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11.17.2014

Indie Plus: A Distribution Service for Indie Authors, Allowing Indie Authors to Reach the World in New Ways

For those authors who want to keep their rights, be able to manage their own Amazon KDP accounts, but have someone else distribute everywhere else you may like Indie Plus.

The first thing you need to know about Indie Plus is that the service is free. All work performed on behalf of authors, publishers and agents is done at no cost, including:
  • Document conversion to industry standard formats, such as Epub and PDF
  • Document optimization as required for various retailer and library platforms
  • Cover optimization, sizing and format conversion as required for various retailer and library platforms
Thus, with Indie Plus, you submit your formatted document (.doc/docx) and image (.jpg) files and the service creates the .EPUB, .PDF and other book files needed for submission.

Indie Plus earns based on commissions from the actual royalties you receive, which depend on the retailer or library where the purchase is made. The top retail royalty rate is 70%. The top library royalty rate is 70%.
Indie Plus gets a 20% commission on the net proceeds. With a 70% royalty rate, this means Indie Plus gets 14% (20% of 70% = 14%). With a 35% royalty rate, this means Indie Plus gets 7% (20% of 35% = 7%).

Unlike other services, Indie Plus distributes print, ebook and audio. When you submit your work, you can specify the formats to distribute. Ebook is the primary format and Indie Plus must elect (optionally) to handle your print and audio.
Indie Plus requires a minimum 2-year commitment, with automatic renewal unless you cancel within 90 days before or after the renewal period. Why? Many of the retailers and libraries to which Indie Plus delivers print, ebooks, and audio are only available to established publishers and/or expect stability in their product offerings. Established publishers don’t make constant changes to their data and this is what these retailers and libraries expect.

Indie Plus is a good service to use with titles that you want to continue to have available in Amazon KDP but no longer want to use with Kindle Select, Kindle Unlimited or Kindle FreeTime.
Indie Plus distributes to the following retailers:

CreateSpace
Barnes & Noble / Nook Press

iBooks / iTunes
Kobo Books

Oyster
Scribd

Google Play

& Many, many more.

Indie Plus distributes to the following library aggregators:

Baker & Taylor
OverDrive

3M
BookWire

TXTR
Gardners

& Many, many more.

Indie Plus also works with national retailers and library organizations in many countries.

With audio, Indie Plus allows you to continue to manage your titles that are enrolled in Audible / ACX services while distributing your works to dozens of other retailers and library aggregators. This allows you to manage titles in Audible / ACX while opening many new opportunities.

Video options are in process and the distribution chain is being developed. With video, Indie Plus will allow you to continue to manage your titles in Netflix while distributing your works to select retailers and library aggregators.

Indie Plus is a service of RP Media. For those who don't know RP Media, this is RP Media:

RP Media includes three primary operating companies:

RP Books
RP Audio
RP Video

The key RP Media imprints by operating location are:

RP Books

Olympia:
    Reagent Press
    Reagent Press Signature Editions
    Reagent Press Echo
    Reagent Press Large Print
    Ruin Mist Publications
    RP Classics
    Pequena Imprenta
    Reagent Press Books for Young Readers

Seattle:
    Bugville Learning
    Bugville Publishing

Seattle:
 - Stanek & Associates


RP Audio
    Reagent Press Audio
    RP Audio Publishing
    Classroom-To-Go
    RP Audio Kids

 RP Video
    Bugville Kids
    My World Video
    Wonderful World Video

Reagent Press itself is one element of RP Media. Indie Plus fits in as a new branch in the RP Media family. There are independent RP Media operations out of Concord and Boston as well with their own imprints. These imprints are managed separately.

Hope you’ll consider Indie Plus for your publishing needs!

Thanks for reading,


Robert Stanek

11.15.2014

Amazon’s Broken, Unfixable, Rotten Core: Time to Salvage the Parts to Save the Cancerous Whole

Many of America’s inner cities are food deserts. They don’t have grocery stores, corner stores or any type of store really, excepting the occasional fast food establishment. If Amazon has its way, America itself will be a vast shopless desert where our goods come from massive automated, virtually workerless warehouses with our goods delivered by pilotless drones. That’s not science fiction, that’s Amazon.com’s vision for our future. Remember that this holiday season and beyond before you buy any physical product from Amazon.com that can be readily bought in your local community.

