GENREALITY

Archive for 'Publishing'



Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011 by Bob Mayer
More on the Future of Publishing

If you subscribe to PW Daily/Deals, it appears as if the Big 6 are doing business as usual.  At the beginning of 2010, eBooks accounted for 3% of sales.  Few in traditional publishing seemed overly concerned.

As we roll into 2011, the number being bandied about is 10%.  I believe that’s not a true accounting since every author I talk to says their eBook sales, whether compared against hardcover or mass market sales, based on royalty statements, are more in line with 40-60%.  Even if the 10% number is true, that’s a three fold increase in less than a year.  Project it out.

Can we agree things are changing?  And faster than most industry ‘experts’ are willing to admit?

I’ve seen blogs celebrating the demise of traditional publishing.  The first image that comes to mind is the peasants who revolt, tear down the castle, and are roasting pigs in the ruins when the Vikings come around the corner.  Uh-oh.  That’s much too extreme, of course. As they say in Monty Python:  How come we know he’s the king?  ‘Cause he aint covered in sh#%.

There’s a strong festering resentment among writers toward publishers.  I’m not thrilled with getting rejected, often with nebulous reasons.  I’ve also not been thrilled over the years to be told my book would receive promotion, placement, etc. etc. up until pub date and then nothing happens.   Why can’t publishers just be honest?  Hey, if you aren’t getting at least a six figure advance, they aint doing squat for your book.  That’s reality.

Also, there’s the infamous reply when one questions the cover:  the sales forces loves it!  Right.  The real answer is, stop bugging me.  I’m a book producer, not really an editor.  I funnel books into a production schedule that has at least a two-year tail.  Unfortunately, technology has over-taken that tail.  At Who Dares Wins Publishing we hoisted our pirate’s flag at the beginning of the year.  We now have over 20 titles up, and are averaging 4 figures in sales each month, and doubling each month.  Our production tail right now is two weeks.  Which is absolutely necessary in today’s fast-paced world.  A book like We Are Not Alone: A Writer’s Guide to Social Media can’t wait a year in production.  Because it will be out of date in a year.  We got it up within a week of receiving the final draft.  And can revise it and get the revisions in print within a week.

I don’t think traditional publishing is dead.  But I’m also aware of the changes.  And am putting a lot of effort into WDWPUB and riding the technology, media, social changes.

It’s going to be a bloody mess in the next two years.  Many won’t survive.  I remember at West Point and Special Forces School and Ranger School– at the beginning they’d sit you down and say:  look to your left.  Look to your right.  One of them aint gonna be here in a couple of weeks.

But you know what?  Publishing has always been like that.  Success rates for first novels is around 10%.  The number of published writers still being published 10 years later is below 1%.  My first traditionally published book came out in 1991.  My most recent last month.

I submit a big reason for the high failure is lack of education for writers.  The internet has helped change some of that.  I run my Warrior Writer program (and published the book) to teach people the lessons I learned the hard way over 20 years.  The things no one bothered to take the time to explain to me– because I wasn’t going to have a career.  Well, guess, what?  I’m still here.  But I have a foot in both camps now:  over 40 traditionally published books with more in the pipeline and being part of a non-traditional publishing company on the bleeding edge of change.  One of the thing we’re doing under our Write It Forward concept is to start bringing out ‘shorts’ for $2.99 on specific topics that will help writers negotiate the future.

But to sit in the ruins and roast the pig and not be aware of all the angles and possibilities and whether those Vikings be bringing double-headed axes or ale and big-buxomed wenches is naive.  Or more realistically, all of the above and you’d better keep your head on a swivel or its gonna end up on a stake.

I’m not going to quit my day job and my day job is writing.

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011 by Bob Mayer
Resistance is Futile: The Future of Publishing

The future of publishing is now.  I was recently speaking with a science fiction author.  He also does consulting in the corporate world, except he doesn’t call himself a science fiction writer when he does that; he’s a futurist.  And the #1 thing he preaches is that change is occurring exponentially, not linearly.

