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Smashwords reaches 10 billion published words
February 25, 2014 | 12:00 pm

SmashwordsSmashwords hit another milestone on Monday. The indie book distributor reached 10 billion words published through its platform. That’s a lot of words. The 10 billion words are represented by 87,000 authors and 288,000 titles on Smashwords. The 10 billion mark is nice, but what it represents is more important. Smashwords CEO and founder Mark Coker addressed some of this in his blog on Monday. It took a little more than four years for the first five billion words to get published through Smashwords. The second five billion mark happened in fewer than two years. It took some time for self-publishing to catch on,...

The SFWA might just stay relevant after all
February 20, 2014 | 11:12 pm

apologycatHere’s an epilogue to the SFWA kerfuffle I posted about a couple of days ago: the central figure in the article, Sean Fodera, has posted a public apology to Mary Robinette Kowal for his unprofessional remarks (which she has accepted), and also a clarification on his attitude about women in SF. (The apology was apparently so popular that it caused to go down for a while. It seems to be back up now, but just in case, screencaps are available at Radish Reviews.) In the apology, Fodera explains that his antipathy toward Kowal was not because she was a woman,...

The return of Hugh Howey: Author Earnings Part Two
February 20, 2014 | 1:51 am

50000-unit-sales-by-category1If you were worrying you might run out of traditional-publisher vitriol since it’s been a week since Hugh Howey uncorked a gusher of it with his original post on Amazon web crawl analytics, fear not! Not content to analyze 7,000 genre titles, Howey and his Stats Guy went back and crawled the top 50,000 books on Amazon across all genres and categories for a single day (Febuary 7th) and ran some analyses on that data set (and, naturally, offered up all the raw data for other statisticians to crunch however they like). This time he’s got stats not only...

Is the SFWA losing its relevance?
February 18, 2014 | 3:25 pm

“This is the song that doesn’t end…it just goes on and on my friend…” To mix musical metaphors, I’m getting that whole “second verse, same as the first” feeling as I look at the latest vitriol to come out of the whole Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) sexism affair (which we’ve covered in more detail here, here, and here). A few days ago, an article appeared on The Daily Dot blog citing posts from the public discussion forums on pertaining to the latest round of ugliness. is the discussion forum website of the SFWA, but has always...

What is NOT in doubt about Hugh Howey’s Author Earnings report
February 17, 2014 | 6:10 pm

So, self-publishing and traditional-publishing author Hugh Howey published a report on some data he pulled from Amazon and crunched (Paul covered it here), purporting to show some things about the number of self-published books compared to those from traditional publishers. This has touched off a lot of blowback in the last couple of weeks as everyone and their uncle has attacked the data set for not being comprehensive. Howey has some interesting things to say, to be sure. Across 7,000 titles, Howey noticed that those from Big Five publishers tend to have the lowest average star rating, but the...

Mystery writer Toby Neal discusses her self-publishing journey
February 14, 2014 | 10:25 am

toby nealBy now, you have probably read Hugh Howey’s report on – I mean, it’s been written about around the web for the last 48 hours, including here on Teleread. The report has pushed other writers to come forward with their own earnings and information, including mystery writer Toby Neal. She wrote an interesting blog post sharing a conversation she had with a writer who is on the fence in choosing between traditional and self-publishing. Neal’s post is interesting because she describes the difficulties she went through from not getting a book deal, losing her agent to finally deciding to self-publish. It...

Five reasons why you need a professional editor for your novel
February 11, 2014 | 4:05 pm

professional editorBy Jim Dempsey With e-books selling for such low prices and tight profit margins in self-publishing, there’s constant pressure to keep costs down. As a result, authors can be tempted to cut corners in editing and production to save money. That’s risky because the quality of the final product can suffer. A poorly edited and produced novel risks being unread. A well-edited novel will stand out from the crowd and command attention – and even help boost sales. Professional editing will not only correct errors, it can clear away the clutter, tighten up the plot, invigorate characters, and strengthen the author’s voice. Here are...

Thanks to Kindle Worlds, ‘fired’ Vampire Diaries writer continues her own series as ‘fanfic’
February 10, 2014 | 6:18 pm

evensongThe life of a book packaging writer is not always an easy one. Take the case of LJ Smith, who wrote for Alloy Entertainment, a fiction creation company that created young-adult series for the sake of getting tie-in TV shows and movies made. Alloy has had a string of successes in that regard: Gossip Girls, Pretty Little Liars, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants…and Smith’s series, The Vampire Diaries, which she wrote for two decades. The thing is, under the terms of her contract, Smith didn’t actually own the rights to the Vampire Diaries books. She wrote them as works...

Authors beware: Do you need to think like a publisher?
February 7, 2014 | 3:31 pm

That's a reasonable question to ask, authors, when you see an advertisement like this, offering you an online teleclass to "Think Like a Publisher," courtesy of Randy Davila, president of Hampton Roads Publishing and Hierophant Publishing, and based on his book, also called "Think Like A Publisher: 33 Essential Tips to Write, Promote, & Sell Your Book." "Have You Written A Book? Or is there a book inside you waiting to come out?" the blurb asks. "If you want to know what it takes to be a successful author in today’s rapidly changing publishing world, this is your chance to learn from...

New PublishAmerica sock puppet America Star Books wants to pull its wool over your eyes
January 31, 2014 | 10:25 am

The Writer Beware blog has posted a tipoff about a new identity for Author Solutions-style self-publishing vanity press operation PublishAmerica, which, like Author Solutions, spawns a succession of new names and sub-identities to disguise its basic focus of providing overpriced and often unnecessary services to aspiring self-publishing novices. This time, the new identity is America Star Books, the new destination for the URL with a special eye to non-American writers. "Our mission is to change the landscape of book publishing all over the world," declares the America Star Books website. "If your book is written in English, we publish it...

Publishing should create ‘new ecosystem’—but can it?
January 22, 2014 | 3:04 pm

What is the answer to allow publishers to compete in the new world of the Internet on their own terms? On Futurebook, author Jeff Norton proposes that the publishing industry should do what the airline industry did in creating Orbitz, or the broadcast TV industry did in creating Hulu: create their own “arms-length new [venture] to offer credible and compelling services to consumers.” He writes: It strikes me that since the major publishers are facing a dominant digital player, there's an opportunity to form a new, arm's length e-reading ecosystem complete with site, device, and apps. ...

Discussions with Kensington Publishing head Steven Zacharius lay bare the wide gulf between publishing execs and writers
January 21, 2014 | 1:24 pm

Steve 3An interesting thing happened a few days ago. An author posted the details of her publishing contract, including exactly how much (or more aptly, I gather, how little) she was making from her traditionally-published book. She was forced to take it down for “contract disclosure reasons” shortly afterward, and it had already expired from Google’s cache by the time I went looking for it, so I don’t know the specifics. When Passive Guy at The Passive Voice linked said article, the discussion became the most active he’d ever seen on his blog—298 comments at this point, and probably more...