Episode 83 – Selling for Authors, Permafree Trad Pub, and Amazon’s Bookstore

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Question of the Week: Should we be worried about trad pub trying out permafree? Why or why not? What do indies still have as a competitive advantage over trad pubs?

With Jim off winning an election (!!!), Bryan welcomed three of his early Selling for Authors students to the show. Dystopian new adult author Tarah Benner, nonfiction author Nathan Meunier, and dark fantasy author John L. Monk visited the podcast to talk tips, news, and Bryan’s Selling for Authors course (which closes its doors on Thursday, November 5th, 2015 at 11:59pm EST). Learn more at https://www.sellingforauthors.com
After thanking new patron Chris Ayala (author of The Last Days at www.TheLastDaysTrilogy.com ) and returning patrons Kate Curran (She’s Out of His League at http://bit.ly/shesout ) and Marc Gunn (Pirates vs. Dragons at http://bit.ly/pirdrag ), Bryan and the gang talked tips. The tips of the week focused on blurbs, writing like you talk, and using Facebook ads to grow your mailing list. News stories included Amazon’s bookstore, a woman who reviewed 31,000+ books, the decline of eReaders, trad pub’s international strides, Kris Rusch’s opinion on agents, and trad pub testing out the permafree model. This week’s Question of the Week: Should we be worried about trad pub trying out permafree? Why or why not? What do indies still have as a competitive advantage over trad pubs?

What You’ll Learn: 
  • How Bryan’s students benefited from Selling for Authors
  • Several ways you can beef up your blurb
  • Why you should remember to write like you talk
  • How Ernest Dempsey cemented his indie career
  • What Amazon’s new book store could mean for indies
  • Why the loss of Harriet Klausner is sad for the book world
  • The results of the latest study on the decline of eReaders
  • What some publishers are doing to improve ebook sales
  • Kris Rusch’s opinion on the importance of agents
  • How trad pub is dipping its toes into permafree
Question of the Week: Should we be worried about trad pub trying out permafree? Why or why not? What do indies still have as a competitive advantage over trad pubs?

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  • QOTW – Before Traditionally published free books, people saw a free book and knew it was Indie. Now, who knows?

    Thank you for sinking to our level, New York! 😉

    • Bryan

      Those charlatans! 🙂

  • Bill Weiss

    Indies have nothing to fear from traditionals. Although trad publishers will attempt some of our strategies, with their high overheads and glacial evolution, they can’t comete with our pricing and prolific output.

    I predict trad publishing will be extinguished within five years, and changes in technologies will allow phones to read ebook text with selectable voices approaching those of today’s audio books.

  • Patrick Stemp

    No worries here about trads doing much of anything. No matter what the publishers do, the authors themselves have to engage their audience, and most of them won’t or they likely wouldn’t be trad in the first place (speaking of new authors). As for older material, all of the Harry Potter books are already in KU. Has anyone noticed a slump in sales because everyone is reading Harry Potter for free? Probably not.

    Trad authors also seem to be exclusionary. They’d never be able to band together like indies consistently can and do. Authors like Lee Child or Douglas Preston seem to think this is a zero sum game, while we realize that it most definitely is not. When they DO team up, it’s to sign a petition or sue someone. Everything they do publicly comes from a negative space. Not so for us. Our positive attitude and outlook will beat trad every day.

    • Bryan

      Attitude is key. Good point, Patrick :).

  • I think the traditional publishers aren’t the threat they were ten years ago. They held the power in the book market back then, but they don’t anymore. It was inevitable they’d start copying successful strategies eventually.

    The advantage indies still have over traditional publishers is a close relationship with readers. I get emails from readers almost every day, so they can talk directly to the author (me) whenever they want. Traditional authors tend not to have as close a relationship.

    The main worry for me going forward is Amazon. As long as they control 80%+ of the ebook market, they have the potential to help or kill anyone’s career en masse. The latest move for KU in India was to reduce payments to authors. It’s a big worry that the market will turn into Spotify, as that’s obviously a benefit from a reader or marketplace’s point of view: cheaper books and more of them.

    • Bryan

      Great point. As long as we keep chatting up our readers, we’ll be in good shape :).

  • Great show guys! Thanks for filling in for me. I won my election by 63 percent!

    • Sweet! Nice job!

    • Crissy Moss

      Congrats! That’s awesome!

  • I will admit, the news that a traditional publisher went permafree also made my blood run cold. But mostly, it made me want to apply what I’m learning in Mark Dawson’s Facebook Ads course right now, before trad publishers adopt more indie tactics (like Facebook ads) and make it harder to get noticed.

    On the other hand, I’m not too worried. As others have mentioned, publishers will never have the close relationship with readers that individual authors have. If they try to connect with readers on an author’s behalf, it will come off as fake.

    I remember when the Penguin Random House merger was announced back in 2012 or so. I believe it was the CEO that sent a letter to all the Penguin authors, reassuring us that nothing was changing. They still recognized the editor and author relationship as the most important one in the industry. Even that long ago (ages in terms of publishing), I stopped as I read and went, “What?” The most important relationship in the industry is the one between an author and a reader, and no matter how hard a publisher might try, they won’t be able to replicate that.

  • Crissy Moss

    Worried? No. The fact remains that is you write good books then you will eventually get readers. Indies are still more flexible, and faster to change than traditional publishers so I’m not worried about them, I’m just worried about getting my own boss finished and out for new readers.

    • Bryan

      That’s the spirit, Crissy :).

  • Chris Shumate

    No, indies shouldn’t be worried about trad pub trying out permafree. It has proven to be a viable option for many indies. It’s taken the people suffering from the “mahogany desk syndrome” how many years to even offer something like this? They aren’t the quickest to innovate, as you both have pointed out innumerable times.

    The competitive advantage indies have is we can publish 4 novels a year, and if they’re of great quality our audience will buy them up. Consider Johnny, Sean, and Dave as three wildly successful authors doing just
    that. If they were trad pub, they’d likely still be waiting for the Beam’s second book or Yesterday’s Gone’s second book. Trad pub doesn’t produce content that fast.

    • Bryan

      MDS! Agreed. Speed is huge for us right now.