Publishers might well be ‘juking the stats’.  Publicly announcing 10% e-book sales, while every author I talk to who has actual numbers says it’s between 40-60% versus their hardcover.  PW announced John Grisham’s latest release has significantly fewer hardcover sales, but it was also released in e-book.  My latest royalty statement for my first Area 51 book showed e-book sales were double my mass market sales.

Here are some facts:

The Big 6 Publishers control 95% of print publishing.

Starting in 1995, the print business began contracting.

7 out of 10 books printed by the Big 6 lose money.

10% of their titles generate 90% of their revenue.

Those two facts indicate a reality:  the focus for the Big 6 is going to be more and more on the Brand Name authors and less on midlist.  The problem is:  where is the next generation of Brand Name Authors going to come from?

The decline of the book chains is biggest problem for traditional publishers.

Here’s the conundrum that NY doesn’t want to face:  The book business is the same, but the retail business has changed.  While NY basically operates the same, the way books are sold has changed dramatically.  How many music retailers are left in your town?

The focus is too much on celebrity books in NY and many are money-losers.  Much more so than all those midlist authors.  The bestseller lists are very deceptive.  For example, Kate Gosselin’s recent book sold only 11,000 copies yet hit #6 on the NY Times list.  Someone is playing with the numbers to make it look good, but many of those big deals are money-bleeders for trad publishers.

The overhead for the Big 6 operating out of the Big Apple is way too high.  Heck, even Who Dares Wins Publishing, which we started up in 2010 and operates out of my bunker in WA (lined with aluminum foil so the Borg can’t read my thoughts) and Jennifer Talty’s office in NY, has overhead.  We could never operate brick and mortar out of a NY office.  So that’s something that’s going to have to be addressed.  I see further major contractions occurring in NY and more out-sourcing of jobs to people digitally.  The acquiring editors will still be in NY with the agents, but a lot of the other parts are going to be out-sourced.

There are two major trends in publishing going on right now:

1.  Mid list authors going it on their own. Actually, this is creeping upward.  David Morrell (not a midlist author, can we say First Blood?) announced he is bringing nine books from his backlist into print AND his newest title on his own, skipping traditional publishing altogether.  This is biggest name fiction writer to do this.  So far.  The perception right now is that overall, the quality of self-published books is poor.  The reality is, most new authors who have self-published are indeed putting up poor quality.  However, there are a number of traditionally published authors who are bringing backlist into print and these are books that have hit bestseller lists.  Readers will separate the quality out.  Thank you.

2.  Digital publishing is exploding.  In January 2010, there were many yawns at the Digital Book World conference.  Those yawns have changed to expressions of shock.  I’ve been predicting that the change from print to digital would be many times faster than most were predicting and I’ve been proved right (slight pat on the back). I predict by the end of 2011 we will be close to 50-60% of all books being digital.   Especially with all the new e-readers that will be under Xmas trees last year.  We’ve seen a bump in Kindle sales most likely due to that.

The problem is this:  the makers of digital platforms like Kindle and iPad want content.  The Big 6 are loath to give digital content to them because they believe it cuts into their hardcover and other print sales and would hurt their own business.  So there is a huge divide between the platform makers, primarily Amazon and Apple, and the content providers.

This is the VOID that will destroy some of the Big 6 if they don’t exploit it.  And also the VOID which savvy writers can fill.

Adapt or die.  Write It Forward

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011 by Bob Mayer
Updated Predictions for Authors

Update Predictions for Authors, Publishers and Books for 2011

A major fiction author breaking from traditional publishing and putting a book out on their own via eBook.  David Morrell, who I consider a major author, already did this in 2010, but not many noticed.  Seth Godin did it in non-fiction.  But when someone big-big splits, it will make traditional publishers tremble.

The 25% royalty rate for e-rights is ridiculous and has to go.  40% is the minimum.  Even then, do the math:

$9.99 eBook.  Publisher gets $6.99.  Author at 25% gets $1.75

$9.99 eBook.  Publisher gets $6.99.  Author at 40% gets $2.79

$9.99 eBook.  Author goes it alone.  Author gets $6.99.

