By day I work 60 hour weeks. At night I am a devoted father and husband to the world's greatest family. Somewhere in the non-existent time between the two, I am a writer. Join me from the beginning as I chronicle my adventures to become a successful published author.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Day 24 - Writing World Review: Borders Fights for Life, Glenn Beck and David Farland rise, Libraries are Dying


This week saw two major authors, David Wolverton/Farland and Glenn Beck announce forays into the publishing world. Wolverton will be advancing an exciting, but I feel ultimately limited, new approach to publishing, while Beck is going the traditional route and will have major success in some areas.

Additionally, the bankruptcy of Borders advances, with up to 200 stores possibly to be sold in the next week or two. Are they down for the count? I don't think so. I'll explain in the details.

Finally, the Coloradoan published an interesting opinion piece by Holly Carroll about an interesting threat to libraries caused by the eBook industry. This is not a new argument in and of itself, but it brought to my attention something I think everyone should know about as it's an important little known item for authors. I'm going to tie it into a major announcement from DC Comics this week too.


David Wolverton has, as of late, been on an anti-publishing/agent-establishment rant. He even turned down top ltierary agency in the world who wanted to represent him for an upcoming novel. David is one of the biggest names in fantasy and and sci-fi and has published more than 50 books via traditional means. With the changes being wrought by the eBook revolution however, he sees the industry cannibalizing itself from the top down, with the ultimate prey being the agent. He summed it up at the beginning of a massive pamphlet-length email with:

"I really do hope that you understand that I’m not predicting a gloomy forecast. I’m telling you that things look as if they are going to change dramatically and that there are great opportunities ahead, but you have to seize them, and you can’t blithely go down the same old path we've always used, or you’re going to run into quicksand." 

Too many, it seemed his general conversation was towards self-publishing. This week it has been revealed that is not the case, at least not entirely. While he still seems to advocate that as better than many of the raw deals authors are getting lately as well as outright Intellectual Property (IP) theft they've experienced, this week it became apparent there was some self marketing for a business venture in his views, whether intentionally or unintentionally.

This week, David announced he and a few others have created the East India Press. From the announcement email:

"...due to the changes in publishing, I find that I now have to back out of the traditional markets. As many of you know, I’m starting a new publishing company with Miles Romney, called East India Press, and we’re going to focus on a multi-pronged attack to publishing—creating enhanced books, e-books, audio books, and paper books all at the same time. Our first book will be THE NIGHTINGALE. We anticipate launching the series on all four platforms this fall."

The press is not open for submissions yet as they want to see how The Nightingale succeeds or fails before allowing others to put their trust in them. A smart business move. For those who have been following my blog, you'll know that a few weeks ago (Day 12) I mentioned a website by new author Peter Orullian where he made some incredible innovations in marketing for books, taking the concept of book trailers to a whole new level. I predicted this would be a key element in the future for successful publishing marketing, and it seems I am not the only one. David Wolverton's venture looks to capitalize on similar ideas, especially in terms of the enhanced books.

Let me be clear: I believe this venture will ultimately be limited ins cope because of the costs and time involved. Author's who want to use them will likely pay a heavy up-front fee or other long-term contract costs to cover the initial investment in them. I believe David however will have these fees spelled out clearly and then move to a very equitable structure after expenses are met. This is different than the shadowy contracts and numbers in place with many publishers and agents today and a definite step forward. Because of the initial investment in the author, either by the author him/herself or East India Press, they will not be taking on boatloads of people any time soon. Thus, this is for a niche group of authors, new and established, who feel they can really benefit from this approach versus eBooks and print-on-demand on their own.

I for one though will be looking seriously at them or similar ventures when it comes time to publish. Multiple income streams and audiences for your work is the key to author success in the future.

Glenn Beck. Love or hate Glenn Beck's politics, no one can deny he is a marketing and media powerhouse. He has seven consecutive New York Times bestsellers in both fiction and non-fiction, novels, and children's books, etc, organized one of the biggest rallies ever  that united people from many political and religious spectrums for a day, is putting the finishing touches on his own WebTV station that will likely advance to Cable, produces 5 hours a day of original radio programming (3 with him, 1 with his Producer and co-host, and 1 with S.E. Cupp, a female conservative Nascar and gun loving  atheist), is finishing up a five year run as on TV as one of the most watched Cable News/Opinion shows of all time, and much much more.