But the recent Amazon – Hachette debacle is a discernible symptom of something far worse: Amazon.com’s broken, unfixable, rotten core. The end of the public brawl makes no difference. As Douglas Preston stated in The New York Times, “If anyone thinks this is over they are deluding themselves. Amazon covets market share the way Napoleon coveted territory.” In “Amazon May Get Ubered,” a Newsweek columnist went even further, stating: “Hegemony never lasts in technology. The day the first pundit calls a tech superpower a dangerous monopoly, start looking for whatever is coming to overthrow it.”

Amazon.com was founded the same year I became a professional writer: 1994. I was an exuberant public supporter of the company in my bestselling books and high-profile articles read by millions from the start. I was even stupid enough to drive many millions more to Amazon.com through my popular websites, including Internet Daily News, the Writer’s Gallery, and Internet Job Center. Why? I was taken in hook, line and sinker by the way Amazon.com positioned itself as a righteous David in a world of unethical goliaths. How naïve I was, how wrong I was, for Amazon.com has developed into a heartless, soulless, unethical goliath that has demonstrated repeatedly and publicly it answers to no one—not investors, not employees, not partners, not even governments.

Worse, Amazon.com has a strangle-hold over an industry beloved by people around the world: publishing. This dangerous strangle-hold threatens the livelihoods of millions: authors, illustrators, publishers, editors, and others.

Not only is Amazon.com’s proximate monopoly control of the publishing industry untenable, but Amazon.com should be under investigation by governments worldwide for its many unfair labor and business practices. Although Amazon.com's exploitive labor and business practices have been the subjects of headlines around the world, no government has stepped in, taken action, and demanded that exploited workers and business partners, which include content creators, developers, publishers, authors and others, be made whole.

At Amazon.com’s broken core are its sales systems which reward those who see publishing as a zero sum game in which they lose out if another succeeds. Many in publishing will recognize the widespread use of malicious reviews and commentary as well as vicious attacks designed to sabotage sales and careers.

As many authors and industry pundits have stated publicly, there is absolutely no doubt whatsoever that many of these reviews, comments, and attacks come from other authors and persons related to other authors. Other nastiness comes from certain authors’ fans who see anyone else’s success as a threat to those authors, as well as those who just get off on attacking strangers in public.

The effect of spurious negative reviews is to undermine the reader’s confidence in making a purchase, to damage a book’s ranking, and to destroy an author’s sales. The flood of negativity isn’t about helping readers avoid a bad book—it’s about ruining careers and livelihoods.

How books are ranked on Amazon.com determines not only where they appear in search results, but whether they appear at all. Ranking also controls overall visibility throughout Amazon.com websites with regard to specials, lists, categories, features, promotions, and more.

How books are ranked on Amazon.com is dependent on several factors, including: how positive a book’s reviews are and how well a book is selling. Amazon.com looks not only at recent sales, but also at sales history and sales trends. Amazon.com looks not only at overall ratings, but also at review and rating trends, up/down voting of reviews, and how recently a book has been reviewed.

Those with destructive intent know how the sales systems work and they use the systems to cause harm. They do this in many ways, including by ensuring negative reviews stay visible, where they are most effective and cause the most harm. Thus, not only do they often ensure recent reviews are negative, they often vote up past negative reviews while voting down any positive reviews. They do this to torpedo an author’s sales.

Amazon.com’s rotten core doesn’t just affect the publishing industry—it affects the entire entertainment industry and other industries as well. The same nastiness that occurs with books, ebooks and audiobooks also occurs with other products sold on Amazon.com, including music, movies, video games, apps, and more. Amazon.com’s rotten core does, in fact, extend to every part of its operations.

As I wrote about in Selling Your Soul to the Company Store: Amazon’s Mistreatment of Its Employees, Amazon.com’s unfair labor and business practices have been widely documented, but no one is doing anything about them. As a public company, Amazon.com has been funded by starry-eyed investors who, like me, believed the Rumpelstiltskin-spinning-straw-into-gold stories coming out of Seattle. Stories that don’t hold water in the face Amazon.com’s epic failure to become a consistently profitable company.

