Whether you are an aspiring author, a published author, a publisher or one who provides services to those who publish, the purpose of this SLPA Blog is to provide information and resources on a full range of author/publishers issues and ideas.
  • Friday, March 02, 2012 1:38 PM | Anonymous

    Amazon’s Not-So-Best Practices

    by Linda Austin, Moonbridge Publications, author of Cherry Blossoms in Twilight,

    Amazon, friend of the self-published and delight of book readers wanting bargains and convenience, has been in the news recently for its latest strategies to conquer the publishing world. Business is business, but is Amazon taking the “nothing personal” to extremes? The purchasing public, mostly unaware or uncaring of Amazon’s new tactics, and many indie authors who feel they are unaffected still extol the virtues of Amazon, but all authors need to understand the repercussions of what Amazon is doing.

    Amazon’s publishing services arm, CreateSpace, has been a godsend for self-publishers. For lower cost and with less negative stigma than other publishing services companies (e.g., LuLu, AuthorHouse), ease of use, and decent financial returns to authors, CreateSpace became the smart way to self-pub. Sales are only via Amazon, but for many authors that’s good enough. They can pay extra for the Expanded Distribution package, which gets their books into other systems such as Ingram and B&T (major wholesalers to bookstores and libraries), but Amazon won’t reveal its terms with Ingram and B&T, and it appears they are less than what booksellers and librarians are used to getting in order to stay in business. In other words, they won’t buy Amazon Expanded Distribution books unless customers order them, so think twice before coughing up the extra money. Authors can, however, purchase their own CreateSpace books at discount and approach local bookstores to carry them on consignment (bring along a marketing plan and be really gracious).

    Enter Amazon’s bullying tactics. Last summer, Amazon began listing new books printed through Lightning Source stating delivery times of 1–4 weeks or more, even though books ordered were shipped immediately. Is the purpose to push Lightning Source (LSI) authors to also use CreateSpace for instant Amazon access? LSI books via Barnes & Noble show normal short delivery times. Authors printing new books via LSI will now need to check the stated delivery time on Amazon and be prepared to purchase or have friends purchase their books on Amazon until the delivery shows “in stock.” A few years ago, Amazon tried to force LuLu and other pub-services companies to use CreateSpace to print (instead of LSI), but a lawsuit caused them to back down.

    Recently, Amazon began promoting its Kindle e-books lending library to Amazon Prime customers (one loan a month), and offered those e-books free to all customers during a five-day period if the author promised to sell their e-book exclusively through Amazon. This Kindle Select program was called a promotion to help authors gain publicity (and Amazon would gain customers for its Kindle undefined the Fire had just come out). Fortunately, due to the uproar, authors were then offered a percentage, based on how many of their free e-books were downloaded, of a pot of money Amazon set aside for them. Some authors have seen an increase in downloads of their free e-books and increased purchases of their regularly priced e-books. Of course, author marketing helps as does having multiple books or a series. Results are mixed from single e-book authors.

    In late January Amazon attacked Goodreads, the top online reader community and review site, demanding that within one week Goodreads link only to it for sales. Goodreads refused, scrambling to arrange a deal with Ingram for its database. Amazon no longer allows Goodreads to pull book information from the Amazon database. Amazon Advantage authors and those using CreateSpace with Amazon ISBNs must enter their own book information into the Goodreads system so that readers can post reviews. A friend using Goodreads can also do this if provided with book information. Goodreads has kept their Amazon Buy links, but they are now buried under Options.

    In another development, Midwest Book Reviews, long an important reviewer of self-published books, is no longer allowed to post its reviews to Amazon. Authors themselves must post their Midwest Book review to their book’s profile page.

    Amazon has entered the publishing field in a big way via its own imprints to handle almost all genres (e.g., Montlake Romance). It acts as any other publisher vetting, buying rights, and producing books. Amazon has also struck deals with traditional publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) to have it produce Amazon-purchased manuscripts via new HMH imprints Mariner (in 2011) and New Harvest (in 2012). As of the New Harvest deal, B&N, Books-a-Million, and most surveyed bookstores have announced they will not be carrying any Amazon-pubbed books. “Hell no,” was apparently a common answer of indie bookstore owners. It remains to be seen whether Amazon will allow Ingram and B&T to offer their usual wholesale discount and returns to bookstores and libraries, a necessity for them to remain alive. The latest news is that Amazon will open a small storefront in Seattle to showcase its Kindles and its own books that no other bookstores want to sell.

