Smart Author Podcasts from Smashwords
Being exclusive or “going wide”
Amazon acts as judge, jury and executioner
Author-signings and ebooks
Making end-matter maintenance easier
StreetLib-OverDrive Christmas promotion

Six stories from the self-publishing circuit this week.

Smart Author Podcasts from Smashwords

Does the world need yet another podcast on self publishing?  Mark Coker at the indie-oriented ebook distributor Smashwords thinks the answer is YES! (his capitals).
On Friday 27 October Coker will release the first four episodes in the series.

There are a lot of great podcasts out there. I’m not here to replace them. I’m here to complement them by sharing a free masterclass on ebook publishing best practices.
Whether you’re new to ebook publishing or you’re already a New York Times bestselling author, the Smart Author Podcast will help you reach more readers with your words.

Judge for yourself with this preview.
And here’s what the first eight podcasts will cover:

E0 – Trailer (out now)
E1 – 7 Trends Shaping the Future of Authorship  (23 minutes) Releases 10/27
E2 – Introduction to Ebook Publishing (37 minutes) Releases 10/27
E3 – Best Practice Secrets of the Bestselling Authors (74 minutes) Releases 10/27
E4 – How to Sell More Ebooks with Preorders (23 minutes)  Releases 10/27
E5 – Working with Beta Readers  (23 minutes) Releases 11/3
E6 – Marketing to Libraries (21 minutes) Releases 11/10
E7 – Smashwords Survey 2017 (51 minutes) Releases 11/17
E8 – The Art of Delusion (27 minutes) Releases 11/24
E9 – The Indie Author Manifesto (Releases early December, 2017)

Given Mark Coker’s track record it’s a safe bet this “masterclass” won’t be recommending anyone go exclusive with Amazon’s KDP Select.
The big question for me is, will this be a masterclass in using Smashwords or will Coker take the opportunity to broaden the debate and acknowledge there are gaps in the Smashwords distribution network that indies and small publishers would best fill by also using other, “rival” distributors?

Being exclusive or “going wide”

Speaking of which, Zsofia Macho over at PublishDrive has her own take on “going wide” this week with a well-balanced post looking at the pros and cons of exclusivity (referring of course to Amazon’s KDP Select) and going wide.

By no means am I against Amazon: they do a lot to promote reading in general and it is a fair question where would self-publishing be without Kindle at all. They saw a business opportunity nobody else really did and turned it into a giant business.
 But, as the ConsortiumInfo blog points out: as Amazon’s market share increases, the chance for competition decreases. A monopoly on ebook distribution would likely kill innovation (as there wouldn’t be a fight to ‘capture’ readers and writers) and the conditions of self-publishing would likely continue to go down.

The problem for the going wide advocates is that Amazon is by far the largest ebook player in the two markets that matter to most indies – the US and UK.
And as indies generally do not have the resources of bigger publishers to distribute and promote their titles widely, it’s understandable many choose the easy option of focussing all their efforts on the biggest player.
That can pay off big time, of course. There are plenty of high profile authors doing very well being exclusive with Amazon.
But what happens when things go wrong?

Amazon acts as judge, jury and executioner

Just supposing Amazon decided an author was in breach of its t&cs for some reason, and started reducing title visibility and threatening authors with account closure?
That’s the nightmare scenario David Gaughran is reporting this week.

Yesterday, there was a new case – the first one involving a paid title. Veil Nights Box Set #1 by Rowan Casey is a shared world/shared pen-name between twelve high-profile authors, including New York Times bestellers and Amazon Publishing authors – which is all above board and legitimate, and they detail that arrangement in their bio on Amazon.
They ran the box set on BookBub on Wednesday, and deployed no other promo aside from mentioning it to their own mailing lists in the days leading up to the BookBub feature – when it sold approximately 1,500 copies and hit #97 in the Kindle Store.
Then the next day it was rank stripped.
So, this is getting pretty serious. It doesn’t matter if you are wide or in KU, it doesn’t matter if you are big name author or New York Times bestseller, it doesn’t even matter if you are published by Amazon’s imprints, you could be rank-stripped too, with no way to appeal.

Read the full story here.

Author-signings and ebooks

Meanwhile over at the blog of the Macmillan-owned ebook distributor Pronoun, there’s a great post on the at first glance insurmountable problem of book signing sessions when an author only has ebooks.
It can be done!
Read more over at The Verbs.
Finally two more news items from the aggregators.

Making end-matter maintenance easier

Draft2Digital has rolled out new and improved automated end-matter.
Now if you’ve only got one or two books under your belt that may not sound like a big deal, but as those titles mount up it’s a lot of work going back to update each one with the list of other titles by the author, or updating the author bio.
Draft2Digital explains how it will manage an author’s

Also By pages—Ensuring that every time you publish a new book, it gets included in this handy, built-in marketing tool, making it easy for readers to find
Contributor Bios—When you update your author profile, or any of your co-author and contributor bios, we’ll automatically update them in your books, where appropriate
Publisher Bios—Just like your author profiles, D2D will make sure that any changes to your publisher profiles will be reflected in your books
Copyright pages—Any changes you make will be automatically updated, everywhere it’s needed

StreetLib-OverDrive Christmas promotion

And finally, with the usual full disclosure that StreetLib is the sister company of The New Publishing Standard‘s publisher Antonio Tombolini Editore, a brief item on StreetLib.
As Zsofia Macho discusses in her aforementioned post on the PublishDrive blog on exclusivity and going wide, Amazon offers a range of promotional tools for indie authors.
But if we are exclusive with Amazon then our ebooks are not, for example, available in the OverDrive digital library system. And given OverDrive is well on target to exceed two hundred million downloads this year that’s a lot of reach to be missing out on.
StreetLib’s Anne-Catherine de Fombelle reports StreetLib is working with Rakuten-owned OverDrive to offer a great promotional deal on OverDrive for the Christmas period, or the Holidays as they say across the pond.
But there’s more!

We are working on two new apps, we’ve implemented, or are going to implement in the coming days updates in PublishWrite and Stores, we are in talks to open ways to reach new world areas, and we are already looking way ahead with technologies like blockchain and Artificial Intelligence applied to our tools (as I said, we are looking ahead though, those two changes may not happen tomorrow).

And in case you missed it, StreetLib published on the subject of blockchain a day or so ago, complimenting previously referenced reports on how blockchain will impact the publishing industry from PublishDrive  and Publishing Perspectives.