Category: publishing industry

25
Jul

5 Facts You Didn’t Know About Publishing on Google Play

You want to sell your books on Google Play? Great. Although ‘books’ are not the first thing that come to my mind when I hear ‘Google’, the numbers don’t lie: the tech giants bookstore is one of the biggest ones worldwide (selling in 72 countries with a different market share everywhere on the world). With 81% of the phones bought last year running Android (and we are not even talking about tablets here!), it would be just silly not to publish there.

Publishing on Google Play, however, is not as easy as it first seems: knowing the pitfalls and the tricks could save you time, headache and money. Firstly, this article is for those of you who have just decided to go further than the Amazon – Barnes & Noble – iBooks triumvirate and are thinking about registration. And secondly, for those who are already selling there but want to learn some useful tricks and tips.
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19
May

Self-Publishing Success Stories You Need to Hear About

It goes without saying that the ebook market is evolving and this trend brought along another interesting phenomenon in the digital publishing industry named as self-publishing.

However, this is not a new thing. It’s the technology that has changed over the years. Publishing their own ebooks has never been easier for authors. Self-publishing has become a vital part of the publishing industry and has proven to give many writers a jump start in their career. There are quite a few successful self-published authors out there who actually can make a living off doing that.

Indie publishing lets authors achieve a much greater earning potential and allows them to write whatever they want finding niche audiences with their books.

Authors who were rejected and then became successful self-publishers

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08
May

What’s the Best Ebook Publishing Platform for You

There are a lot of digital publishing platforms nowadays that authors can choose when deciding to publish an ebook. New services keep appearing to help publishers and self-publishers distribute their ebooks globally. Now let’s see what options you have if you’re thinking of publishing an ebook.

In the last couple of years, ebooks have emerged with significant force in markets with English as a primary language, especially in the US. Let’s see why ebook publishing is probably the best option for self-publishers.

First, the cost of publishing an ebook is just a fragment of publishing the print version of it. Second, less cost means less risk for self-publishers, so they’re willing to take a chance on them. If the book is not going to be a hit, you don’t have to worry about throwing a ton of money out of the window for nothing. The author can sell as many copies as he wants although all he gets is his cut of the take. The question you might have right now is: do self-publishers make money from ebooks?
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07
Mar

Five Reasons to Self-Publish

When I started writing fiction, I assumed that there is not a single writer out there who doesn’t want to get published by Penguin Random House. Apparently, the numbers show otherwise: indie publishers are trending, and not without a cause. Let’s see five major reasons why many writers choose to self-publish. (In a follow-up article we are going to analyse the cases when finding a publisher is a better idea.)

1. Because it has the biggest market share and is growing the fastest

According to the charts published on Authorearnings.com analysing Amazon sales data from the last 27 months until May 2016, self-published books have an almost 45% share of the market (growing from 27% since February 2014), while the Big Five has fallen from 39% to 23%. It’s a numbers game: like it or not, independent publishing already gives almost half the ebook unit sales of the market and seems unstoppable.

2. Because what you write is unique

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03
Mar

Pitfalls of Ebook Licensing Agreements

Signing a contract and finding the right deal could be difficult if you are a newcomer in the publishing industry. Retailers and aggregators aim to be as profitable as they can, this often resulting in publishers receiving disadvantageous financial or legal terms. And once you signed the agreement on a bad deal, there is no way back correct it.

Many say that there is no way to negotiate an ebook licensing agreement, but this is not true. If you have quality content, you can always negotiate, or even choose a better partner. You are the copyright holder, the creative mind in the process; without you, there is no content to be read and sold. Do not underestimate the power of content creation.

So far, we negotiated more than 200 B2B contracts in various countries worldwide: with retailers, ebook conversion services, marketing agencies and publishers. Several times, we were faced with unrealistic or dominating terms, but we decided to always represent the publishers’ interest; even if we had to refuse to sign the deal!

