Episode 188 – Pronoun Closing, Audible Romance, and Five-Year Goals (with Honoree Corder)

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Question of the Week: Should we have seen the closure of Macmillan’s Pronoun coming? What should we do in the future to be prepared for major changes in the industry?

Did you see the Pronoun writing on the wall? After thanking their patrons Manhunt: The Power to Restore Civilization, Creative Collaborations: How to Form Lasting and Lucrative Partnerships without Being Smarmy, Write Like a Boss: From a Whisper to a Roar, guest co-host Honoree Corder joined Bryan for tips on setting goals, using a Twitter hack to grow your email list, and using weekly meetings to boost productivity. In a big news week, they cover changes coming in the US brick and mortar bookstores, story trends, a special Kindle app for readers in India, Audible’s new romantic side, and Pronoun’s last stand. Question of the Week: Should we have seen the closure of Macmillan’s Pronoun coming? What should we do in the future to be prepared for major changes in the industry?
What You’ll Learn:
  • How writers can use goal-setting to move from hobbyist to professional
  • What Twitter workaround authors can use to add email subscribers
  • How authors can save time and stay on track with weekly meetings
  • What new changes are in store for US brick-and-mortar booksellers
  • What story trends are gaining popularity with young Wattpad readers
  • What new Kindle app Amazon created especially for Indian readers
  • What new Audible service is sure to make Romance readers swoon
  • Why authors who distribute with Pronoun need to look for other options
Links:

Manhunt: The Power to Restore Civilization by G.D. Leon
Creative Collaborations: How to Form Lasting and Lucrative Partnerships without Being Smarmy by Kirsten Oliphant
Write Like a Boss: From a Whisper to a Roar
Tip #1: GOOOOAAAALLLLLL!
Tip #2: Fly, Inbox, Fly
Tip #3: A Date with Destiny
News #5: Retail Reboot (1)
News #5: Retail Reboot (2)
News #5: Retail Reboot (3)
News #5: Retail Reboot (4)
News #4: Trendsetters
News #3: Diet Kindle
News #2: Whisper Sweet Nothings (1)
News #2: Whisper Sweet Nothings (2)
News #2: Whisper Sweet Nothings (3)
News #1: Pronoun’s Last Stand (1)
News #1: Pronoun’s Last Stand (2)
News #1: Pronoun’s Last Stand (3)
News #1: Pronoun’s Last Stand (4)

Question of the Week: Should we have seen the closure of Macmillan’s Pronoun coming? What should we do in the future to be prepared for major changes in the industry?

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  • I think may people did see it coming. As a business owner, shouldn’t you always have a plan B? Mitigating potential risk and revenue loss should be in everyone’s business plan. Don’t have a business plan? Maybe that’s the problem. You can’t control or rely on third parties regardless of your business, especially in what could be considered to be a still volatile book selling market.

    • Bryan

      “As a business owner, shouldn’t you always have a plan B?” I absolutely agree!

  • Quenton Jones

    While I did find it odd that Pronoun offered their services for free, which isn’t a very sustainable business model, I, personally, didn’t see it coming. I’m sure that many people much smarter than me did. I’m also certain that many more will claim to have seen the writing on the wall now that Pronoun has official closed its doors.

    • Bryan

      People like saying, “I told you so,” even if they hadn’t told you anything :). Thanks, Quenton.

  • L.C. Mawson

    I didn’t, and given that they just updated their earnings page last month, it seems a little on the sudden side. Though I suppose, looking at the big picture, it was probably inevitable. Personally, I only used Pronoun for titles under $2.99 and it seems most other authors only used it for the same or long pre-orders. If they were in it for the data (as many speculated) that seems like a self-selecting sample. Also, a lot of people have speculated that the closure date may be when their deal for those things with Amazon ends, and without them, I don’t see any advantage to publishing through Pronoun, rather than ease, which, again, if they’re in it for the data, means that the sample will select for people who can’t be bothered to go direct to Amazon – even at the cost of the delayed reporting – or people who only use Pronoun for other stores and I can see how they might have thought that data wouldn’t be worth it.

    • Bryan

      Really interesting points, L.C. That makes sense about the self-selecting sample and perhaps Pronoun’s deal ending with Amazon. Hadn’t thought of that. Thanks!

  • I’m not surprised, although I’m a little surprised they didn’t shift to taking a small commission instead of just closing up shop.

    Sometimes new management comes along and realizes that a project isn’t in line with the company’s primary business goals. They couldn’t really sell it, since they only had the sweet commission structure via the Macmillan publishing contract.

    • Bryan

      The new management thing totally makes sense to me. Someone comes in and says, “You lost how much money? Collecting DATA? Close it NOW!”

  • While I didn’t expect them to close so soon, I can’t say that I’m surprised that Pronoun is closing. It was unsustainable to provide everything for free (and at terms more advantageous than going direct – normally, there’s less profit for every middleman added) and I guess it was too expensive even for data collection.

