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“Avoidant” and “Bad Boyfriends” to be Available in China

Beijing Ark Reading Technology - Douban Seal

Beijing Ark Reading Technology – Douban Seal

About a year ago I got an email from a Chinese company I’d never heard of, Douban, which turns out to be a media platform selling primarily on phones. Reading on phones is big in China, and they were wanting to have some of my books translated into Simplified Chinese by running a translation contest, then they’d sell the books and give a cut to the winning translator as well as me.

They seemed legit and it’s a cool idea, so I said yes. Long long wait and a financing later, I signed a contract with Beijing Ark Reading Technology in January. Still no sign of the contest, so I have no idea when readers in China will get to read my books, but I’m hoping Real Soon Now.

Of course, Amazon readers in English can buy Avoidant and Bad Boyfriends right now!

Hugh Howey and JAKonrath on the Indie Revolution, and Amazon’s Netflix-for-Books

Indie Reader Approved

Indie Reader Approved

Hugh Howey’s Wool Series is some of the best indie fiction so far, and it’s been optioned for a movie and published by legacy publishers — but only after he made it a success on his own, through Amazon. J A Konrath was a successful fiction writer with legacy publishers, but has done much better by going indie in recent years, and he acribes much of the support for legacy publishers to a variant of Stockholm Syndrome. His epic post on publishing and a “declaration of Independence” for authors is here:

When in the Course of publishing events, it becomes necessary for writers to sever their ties with the industry that is supposed to have “nurtured” them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that we should declare the causes which impel those writers to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all writers should have an equal chance to find readers. That their successes or failures should be dependent upon their own actions and their own choices. That they should be paid fairly for their work. That they should have control over the works they produce. That they should have immediate and accurate access to their sales data. That they should be paid promptly. That they should not be restricted from reaching those who may enjoy their work. That whenever a publisher or retailer becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of Authors to abolish all connections with the offending parties.

The history of the legacy publishing industry is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over writers. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

They have given us take-it-or-leave-it, one-sided, unconscionable contracts.
They have failed to adequately market works they have acquired.
They have artificially inflated the price of ebooks.
They have refused to negotiate better ebook royalties for authors.
They have forced unnecessary editing changes on authors.
They have forced unnecessary title changes on authors.
They have forced crappy covers on authors.
They have refused to exploit rights they own.
They have refused to return rights they aren’t properly exploiting.
They take far too long to bring acquired works to market.
They take far too long to pay writers advances and royalties.
Their royalty statements are opaque, out-of-date, and inaccurate.
They orphan authors.
They orphan books.
They refuse to treat authors as equals, let alone with a reasonable measure of fairness.
They make mistakes and take no responsibility for those mistakes.
For every hope they nurture, they unnecessarily neglect and destroy countless others.
They have made accessories of the authors’ ostensible representative organization, the quisling Authors Guild, and are served, too, by the misleadingly named Association of Authors’ Representatives.
They have failed to honor promises made.
They have failed to honor their own onerous contract terms.
They’ve failed the vast majority of authors, period.

This blog has documented nearly every stage of these Oppressions, and in many cases offered solutions to publishers, and has been answered with only silence and derision.

But that’s okay. Because now authors have a choice.

We shall never be taken advantage of again. We shall not support any publisher or retailer that continues the abuses listed above. And we demand to share in the rewards we’ve busted our asses for.

In other news, the subscription reading service a la Netflix is popping up everywhere: Scribd and Oyster have already been active, and Amazon is in test phases. For c. $10 a month you can read umlimited numbers of works from their catalog, a good deal for avid readers, and catalogs are growing more extensive. Amazon’s new service is most fully described by GigaOm:

So far, the differences appear to be that Kindle Unlimited has no Big Five titles and Kindle Unlimited includes audiobooks. One major difference is that Kindle Unlimited will likely be available through Kindle e-readers. That’s not true for Scribd or Oyster. And it would be a big reason for avid Kindle e-reader users to choose Kindle Unlimited rather than Scribd or Oyster: If they are already using their e-reader all the time anyway, and can now access more books through it via a subscription, that would be a big perk.

How do authors get paid?

It depends on who your publisher is. Publishers Lunch reported Wednesday (subscription required) that publishers participating “via direct agreement” — which appear to be Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Bloomsbury, Open Road and Workman, among others — will be paid an ebook’s wholesale price when a reader completes a certain percentage of the book. That’s the same way that Scribd and Oyster operate. Then there are those well-known “big” books also included in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, like the Harry Potter series and the Hunger Games trilogy: Amazon has a separate Harry Potter deal that presumably encompasses (or was changed to expand to) Kindle Unlimited as well, while in the case of the Hunger Games, according to PL, “Scholastic will get paid their full wholesale price every time one of their ebooks is opened by a Kindle Unlimited subscriber.”

