Episode 48 – Copyright, Ageism and Author Solutions

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Back by popular demand (with over 130 comments), Jim joined Bryan to discuss the latest book-selling news. Before they got down to business, Bryan announced the pre-order of his latest fiction book and the ongoing Spring Multi-Author Facebook Event pitch (which you can find at bryancohen.com/pitch). The trio of tips included advice on reading more, what digital tools to use, and how to publicize your old content. News included stories on an author’s DMCA battle, Amazon advertising success and failure, ageism by a former MFA teacher, Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s thoughts on indispensability, and David Gaughran’s expose on the alleged connection between Nook and Author Solutions. This week’s Question of the Week: How will the latest news about Nook affect how you do business with them going forward?

What You’ll Learn: 
  • How to read more books every year
  • What 5 tools Jane Friedman keeps going back to
  • Why old content should be a part of your marketing strategy
  • How to deal with a DMCA copyright claim
  • What some authors are doing to make AMS ads work
  • Why authors don’t fit into the boxes of age or income
  • How to become indispensable
  • What David Gaughran found out about Nook’s author services
Question of the Week: How will the latest news about Nook affect how you do business with them going forward?

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  • How will Nook + Author Solutions affect my relationship with them? I distribute to Nook via Smashwords, and I’ve just opted-out all my books from Barnes & Noble.

    • Wow, this is definitely some shocking news about the new Nook/Author Solutions relationship. I definitely don’t want to have anything to do with Author Solutions, so I think I’d have to agree with Steve on this one. Time to pull my books from B&N/Nook.

      • Bryan

        Seems to be the prevailing thought…

    • Bryan


    • jasonmbrooks

      Personally, I think pulling your books out of Barnes & Noble is an over reaction. You can read my argument in the comments section above. I am nearly certain that the article is speaking about their print service and not their eBook service. Plus, you are like me in that you publish to them through Smashwords. If you’re making money through Nook sales, then keep making money at it. This is one of those things that are pointless to protest as nothing is gained and possible sales and exposure is lost.

      Just my thoughts. Keep on writing!

  • Forget British accents! You need an Australian accent on the show next week.

    • Bryan

      We’ve done that too! I gotta find something exotic ;).

  • Glad to see you back Jim!

    • Bryan

      Yeah, I would’ve missed the big lug.

  • jeffadamsnyc

    Perfect song to go with the indispensable author story: “Nine People’s Favorite Thing” from the Broadway musical “[title of show]” I think about this song a lot as I try to ensure that I become people’s favorite thing.

    • Bryan

      Musical recommendations are always appreciated :).

  • Jacob Williams

    KDP Ads Update Attached:
    I added notes to give Max CPC and what type of books I was targeting.
    Market research: The Python books got twice as much traffic as the PHP books I was targeting. (Highlighted in green.) Infers a larger market of buyers looking to learn Python.

    • Bryan

      Thanks again for sharing, Jacob. You could write a book on this!

  • I think there’s a great chance that Barnes and Noble/Nook Press knew what they were doing and didn’t care.

    I also think there’s a great chance that they are out of touch and bought into Author Solution’s spiel just like so many authors do.

    B&N seems pretty ‘out of touch’ in all other areas of publishing, so why do we suddenly think they know what they are doing, do their research, and choose wisely?

    • Bryan

      Very likely they’re out of touch.

  • I’ll keep selling on B&N, but I won’t go direct via their dashboard like I’d planned. I’ll stick with SW or D2D for my book submissions to B&N.

    I keep my books on B&N for my readers, and little guy ME pulling books from B&N is like shouting into the wind as a protest.

    I’m sure there are better ways to protest and object.

    • Bryan

      Any protest ideas? Sit in at a B&N?

  • I’m one of those icky Canadian authors so I’m not welcome on Nook anyway. I think I maybe lucked out.

    • Perry Constantine

      Nook Press opened up to several new countries recently. I’m not sure which ones offhand, but I’m almost positive that Canada is among those. But otherwise I agree, might be better to stick with an aggregator.

      • How recently? I messaged them about it on January 14 and they weren’t open to Canada yet.

        • Perry Constantine

          I’m not sure, but I just double-checked what countries they’re set up for and you’re right, Canada’s still not on the list. Looks like it’s the US, UK, Belgium, France, Spain, Italy, Netherlands, and Germany. Real strange they wouldn’t include such a big market.

  • Crissy Moss

    Nook was already difficult to post direct to, so the news just confirms that I won’t be going direct to Nook.
    If I did then I would likely make a dummy email address so that they couldn’t give my real address to author solutions. I actually asked for information from one of their subsidiaries years ago and I still get junk mail from them. Luckily I used my junk email account for that.

    It’s pretty sad when you have to use junk email addresses just to communicate with a big player like Nook. Then again, if you have to use fake emails to talk to them are they really a big player anymore?

    • Bryan

      They are a real pain to upload to for sure!

  • Patrick Stemp

    I think the Nook thing is good, IF enough people talk about it or take action rather than just letting it fade away. The problem with Author Solutions is they usually creep around in dark alleys taking advantage of uneducated and desperate writers. This is a great opportunity for those of us who know the truth to use the publicity to help out the rest of the community and maybe save a few folks from making a huge mistake. We don’t hear enough about A.S.

    • Bryan

      Good point!

  • Throughout it’s history, Nook’s leadership has been reactive instead of proactive and this agreement with Author Solutions seems like another desperate attempt to play catchup with Amazon. When time starts running out, your options are limited. This seems like a last gasp before folding up the tent.

    I had planned on putting my work on Nook, but this, along with other issues I’ve heard about from other authors, makes me think it’s not worth the effort.

