Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Depressing news for authors

There’s a new survey out and it tells depressing news. 
Almost 50% of writers are not happy with their earnings. 

A third make less than $500 (£329) a year. It also shows that “the old way of doing things continues to reap the most financial rewards for writers.” 

Traditionally published authors make an average of $3,000–$4,999 (£1,976- £3,292) a year. 

Independent writers make $500–$999 (£329-£658). 

Those who use both ways – earned $7,500–$9,999 (£4,941- £6,587) a year.

Almost 10% earned $100,000 (£65,874) or more, with 4.1% earning $250,000 (£164,681) plus. At the other end of the scale, 50% of writers earned $1,000– $2,999 (£658- £1,976) or less this year.
(That's converting dollars to sterling at today's exchange rates. It always sounds so much more  in dollars!)

The survey claims Independent authors like doing things on their own terms. “I know that if my book doesn’t sell today, there’s more I can do to promote it tomorrow, or maybe it will see a boost when my next book comes out.”

Traditionally published authors on the other hand are willing to give up their rights for royalties, like the fact that the publisher takes all risks and think a publisher can do more than they could themselves.

If you want to read Alison Flood's article in full, here's the link ~  http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/jan/23/authors-earnings-fall-350pa-survey

Monday, 26 January 2015

Books and Spikes



If you want a detailed report on how UK publishers are doing, then check out "Review of 2014" by Philip Jones in the Bookseller 20 January, 2015.
Here's a swift gloss -
"e-book sales outpaced print sales during the year."

Domestic e-book sales for Penguin Random House, Hachette, HarperCollins and Pan Macmillan totalled 49m units in 2014, a 15.3% rise on 2013. There was an 18% rise in 2012, and a huge 105% gain in 2012 (on 2011).

There are and probably always will be, spikes. The e-book market rate of growth was exaggerated in 2012 by the Fifty Shades trilogy, Spikes like this can play havoc with a companies figures, skew general trends and drive analysts crazy.

Independently published titles are growing, but no one has a way of tracking the rate of growth.

HarperCollins UK chief executive Charlie Redmayne says the traditional Christmas sales spike has "all but" disappeared. Waterstones m.d. James Daunt said virtually the same thing two weeks ago.

The other thing of interest is what everyone is calling the "print renaissance." The book trade has "rekindled its love affair with the physical book." 
Has digital helped revive and reinvent print?

The shift to tablet reading and the rise of subscription services, will likely change the narrative again. As Kindle's Russ Grandinetti suggested at Digital Book World last week, nothing is stable. Let's hope the book business is doing better than we all thought.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Real Books survive



Articles are starting to appear saying that readers are remaining loyal to real books. Bookshops in the UK, US and Australia are claiming rising sales figures. Waterstones in the UK claims a 5% rise in December against the previous year. Foyles reported an 8% rise. Barnes & Noble report a 5% rise in shares.

Physical books sold in the US rose  2.4% in 2014. In the UK real book sales fell by 1.3% but that is better than the 6.5% fall in 2013.
Deloitte are said to estimate 80% of book sales will be real books in 2015.

Ebook sales have slowed and fewer e-readers were bought at Christmas.
 
The growth area is young adult fiction. Teenagers prefer real books, maybe because they can read and share with friends. Also, many don't have credit cards for online buying.
The increase in sales of real books may be small, but at least it is travelling in the right direction. E-books seem to have stalled saleswise, though self-publishing is still increasing and that no doubt accounts for Twitter being filled with adverts for books to the point that I'm thinking of hunting for people not involved in writing just to get some sort of decent content.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Tennis again!

Tennis time again! I can't concentrate on writing or editing because I'm glued to the online slamtracker following Rafa's match.
Editing-wise I've re-read the first chapters of the work currently called Daisy because I haven't thought of a title. I found some places where I could cut a paragraph or two and tighten the whole thing up. The first five chapters are now printed out and soon I'll get back to work. Only one more set to go!  I got my timings in a muddle, so this should sort that out and then I can move on.

In case anyone is wondering, Tim is running well and shows no signs of hurt or injury. We went into the woods near Hexham yesterday yesterday. I wandered around taking photos while Tim ran everywhere, checking back with me every so often just tomake sure I was still following.

Rafa seems to have rallied now the end is in sight. A stomach bug's going around the players and he seems to have got it. You'd think they'd take very careful hygiene precautions when their physical state is so important.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Tim's accident

Nothing done these last three days because Tim fell on the  wooden floor of the bedroom. Usually he bounces back up as if nothing had happened, but this time he stood up on three legs, shivering and crying. Comfort and examination discovered no broken bones, nothing out of place, no painful places, no hot spots - in fact, nothing out of the ordinary. Yet for two days he was virtually immobile, and didn't want to be left alone.

So we massaged his leg, stayed beside him  and kept him warm. It happened so early in the morning he hadn't even been out for a pee. By ten o'clock that first evening he hobbled to the door and indicated he wanted to go out. He limped up to the lawn on three legs and carefully managed to have the longest pee I've ever seen. The pooh followed, so at least we knew there was nothing to worry about on that score.