Amazon.com is no longer a 2-year-old startup that can make empty promises and deliver empty air. What is there to show investors after 20 years in the business? What is there to show for endless promises that someday Amazon.com will start making a consistent profit? Billions upon billions of investors’ hard-earned money poured down a toilet drain, and a company whose parts are worth more separately than the cancer-ridden whole.

In tech years, Amazon.com is an octogenarian who can’t decide what he wants to be when he grows up. Does he want to be a product company, a hosting company, a device company, a services company, a streaming company, a shipping company, a publishing company, or a Hollywood movie producer? All of which, Amazon.com is currently trying to be—and all of which are bleeding the company of much needed operating cash.

Regarding cash on hand, financial analysts have stated the company doesn’t have enough cash on hand at any one time to pay what it owes its business partners: you know, the people whose products are sold on its site, including authors, developers, publishers, and other content creators. Instead, Amazon.com keeps itself afloat by relying on the fact that it generally has up to 90 days to pay its partners.

The emperor has no clothes. It’s time for investors to call Amazon to account. It’s time for business partners to demand prompt payment. It also may be time for a breakup of Amazon.com to salvage the remains of a cancerous whole. Like the breakup of the Bell System in 1982, the breakup of Amazon.com would effectively take a damaging monopoly and split it into entirely separate companies. Companies that would no longer have monopolistic controls. Companies that could start anew and rid themselves of their unfair labor and business practices roots. Companies that might even become consistently profitable.

Thanks for reading,

Robert Stanek


11.11.2014

Supporting Veteran Authors Who Support Veterans, Veterans' Issues and Veterans-related Charities

On Veteran's Day 2014, 50 veteran authors pledged 100% of their print, ebook and audio book royalties to their favorite veteran's charity. In most cases, these are organizations that assisted the authors personally and they are trying their best to give back.

 Veterans from each service branch and every conflict period, from Vietnam to even one author currently deployed to Afghanistan, pledged. This diverse collection of works includes New York Times and USA Today Bestsellers and covers most genres. From romance to action-adventure to sci-fi and everything in between.

 Readers helped raise money for the sponsored charities by buying the books of the participating authors. The ultimate goal of this event was to raise at least $10,000 for the 15+ veterans charities the authors supported.

 Participating books and authors included:

 1. This Mortal Coil (After the Machines) by Robert Stanek

 Robert Stanek is a US Air Force veteran who served from 1985 to 1996. An Iraq vet with two tours of combat, Robert Stanek is the recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal, Air Force Commendation medal, Humanitarian Service medal, and other awards for his combat service. Robert is donating to Wounded Warrior Project.

 2. Fallen Out: Jesse McDermitt Series I by Wayne Stinnett

 Wayne Stinnett is a veteran of the US Marine Corp and served from 1977 to 1981. Wayne is donating to Homes for Warriors in Brevard County, FL.

 3. The Perseid Collapse by Steven Konkoly

 Steven Konkoly is a US Navy veteran who served from 1993 to 2001. Steven is donating to Wounded Warrior Project.

 4. Darkness Haunts by Susan Illene

 Susan Illene is a US Army veteran who served from 1998 to 2009. An Iraq vet with tours in 2003 and 2004-2005, Susan is donating to the Wounded Warrior Project.

 5. Pigeon River Blues by Wayne Zurl

 Wayne Zurl served from 1967 to 1988 in the US Army and is a Vietnam veteran. Wayne is donating to Army Emergency Relief Fund.

 6. Into Darkness by Richard Fox

 Richard Fox is a US Army veteran who served from 2001 to 2011. An Iraq vet with two tours, Richard is the recipient of the Bronze Star and is donating to Battle Buddy Foundation.

 7. Pale Horseman by C.E. Martin

 C.E. Martin is a US Air Force veteran with four years of military service. Martin is supporting Fisher House Foundation.

 8. Nefarious (The Blackwell Files Book 1) by Steven Freeman

 Steven Freeman is a US Army veteran with seven years of military service. Steven is donating to Wounded Warrior Project.

 9. What Now, Knucklehead? by Raymond L. Jones

 Raymond Jones is a US Army veteran with 25 years of service. An Iraq vet with three tours and an Afghanistan vet with two tours, Raymond is the 3-time recipient of the Bronze Star. Raymond is donating to American Fallen Soldiers Project.