In this article, we are sharing with you some of the ebook licensing agreement pitfalls you can easily avoid by reading between the lines, so you can fight for better deals for you or your company in the future. To make the “business talk” easier to digest, we incorporated some simple dos and don’ts you can follow. There are five main parts of a contract that you have to read very carefully and several times:

  1. Royalties structure

  2. Payment terms

  3. Grant of rights

  4. Sales reporting and invoicing

  5. Termination

In the following, we are going to guide you through these five parts, show you the common mistakes some people may make and offer some advice.

  1. ROYALTIES STRUCTURE

Do not only look at nominal value.

It is not uncommon to only scan for numbers when reading a contract: you check nominal values, they look nice, so it is good to go. However, the wording can change everything: if you do not read the agreement thoroughly, you might not receive what you expected.

Typical wording differences:

  • Net sales vs. Net RRP/SRP:
    • Net sales is calculated based on the real price on which your book is sold. This is fair and simple: your readers pay a certain amount for your book and the retailers calculate your share. Usually, you are better off going for this.
    • Net RRP/SRP (recommended/suggested retail price) is based on the price you gave to the retailer. If they have to raise the price to match it to the price tier, you still get your share based on the RRP, and might miss out on extra money. However, if the price drops for whatever reason (e.g. for sale), you still get paid based on the RRP and have no losses. Depending on your business strategy, this can work as well. (You can read a lot more about this in our post about pricing strategies here.)
  • Retail price vs. Net retail price:
    • Some retailers like to play with sales tax or VAT, but always go for the net sales price, since VAT/sales tax may differ by country or state. It is non-transparent to calculate your royalties based on that.
  • Excluding vs. Including all the fees and commissions paid to retailers:
    • Including all the fees and commissions paid to retailers means that with a 60% publishers’ royalty you will receive 6 USD after a book sold on 10 USD net price. Clean and simple.
    • Excluding commissions paid to retailers can result in a worse deal if you sell through an aggregator or a mobile app dealer, since they do not include the fees and commissions in the royalty share. Using the previous example, they will only calculate your 60%, once the other retailers, such as Apple or Google took their share for micro purchases within the app. So if your book is sold for 10 USD, take 30% off for Apple iOS fee, and calculate the 60% royalty from that: you will receive 10×(1−0,3)×0,6 = 4,2 USD. This is significantly less than the 6 USD you could earn with an “including retailer fees” contract. Note, that this calculation is also non-transparent, since you cannot see the exact contracts between the aggregator and the retailers.
  1. PAYMENT TERMS

Look out for “when we receive the fund”.

There is a fine line between “it sounds too good to be true” and being untrue. Always check in the contract how payment is going to be made.

  • Based on earnings reports vs. Based on receiving the funds from retailers:
    • Earnings reports list all your sales within the month and set a payment date. You have to receive your money by this date independently from whether the retailers have been paid or not.
    • On receiving the funds: you will receive your money only after (and if) the aggregator was paid. It does not sound too bad, but remember that you cannot track when a partner receives funds from the retailers. Since you do not know when your partner receives the fund, you cannot know when you will be paid either. This can be very frustrating if you are waiting for your first check. Try to go for services who pay you based on earnings reports, not based on whether they received the fund.
    • Typical wording may include the followings: “we will pay you after the retailers paid us” or “we have no obligation to pay your royalties in the event of a failure of any online bookstore to pay royalties to us”.
  • Higher threshold vs. Transaction fees:
    • Lower payment thresholds can be tempting, as you get paid more often. But don’t forget that more often means paying more transaction fees – and some services, like PayPal get the receiver to cover the expenses of the transfer (their fee structure is explained here). If you have a lower threshold with more transactions, you end up paying more. It is a bit like the famous marshmallow-paradigm: you are better off, if you wait.
  • Exact numbers for payment terms:
    • Many companies do not include exact reporting or payment terms, just use undefined expressions such as “usually between 30-60 days”. Do not let anyone use blurry terms when it is about money; fight for exact numbers.
  1. GRANT OF RIGHTS

Keep the rights of your intellectual property (IP).