The second day followed much like the first, but this time I got out the laptop and did some work while staying in the same room as with him. He got up once or twice and his movement got progressively easier as the day wore on. By night time he went out into the garden moving quite normally. The third day we went out for a walk with him on a lead so he couldn't run off and charge about as he normally does. He did just fine. Today, I think we're back to normal. When I drew back the blind he glared at the snow on the roof opposite. 'Look at that!' he might have been saying, so we went out, treading cautiously in the slippery slope down to the field. There is hardly a covering of snow, but he charged about in it with great delight. it's probably only the second time he has seen snow.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Fashions change

I'm still in reading mode. Reading is definitely taking pride of place and writing has taken a bit of a back seat. Still doing it, but stealing every moment I can to read. So what has caught my imagination?
Well, Helen started it all with her gift of books for my birthday. Then I bought a copy of Sansom's Lamentations and I'm saving that up to read when I start writing Matho 2 since a) I really like Sansom's stories and style  b) his story and mine are set in almost the same year - 1544.

My reading list is nothing if not eclectic. The last few weeks has featured Ian McEwan, Tess Gerritsen, Robert Goddard, Lee Child, Hugh Howey, and Sarah J Bolton to name but a few. I've bought Ross Poldark by Winston Graham, first published 1945, in preparation for the tv series due to screen in March this year. Writing style will have changed since then. I wonder how he will compare?

It is an age since I ventured into a book shop. In actual fact, it is an age since I went into town or the Metrocentre. Buying things and having them delivered is so easy these days. Not what bookshops or any other kind of shop want to hear, but that's the way it goes.

I thought in the dark, dismal days after Christmas you might all appreciate a reminder of what summer looks like - so here you are - a shot across Blackhead Beach in Australia.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

KDP, crime and voice

Kindle DP seems to have got itself in a muddle over Christmas. Either that, or my PC is heading for trouble. When I check my sales on KDP, the figures and locations do not tally. Titles sold in the US Canada, Europe, UK show in one section, but not in another. I hope it sorts itself out soon. 

I'm just about to launch into a blitz on writing and critiquing. Haven't done much over the hols, and definitely feeling withdrawal systems. I'm attempting a mystery with this wip, and being devious is not coming easy. In theory I'm not against having a murder in the pages, but find in practice a reluctance to harm any of my characters. Even the villain. I can't render them dead too soon, or else the story folds!

Perhaps a certain turn of mind is required for crime novels. An ability to describe squeamish things, for a start. There's also a great need to hang onto details, because so often the details become important later when all the unravelling-a -la-Poirot takes place. Given that a story changes as it is written in the case of many authors including me, remembering to lay the clues and remember them as you progress with the story is hard. In my case, there's confusion about who said what, when and where. Straight historicals are much easier!

I'm thinking about voice today, because I've just seen an article on Twitter on how Lee Child sets about writing Jack Reacher novels. Evidently he starts a novel on 1st Septermber each year and takes a year to complete. He has no plot and no draft when he begins, and he  thinks his hero's voice is the most important part of the story. It is certainly strong. I think it must be easier to maintain voice when the story is written in the first person POV. Another author who has a strong voice is Caroline Dunford with her Euphemia Martin mysteries - Death in the Highlands, and Death in the Family. The story lines are much lighter than Reacher, but the strong voice struck me right away - tart, very feminine and I loved it! That has got me thinking about how I present Daisy. Maybe this draft won't be the final one!

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Battle lines




Kindle Unlimited (KU) attracted negative press coverage 
as indie authors saw what was happening to their sales. The general bad feeling floating around on the internet since Kindle Unlimited’s launch finally made it to the front page of the New York Times last Sunday“If you’re not an author with a slavish fan following, you’re in a lot of trouble” according to self-published author Bob Mayer “Everyone already has a ton of things on their Kindle they haven’t opened".

“What is now being proven is that market is not infinitely elastic,” publishing industry consultant Mike Shatzkin wrote on his blog on New Year’s Eve. “It seems likely that the low-priced indie authors are disproportionately affected by KU. Who bought indie author ebooks in the first place? The price-sensitive reader! Who switches from buying individual ebooks to the subscription service first? The price-sensitive reader! In other words, the subscription service offering appeals most to the same audience as those who read indie-published ebooks.”

Meanwhile, Nate Hoffelder at The Digital Reader wondered whether ebook subscription services are only a problem for indie authors or whether they will be a problem for traditional publishers as well. Of course, one of the main reasons that publishers feared ebook subscriptions in the first place was that they worried such services would cannibalize individual paid sales.  

Like all the other self-published authors, I noticed my sales were dwindling and there were few KU payments to compensate. So I unchecked the box that allows my titles to be read by Kindle Unlimited subscribers, only to find that it will take 90 days to become effective. And, of course, I was only 4 days into the next 90 days period, so I can look forward to poor sales until March. 

If Amazon continues to favour the reader over the author, one wonders what will happen down the line. Authors will no doubt pull out of Amazon altogether. There are other places to self-publish. As long as readers seek the cheapest form of reading, they will continue to use Amazon - until the stock available becomes so mediocre they too will go elsewhere.