 10. Hamfist Down! by George E. Nolly

 George Nolly is a US Air Force veteran with 20 years of service. A Vietnam vet with two tours, George is a 3-time recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross. George is donating to Air Warrior Courage Foundation.

 11. Forgotten Soldiers by Warren Martin

 Warren Martin is a US Army veteran. Warren is donating to the Wounded Warrior Project.

 12. Combat and Other Shenanigans by Piers Platt

 Piers Platt is a US Army veteran who served from 2002 to 2006. An Iraq vet, Piers is donating to the Wounded Warrior Project.

 Other participating authors and books included:

 * Cherries – A Vietnam War Novel by John Podlaski
Pledged Charity: Vietnam Veterans of America – Chapter 154

Service: US Army, Vietnam Vet (1970-1971), Awarded Bronze Star

* To Iraq and Back by Jessica Scott
Pledged Charity: Project Sanctuary
Service: US Army with 19 years service, Iraq Veteran (09-11), Awarded Bronze Star

 * Say Goodbye by Robert Capko
Pledged Charity: That Others May Live Foundation
Service: Air Force (1989-1990)

 * Escaping the Dead by W. J. Lundy
Pledged Charity: Wounded Warrior Project & Lone Survivor Foundation
Service: Army/Navy, 14 years, Afghanistan Vet (’12-’13)

 * Origins of the Outbreak by Brian Parker
Pledged Charity: Wounded Warrior Project
Service: US Army 1995 to present, Currently Deployed, Awarded Bronze Star

 * The Fine Art of Keeping Quiet by Charity Tahmaseb
Pledged Charity: Veterans in the Arts
Service: US Army, 1988 to 1993, Desert Storm vet, awarded Bronze Star

 * Power Games: The Second Civil War by Richard Peters
Pledged Charity: Operation Home Front
Service: US Army 5 years, Iraq Vet (03-04, 05-06)

 * The Acolytes of Crane by J. D. Tew
Pledged Charity: Wounded Warrior Project
Service: US Army 4 years, Iraq Vet (03-04), four Army Commendation Medals w/valor

 * At Hell’s Gates by Stephen Kozeniewski
Pledged Charity: Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund
Service: US Army 4 years, Iraq Vet (2007 – 2008), Awarded Bronze Star

 * Another Day Another Name by Clark Chamberlain
Pledged Charity: On Purpose Journey CFC #97433
Service: US Army 7 years, Iraq Vet (2010-11)

 * Fast Men, Slow Kisses: 7 Romances Supporting Military Veterans edited by Sandy Loyd
Pledged Charity: Wounded Warrior Project
Service: US Army, Vietnam Vet (1973-1976)

 * Frustration Unleashed by Tammy Lacey
Pledged Charity: Wounded Warrior Project
Service: Florida Air National Guard, 5 years

 * True Surrender by Tracey Cramer-Kelley
Pledged Charity: Tribute to the Troops & Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund
Service: US Army National Guard Combat Medic 1988-1993

 * The Private War of Corporal Henson by E. Michael Helms
Pledged Charity: Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society
Service: US Marines, Vietnam Vet (1967-68), Awarded Purple Heart

 * Service, A Soldier’s Journey by Dennis Nappi II
Pledged Charity: Stop Soldier Suicide
Service: US Army 6 years, Bosnia Vet (2002)

 * Ages Past by Casper Parks
Pledged Charity: Fisher House Foundation
Service: US Navy 1976 – 1978

 * Never Forget: Love in The Fleet Series 3 by Heather Ashby
Pledged Charity: Fisher House Foundation
Service: US Navy

 * Amy Lynn by Jack July
Pledged Charity: Pets for Vets
Service: USN, ATAN 4.5 years

 * Gods of Chicago by AJ Sikes
Pledged Charity: Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America
Service: US Army, 1989-1991, Operation Just Cause (89-90)

 * Believing in Horses, Too by Valerie Ormund
Pledged Charity: Casisson Platoon Equine Assisted Programs
Service: US Navy, 25 years (1984-2009),

 * Battling the Storm Within by Stephanie J. Shannon
Pledged Charity: Women’s Wisdom house
Service: US Army 8 years, Operation Desert Storm Vet

 * Angel of Death and Angel of Light by Gary Tate
Pledged Charity: Veterans Outreach Ministries
Service: US Army retired, Vietnam Vet (’69-’70)

 * Blue Eternal by G D Morris
Pledged Charity: Wounded Warrior Project
Service: US Navy, 3 years

 * Lyovitalis by Julie Kirton Chandler
Pledged Charity: National LGBT Veterans Memorial
Service: US Army, 10 years

 It was a wonderful event to support and help spread the word about. Readers, hope you'll continue to support the books of these authors.