Non-exclusive contracts what you have to search for when choosing a partner to sell your ebooks. Non-exclusivity means that you can sell your books in other stores/platforms legally. On the contrary, exclusivity means you cannot sell your books anywhere else. Don’t tie yourself to any of the partners early on – most of the partners you can trust on the long term will give you the non-exclusive term anyway, so if you want you are able to sell the same book on other stores too.

Give only the necessary rights for the partnership and do everything you can to protect your IP.

You have to make sure that no one but you can change your IP.

You can grant rights to

  • resell or
  • make small technical changes if necessary for conversion.

But never give rights to anyone to

  • change the title,
  • change the author’s name,
  • add own branding,
  • change the content
  • or add watermarks with the retailer’s links (because it may end up with confrontation to competitor websites).

Just think about Amazon Kindle links in a book uploaded to iBooks! Take control of your own content and metadata and be conscious about them on the long term.

  1. SALES REPORTING and INVOICING

Define the periodical sales reporting period.

In case of any business transaction, money cannot be transferred without some invoice or written document, so look at who is sending the invoice and when. Is your invoicing monthly or quarterly? Choose a partner with a self-billing service if possible to avoid any administrative burdens but still receive your money in time.

Also look for discrepancies between reporting and invoicing. If you get quarterly reports, look at when you will receive those reports and how invoicing is connected to it. You might see the following: quarterly payments are reported until the end of the next calendar month, and the invoice is sent four weeks after the end of the invoicing period. This means that Q1 earnings will be reported until the end of April and will be invoiced until end of May. And we have not even talked about the payment term!

  1. TERMINATION

Make sure you get your content back.

Termination is a divorce in the business world: a painful process. Before you take any action, look at what happens with your IP afterwards and how long will it take to say goodbye.

Your content should be deleted from the servers of your partner and their third parties’ platforms. Your content should be withdrawn immediately (within a reasonable timeframe for making the technical changes) and it should not be longer than the termination deadline.

Unfortunately, we saw so many bad stories from publishers not being paid or simply tied to another service with bad terms and no long term thinking. Everyone starts a business relationship trusting the other player and believing that mutual cooperation will result in a mutually beneficial way – however, that might not be the case all the time. You have to find the right partner who treats you and your business as equals to have the chance to make intelligent long term decisions. You can probably save yourself from a lot of headache if you let us search for the right terms with the right players and let go of anything else not needed.

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10
Feb

How Self-Publishing Works in India

There’s a lot of innovation and experimentation happening in the Indian book publishing industry. In this article, you will learn how the book market and the self-publishing industry works in India. Which is expected to explode very soon!  You can read some useful tips how to publish a book in India and about the whole self-publishing process which we cover here through a success story. The book industry worth over 7 billion dollar approximately and growing at around 20% every year.

The Indian book market overview

Overview of publishing in India

 

The Indian book market can be described in one word: complex.

As the 6th biggest market in the world by GDP, the economy is thriving. There are higher literacy levels, and the book market is getting ready for ebooks. Behind the US and UK, India ranks 3rd in the world in English language publishing. In fact, it is one of the very few markets globally that is still increasing in both print and digital publishing. The market in India is extremely fragmented, demographically.

There are 22 official languages, English is one of them, but Hindi is the most common one. There are 122 major languages and close to 1600 additional ones. Languages are thriving in India, for instance, you can expect a renewed interest in buying and reading Hindi books.

Marathi, Malyalam, Bengali, Telugu and Tamil languages also have a strong culture of reading. The fragmented nature of publishing comes from the diverse social and economic levels across the country and from the fact that a few large retail chains are dominating the market while there are hundreds of small, independent bookstores and unorganized retailers. There’s not much publishing data coming in from the Indian market, which makes it harder to represent the market and create a full study on the subject. However, Nielsen has a report about the Indian book market that tries to quantify a complex market. There are still issues though such as the fact that a large number of publishers, especially in Indian languages do not use ISBNs. Another problem is that the market is still fragmented and lacks marketing and distribution support for self-publishers. However, a consolidation has already started thanks to the government that allows a 100% foreign direct investment resulting in the involvement of foreign multinationals. Amazon’s purchase of Westland, which is one of the top publishing houses in India, is a great example of this consolidation process.

