Self-Publishing Trends 2016

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I’ve been reading many articles and blog posts in which predictions have been made about what will happen this year in the self-publishing industry, from how books will be sold, to a growing number of self-publishing authors called artisanal authors. Could you be selling your books to a wider market? Will Barnes and Noble have to close down? See what leading experts (in the above image)  think will happen in 2016 in this article from BookWorks.com. 

On The Self Made Writer, Deb Vanasse discusses trends after having a look back on 2015. At the end of the year, print books had a growth in sales due to the appearance of adult colouring books. Big publishers were also charging high prices for kindle versions of their books that led to higher sales of print copies. This year, Debs believes there will be more of a balance between print and digital books, and there’ll be less concern about which format sells the most. You can read more of Deb’s expected trends in the writing and publishing industry here.

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Interview with Joan Stewart, The Publicity Hound

1Joan Stewart headshot 180 by 180Today I am pleased to welcome Joan Stewart, well known as The Publicity Hound, to the blog. Joan is a publicity, marketing and PR expert. She helps get products, services and books in front of as many people as possible. Many of the resources Joan offers are free and easy to implement, such as the hints and tips she suggests in her twice weekly e-mail newsletter.  I recommend you subscribe here. Thank you for taking part Joan, let’s begin the interview:

I see on your blog that you were a newspaper editor before a Publicity Hound. What was it that caused the job change?

By the mid-80s, it was apparent that the newspaper industry was marching toward the graveyard. I also disliked working in an industry in which customer service was always at the bottom of the priority list. I loved writing and editing the news. But eventually, by the 90s, that turned into a job in which I did little more than cut budgets and lay off reporters, and hear people who didn’t get their paper gripe that there was no one in the Circulation Department to take complaints on Sunday morning, when we sold the greatest number of papers.

 

Since starting your business have you always been known as The Publicity Hound and how did you decide on that name?

One of the first books I read when I started my own business was Marcia Yudkin’s book “6 Steps to Free Publicity.” One of her chapter titles is “The Publicity Hound.” I can remember thinking, “Clever.”

About a year later, when I decided to publish a print newsletter, I needed a name. “The Publicity Hound” popped into my mind one afternoon while I was walking. The print newsletter eventually bled red ink. It morphed into an ezine, and that morphed into twice-a-week snack-size email tips. People kept commenting about the name “The Publicity Hound” and how it was such a memorable name and a great brand. Media Relations Consulting Inc. (big yawn) became “dba The Publicity Hound.” I got a trademark for “The Publicity Hound” and now use it exclusively.

 

As an editor and publicist you write a great deal. Have you ever considered writing any fiction?

Never! I wouldn’t know where to begin. Besides, I know how much work book marketing is, particularly for fiction. I decided long ago to forego the print book and concentrate instead on much more profitable info-products.

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Ebook Prices. What would you pay?

Today I thought I’d talk about the cost of ebooks. There have been other discussions on blogs and social media about this topic due to the agreement made between Amazon and 4 of the top 5 publishers (Hachette, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, and Macmillan). The result of this agreement is that the publishers can set their own prices and keep them set, with no changes ever made by Amazon. The publishers receive financial incentives to keep the prices down, yet many of their books cost much more than those published by smaller publishers and indie authors.

The graphs below show the difference in the cost of ebooks published by different types of publisher. As you can see, the books published by the biggest publishers are the most expensive, in some cases more than double than that of an indie published book. They have also been increasing month on month from the time shown between Feb 2014 and May 2015.

Book prices on Amazon

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Free chapter from The Revelation Room

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I thought today I would give you a sneak-peek at a chapter from The Revelation Room. This is a proud moment for me, as the book is being published on Wednesday. The Revelation Room is the first in a new series of psychological mystery thrillers written with occasional flashes of humour.

Ben Whittle’s father is a private investigator. He’s been taken captive by a cult whilst investigating a missing girl. Close to death, he makes a desperate call to Ben for help. He tells Ben that he must not call the police because “everyone will die”. Ben retraces the last known steps of the missing girl with his friend Maddie. The only option left open to them is to join the cult and rescue Ben’s father from the inside.
But this is no band of hapless hippies worshipping the moon and drinking chicken blood. They are a group of dangerously brainwashed followers who are under the spell of psychopathic cult leader, Edward Ebb. When Ben and Maddie are initiated into the group, they pass into a world where only two choices exist: compliance or death.
Ben and Maddie must find Ben’s father and the missing girl, but the odds are impossibly stacked against them and time is fast running out. And they will soon discover the gruesome secret concealed in the Revelation Room.