And he's not done yet folks. Not content to simply be published, he has now announced a publishing division of his company Mercury Radio Arts which will operate an imprint under Simon and Schuster. This is a match made in powerhouse heaven. Mercury Ink will be publishing a non-fiction this month on the Federalist Papers. Okay, not exciting for most people other than myself (I've read the Federalist Papers twice, all of them, and several books about them... I am kind of a history nut). BUT... it gets more exciting: the next book, due out later this year, is a YA Fiction by best seller Richard Paul Evans. I am very excited about this book because while it is a YA Paranormal book, it is also a thriller for the YA market. This is near and dear to my heart, because one of my long term goals after becoming an established thriller author is to write thrillers for the YA market, which is not a very well tapped area. I believe this is because of lack of authors who can do it well and are trying to do it, not because there is not interest. Richard Paul Evans could blow the doors wide open, and Mercury Ink will become a rock star.

Borders declared bankruptcy a little bit ago and shuttered quite a few stores. This shuttering of many stores led many to believe they were down for the count. Not so fast though. As someone who watches big business deals, I knew from the get go the bankruptcy was not a closure but a restructuring. Somehow most of the publishing world missed this. While I cannot prove this was my view before, it was, and I was right, so there! Bottom line is the bankruptcy was to restructure and become leaner and meaner. It looks like around 200 stores may be sold to an investor in a couple of weeks. This will give Border's the capitol to get into the black and pay old debts (at least some). They aren't resting on their laurels either. According to the Detroit News:

"Borders continues to forge ahead on the digital front, planning to launch a touch-screen edition of its Kobo e-reader for $129.99 in time for Father's Day on June 19.
The company also announced on Thursday that it was launching an eReading blog and an eBook club for discounts on digital books, access to guest authors and an online meeting place for readers.
Customers also can download, starting Thursday, free Kobo e-reading apps."

Book clubs, blogs, author events, and more for the eBook world. Keep an eye on them. They may still go down, but I don't think so. Leaner, meaner, and with a different focus. I predict this change will make them an attractive buy out in one to three years from Barnes and Nobles, Amazon, or perhaps (and more likely) a major household name publisher. It's going to happen.

Finally, go over to The Coloradoan, where you will learn about an interesting problem libraries are facing from eBooks. No, we're not talking about the disappearing paper market. We're talking about unsustainable fees being imposed by eBook publishers that will devastate smaller libraries and reduce future inventories of major libraries. Annual fees, per check-out fees, and more are already beginning to cost small-budget libraries more than they can handle. Before they could buy a book and loan it out. Now they can purchase the rights to a book, but are then charged other fees and can ultimately lose the book from their eLibrary, limiting reader access. Many eBooks, both popular and indie are not even being offered to Libraries by major publishers! Adding to it, don't even think about inter-library loans for an eBook with rights held at the library across town. Not allowed. The libraries are facing greater limitations than ever before and increased costs for what they can do. If something doesn't change, many could be a devastated and hollow shell ten years from now. This means that libraries, major purchaser of books, won't be purchasing your books as an author. That means lower-income families and children without eReaders will not learn of your books as easily, nor can they read them. The ramifications are far reaching. Wherever possible, try to encourage publishers, especially with your own books, to arrange for reasonable Library rights. 

Okay, I said I would tie this into the DC Comics universe. Here's the scoop: Publisher's Weekly ran a story this week on a major change in the comic book industry. Major because it involves DC Comics versus smaller companies who made similar moves. Starting August 31st, all DC Comics (think Superman, Justice League, etc) will be released digitally on the same day the paper comic is. This will cause a major profit loss to comic book stores that have not already diversified to focus more on card games, unique board games, and other income streams. I believe we are witnessing the beginning of a major die-off of brick and mortar comic book stores, which had recently been seeing a bit of a renaissance due to the aforementioned diversification. This is not to say they will all go the way of the Dodo bird, only that like the libraries, many will not survive this change. Actually, I give the libraries a better chance as I hold out hope that publishers will adjust their fees. I see no such light for the comic book stores. Paper will still be around, but will decrease dramatically. My prediction? Most minor comic books will go completely digital within 5 years. 

Oh, one other interesting item: Most of their major comic book lines are being completely rebooted: New origin stories, new costumes, and more, and they will be starting back at Issue #1. That's right... the original Superhero, will be back at Issue #1, will be losing the red tights/underwear, and will have some other changes. 


The changes coming are so interesting. I know when I purchase an ebook. I'm really only purchasing an opportunity to read it, not own it. The seller can remove it from my account at any time--and have done this when they have fallings-out with publishers. With paper you really purchase the book. Even though I know this I still buy some ebooks.

I had forgotten about their ability sometimes to take away eBooks. It's rare, but yeah, it can happen. I suppose it's a trade-off, since you can lose paper books to theft, fire, flood, etc, whereas you can just re-download your eBook. 6 of one, half a dozen of another.

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