The growing population of the youth, who is becoming literate and educated, brings a tremendous opportunity for market growth in the publishing industry, especially in the educational sector. No surprise that educational books dominate the overall Indian book market with 70%. The other 30% of books published are trade books. However, in monetary terms,  academic books account for 40% of sales, trade books account for 30% and the remaining are children books. About 50,000 publishers publish a volume of 120,000 books each year, nearly half of the titles are in Hindi and English. This puts India at the 7th rank globally in terms of the number of books published.

The biggest players on the market are Amazon and Flipkart. The business model of Amazon in India differs from the one in the US. While in America Amazon has two business models: ecommerce and it is a marketplace for third party sellers. In India however, Amazon.in needed to develop multiple business models because of the characteristics of the market. Flipkart’s ebooks catalogue was bought by Rakuten (Kobo) in 2015, so there should be exciting strategic developments in the future.

The internet penetration is growing fast; the online market is globally among the fastest growing ones in India which manifest in more content consuming online and through devices, especially mobile phones.

When it comes to accessing the internet, India is a mobile-first country with 900 million users of whom 42% have already purchased digital content. Thus ebook sales are driven by smartphones, tablets and mobile commerce. As the Indian ebook market gets more and more mature, e-reader devices are picking up slowly but surely.

Although they have not been particularly popular so far which has to do a lot with the significant presence of the younger generation that prefers tablets and smartphones over ebook readers. Therefore, content publishing startups like Pratilipi, Matrubharti or Juggernaut have a significant advantage. Another reason to consume content from these app-based platforms is that a lot of Indian language books are not available as ebooks, so there’s no need to buy an e-reader.

 

Digital publishing

The Indian ebook segment is an arising market with lots of potential. It is projected to be an 85 million dollar industry in 2016 and is expected to grow 3 to 5 times in the next three years.Ebooks in Indian languages are slowly increasing due to the technological challenges.
Internet usage and ebooks

There’s a lack of support for Indic scripts by the reading devices. However, free content is a key element of adopting ebooks in India. 62% of the publishers are currently publishing ebooks, and the biggest market for ebooks right now is the higher education sector. Although, ebooks at the moment have less than 10% market share in India, according to the projections by 2020 this number is going to be 25%.

 

Self-publishing in India

In terms of self-publishing, we can distinguish two markets in India:  books in English and books written in native languages. Kindle has a strong presence in India, and it supports content from Indian languages such as Hindi, Gujarati, Malayalam, Tamil or Marathi. Kobo has a store. However there’s been not much activity happening from Kobo in India. Lately, it is more known for its e-reader than its ebooks.

As a self-publisher, there are plenty of options to choose if you want to self-publish a book to the Indian market. You’ll basically become an authorpreneur who has to think beyond writing and have control on all parts of the process. As soon as you publish your books, they will be available globally. Meanwhile, if you go the traditional way, you’ll only responsible for the writing process and don’t have to worry about distribution or promotion. However, it is not easy to win a publishing contract in India. Many people write a book, but only a few can get it published which also takes up a lot of time and the publisher keeps most of the profits. Moreover, the traditional publishing industry in India is dominated by 6-10 big publishers and most of the bestselling authors are associated with them. As for self-publishing in India you have different options and it’s totally up to you how much you are willing to spend on marketing and promoting your book.