In the following chapter, Ben’s father is being interrogated by cult leader Edward Ebb. I hope you enjoy it.

Edward Ebb looked at the Infiltrator and shook his head. The Infiltrator didn’t look in good shape, which wasn’t any wonder seeing as Brother Tweezer had shot him out of a tree overlooking the courtyard. The Infiltrator had sustained a broken wrist and a broken leg to go with the bullet wound in his left shoulder. He kept whinging and whining that he’d broken his spine, but Ebb doubted the validity of the claim. He’d kicked and thrashed well enough when Ebb had poked a hot needle into the wound in his shoulder.
Ebb conceded the Infiltrator may well have suffered internal injuries as well, but he didn’t care. He wasn’t a doctor. It was of no consequence. But he needed to tread carefully because Satan was at his most potent when lying dormant.
The Infiltrator looked in a pitiful state tied to a chair in the Revelation Room. Lumps of congealed vomit lodged in his beard. His bald head gleamed with sweat beneath the overhead lights.
Ebb unscrewed the cap of a bottle of Evian spring water. ‘Are you thirsty?’
The Infiltrator croaked something unintelligible.
‘What’s the matter? Afraid it might be holy water?’
‘No.’
‘Who are you?’
He looked at Ebb with devious eyes. Full of pity. Full of deceit. Full of hate. ‘I’m… a… bird-watcher…’
Ebb laughed. ‘A bird-watcher, huh? So how come you had a long-range camera in the tree with you?’
‘I was—’
Ebb shook his head. ‘We’ve had the film developed. Guess what?’
His nose started to bleed again. ‘What?’
Ebb resisted an urge to poke out an eye. ‘There wasn’t one picture of a bird on that film. Not one. But there were plenty of pictures of my courtyard.’
‘I—’
‘Who sent you?’
He looked away. The way liars did when backed into a corner.
‘Did a demon send you to spy on me?’
‘No.’ The word came out in a bubble of blood.
‘Would you like a drink?’
‘Yes.’
‘Then tell me who sent you to spy on me?’
‘No one. I—’
Ebb turned the bottle upside down and tipped half the contents onto the dusty concrete floor. He then righted the bottle and took a swig. He wiped his mouth. ‘That’s so good. Nice and cold. Straight from the fridge.’
The Infiltrator licked his cracked lips with a lizard tongue.
Ebb screwed the cap back on the bottle. ‘I’ll let you have some if you tell me who you are.’
The Infiltrator’s eyes narrowed. He looked like a fox with the scent of chicken in its snout.
Don’t trust him, Pixie-pea.
Ebb jumped. He turned around to face three skeletons secured to wooden crosses on the far wall. The middle skeleton had a pink wig lodged on its skull and sunglasses covering its eye sockets. Ebb addressed it cautiously. ‘Don’t you worry about that. I’ve got his cards marked.’
Never trust a man with a beard, Pixie-pea.
Ebb gawked at the skeleton. ‘Leave me alone. I’m busy.’
The skeleton seemed to grin at him, but that had to be a trick of the light. Skeletons didn’t grin. A one-eyed cat could tell you that much. He turned back to face the Infiltrator. ‘Tell me who you are and I’ll let you have a drink.’
‘A…bird-watcher…’
Ebb threw the bottle at him. It bounced off his forehead and landed on the floor next to his chair. The Infiltrator attempted to escape the ropes securing him to the chair. He wriggled like a maggot on a fishhook. At one point, he almost tipped himself over.
‘Sit still. I shan’t pick you up if you upend yourself.’
The Infiltrator stopped writhing and stared at Ebb with those deceitful eyes. ‘Please. I’m… in… agony.’
Ebb snorted. ‘And I’m a busy man. All you need to do is tell me who you are and who sent you, and this will be over and done with.’
Done and dusted, Pixie-pea.
Ebb ignored the voice. ‘Wouldn’t you like that?’
The Infiltrator nodded his head and winced. Ebb noticed that two of his front teeth were missing. ‘How would you like Sister Alice to splint that leg and wash your wounds?’
The Infiltrator nodded and snorkelled blood and snot back up his nose.
‘So tell me who you are?’
The Infiltrator exercised his right to remain silent.
Ebb reached into the pocket of his white ceremonial robe and pulled out a small glass vial. He held it up in front of his quarry. ‘Do you know what this is?’
‘No.’
‘It’s holy water. Do you know what holy water is?’
The Infiltrator nodded.
Ebb smiled. ‘Good. So you’ll understand it burns the skin of evildoers?’
The Infiltrator’s eyes widened. They looked to Ebb as if they were making a grand effort to launch from their sockets and fly to the moon. And well they might. If he was connected to a demon, he was in for a tough time. A very tough time indeed.
‘Please…don’t…do…this…’
