By Mark Coker

Yesterday Apple unveiled iOS 8, the new Apple operating system upgrade that will come out this fall.

Buried in a slide during the live demo event referenced as “iOS 8 features we didn’t have time to talk about” was an ebook retailing bombshell:  iBooks will come pre-installed on iOS 8.

The iBooks app is Apple’s ebook store.  Inside that app is over 250,000 books from Smashwords authors.

This is a game-changer for ebook retailing.

iBooks will come pre-loaded on every device with iOS 8.
Image modified from original sourced from BGR.com

According to the latest public information, there are over 800 million devices (iPhone, iPod touch, iPad) running prior versions of Apple’s iOS.

The new iOS will be available as a free upgrade to users of the iPhone 4s, iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPod touch 5th generation, iPad 2, iPad with Retina display, iPad Air, iPad mini and iPad mini with Retina display.

Prior to iOS 8, readers who wanted to shop iBooks were forced to click to the Apple App store, search for the iBooks app, sign in with their email address and password, and then install it.

The absence of a pre-installed app created unnecessary friction. It means only a fraction of Apple’s customer base today has convenient access to your books (which makes the enormous success of iBooks all the more impressive).  Yesterday’s news means iBooks will become ubiquitous.

It’ll be like having a bookstore in nearly one billion pockets and purses.  It’s not a stretch to speculate that within a couple years, the iBooks app will be ever-present on over one billion devices around the world.

Apple’s brilliant move will place your books just one or two clicks from being discovered by readers.

How can you make the most of this new development?
Make sure all your books are at iBooks ASAP.  As we announced May 18, Smashwords now delivering ebooks to iBooks five times daily, seven days per week, and many of our books and preorder listings are going live in the store within hours of us delivering them.  If your books are locked in the dungeon of exclusivity elsewhere, release them today on Smashwords!  If you’re not yet on Smashwords, click here to get started today.

Promote direct hyperlinks to iBooks.  Make sure that on your blog, website and in all your social media promotions that you’re providing a direct hyperlink to your books at iBooks.  With a direct hyperlink, your book page will open directly within the reader’s iOS device, and with another click they can purchase it.  Use Apple’s Link Maker or Widget Builder tools to find links or create attractive widgets that point directly to your book at iBooks.

Link your series with Smashwords Series Manager.  If you write series, make sure your books are linked with Smashwords’ Series Manager tool, which you’ll find in your Smashwords Dashboard.  We pass this enhanced metadata on to iBooks, and they use it to make series books more discoverable.  Also referenced in fine print on the slide above is a mention of enhanced series listings in iBooks for iOS 8, which means we can expect the Series Manager metadata to become more important than ever to iBooks merchandising and reader discovery.
Congrats Smashwords authors!

Jun 01

Step 1

Goodlife guide assists authors with the technical savvy required in today’s self-publishing market. So write-on, with confidence that your end product will be spectacular! …

Jun 01

Step 2

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Jun 01

Step 3

Once services are selected… contact us with questions, send your files or order your packages. Now rest! Your guaranteed files and detailed instructions are up to us. …

Jun 01

Step 4

Congratulations, your book will be available on Kindle and Smashwords elaborate network of distributors, including, Apple, Barnes and Nobel, Diesel, Kobo, Sony and more! …

By Mark Coker

Amazon and Hachette Book Group are locked in an epic battle over the future of ebook publishing.

The outcome of this dispute will have permanent ramifications for publishers and indie authors alike.

On one side you have Hachette, the fourth largest trade book publisher.  Hachette earns over 1/3 of its US sales from ebooks.  Hachette wants agency terms for its books.  Hachette wants to control the list price of its books and earn 70% list from each sale.  Smashwords announced agency terms with our retail partners in 2010.

On the other side is Amazon, a fierce opponent to agency pricing.  Amazon wants the ability to discount books, and to enable greater discounting Amazon wants a larger percentage of the publisher’s pie.  A story out Friday by Jeffrey Trachtenburg of the Wall Street Journal confirms Amazon is seeking to reduce the percentage paid to publishers.  Amazon is seeking to weaken or abolish the agency model.