    • Bryan

      Enough reactivity and there won’t be any reactions left!

  • The nook thing doesn’t really affect me. “An online company is using my information to do skeevy things” is so 2012. I’d be curious to find out if it is all of NookPress or if it is only their Createspace clone, but, honestly, I just can’t be bothered to care.

    Every online company is stealing your data. You can either accept that and move on or go all Ted Kaczynski.

    Honestly, I was considering just eliminating B&N as a direct sales platform for a lot of other reasons. I wouldn’t be there at all if it wasn’t for one of my readers specifically asking me for it, and if sales don’t go beyond that one guy, I’ll probably just start emailing him an epub for my books and never look back.

    • Connie B. Dowell

      “Every online company is stealing your data.” This was my reaction too. Everything we do online gives somebody access to be sketchy with our data. Just a fact of life in the 21st century.
      All we can do is have some information literacy and basic education to spot the scams. Scammers have been around for centuries. They’re just changing with the times.

  • Perry Constantine

    So far, Nook is the one platform I haven’t uploaded directly to because they don’t allow people from Japan to submit to them. But now with this news about their connection with Author Solutions and the wording in their contract, it makes me very suspicious. Even if Nook does open up to people in Japan, I think I’ll stick with Draft2Digital to get my books on B&N.

    • Bryan

      Another benefit to Japan!

  • Connie B. Dowell

    Well, the Nook news certainly changes my opinion about Barnes and Noble, but I doubt it will change what I do. The benefits of uploading direct are still there. If Author Solutions contacts me with scammy stuff, I’m well-educated enough to ignore them. It just stinks that there are a lot of authors out there who haven’t done their homework and might fall in the traps.

    • Bryan

      Yeah, it’s too bad that most folks won’t do their homework!

  • jasonmbrooks

    I didn’t read the article, but if I had to guess, this doesn’t pertain to their eBooks. Barnes and Noble built their own infrastructure early on to cater to their Nook device. I can’t imagine that they would ever outsource the uploading of ebooks to their website. This article probably refers to their recently announced print service.

    This news doesn’t change the game for me. I already suspected that B&N partnered with someone when they began offering the print service. Amazon purchased CreateSpace in order to have a print on demand option for their authors. It was a natural solution to their problem. To build up the infrastructure to offer a print service is very costly and Amazon went out and acquired an already existing business to compliment their eBook service. Barnes and Noble no doubt felt a need to have a print option for their authors and working with Author Solutions was the best option for them. The only crime committed by Nook Press is the fact that they don’t give authors the option to sell their printed books in their store or distribute them to other online stores like CreateSpace does.

    Think of it this way… When you go into a store and purchase their private label brand of food, you are purchasing something that was produced by 1 manufacturer. This same manufacturer probably produced the exact same product for a number of stores but used a specially designed label for each retailer thus creating an exclusive item branded for each specific retailer. I think Author Solutions is doing the same thing with B&N. They are offering their “private label” option to companies that want to sell print options to authors. We’re probably going to see a lot of this in the future. It’s the nature of the beast. Why build up costly infrastructure when someone can do the printing for you and allow you the ability to sell it under your own brand?

    I have an author who does a lot of speaking engagements. At each event he sells his paperback books but recently he wanted to step it up and have a hardcover version with a dust jacket. We used Nook Press to achieve this task and I am thrilled with the outcome. Granted, the book doesn’t come with a bar code and B&N don’t offer to sell them on their site, but people have been eating up the hardcover versions at his speaking events. It has given his book selling table a professional look. I highly recommend the service.

    As far having my information sold or given to Author Solutions, I’ve come to accept the fact that there is very little privacy left in this world. The U.S. Postal Service sells your personal information to local businesses, especially when you first move into a town. Social Media helps advertisers build specific, targeted ads using the information you input onto your accounts. Banks sell and exchange our personal information with other banks and credit card companies. Bots scan through our websites and pull as many pieces of valuable information as it can and then the owners of the bots turn around and sell it. Loyalty shopping cards collect your buying info and then those companies sell the info to other companies. In my mind, nothing shady is going on here. B&N and Author Solutions is doing what every other business is out there doing and they are hardly pioneers at it, so why fret about it or come down on them?

    If their services can meet your needs, then by all means, use it.

    • Bryan

      Good point on the lack of privacy left. Thanks!

      • jasonmbrooks

        Nook has seemed to be stumbling as of late, but they have huge plans to break the digital business away from the book retail division – the split should happen early this spring. My hope is that they will put into place a real digital program to rival Amazon and hire smart people to make it happen. As indie authors, I think we should be patient with Nook and actually cheer them on. It helps us in the long run to have stiff competition. They have the tools in place, now they just need the vision to pull it off. Hopefully that happens after the split.

  • Nick Marsden

    A late comment: This stuff all happened while I was having technical issues with getting my books published on Nook and a lack of tech support from their side. After 2 weeks of fighting them to get answers, this happened, so I just pulled all my books from Nook. I might distribute through Smashwords, but I’m done dealing directly with B&N.

    • Bryan

      Ugh, SO late.

  • ❤️Marie Long❤️

    I had no idea B&N and Author Solutions have partnered up! This is really sad. As if B&N can dig their graves any deeper. Are they truly that desperate to partner with such a shady company like AS? I’ve lost a little respect for B&N after hearing about this. I was once a loyal supporter of Nook, but B&N fell so far behind and eventually gave up. Bryan had mentioned that Google should be the ones to buy B&N. I think that would be awesome and there is so much Google can do to keep Nook afloat in the ebook world.