11.06.2014

Showcasing You, the Author, and Your Books at Trade Shows, Book Fairs, and Genre Cons

I'm Robert Stanek and today I'm talking about trade shows, book fairs, and genre cons. As a successful author whose works have been showcased around the world, I often get questions from other authors about how to effectively use these events to sell books. Previously, I blogged about selling your rights at trade shows, taking your work to Hollywood, and other related topics.

Many authors seem to think trade shows, book fairs, and genre cons are all about selling. But in reality, these events aren't necessarily about selling anything at all. You, as an author, should be there mostly to build relationships and industry connections.

In the early 2000s, my books and I were at nearly every regional, national, and international show for a number of years. A steady, multi-year investment landed numerous rights and distribution deals:

My William Stanek books have been translated into 34 languages and counting
My Robert Stanek books have been translated into 15 languages and counting

It took a great commitment of time, capital, and resources to make those deals possible. The publishing landscape has changed considerably since the early 2000s, however.

Today, I would, and do, approach trade shows, book fairs, and genre cons very differently. For starters, you're going to have better luck at these types of events if you have several creative works, rather than a single published work.

As an independent with several works available, you're going to have the most success at regional shows, including the regional shows from:

California Library Association
New York Library Association
New York State Reading Association
Michigan Reading Association
Texas Library Association
Connecticut Library Association
Pennsylvania School Library Association
Florida Library Association
New Jersey Library Association
National Education Association
Pennsylvania Library Association
Illinois Library Association
California Library Association
New York State Reading Association
New England Library Association

Note that most of these regional shows are either "library associations" or "reading associations". Here, you are connecting with library staff, school library staff, teachers, school administrators, readers, and others. If your books aren't available to libraries or schools, you'll want to approach the library shows very differently than you would otherwise.

Regional shows can be expensive, so you may want to stick with ones in your area before you try anything outside your local area. Don't spend money on tables or booths without first getting as much information as you can. You also may want to attend one or more of these events beforehand.

An even better idea? Build up to something like this before you spend any money. My recommendation: regional independent bookseller organizations and shows.

Regional independent bookseller organizations are excellent resources, and it's good to get to know the organization in your area to see if it and you are a fit. Regional indie bookseller organizations include:

Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association (PNBA)
Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA)
New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association (NAIBA)
Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association (GLIBA)
Midwest Independent Booksellers Association (MIBA)
New England Independent Booksellers Association (NEIBA)
Mountains and Plains Independent Booksellers Association (MPIBA)
Southern California Independent Booksellers Association (SCIBA)
Northern California Independent Booksellers Association (NCIBA)

These organizations also host book shows. Attend the shows hosted by these organizations, learn how they work, and see if you think they might work for you and your books.

With some experience at regional shows and with regional organizations, you might want to look to national and international shows. Shows of this type, I recommend include:

American Library Association Midwinter
Bologna Children's Book Fair
London Book Fair
BookExpo America
American Library Association Annual
Beijing International Book Fair
American Association of School Librarians

International shows have the most potential, especially the London, Beijing, and Frankfurt shows. At these international shows you can have tremendous success selling translation and other rights to your works.

Attending trade shows, book fairs, and genre cons can be expensive. Don't spend a dime before you take the time to research the aforementioned options to determine whether any of them are for you.

With any of these shows, whether a regional, national or international trade show, you don't have to attend personally. There are many organizations that will host and showcase your books for you. Thus, rather than spend $250 for a table and $625 on travel expenses to attend one show, you could pay one of these hosting organizations a flat fee to showcase you and your books at multiple shows for around the same amount of money. For example, it may cost $125 to showcase one book at one show or $350 for a shelf in a display that allows you to showcase 5, 6, or 7 books.

Hope this helps!

Robert Stanek