This is also the view of Andrew Albanese of Publishers Weekly, who in his March 16 story, Will the Agency Model Survive? speculated that the future of agency hangs in the balance.  As Albanese writes in his piece, the timing of the Amazon/Hachette dispute is not coincidental.
One likely reason (for the current timing of the dispute) is that when the publishers’ 2012 consent decrees in the e-book price-fixing case begin to expire this fall, so too will Amazon’s ability to discount e-books. The parties don’t comment on specific negotiations (and neither Hachette or Amazon will comment directly on the current dispute or ongoing talks). But it is fair to say that Amazon officials likely see the current negotiations as their best chance to push for the end of agency pricing for e-books, and are apparently prepared to bring to bear all the pressure they can on publishers—whether on the Kindle side, or print. The question is, will the major publishers stick together to keep agency pricing for e-books?
The dispute is generating some spectacular fireworks.  It’s also confirming the suspicions of Amazon’s worst critics.  In an attempt to force Hachette to capitulate, Amazon is employing a shock and awe campaign of scorched earth retribution against Hachette.  According to multiple press reports, Amazon has increased Hachette’s book prices to its customers then turned its automated merchandising algorithms into attack dogs that encourage customers to consider “similar items at a lower price”; Amazon is telling customers Hachette print books are out of stock; and is denying Hachette the ability to list preorders.  For a company that prides itself in customer service, these are all customer-unfriendly moves.  These actions also punish Hachette authors, who through no fault of their own will suffer reduced sales at Amazon.

For the last four years, indie ebook authors have endured similar iron-fisted policy enforcement and lost earnings with Amazon’s KDP price-matching, even when Amazon knew the out-of-sync ebook prices were not the author’s intention or fault.  Amazon plays business like war.  Overwhelming force pushes weak hands to surrender and comply.

In a letter written to Amazon by the Association of Author’s Representatives (AAR), a trade group representing literary agents, AAR likened Amazon’s tactics to hostage-taking and extortion.

Amazon defenders (and critics too) and will say business is business, and if you want to play in the Amazon sandbox – the world’s largest ebook store – you have to play by their rules.  The Amazon defenders are correct.  Amazon is under no obligation to carry Hachette’s books under the terms Hachette wants. Amazon is under no obligation to play nice.

The industry can cry until it’s blue in the face about how Amazon is ruthless and heavy-handed, and how other retailers are kinder and gentler. The truth of the argument doesn’t change the reality.  Amazon does what it does because it can, because authors and publishers let them do it, and because it’s in Amazon’s nature to act this way.  Lions eat wildebeest.

For its part, Hachette is sending letters to agents and authors asking for their patience and support.  In their May 23 letter, Hachette wrote:

Please know that we are doing everything in our power to find a solution to this difficult situation, one that best serves our authors and their work, and that preserves our ability to survive and thrive as a strong and author-centric publishing company.

Amazon is playing a game of divide and conquer.  Amazon knows if they weaken or cancel their agency agreement with Hachette that the other publishers will have less leverage to hold the line on agency.  And whatever concessions Amazon gets, other retailers will want the same, further undermining the ability of publishers to control their prices or maintain their profits.

Amazon’s tactics hit Hachette in two places where it hurts:
Author confidence – The dispute will undermine literary agent and author confidence that Hachette can deliver books to Amazon.  This will cause some agents and authors to think twice before selling upcoming projects to Hachette.
Profitability – Amazon knows that if they if they can make Hachette the first domino to fall in their anti-agency crusade, it’s more likely to force other publishers to abandon it as well.  Once agency is eliminated, ebooks will become less profitable to publishers, which then marginalizes publishers by weakening their strategic power in the marketplace.  With lower margins, publishers will have less flexibility to increase ebook royalty rates to authors at at time when their authors are clamoring for higher royalties.  This would thereby compel more authors to self-publish directly with Amazon, which benefits Amazon.

Publishers deserve much of the blame for making their ebook margins such an appetizing target for Amazon.  Amazon’s assault on their margins should come as no surprise.  In 2012, Adam Lashinsky of Fortune Magazine wrote that a favorite Jeff Bezos aphorism is “Your margin is my opportunity.”  Publishers have been complaining about Amazon for years yet still supplied them the books that created Amazon.