So even at 40% royalty the traditional publisher has to sell 2.5 times as many copies as the author doing it alone.  And what exactly does the publisher do for that money now?  Not distribution.  Placement, if they pay.  Copy-editing, which can be outsourced by the independent author.  A ‘stamp’ of approval.  But if it’s a brand name author, that doesn’t matter.  No one goes into a book store and says, “gimme a Random House”.  They do go in and say “gimme a Nora Roberts.”

Many agencies are going to try to straddle a very difficult line of selling to traditional publishing while also bringing books out on their own, particularly their authors’ backlist and promising books they can’t place with a traditional house but they see value in.  The conflict of interest will put them in a tough spot.  It’s going to be a black or white situation:  either become your own publishing house or stay traditional.  I actually predict that there will be some mergers between publishers and agents, where the line between the two will blur.  The reality is that agents are 90% of the gatekeeping of quality control in publishing.  Publisher held the lock on distribution.  Their lock is over.  Once the 50% tipping point is reached (and my #1 prediction is it will be reached in 2011) where more eBooks are bought than print books, the whole ball game is going to change. B&N.com has just announced they sell more eBooks than print books.

Enhanced eBooks will begin to multiply.  Enhanced in various ways:

Links to more information.  For example, in Touched With Fire: West Point To Shiloh, my next book, you’ll be able to click on a hyperlink to find out more information about, say, Ulysses S. Grant and his ability as a horse-whisperer.

Embedded video and music, although the reality is, only the iPad really supports this now.  One thing I do believe will be constant is that mixing media doesn’t work well.  This is why film trailers for books are pretty much a waste of money for 99.5% of authors who do them. Unless you can do something like Jane Austin’s Fight club, but hits to a Youtube video clip does not equate to the same number in sales, but it does create a bit of buzz.

Alternate versions of books and additional material, including ‘author cuts’.  Much like you can get the director’s cut of a DVD, authors will be able to include material that would have ended up on the floor of their editor’s office.  Also, they could give two or more different endings to a book.  They can also add in comments about the writing of the book, much like Baldacci has already done.

More ‘shorts’ on specific non-fiction topics.  This is our #1 focus at Who Dares Wins Publishing for 2011. Priced at $2.99 (less than a cup of coffee at Starbucks) and at least 10,000 words long, these will non-fiction works that address something the reader specifically wants answered.  For example, one of our first ones will be How To Get The Most Out Of Your Time and Money at a Writer’s Conference.  It will describe how to find, prepare for, spend your time at, and reap the benefits after a conference.  For someone who is going to plunk down a $400 registration fee plus travel, plus hotel, and most importantly time, for a writer’s conference, it really makes sense to spend $2.99 for advice on to make the most of it all.

2010 was an unstable year. Publishing began reacting to changes, when they should have been acting in years prior (a tenet of Warrior Writer). We saw publishers create vanity presses. We saw agents become publishers. Authors started skipping publishers all together. We saw a pillar in mass market got direct to digital. We’ve seen agents close doors. We hear smaller advances, higher sell-through rate, and more authors being dropped. We saw Amazon cut a major publisher out of the picture. In a nutshell, publishing is being forced to changed and while they fight the publishing borg, many of us are embracing it. We’re acting and taking control of our careers. We are assimilating to the future because the future is here.

2010 brought the digital book and eReaders to an equal playing field, whether NY wants to face it or not. You can’t get on an airplane in today’s world and not see some sort of reading device and it’s not just the younger generation using these devices. We’re all using them. The Nook, The Kindle and The iPad are here to stay. Add Wi-Fi and 3G capabilities and the reduced pricing 2010 has also brought, there isn’t any reason not to embrace the technology, as we did with computers, laptops and cell phones.

2011 is going to continue on this road. There are more forks now than ever before, each leading to a new and exciting, though sometimes scary opportunity.  It is the year of the Author which is why we Write It Forward, beginning with our first workshop starting 3 January, with a new way to look at Selling Your Book.  For too long writers have focused on getting and agent, a book contract, etc. etc. but ultimately, what you really want are readers to buy your books, not agents and publishers.  It’s a new paradigm that few are taking the lead in.  2011 is going to be a great year for writers willing to look to the future.

