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Old 08-22-2009, 12:12 AM   #1
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Frustrated with all the recent posts by Kindle-only authors

It seems like recently there have been a slew of new posters to MR whose posts begin with 'I just published my novel XYZ on the Kindle, hope lots of people read it!' I am so frustrated with these. I wonder if these authors truly do not realize that the Kindle (and therefore their book) are, due to their publishing decision, only available to readers in one country out of the whole wide world? Or do they realize and are simply too lazy to care and to investigate other options? I worry too that some of these authors might reach the wrong conclusion about the saleability of their book e.g. they sell too few copies and conclude there is no money in ebooks, but maybe if they sold it in places where people outside of the USA could buy it, they might sell more?

I have stopped responding to these messages because I am getting so annoyed that I worry I won't be polite enough. The USA is a big country, but it is only ONE country and it is not the centre of the universe. Readers exist outside of this ONE country, readers who might want to buy books. If one sells their book on the Kindle only, one excludes a large percentage of them. If you are an indie author, that's just shooting yourself in the foot unnecessarily. Maybe Amazon has some sort of licensing problems or global marketing rights issues which prevent them from getting into Europe/Canada/Asia/Wherever just now. But the average indie author does not have this obstacle. So why are so many people limiting themselves unnecessarily and potentially alienating real, paying customers? It makes no sense to me.
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Old 08-22-2009, 12:46 AM   #2
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The Kindle DTP publishing Terms & Conditions are for nonexclusive, irrevocable, worldwide rights. So authors can publish anywhere else that allows nonexclusive rights. This also means that Amazon can publish them in other counties if that want. I think the terms allow Amazon to also "publish" on mobipocket.com (which they don't do), but perhaps not to wholesale through them.

The real issue, though, is where else to publish. Amazon does not give a very good deal to authors (35% of list price), but they do offer a relatively simple path to publication and a large potential market. Perhaps Scribd or Smashwords, or someone, should offer a simple path for Amazon DTP authors to list on their site too. Calibre can automatically convert AZW (MOBI) to ePub and other formats so this isn't rocket science any more.
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Old 08-22-2009, 01:38 AM   #3
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It doesn't bother me, it's up to the author to decide how they want to offer their book imho.

I'd agree they're missing a trick by not going for a wider market, but maybe they want to see how well it does Kindle-only before going to the hassle of multi-formatting.

But I don't see how I'm entitled to feel aggrieved by the decisions they make.
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Old 08-22-2009, 01:57 AM   #4
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I understand your frustration. However, you can also follow the thought process of the authors can't you?

It's clear that Amazon is by far the market share leader and has one of the best support systems for self-publishing (although as Wallcraft says the payment terms are not great). Yes there are other outlets, but they are at best a fraction of Amazon's numbers. If I sell 800 books on Amazon, I might see where else I can squeeze out a few sales. However, if I only sell one book on Amazon I would probably be better served promoting my Kindle book, than I would pursuing outlets with even less reach than Amazon.

Of course, that assumes a perfectly informed writer. Realistically, writers are just like everyone else. A few are very tech-orientated. Many are less comfortable with tech. Many of these self-published writers have full-time jobs and they spend their spare time writing, not visiting mobileread (unlike me).

Yes, Calibre is easy to use, but next time your go to your supermarket look around. These are typical people, just like writers. How would you explain to the average person in your supermarket that Calibre exists? Where to download it? How to use it to manage data and convert books? How to find a book in the file system so it can be uploaded to someplace else? Where to upload it -- smashwords? Fictionwise? Mobipocket?

These writers look like first time visitors to this site. Many have never heard of all the choices. They don't understand different formats. They don't understand DRM. Mainly they know how to write (we hope).

So, if we want them to change we will have to help educate them. Possibly a getting started guide for writers on the wiki? Or does one already exist?