Publishers have been reporting healthy earnings in recent months, driven in large part by high-margin ebook sales.  Publishers pay authors only 25% of net ebook proceeds, whereas indie authors earn 85-100% of net proceeds.  In other words, publishers made themselves a target for a company whose very DNA is programmed to strip suppliers (publishers) of their margin.

From a PR perspective, Amazon can cast their move as taking from the greedy publishers to provide customers lower prices.  But in the end, they’re really taking from authors.

Hachette faces a dilemma.  They face the lose/lose decision of either giving that margin to Amazon, or choosing to kiss its Amazon relationship goodbye.  It would be painful for publishers to say goodbye to Amazon.  Amazon controls approximately 1/3 of the overall trade book market in the US, and up to 50-60% of the ebook market.

In 2010, publishers presented Amazon with a unified front by simultaneously demanding agency pricing terms.  This forced Amazon to capituate and accept agency pricing.  It was a different world back then. Amazon’s nascent Kindle ebook business needed the books of big publishers.  The bitter aftertaste has never left Amazon’s mouth.

The publishers viewed agency as a better model.  The US DoJ viewed the united front as collusion.

In 2014, publishers are more disposable to Amazon than they once were, thanks in part to the rise of indie authorship, and thanks also to better business diversification.  Amazon’s business is no longer as dependent upon books as it once was.  They sell everything under the sun, from diapers to shoes to cloud services to groceries to media devices.

Books represent only one of hundreds of layers of icing on the cake of Amazon.  Amazon can lose money on books while still operating a profitable business.

Pure-play book retailers – Kobo and Barnes & Noble for example, must earn money from book sales.  Unlike Amazon, they don’t have the financial resources to sell books at a loss forever.  Publishers must also earn money from book sales, otherwise they can’t keep the lights on.

If Amazon can abolish agency pricing it will have the power to put its largest pure-play book retailing competitors out of business.  This will make the publishers even more dependent upon Amazon, which further weakens their power.

How can Hachette get out of this mess?  None of its options are good.  Amazon holds the strongest hand in this high-stakes poker match.

The boldest option is for Hachette to play the nuclear card: they can withdraw all their books from Amazon.  Hachette could direct readers to more publisher-friendly platforms and stores.  Hachette could also make a more concerted effort to develop new channels of distribution.  Curiously, neither Hachette nor any other major NY publisher has ever attempted to sell their books in the Smashwords ebook store, despite the fact that Smashwords pays up to 80% list.  Publisher insistence on DRM is one of several factors that has locked them into Amazon and locked them out of new outlets.  Most of the publishers are also refusing to work with the new ebook subscription services, or have treated libraries as second-class citizens, even though these two channels provide yet another healthy counterbalance to a single retailer’s dominance.

It’s uncertain if Hachette or other publishers could survive if they abandon Amazon.  Would authors and literary agents continue to support them if their books didn’t reach Amazon?

The window of opportunity for such a bold move is closing quickly.  Within the next several years, ebooks as a percentage of the overall book market will increase as print declines.  Within a few years, Amazon’s sales of indie-supplied ebooks will probably exceed sales of publisher-supplied books.  This means the leverage publishers hold over Amazon will diminish each year.

The other alternative is for Hachette to capitulate to Amazon, which is akin to Hachette accepting a long term death sentence.  Amazon views publishers as unnecessary intermediaries.  Amazon works to disintermediate the intermediaries so it can control the relationship with the creators (authors) and the customers.

The other Big 5 publishers might do well to play their nuclear cards before it’s too late.

If the big publishers capitulate and abandon agency, the other retailers, in order to remain competitive, will be forced to abandon their agency agreements with the publishers as well, otherwise Amazon would have the ability to underprice them. And then the pure-play book retailers would fall.

Are Indie Authors Next in the Crosshairs?

The dispute with Hachette foreshadows what comes next for indie ebook authors at Amazon who have grown comfortable to KDP’s 70% royalty rates.

Think about my divide and conquer reference above.  Indies are already divided and conquered at Amazon, but most don’t realize this.  These indies all have direct-upload relationships with Amazon.  They don’t have the collective bargaining power of a large publisher to advocate on their behalf.  As the unfolding events indicate, it’s questionable if even a large publisher has leverage over Amazon.

