Episode 195 – 2017: The Year in Review

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Question of the Week: What do you think was the biggest story of 2017 and why?

It’s been quite a year, what story is at the top of your list? As 2017 draws to a close, Jim and Bryan take some time to recap some of the ups and downs of 2017 including the top ad platform for authors, the closing of an e-book aggregator and who is stepping in to fill that void, what was the biggest growth sector in publishing, scammers taking over, and why authors complained so much this past year – and what they can do differently in 2018. Question of the Week: What do you think was the biggest story of 2017 and why?
What You’ll Learn:
  • Jim and Bryan’s ups and downs from 2017
  • Which ad platform was the #1 for authors this year
  • Which e-book aggregator closed suddenly and the other providers aiming to take their place
  • Whether ebooks, print, or audio was the biggest growth sector of publishing in 2017
  • Why scammers were able to take over in 2017
  • Why authors complained so much in 2017 and what they can do differently
Links:

News #5: Ad Nauseam (1)
News #5: Ad Nauseam (2)
News #4: Prounoun Down (1)
News #4: Prounoun Down (2)
News #4: Prounoun Down (3)
News #4: Prounoun Down (4)
News #4: Prounoun Down (5)
News #4: Prounoun Down (6)
News #4: Prounoun Down (7)
News #4: Prounoun Down (8)
News #3: Audio Expansion (1)
News #3: Audio Expansion (2)
News #3: Audio Expansion (3)
News #3: Audio Expansion (4)
News #3: Audio Expansion (5)
News #3: Audio Expansion (6)
News #2: Scammed if You Do, Scammed if You Don’t (1)
News #2: Scammed if You Do, Scammed if You Don’t (2)
News #2: Scammed if You Do, Scammed if You Don’t (3)
News #2: Scammed if You Do, Scammed if You Don’t (4)
News #1: Biting the Hand that Reads You (1)
News #1: Biting the Hand that Reads You (2)
News #1: Biting the Hand that Reads You (3)
News #1: Biting the Hand that Reads You (4)

Question of the Week: What do you think was the biggest story of 2017 and why?

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  • Amazon Reviews Require a $50 Spend: I don’t waste energy trying to gain fake reviews but do work hard to ask for and earn honest ones. I had several legitimate reviews deleted by Amazon’s automated process and they will not restore them. Those attempting to game the system are making it harder for us. I’m hoping that story is/was true.

    • Bryan

      That was definitely a big story. Looked it up. Seems like that was late 2016. So, it’s true!

    • JustinSwapp

      This was frustrating for me as well. Who knows how many reviews we’ve lost. I actually emailed them about it, and the rep blew it off.

    • David Avoura King

      Hopefully Amazon will greatly improve, or else a better competitor will give indie authors all we need and offer a great service to readers.

  • David Mark Brown

    I have to agree with y’all. Discontent with Amazon among Indies was the big story for 2017. Sure there have been some tech developments and other big stories. But the complaining tells me that authors have finally picked up on the reality that Amazon is a company (a large, smart company) built around making money for itself (and not necessarily for its content providers). Very early in the ebook revolution, Amazon was the only retail platform smart enough to see the power of Indie authors. Ever since then, they have choked back on the value they offer to those Indies in order to make more money.

    The rancor of 2017 indicates there is an opening in the marketplace for another company to court Indies. That company will emerge in 2018 and expand very rapidly due to the muscle of several thousand Indie authors who will happily jump onboard. At least, that’s my theory!

    • Bryan

      “The rancor of 2017 indicates there is an opening in the marketplace for another company to court Indies.” Rancor. Great work! Thanks David :).

    • JustinSwapp

      I agree here, too. Amazon is big…and when they get that big, it creates an opportunity for someone to come in and fill the indie needs that are popping up.

      To throw amazon a bone, though, this year they actually gave us improved reporting, and historical sales. Its a step in the right direction.

      • Mine were deleted because Amazon found a connection between me and those reviewers. They wouldn’t tell me how, but I’m assuming they found common IP Addresses since they were co-workers. As in, they logged on to Amazon at some point from work as I had. That fact that the books were purchased, read by them, and honestly reviewed didn’t factor in.

        • JustinSwapp

          Yeah, super frustrated. I heard someone saying on a podcast that they look to see if you are friends on facebook. So, before we go asking for reviews, the guest suggested that you take your facebook profile and make it private for a time. This way, when Amazon checks, they won’t find you “connected,” and those reviews remain. I might try this for my next launch.

      • David Mark Brown

        true, true. Amazon has done great things. They continue to innovate. I’m not a hater, just an opportunist!

        • JustinSwapp

          Totally agree. You’re points are well received. I was just trying to throw them a bone, I guess 🙂 Thx for your insights.

  • Patrick O’Donnell

    I think the biggest story of 2017 is Jim’s mad skills with the Ukulele. Is he going to bust out some riffs at the Sell More Books Show Summit?