Below, we collected two services you can choose from to self-publish your ebook:

  • Pothi: a self-publishing and print on demand company in India. They offer editing and cover design services for ebooks which can be submitted as PDF or MS Word or as an EPUB file. Your books will be sold through Pothi.com store only, and your royalty is 75% of the MRP (Maximum Retail Price, described below)
  • Cinnamonteal: offers ebook conversion (PDF, EPUB, MOBI formats) and worldwide distribution services Apple, Amazon, B&N etc.). You can also include video and audio clips into your ebooks and create audiobooks as well.

For regional languages the biggest players on the market are Dailyhunt and Matrubharti. Dailyhunt is India’s largest local language ebook store that provides books in multiple Indian languages. It offers 20-25% royalties for independent authors and 35-40% royalties for publishers. Matrubharti is a self-publishing startup platform for regional language writers. It uses subscription service for generating revenues and has developed an author community to translate the content from English to Indian languages in exchange for commissions.

If you want your books to be ready for the Indian market as a non-Indian author, you should consider the following aspects before you publish:

  • Content: if your book is written in English, how do you get that translated?
  • Technology: converting your book to an electronic format will affect your script and fonts
  • Marketing: to invest in marketing, know your readers and reach out to them

 

Self-publishing in India

One of the most successful self-publishers in India, Rasana Atreya. 

Her bestseller novel Tell A Thousand Lies was shortlisted for an award in 2012. Rasana left her job to follow her dreams to be a writer. She turned down an offer by a leading Indian publishing company and decided to self-publish her books. She wanted to keep digital rights, royalties and the entire publishing process in her hands. And it turned out to be the best decision she could have ever done. As she says:

„Self-publishing your book might seem overwhelming and scary, but it ends up being the right choice for many writers.”

According to her, if you want to self-publish your book, you need to devote an enormous amount of time for research and preparation to understand the self-publishing process. She also had her books edited, formatted and designed professionally. Rasana’s books based on social issues that affect rural India with a hint of tragedy and comedy elements. She writes about topics that are close to her heart. She also points out the importance of marketing your ebook. She is active on her social media channels, operates a blog page and often asks fellow authors and critics to review her books which can boost her sales.

Which genres perform well in India?

There’s a high demand for contemporary Indian writing in English. It is easier to sell a nonfiction book in India. As for fiction, it’s a very niche market with an overall rate of 10-12%. The hot topics are social media and startups while self-help and leadership books are evergreen categories. If your plan is to write a book for the Indian market start with ebooks, don’t try to get into the print market. Paperbacks in India are not that profitable because most of them are relatively cheap.

How to price your book for the Indian market?

Pricing a book right is probably the biggest question every author has come across. Pricing an English book particularly for the Indian market can be an issue. However, what you can do is to use the thumb rule which is usually one rupee (Indian currency) per page for paperback and 60% of it for ebooks. There’s an index called MRP (Maximum Retail Price) for that which is calculated by the type of the print book (Paperback/Hardcover), size of the book and the number of pages. Make sure to actually price your book for the indian market not just convert your local currency price into rupees.

Traditional publishers in India offer discounts on the selling price (50-60%), so regarding independent authors, who are trying to adjust their pricing strategy, the MRP index might not be the most profitable solution. In this case, the focus should be more on targeted marketing, finding who your readers are and invest more in that.

As you could see, interesting dynamics have been going on in the Indian publishing industry. Self-publishing is becoming bigger and bigger due to the many self-publishing services that have been launched recently, but it still has a long way to go. More and more authors are starting to realize the potential of DIY publishing in India, but there are still issues for publishers to overcome such as book discovery, finding the right price, piracy and investing in strengthening their marketing efforts online.

However, the popularity of ebooks is rising in the country, and the increasing number of self-publishing platforms that support authors to write, proves that India is going to be a major player on the publishing market that no one should ignore. PublishDrive is selling ebooks to the Indian market through Google Play, Scribd, Kobo and Amazon. Besides the big retailers, via PublishDrive your books can be published directly to Indian stores such as to Rockstand, one of the largest ebook stores in India. More stores are coming soon!

If you have more questions how to publish a book in India, feel free to leave a comment and share it!