    Amazon is skating on thin legal ground with its demands for exclusivity and its willingness to sell books (and Kindles) at a loss to lure readers to purchase other (profitable) Amazon products. With Amazon throwing its massive weight around and the threat of neighborhood bookstores closing, taking author events and consignment sales with them, authors must keep up-to-date about choices that will determine the future of their book sales. Think carefully before letting Amazon (or any other company) own your ISBNs.

    For more information on this topic, visit these websites:




  • Tuesday, February 14, 2012 10:21 PM | Linda Austin (Administrator)

    Thanks to SLPA member Eleanor Sullivan for bringing this to our attention:

    Ten Questions to Ask Before Committing to Any E-Publishing Service by Jane Friedman


  • Tuesday, January 24, 2012 1:55 PM | Linda Austin (Administrator)

    Book designers and SLPA members Peggy Nehmen and Sue Sylvia gave a bang-up presentation for our January meeting on what it takes to make your book look good. We are pleased to tell you their slides are now up for viewing in the Members Only section. Thank you to our webmaster, Kevin, for creating this new Speaker Notes and Slides section, which so far has notes from writer/author Diana Gravemann and our Bob Baker. Check it out!

    Peggy wanted to add another little showcase of fabulous book covers by the awesome Roberto de Vicq de Cumptich. No, most of you can't do this at home. While you probably won't end up with one of Roberto's covers, be sure to dress your baby up to play with the pros.

  • Saturday, January 21, 2012 10:40 PM | Linda Austin (Administrator)
    Mark Coker of Smashwords talks about e-book pricing strategies.
  • Wednesday, January 18, 2012 4:39 PM | Linda Austin (Administrator)

    Passing it on: 89 Bookmarketing Ideas that will change your life.

    If you need more ideas and more details about those ideas, John Kremer is famous for his 1001 Ways to Market Your Book (latest edition 2006), but here are a few more recently (re)published books by top author/promoters that should be up to speed with the rapidly evolving publishing/promoting industry:

    Promote Your Book: Over 250 Low-Cost Tips (2011) - Patricia Fry

    The Frugal Book Promoter (2011) - Carolyn Howard-Johnson

    55 Ways to Promote and Sell Your Book on the Internet (2009) - Bob Baker

    Red Hot Internet Publicity (2009) - Penny Sansevieri

    Get Known Before the Book Deal (2008) - Christina Katz (all about building platform)

    Christina will be featured at the Missouri Writer's Guild Conference this April.





  • Saturday, January 14, 2012 4:11 PM | Anonymous
    Each year the Independent Book Publishers Association of America (IBPA) sponsors a one and a half day workshop called Publishing University. IBPA is the largest not-for-profit trade organization representing independent book publishers in the United States. Publishing University offers information-packed seminars developed and led by industry leaders, who share ideas and applications you can use in your day-to-day business to assist you in improving and enhancing the profitability of your publishing company. This year Publishing University is being held in San Francisco on March 9-10.

    As an IBPA affiliate organization, the SLPA is awarding one scholarship to Publishing University. The registration fee to the conference is covered by the scholarship. Flight, hotel, meals and other expenses will be the responsibility of the attendee. In order to qualify for the scholarship you must be a member of both the IBPA and the SLPA. Interested members can email Kim Wolterman at and request the scholarship application or additional information. Applications for the scholarship are due by February 5, 2012.

    As the scholarship recipient in 2010 I can attest to the fact that this is an amazing day and a half. If you are serious about being successful in your publishing endeavors, this is an opportunity you don't want to miss.
  • Wednesday, January 11, 2012 10:41 AM | Linda Austin (Administrator)

    Judith Briles, The Book Shepherd who presented with Brian Jud and Dan Poynter last fall, is now hosting a radio show online each Thursday evening with guests, features and call-in opportunity. Your Guide to Book Publishing begins at 5pm on Thursdays. See the link below. You can call in with questions and comments at 866-404-6519 (will be announced during shows).

  • Tuesday, January 03, 2012 9:54 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    An interesting article for those who are creating ebooks:

    What size is an eBook cover for Kindle?

    Take a look at the following list of popular eBook readers, along with the screen dimensions and display technology...
  • Thursday, December 15, 2011 11:57 AM | Linda Austin (Administrator)

    Amazon's behavior affects you, too, as an author:

    Amazon's contentious relationship with authors and bookstores

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