    • avoura

      Would that bring in more punters?

      • Patrick O’Donnell

        I do believe it would.

    • I’ll bust it out for future shows. Maybe I can come up with a theme song for the show.

      • Patrick O’Donnell

        I do believe theme music featuring you and your axe would zip things up. What instruments does Bryan play?

  • avoura

    What was the biggest story of 2017? Maybe Jim losing his election and him taking naps.

    • Love my naps. If I could nap during the show it would be ideal. Bryan won’t let me though.

  • Craig Anderson

    I think the growth of audiobooks was a big deal this year. The higher barriers to entry (currently) and lower payout %’s will keep competition lower than the ebook space, at least until the technological solutions that were discussed in the podcast come along and make it simple for anyone to convert their existing ebook into a half decent audiobook with nominal time/cost.

    I think we will continue to see indies working their way up the chain, first with audiobooks, then selling their IP rights to comic books, movies and even tv shows. With the huge increase in streaming services everyone is going to be looking for the next big IP, and indies look set to be a huge potential source of great stories. It’s an exciting time to be an indie for sure!

  • Randall Floyd

    Long-time listener, first time poster –

    I have two of them.

    1. I think, and this goes in line with the other comments, that Amazon continues to run their ad system with the ineptitude of a startup is a big story. The delays in reporting, the unwillingness to address concerns (usually the same concerns raised by hundreds of authors) about fixing the actual interface don’t have an excuse.

    The only thing I can think of is that Amazon is doing this on purpose so that authors continue to spend their money trying to advertise their books, without being able to entirely figure out if their ads are working or not.

    2. Hugh Howey announcing that he’d creating an open source competitor to Scrivener is a big deal, especially if it turns out to be as amazing as he’s saying it’s going to be.

    • Bryan

      Thanks for posting, Randall! I hope Hugh does come out with that Scrivener competitor. Would love to see that!

  • Daniel Martone

    The #1 story… the year that the Sell More Books Show Conference was conceived. Here’s to what I hope becomes a yearly can’t miss event!!

    • Bryan

      Hell yes! 🙂

    • Laura Martone

      What Dan said!

    • Yes! It needs to become yearly so when I’m (hopefully) residing on the mainland next year I can attend!

  • Rebecca Rode

    Biggest story of 2017: Amazon, hands down. Here’s my take on Amazon’s KU scamming issue. Their page read system is flawed. It just is. We should be paid for pages read, not the furthest page a reader reaches. They aren’t necessarily the same thing. Scammers make their dough by skipping ahead to the end, and all those pages count in KU’s current system as pages read. One person can “read” thousands of books a day that way. If Amazon used their reading speed data (which, by the way, they have on every single user–just check your settings), they could solve the problem in a day. By flagging readers who skip to the end or “read” way too fast, they could pretty much end scamming completely. No scammer will make big bucks sitting there and turning one page every few seconds, even at the smallest font size possible. Their industry would come to a screeching halt. Once Amazon takes their reading speed data and applies it to catching scammers, combined with paying us for actual pages read and not just the furthest point a reader reaches, the problem will be solved. End of story. My opinion? Amazon isn’t helpless. They just haven’t cared enough to utilize their own data, and authors are suffering the consequences.

    • David Avoura King

      I agree, Amazon really need to look into this and implement that kind of suggestion of actual pages read.

    • JustinSwapp

      +1 This is a good one. You’d think with Amazon’s resources that they could address some of these larger issues that matter to Authors. I guess that would cost them double, though. 🙁

    • Laura Martone

      Couldn’t have said it better myself, Rebecca. I do believe Amazon’s KU scamming issue (which is related to the decreased payment-per-page issue) is the most impactful story of the year for many indies. It’s certainly made a lot of us consider going wide as a much more viable (or at least more prudent) option.

    • Bryan

      “They just haven’t cared enough to utilize their own data, and authors are suffering the consequences.” It certainly does seem that way.

  • Stella Wilkinson

    I agree that 2017 was a really negative year. Not just people moaning but a lot of people genuinely felt it and gave up this year. I’ve seen a big name author quit and numerous smaller authors call it a day too. It saddens me, but there is no denying that it has been a tough year. My hardest so far by a long way, simply because of the industry growing at such a rapid rate.

    • Bryan

      Not everyone will keep going, but I’m glad that you are despite the tough year, Stella!

  • Benjamin Douglas

    I think the list was really well done. This isn’t a topper, but an observation: I think conferences/summits/in-person author-training-author experiences are also on the rise. 2017 was the year of the the first 20booksto50k conference, the transformation of “indies on a train” from a peer group to a training/mentoring program, and with more conferences geared toward indies (*ahem* hello Sell More Books Show Summit) coming in 2018, I’m calling it a current trend.

    • Bryan

      Definitely seems like a trend :).

  • Happy New Year!