I foresee the following arrangement:
First, an intro to ebook publishing that introduces the key concepts and links to separate pages that then explain:
1) Different formats for ebooks and the tradeoffs
2) How to convert between formats: Calibre, Sigil, and more
3) DRM and the problems of using it
4) Web sites that accept self-published books; the pro's and con's of each and where to go to submit books.
5) Options for setting up your own store using your own web site and paypal or ebay or google checkout????
6) Marketing your ebook including does and don'ts on Mobileread

When people post a Kindle only ebook they can be linked to the guide to publishing.

Alternatively, maybe its a business opportunity? You could offer a flat rate fee service or a percentage of sales to convert, submit, and market their book(s) in different places and different formats?
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Old 08-22-2009, 02:42 AM   #5
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My view is, If the aspiring authors want to limit themselves deliberately to one device/one country instead of using a site like smashwords which provides multiple formats then fine I'll buy someone else ebook and support them instead.
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Old 08-22-2009, 06:21 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tech_au View Post
My view is, If the aspiring authors want to limit themselves deliberately to one device/one country instead of using a site like smashwords which provides multiple formats then fine I'll buy someone else ebook and support them instead.
So you'd support authors who are good at looking around for sales opportunities, instead of the ones who can write good stories? I think you'd be more precise if you said you support sales managers.
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Old 08-22-2009, 07:13 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by emellaich View Post
I understand your frustration. However, you can also follow the thought process of the authors can't you?

It's clear that Amazon is by far the market share leader
As to market leader, no way is it Amazon. Amazon is only 45%. Sony at 30%. And then there are all the others. Basically, there are more readers out there that handle ePub then don't. So publishing as ePub as well as AZW would make sense. Publishing only AZW makes no sense. Sure I could use the Kindle App on my wife's iPod to buy these books, but if they don't care enough about the rest of us, I don't care enough to buy their book.
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Old 08-22-2009, 07:14 AM   #8
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My view is, If the aspiring authors want to limit themselves deliberately to one device/one country instead of using a site like smashwords which provides multiple formats then fine I'll buy someone else ebook and support them instead.
Smashwords has issues with some of it's conversions. So that's not a real solution if you are charging for your work.
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Old 08-22-2009, 07:30 AM   #9
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Smashwords has issues with some of it's conversions. So that's not a real solution if you are charging for your work.
I was using Smashwords as an example where authors can provide their ebooks in multiple formats instead of the Kindle-centric "Its the only ebook reader available of the planet" mentality that seems to pervade the industry and why the original author of this thread was getting so frustrated with.
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Old 08-22-2009, 08:19 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ficbot View Post
It seems like recently there have been a slew of new posters to MR whose posts begin with 'I just published my novel XYZ on the Kindle, hope lots of people read it!' I am so frustrated with these. I wonder if these authors truly do not realize that the Kindle (and therefore their book) are, due to their publishing decision, only available to readers in one country out of the whole wide world?
...
So why are so many people limiting themselves unnecessarily and potentially alienating real, paying customers? It makes no sense to me.
Theoretically, I agree with you.

On the other hand, in practice, I've only ever bought one DRMed title in [cough, mumble] years of ebook reading. That was an MS lit title for my old Compaq Aero 1550 from the old B&N ebook store. It was a murder mystery set in Canada, by coincidence.

I've bought non-DRMed books from Fictionwise and Baen over the years, but I have trouble keeping up with the sheer number of free titles available. Authors unwise enough to not do their homework, and limit their potential sales are just out of luck. Someday I may read their books, but probabaly not.

On the gripping hand, look at it conversely. The authors, while self-limited, do have an ebook presence. It may not be the best approach, but they are in the game. They're miles ahead of most authors who have no idea there is a game.