    Echoing what Roland said, I’m more surprised that they didn’t try switching to a commission-based model or charge for some of their services (like formatting or the rank tracking stuff) before closing shop. Makes the data-collection theory sound a lot more plausible to me.

    • Bryan

      “Makes the data-collection theory sound a lot more plausible to me.” Yup :).

  • Aubrey Spivey

    The real question here is; where can I get my sell more books show Cinderella shirt??

    • Lora Edwards

      I love it! I want one too!

    • Bryan

      Um, that’s a great idea, Aubrey! We’ll look into that, won’t we, Jim? 🙂

  • Blaine Moore

    I think Honoree covered it pretty well; a company with no revenue model picked up by a larger company and then continued having no revenue model wasn’t going to be around for the long term, so using but not relying solely upon the services provided by that company (or similar companies) probably makes the most sense. Diversify your income as much as possible and keep an eye on what’s going to keep making you money long term, and add those perpetual-earner opportunities to your regular task list.

    • Bryan

      “Diversify your income as much as possible and keep an eye on what’s going to keep making you money long term, and add those perpetual-earner opportunities to your regular task list.” Yup, I completely agree.

  • Laura Martone

    As is often the case these days, traditionally-minded publishers don’t seem to have a viable grasp on the indie landscape, so no, I’m not at all surprised about Pronoun’s closure. That said, I believe diversifying our income and having our own list of dedicated fans are the best ways for indie authors to prepare for major changes/closures/acquisitions in the industry. Let’s face it: that’s why many people both embrace and fear Amazon at the same. Participating in KDP/KU can be lucrative, for sure, but it’s also scary putting all of our literary eggs in one publishing basket. P.S. I enjoyed the show as always. Although I miss Jim when he’s gallivanting elsewhere, I appreciate the varied perspectives of the guest speakers – and I think this Bryan-Honoree team-up was especially great in the wake of your awesome presentations in Vegas! Thanks for letting me hug you both there!

    • Bryan

      Thanks for hugging us back! 🙂

  • Amanda Smith

    I have a question of the week. What is the correct long term strategy for marketing? Brian and Honoree talked about being prepared for the future and when it comes to book selling markets, the conventional wisdom says go wide to future proof (and basically diversify) your backlist.

    But what’s the long term wisdom for advertising? I hear a lot of tactical advice about using Facebook or Amazon or Bookbub, or Amazon ranking, but what’s the longterm strategy for advertising?

    • Bryan

      Great question, Amanda. I’m not sure if there’s a “one-size-fits-all” correct long-term strategy. I think it’s a little bit of testing to see what works for your particular books. Then keep doing it until it stops working. Does that make sense?

  • Crissy Moss

    I forgot about Pronoun, but after listening to what they were doing it really wasn’t that surprising. It’s also quite possible they bought it in order to close it to keep down competition.

    What can we do? Yes, she was right about going wide, but also maintaining your own personal email list, and keep looking for other avenues outside of just amazon to find readers. Conventions, panels, and other things like that. Teaching, as well as writing, is always good too. Some of the most successful writers I know only make a portion of their income from writing.

    • Bryan

      It’s true. Diversifying the way you make money is key. Good points, Crissy.

  • Lora Edwards

    I am sad to see pronoun go but it is not surprising given their business plan I am not sure how they were making any money

    • Bryan

      Definitely seems like they were doing more to collect data than make money. Thanks for posting, Lora.

  • Patrick O’Donnell

    At this point in my life writing is a hobby that I hope to turn into a biz later. I barley remember other shows talking about Pronoun. I’m indifferent to it since it didn’t impact me in any way. I will keep my eye on all of the ever changing things going on in the crazy nutty self publishing biz. Thanks for all you guys do to help us out. Btw..nice job Honoree! Good show!

    • Bryan

      Of course, Patrick. And thanks for listening!

  • Daniella Brodsky

    I’ll skip the first part of the question because I don’t know anything about Pronoun. But I think if you’re listening to this show, you’re keeping yourself educated about changes in the industry. It can be exhausting, shifting all the time, learning new technology and platforms (I am truly exhausted), but we are a strong, tight, supportive group, us Indies, and we share our wisdom generously, and Energizer Bunnies like Bryan keep us motivated. Thankfully, all of these platforms answer questions quickly and help us work through the learning curve. We all know the basic wisdom of the moment: go wide, cultivate and pay careful attention to your mailing list (create an automated funnel sequence to new subscribers), keep writing, write series or related titles within a clearly defined genre, reach out to other authors in your genre to swap lists and do multi-author books, and try out the current ad platforms: ams, fb, and bb. If we’re doing all of this, we’re creating a strong base that will fortify us for upcoming changes.

    • Bryan

      Woo! I will continue to be an Energizer Bunny. Thanks for the inspiring words! 🙂