info@authormarketingclub.com and we’ll get you taken care of.