If you’re a self-published author participating in KDP Select, however, it looks as if your book can be included without your explicit permission simply under the terms and conditions you already agreed to: According to one poster on the Kindle Boards, “Books in Select will automatically be enrolled. Like the KOLL you won’t be able to opt-out if you’re in Select. You will be payed [sic] if you someone reads 10% or more of your book. The payment will come out of the same KOLL fund, just as if it was a borrow.” That “same KOLL fund” is a set pool of money from which self-published authors are paid each time their book is borrowed. Its amount changes every month but in July the total fund was $1.2 million.

The Hawking Index of Unread Blockbusters

Hawking Index of recent Political Bestsellers

Hawking Index of recent Political Bestsellers

Until now we only had anecdotal evidence that many “blockbuster” books pushed by media and reviewers went largely unread (the most famous past example was Gravity’s Rainbow, critically acclaimed literature that was so dense and bereft of compelling narrative that few purchasers actually finished it.)

But now we have the “Hawking Index,” named after Stephen Hawking for his Brief History of Time, also hugely recommended and rarely finished. While we have no way of knowing how many Major Books purchased in hardcover at bookstores end up as doorstops, we now have data from Amazon Kindle books, which make available on their Amazon pages the location and number of notations users make within the book; it turns out many books have notations near the beginning but few or none near the end, indicating users did not make it that far. Since many books do have notations to the end, we know it’s not just because readers get tired of annotating; they simply stop reading.

WaPo has a good story on this, adding Hillary Clinton’s latest as another much-purchased, rarely-finished book, to go along with Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century as a best-selling bust with readers:

The summer’s most-read book? Donna Tartt’s “The Goldfinch.” Least-read? Thomas Piketty’s “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” for which the notations only get about 2.4 percent of the way in.

So, naturally, we decided to apply this methodology to “Hard Choices” and other recent or comparable political books. And we have our own ranking, which we now present in order from estimated-least- to estimated-most-read.

1. “Hard Choices,” by Hillary Clinton. Hawking Index: 2.04 percent. Well, there you have it. The deepest into Hard Choices the popular highlights get is page 33, a quote about smart power. Three of the five most-popular highlights occur within the first 10 pages. We will note the same caveat that Ellenberg applies to Piketty. “Hard Choices” is fairly new, and fairly long. Still, though, one would think more people had made it past page 33.

The most popular quote? “Do all the good you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.” Which, like several of the top quotes from the authors listed below, isn’t actually a quote from Hillary Clinton. Instead, it’s a mantra from her family’s Methodist faith.

I took a look at my own book and the highlights readers chose seem to indicate most readers read it all the way through — the two most popular:

Most of the trouble in relationships is about bad signaling and poor responses. (6 Highlighters)

A good partner is reliable and available to help on call, whenever possible; a good partner leaves his partner alone when help is not needed, staying quietly available behind the scenes…. (5 Highlighters)

…which I actually wrote, though some of the prettiest language highlighted by users is quoted from other books (where a thought was expressed so beautifully I could not improve upon it.)


Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples OrganizationsDeath by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

[From Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations,  available now in Kindle and trade paperback.]

The first review is in: by Elmer T. Jones, author of The Employment Game. Here’s the condensed version; view the entire review here.

Corporate HR Scrambles to Halt Publication of “Death by HR”

Nobody gets a job through HR. The purpose of HR is to protect their parent organization against lawsuits for running afoul of the government’s diversity extortion bureaus. HR kills companies by blanketing industry with onerous gender and race labor compliance rules and forcing companies to hire useless HR staff to process the associated paperwork… a tour de force… carefully explains to CEOs how HR poisons their companies and what steps they may take to marginalize this threat… It is time to turn the tide against this madness, and Death by HR is an important research tool… All CEOs should read this book. If you are a mere worker drone but care about your company, you should forward an anonymous copy to him.

 


Sale! Sale! Sale! – “Bad Boyfriends” for Kindle, $2.99

"Bad Boyfriends" cover

“Bad Boyfriends” cover

It’s summer, I have no time to promote the book, and so I’m marking down the Kindle edition globally to $2.99 (or the local currency equivalent.)

It makes a great gift for your looking-and-not-finding friends, and you can buy a gift code from Amazon and keep it as long as you like before giving it to the recipient. This only works for the Kindle version.

[Edited Oct. 15th, 2014 — sale ended, back to regular price of $3.99.]

Amazon US – Sale! $2.99

Amazon UK – Sale!

Amazon Canada – Sale!

Amazon Australia – Sale!

Not marked down until further notice:

Barnes and Noble trade paperback