If Hachette doesn’t have the power to maintain 70% earnings, how will million-copy-selling New York Times bestselling indie authors have any power when Amazon decides to put the squeeze on them?   And how about the rest of the indie community which has even less leverage over Amazon?

How long until Amazon puts on the squeeze?  The squeeze may already have started.  In February, Amazon gutted the royalty rates they pay for audiobooks, as Laura Hazard Owen reported at GigaOm in her story, Amazon-owned Audible lowers royalty rates on self-published audiobooks.  Previously, authors earned up to 90% list.  Under the new terms, authors earn from 25% to 40% list. Amazon can do this because they dominate audiobooks.

At any time, Amazon could choose to eliminate the 70% royalty option at KDP.  They could offer the same terms as their Audible division: 25% list if you’re non-exclusive, and 40% list if you’re exclusive.

If Amazon tightens the screws, indies will face the same painful decision Hachette now faces.  Either swallow the bitter pill, or remove your books from Amazon. .

Most indies would probably choose to accept lower royalties at Amazon under the logic that something is better than nothing. As individuals, indies have little leverage against Amazon.

Most vulnerable to any change in policy at Amazon are the indie authors who supply approximately 500,000 ebooks to Amazon’s KDP Select program.

Advice to Indie Authors: Four Steps to Improve your Independence

Is it really necessary that retailers and publishers should view one another as war-like adversaries, or as predator and prey?  I don’t think so.  At Smashwords, we serve our authors by serving our retailers.  We help our retail partners efficiently receive, ingest and sell our authors’ books.  By opening up new retail and library channels, we support our authors.  We think our new channels help our retailers too, because each new channel we open is a reminder that exclusivity is bad for publishing.  What leverage we do have we apply to negotiating fair and equitable agreements that are win/wins for our authors and retailers. We want our retail partners to profit from our books, because if they don’t profit it’s not a long-term sustainable relationship.  We believe the 70/30 agency split provides retailers a fair profit.  I’ve always believed that partnership and cooperation are preferable to war.

As an indie author, it’s important you understand that you’re the future of publishing.  Your choices matter.  Your decisions will shape not only your future but the future for all indies.  Your decisions will shape how retailers treat you.  Independence is earned – it’s not something you can take for granted.  Here are four tips to preserve your independence:
Choose your partners carefully.  In the Indie Author Manifesto I wrote that indie authors should seek business relationships marked by partnership, fairness, equity and mutually aligned interests.
Favor retail partners that support the agency model.  Agency puts authors and publishers in control and frees retailers to compete against one another based on customer experience rather than cut-throat price wars.  The agency model enables lower customer prices because more of the money goes to the author/publisher rather than the retailer.  Indies have used agency to lower ebooks prices while publishers made the mistake of using agency to raise prices.  Agency establishes a framework by which authors and retailers can work in partnership rather than as predator and prey.
Avoid exclusivity.  Exclusivity makes you dependent upon a single retailer.  Work for independence, the opposite of dependence.  Diversify your income stream by distributing everywhere.  Every retailer reaches new readers you otherwise won’t reach.  Each retailer, and each store they operate in each country, represents it’s own unique micro-market of readers.  It can take years to develop readership, so maintain a strong and steady course of uninterrupted full distribution.  This is similar advice I gave gave in 2011 when I cautioned authors to steer clear of Amazon’s KDP Select option.
Support a vibrant ecosystem of multiple competing retailers.  On your website and in your promotions, provide direct links to your books at each retail partner.  Give your fans choice.  Choice makes your books more accessible to readers.
Good luck!

By Georg Rauch

Based on 80 letters sent home from the Russian trenches, The Jew with the Iron Cross is a riveting tale of paradox and survival during the second world war. As a teenager, author Georg Rauch helped his mother protect the Jewish couples hidden in their Viennese attic. Officially classified as one-quarter Jewish by the Nazi regime, Rauch is drafted into Hitler’s army and sent to the Russian front to fight for causes he detests. Rauch finds himself near death many times, but his talents as a shortwave radio operator, chef, and even harmonica player all play a role in his survival. Captured by the Russians in the autumn of 1944, Rauch faces brutality and near-fatal illness as a POW. Recruitment for Russian espionage saves his life once again, but his long journey isn’t quite over yet.