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011 by Bob Mayer
The Future of Agents

Lately, I’ve seen several agents rip off their rank insignia and surrender, aka, find another job.  That is in line with the people laid off or leaving publishing houses, the midlist authors whose contracts were not renewed, etc. etc.  So what will the agent’s role in the future of publishing be? Or more accurately, what should the role of agents in the future of publishing be?

For now, I see about a two-year window where agents can operate traditionally and survive if they are established.  Read PW Daily/Deals and it’s pretty much business as usual, although less books are being bought for less money, which directly impacts an agent’s bottom line.  But waiting that two years without changing will cause an agent to end up in the same boat as Dorchester which refused to see the changes occurring in publishing and suddenly decided this year to completely switch their focus in publishing, after ignoring the warning signs for a decade.  Not working.  A smart agent (like the smart author) will examine the handwriting on the wall and try to see through it, to what lies on the other side.

Andrew Wylie tried it.  He announced in 2010 that his agency would bring most of his clients’ backlist into print in eBook.  The publishing world went berserk.  Random House blacklisted him for a while.  One of the tenets of Warrior Writer is that anger is an indicator of a deep truth and a strong need for change.  Random House’s extreme reaction indicated more to me than anything else that publishers fear agents supplanting them.  After all, few of the Big 6 have a slush pile any more.  They rely on agents to sift through that for them.  So agents have to ask themselves, as eBooks take a larger and large slice of the market, why they need publishers if they’re doing the heavy lifting of manning quality control in publishing.  Why wouldn’t an established agency with a list of headline clients, not set itself up as it’s own publishing house via eBooks and Lightning Source Print On Demand?  Outsource the editing to the many editors who have been laid off from traditional publishers, and also outsource the formatting and cover art work?  In essence, become what we’re doing at Who Dares Wins Publishing?

The line between agent and publisher is going to blur.   What does this mean for authors?  For now, not much, although if you have an agent, there should be some discourse on what your agent envisions their future to be.  And yours.

Now for some blasphemy.  I’ve attended a lot of writing conference over the years.  I participate in social media and watch the discourses.  Read blogs.  Here are a couple of suggestions for writers and agents that are controversial, but, screw it.

Writers.  Query every agent you can.  I don’t care if they handle your genre/type of book or not.  With electronic queries, what does it cost you?  The time to get the email for the submission and the agent’s name.  I’m so tired of hearing agents sit on panels and tell authors all the things they don’t want.  It’s part of their job to go through the slush pile.  A good book is a good book.  The reality is that there are so few diamonds in the rough, that any diamond looks good.  If the agent doesn’t handle that type of book, but recognizes quality, they will pass it on to someone who does.  But by limiting your number of queries, you limit your possibility of success.

I’ve had authors tell me that will piss off agents.  Don’t rejections piss you off?  But you have to react professionally, and so should agents.  If I see one more tweet about how hard it is to go through the slush pile from an agent, I’m going to scream.  It’s called a job.  Sort of like how hard it is for a writer to write.  Besides, if you send to the wrong agent and piss them off, they’re the wrong agent anyway, so you haven’t lost anything.   This is in line with my change in position on self-publishing.  The reality for all of this is your odds of success as a new author are less than .5% (that’s not 5% but 0.5%).  But someone is going to be successful.  The more shots you take, the better the odds.  Aiming better, for a writer, is writing better.  Just last night I saw another tweet from some junior agent, with all of two years in the business complaining that ‘even published authors must follow our guidelines for submission’.  So go ahead and keep rejecting based on form.  Short-sighted.

Agents.  Come up with a standard query format for fiction.  You constantly complain about what you get and how it doesn’t follow your specific format.  You’re not that important in the big picture.  Get over yourself.  The AAR needs to adopt a standard query format.  A writer submitting hundreds of queries can’t spend weeks adopting their query to each specific agent’s desires.  The funny thing about this one is:  it will help agents clean out their slush pile that much quicker.  Win-win all around.  When I propose this, an echoing silence from all those agents who tweet-complain about their slush pile.