 

Special thanks to Amar Vyas, host of MyKitaab Podcast who was a major help putting this article together. Check out his podcasts here.

 

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04
Jan

Amazon Ebook Market Share 2017 – is it big enough?

Amazon Ebook Market is not the only store for reaching your readers.

(This article was updated on 25/10/17 with recent data.)

When it comes to publishing an ebook, Amazon is the first thing many people think of. Obviously, Amazon is a dominant player in online book and ebook retailing. However, when it is about global publishing, doors keep opening to new stores, business models and channels: and as an indie publisher, it is your task to explore them. (You can read more about the different business models here.) As an indie publisher, you have to explore other opportunities to make your ebook publishing efforts more profitable on the long term – you can’t simply rely on one big distributor. Who knows what will tomorrow bring?

It may surprise you how many potential readers and what portion of your possible earnings you may lose if you publish only on Amazon ebook market. Why would you do that, especially if you already have your own ebook converted? Look at our numbers and you will understand why it is crucial to go to other ebook stores as well.

This article starts with an in-depth analysis of our recent sales numbers, then we introduce the a recent Author Earnings Report to understand how ebook sales work in the US, UK and on emerging markets. We close with some interesting facts on Kindle app and Kindle reader market share.

Publishdrive’s analysis on Amazon ebook sales

PublishDrive analyzed the sales numbers of publishers signed up and found that in case of English titles only 39% of the sales volume came from the Amazon ebook market (2017 first 3 quarters). It is unquestionably a huge share, but still, if you are exclusive with Amazon Kindle through KDP Select, you may lose 61% of your potential readers and sales. You may earn more money in stores and markets you have never thought to be more suitable for your target group.
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03
Jul

Negotiating techniques for publishers

If you do business in the publishing industry, you have to develop your own negotiating techniques. When you are doing online business with different partners such as editors, authors, designers, retailers, distributors, literary agents, you will shortly reach the status when you have to learn how to negotiate. In the publishing industry I have already had many business meetings and in overall, I found out that many usual sales or negotiating techniques would not work either because of the nature of the industry or just because it does not fit to my personality. And most of all, if you want to build a long term partnership, you have to be genuine and authentic to your partners, but most importantly to yourself as well.

At PublishDrive we negotiated terms with retailers and publishers and we always wanted to reach a mutually beneficial end result. I summed up my usual business development negotiating techniques what I can advice to anyone in the industry wholeheartedly.

  1. Be humble

When you are getting into a partnership you always have to show your excellence. But people like other people who do not brag about their success, but who are willing to embrace them with their humble mentality. Do not push your own success and results into the face of the people, let them discover it through the excellence of your team.

  1. Show your intelligence and expertise

Do not push yourself too much, instead of being an inconvenient bragging person, show your intelligence and expertise with market data and research studies. Even if no one asked, try to build your pitch in a way where you can show off your great knowledge of the market, cool trends which are new information for the listener.

  1. Listen, listen and listen

Many sales people overestimate their charm and their communication skills, so they are giving the talk all the time. But first, you have to know whom you are talking to, so you have to ask first a lot of questions to understand how you can convince them in the first place. Do not make your sales pitch as an intro, but try to build a relationship through communication and through giving something away. In a healthy partnership if you give in, you will certainly get to take away as well.

  1. Behave like you are dating

Investor relationships or customer acquisition is like dating: you can fall in love or just hate each other in seconds. First impression and the way you behave at the first sight will have a stamp on your relationship on the long term. If you are dating, you do not want to be an open book in the beginning, you want to explore the other person in pieces on your own. You want to get the other excited about what you are doing. So be attractive with showing your results, your vision, keep them updated how things are going, but do not push too much without getting any interest from them. And most importantly, have fun, because dating should be fun for all.

Do you have any other cool ideas how to negotiate better and in a more authentic way? Drop us a line to support@publishdrive.com and we are happy to have your guest post on our blog!

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