“A fascinating account of what it was like for a partial Jew to serve in the German military during World War II. Rauch’s experiences and hardships dramatically depict the physical and emotional struggles of a ‘mischling’ during the Third Reich.” – Bryan Mark Rigg, athor of Hitler’s Jewish Soldiers

“Not about combat tactics but about what it meant to be in an army at war. Rauch has put a human face on aspects of the war that are usually only referred to in passing.” – Tom Houlihan, WWII cartographer.

“With honesty and affection Georg Rauch tells of the love and respect between a mother and son as well as the nightmare experiences of a young soldier fighting and barely surviving a war he ‘never wanted, understood or could justify.'”

You can purchase the book online from Smashwords in multiple eBook formats at http://www.amazon.com/The-Jew-Iron-Cross-Survival/dp/0595379877.

eBook formatting by Shelley Glasow Schadowsky.

May 26

Elephant Milk

Set in 1969 and 1970, a young Hollywood film actress runs away and joins a circus in Mexico in search of the love of her life, a bad boy musician and injured soul, who has disappeared south of the border. During a total eclipse of the sun, riding on her favorite elephant, Sean realizes that the true love she is searching for is in actually in her own heart.
Seventeen year old Sean Hayes is driving Elvis’ lime green dune buggy down Sunset Blvd. It is 1969 and things are starting to get icky. A movie is soon to be released with Sean’s unexpectedly naked breasts in it and she has just watched her best girlfriend shoot heroin, while Keith Richards nodded on the couch. Sean parks on Coldwater Canyon and walks down the hill where she finds a pile of black clothes, wet with blood. The Tate murders?Meanwhile, the love of her life has disappeared south of the border and Sean has no idea exactly where he is. She leaves Beverly Hills determined to find him somewhere in Mexico, even if it means joining a traveling circus and getting lost in a world of drum rolls and lions and Mayan glyphs. Even it means having knives thrown at her for a living, and facing a loaded machine gun in the hands of her rival. Somehow, she will find Frank, even if means going deep into the jungle, just in time to view a total eclipse, on the back of her favorite elephant.

You can purchase the book online from Amazon or Smashwords in multiple eBook formats at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/389835.

eBook formatting by Shelley Glasow Schadowsky.
goodlife guide
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By Rick Dewhurst

Scheming to inherit the powerful pulpit of a mega-church, a pastor hires P.I. Jane Sunday to verify suspicions his father-in-law, the senior pastor, is having an affair. The case turns uglier when one dead pastor is found floating naked in his swimming pool, and Jane is hired by his widow to hunt the killer. Hot on the murder trail Jane is herself pursued by alluring lawyer Bertrand, but lasting memories of her abusive father inhibit the budding relationship, especially when questions of his credibility arise. Who killed the pastor? Is Bertrand true-blue? A solid jolt of crime fiction, The Good Book Club takes the reader on an exhilarating ride with its authentic characters, intense action, and solid storyline, a ride that is guaranteed to compel lovers of the genre to hold on tight to the emotional roller-coaster until the very end.

You can purchase the book online from Smashwords in multiple eBook formats at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/350999.

eBook formatting by Shelley Glasow Schadowsky.
goodlife guide
http://www.goodlifeguide.com
http://www.goodlifeguide.me
books@goodlifeguide.com

By HM Hudson

A short and sassy guide to navigating the first phases of your journey as a single parent. These 21 tips shot from the hip and hard won wisdom of a veteran single parent cover such important topics as building a tribe, teaching your kids to cook, managing finances, getting a dating life, and generally staying sane while keeping your sense of humor in tact along the way.

You can purchase the book online from Smashwords in multiple eBook formats at http://www.amazon.com/Dirty-Survival-Guide-Single-Parents-ebook/dp/B00I2SPQWO.

eBook formatting by Shelley Glasow Schadowsky.
goodlife guide
http://www.goodlifeguide.com
http://www.goodlifeguide.me
books@goodlifeguide.com