The twist on this is that the diamonds will follow my three rules of rule breaking in Warrior Writer anyway.

Writers:  Detail for your agent your career plan.  Give them your strategic and tactical goals as developed under Special Force One (What) of Warrior Writer.  Show them you have a future and a plan.  Then work with your agent to see how they can help you.

Agents:  Come up with a training program for your writers.  Just getting a writer a book contract doesn’t mean they know anything at all about how to be an author.  Hell, use my Warrior Writer book and program if you want.  But to not train your authors is to propagate the 90% failure rate for first novels.  We just can’t afford such a failure rate in today’s market.  Do you have a Standing Operating Procedure you give to each of your newly signed authors?    In the long run, this will save you time and give you a higher success rate.  Yet, not a single agent or editor I’ve talked to has an SOP for new authors.  The first thing we did when a new team member joined our A-Team was hand them our team SOP.  Writers, agents and editors need to be a team, but leaving the writer ignorant helps no one.

Authors:  Follow up.  I was stunned when I heard that only 10% of authors who get requested to send further material after a one-on-one at a conference (BTW, most agents tell everyone to send material) follow through.  Then I thought about it.  For years I’ve been telling authors who invest good money to attend my workshops to feel free to follow up with query letters, synopsis, whatever, after the workshop.  Less than 10% do.  So I believe that percentage.

It’s a rough world out there.  Wishing for the good old days is like the dinosaur wishing it hadn’t strayed into the tar pit.  Assimilate and succeed.

Write It Forward.

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011 by Bob Mayer
Do Free eBooks work?

It would seem Amazon would become more author friendly in their desire to increase digital content, but it’s still difficult to negotiate the maze.  I understand they are getting swamped with self-published books, but it seems almost a lottery system how Amazon picks this book or that author to feature from among the ranks of self-published (I understand the co-op system with traditional publishers is another beast altogether).

For example, an author, Delle Jacobs (her blog) recently was amazed to see her book on Amazon get downloaded thousands of times when it was picked for Amazon’s Free Read list.  Even she says she has no idea how her book was picked and she knows two other authors who ended up in the same situation without any notice.  At Who Dares Wins, reading the contract with Amazon indicates we can’t put a book out on Kindle for free, which seems rather strange.  We’ve tried several times to address this issue, to no avail.  We’d love to put our bestselling first book in the ATLANTIS series on Kindle for free to attract readers.  It’s a quality book that sold over a quarter million copies in mass market.

FREE is a marketing concept that many experts advise in order to attract attention and readers.  We’re offering a free hardcover with any print purchase at our web site and a free audio download with any eBook purchase.  However, there’s a big difference between that free and free on Amazon.  We also offer free shipping, which seems to help.  Bundling books is also a technique that works, where you get two or three similar books at discount prices.

It appears for those authors with a quality book as a lead, FREE could be an excellent promotional tool.  A way to allow readers to get a taste of a writer and a series.  It also builds good will with readers.

There has been some concern about Kindle getting flooded with ‘free’ poorly written and edited books.  As in Reversal of Royalties, though, I think it’s time to start viewing the business model somewhat differently.  Amazon has access to its own sales numbers.  It could easily have a computer sift through those number and find authors, books and small publishers that are generating good sales.  I’d say a baseline would be cresting $1,000 in royalties a month, indicates a solid presence.  Such a number would make it worth Amazon’s time to perhaps work together with that author/publisher on promotion.  After all, such sales for books outside of those pushed by the Big 6, indicate readers have spoken their desires.

The business is changing fast and the old ways aren’t going to cut it for all involved:  authors, publishers, platforms, etc.  So let’s all work together to figure out a better way to get books into the hands of the reader.

Here’s another question:  if you get a link, such as some of those above, and it takes you to an author’s web site where books are for sale, are you more likely or less likely to buy the book, than if you were sent directly to the Kindle web page on Amazon where the book is for sale?