Regards,
Jack Tingle
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Old 08-22-2009, 08:35 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by tech_au View Post
I was using Smashwords as an example where authors can provide their ebooks in multiple formats instead of the Kindle-centric "Its the only ebook reader available of the planet" mentality that seems to pervade the industry and why the original author of this thread was getting so frustrated with.
This is true. So what do you think can be done to get them to stop this Kindle mentality and realize that most people with a reader are not Kindle owners?
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Old 08-22-2009, 08:49 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by ficbot View Post
It seems like recently there have been a slew of new posters to MR whose posts begin with 'I just published my novel XYZ on the Kindle, hope lots of people read it!' I am so frustrated with these. I wonder if these authors truly do not realize that the Kindle (and therefore their book) are, due to their publishing decision, only available to readers in one country out of the whole wide world? Or do they realize and are simply too lazy to care and to investigate other options? I worry too that some of these authors might reach the wrong conclusion about the saleability of their book e.g. they sell too few copies and conclude there is no money in ebooks, but maybe if they sold it in places where people outside of the USA could buy it, they might sell more?

I have stopped responding to these messages because I am getting so annoyed that I worry I won't be polite enough. The USA is a big country, but it is only ONE country and it is not the centre of the universe. Readers exist outside of this ONE country, readers who might want to buy books. If one sells their book on the Kindle only, one excludes a large percentage of them. If you are an indie author, that's just shooting yourself in the foot unnecessarily. Maybe Amazon has some sort of licensing problems or global marketing rights issues which prevent them from getting into Europe/Canada/Asia/Wherever just now. But the average indie author does not have this obstacle. So why are so many people limiting themselves unnecessarily and potentially alienating real, paying customers? It makes no sense to me.
I've decided to start recommending Smashwords. Perhaps you could do the same.
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Old 08-22-2009, 09:24 AM   #13
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emellaich, i think you make an excellent point that many independent writers don't know much about the publishing options available to them. several have been mentioned in this thread (feedbooks, smashwords, etc.). i think your idea for a guide (quoted below) is brililant. perhaps you'd like to open a thread with those points in the writers' forum. i'll make it sticky, and we can ask for help from the community to fill in the details. it could also go in the wiki. that would be an excellent ressource.

Quote:
Originally Posted by emellaich View Post
So, if we want them to change we will have to help educate them. Possibly a getting started guide for writers on the wiki? Or does one already exist?

I foresee the following arrangement:
First, an intro to ebook publishing that introduces the key concepts and links to separate pages that then explain:
1) Different formats for ebooks and the tradeoffs
2) How to convert between formats: Calibre, Sigil, and more
3) DRM and the problems of using it
4) Web sites that accept self-published books; the pro's and con's of each and where to go to submit books.
5) Options for setting up your own store using your own web site and paypal or ebay or google checkout????
6) Marketing your ebook including does and don'ts on Mobileread

When people post a Kindle only ebook they can be linked to the guide to publishing.
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Old 08-22-2009, 09:36 AM   #14
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I agree that most writers simply want to write. They don't want to master HTML and create their own websites, they don't want to become sales managers, etc. So they look for an easy way to publish. The Kindle store provides that for them. And if they manage to make enough money selling that way to be satisfied, good on them.

If we ever see some ePub-generating software that's "easy for Grandma to use," plus easy-to-find sites where authors can upload their works, we will probably see these authors spread out and disseminate their works even further. (Actually, Smashwords does provide pretty much that... spread the word!) But in the meantime, we'll continue to see authors taking the non-techy "easy way" to publishing.

I've already noticed that these threads of which you speak tend to be quickly filled with comments like, "That's great. What about formats for the rest of us?!?" Hopefully comments like that will wake them up to the fact that they really need to look further afield for their markets.

Last edited by Steven Lyle Jordan; 08-22-2009 at 09:43 AM.
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Old 08-22-2009, 10:35 AM   #15
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It seems like recently there have been a slew of new posters to MR whose posts begin with 'I just published my novel XYZ on the Kindle, hope lots of people read it!' I am so frustrated with these. I wonder if these authors truly do not realize that the Kindle (and therefore their book) are, due to their publishing decision, only available to readers in one country out of the whole wide world?
Almost right, Ficbot . Kindle only books are available only to U.S. consumers who own a Kindle, which narrows the market even further. A lot of U.S. book buyers don't own a Kindle and/or won't buy from Amazon.
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