Ebb uncapped the bottle. There was a tiny dropper attached to the lid. He drew some of the liquid into the dropper and stepped closer to the Infiltrator. Close enough to smell his rank body. The stench of bodily waste was almost too much to bear. God alone knew what diseases the Infiltrator harboured.
The Infiltrator wheezed and rasped like a knackered engine trying to whirr into life. ‘Geoff…my name’s…Geoff…’
Ebb stepped back and studied the weasel’s face for signs of deception. ‘Geoff? Geoff who?’
The Infiltrator sucked in air through clenched teeth. He gasped five or six times, as if he were about to deliver a baby demon, and then shook his head.
Ebb took a deep breath and tried to summon patience. It was wearing as thin as the Infiltrator’s hair. ‘Geoff who?’
The Infiltrator looked away.
The demon was toying with him. Teasing him. Trying to provoke him. Ebb refused to rise to it. ‘I don’t particularly care what your name is. I want you to tell me who sent you.’
The Infiltrator scraped his tongue over dry lips. ‘I’m a bird-watcher.’
Ebb shook his head. ‘Did Satan send you?’
‘No.’
‘Does Satan reside in you?’
A long drawn out wheeze, and then: ‘No.’
Ebb smiled. ‘I expect nothing other than denial from a terrorist.’
The Infiltrator shook his head. His eyes rolled back in his head. Further indication to Ebb that he was harbouring a demon. ‘I’m not—’
Ebb raised a hand and stepped back. ‘I fear no evil. I shall not stand in the shadow of evil. I am the light, and I am the resurrection.’
‘I’m…Geoff,’ the Infiltrator croaked.
The words sounded like they’d been raked over hot coals. The hot coals of Hell. ‘Show yourself, Satan.’
‘I’m…not…Satan….’
Ebb smiled. ‘Denial is always the first port of call for Satan’s seafarers.’ He stepped forward again and held out the dropper. ‘The holy water shall determine your validity.’
The Infiltrator stared at him with those treacherous eyes.
‘Do you fear the holy water, Satan?’
Satan did. He’d written it in a thousand lines upon the Infiltrator’s face. And well he might fear the holy water. Just as he’d been right to fear the hot needle that Ebb had thrust into his wounded shoulder. Like all cowards, Satan was not as good at taking pain as he was at dishing it out.
Ropes pinned The Infiltrator’s hands to his sides. Tweezer had secured him well. Tweezer seemed to enjoy tying people up, especially people who had betrayed The Sons and Daughters of Salvation. Ebb dripped a few drops of holy water onto the Infiltrator’s right hand.
The coward did not stand on ceremony. He bucked and writhed and tipped himself sideways onto the cold concrete floor. His head hit the ground with a nasty thud, reminiscent of when Ebb had hit his mother over the head with a shovel many years ago.
‘Come forth, Satan. Come forth and show yourself.’
Satan seemed content thrashing about on the floor inside the Infiltrator’s body. Ebb had intended to drop acid onto the weasel’s other hand, but he didn’t want to risk his own safety by getting too close. A wounded animal was a dangerous animal.
‘Come forth, Satan. Come into the light and face the truth.’
Satan’s rage frothed and bubbled on the Infiltrator’s lips. Ebb wouldn’t have been at all surprised to see ectoplasm forming a cocoon around that filthy, matted beard. He stepped back to a safer distance and screwed the cap back onto the bottle.
‘I shall send Sister Alice and Brother Tweezer to attend to you later.’
The Infiltrator didn’t look very grateful. He wriggled and moaned and scraped his head on the rough concrete floor as if trying to burrow his way out of the Revelation Room.
Ebb was in no mood to pander to whims. He left the Infiltrator to bask in self-pity and walked out of the Revelation Room. He locked the door behind him and rested his back against it. As soon as he understood Satan’s purpose here, the Infiltrator could go straight to Hell courtesy of death by a thousand cuts.

Thanks for reading. If you liked this chapter you can see what some readers thought of it here. It is available for kindle and in paperbook, and you can get a copy for FREE with Kindle Unlimited on Amazon.

All the best

Mark

 

Kindle Unlimited: A Blessing or a Curse?

 

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As the publication of my first novel draws near, I thought I would have a  look at Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited. I’ve read a lot of news articles and blogs concerning the pros and cons of Kindle Unlimited, so I thought I would summarise my findings in order to help other new indie authors decide whether or not it’s in their best interests to use it. Is it a blessing, or is it simply something that’s a decent marketing tool for established authors? Continue reading