PS:  If anyone knows how to get on the Free Read list, please let us know.

Thanks.

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011 by Bob Mayer
The Future of Bookstores

Did you ever think you’d pay 5 bucks for a cup of coffee?

Last year at the New Jersey Romance Writers I heard an editor use the comparison of instant coffee versus brewed coffee when discussing eBooks and print books.  She pointed out that when instant coffee first appeared everyone thought brewed coffee was dead.  Brewed coffee is still around.  Her point:  print won’t die because eBooks are here.  I agree.  But I take it a step further.  Not only is brewed coffee still here, Starbucks appeared.  They made buying a cup of coffee an ‘experience’.  Really, is a cup of coffee at Starbucks that much better than McDonald’s?  But you can’t get that extra-mocha, whatever, whatever, whatever (I get decaf, black, I’m boring) at McDonalds.  And it’s like, way cool, to be able to stand there and say all those words, like I really know what it means and really like this stuff.  I’m too intimidated.  We used to chew the instant coffee from our LRRP meals when I was in Special Forces while we were deployed to stay awake.  I think I might order some grounds next time I’m at a Starbucks.  Of course, I never go there and there’s isn’t one here on the island so . . .

I digress.  So Starbucks blossomed across the country, like zombies with aprons.  You can’t cross a street without hitting one.  But then the economy, like, collapsed.  Bummer.  And people have had to cut back.  And, well, $5 for a cup of coffee, started to seem like, of all things, an extravagance.  So Starbucks has been hurting (join the club).

Let’s talk bookstores.  First there was Amazon.  Mail order book retailer.  There were grumbles when it first appeared on the horizon back in the days when men were men and the sheep ran scared.  It took a slice of the market.  B&N also opened an on-line store.  Overall, though, the brick and mortar stores and the on-line stores co-existed, much like, well, the Borg and the human race.

But then came eBooks.  A murmur in the distance as long ago as, well, January 2010.  Now it’s a roar.  Borders isn’t solvent.  B&N is for sale.  Indies, first besieged by the chains, then the on-line retailers, are now attacked on all fronts and those hardy few who have survived so far, must feel like:  Can’t a human get a break?

Back to Starbucks.  Some smart people over there, right?  So what do they have planned to combat their eroding sales?  They’ve come up with a two-pronged approach, which has a single concept at its core:  go local.

It seems counter-intuitive for a national chain to go local.  But what is becoming apparent in retail is that niche is the future.  For Starbucks, they’re going to serve alcohol.  But not Bud or wine in the carton.  They’re serving local brews and local wines.  And the décor of each store, rather than being cookie-cutter same, is going to feature local artists and furniture.  They’re going to cater to, well, the local people.  They’re reinventing the ‘experience’.

I submit where goes Starbucks, there might be a path for bookstores to survive.  Serve plenty of alcohol.  Well, no.  Well, actually, why not?  Become a gathering place for like-minded people.  But the real thing is:  Niche is the future.  Not only will indies have to adapt to their area, but for chains like B&N to survive, they must specialize and localize.  One size does not fit all.  All books do not fit all.

The Espresso machine is a lifeline.  Books will be printed in the stores.  So anyone can walk in with a thumb drive and print out their Great American Novel and give it to mom and pop and sell three copies to friends who really like them and put up with them.  But it’s a money maker.  Rack local authors.  People who would come in and hang out in the store every so often and talk to readers and interact.  Rack books about the area.  So if someone wants to know about kayaking in Puget Sound, because they happen to be in a bookstore in a town on the edge of Puget Sound, they can find a book about it.  We have to break away from the single buyer in NY determining what goes in every bookstore around the country.  We have to get back to local buyers, who have the pulse of the area, who know the readers, determining what goes on the shelves.  Make apps where you can sell eBooks by local authors and about the local area.  Mirror your physical store on-line.

Write it Forward

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011 by Bob Mayer
Amazon Book Reviews: Democracy in action, ignorance or bullying?

I used to make it a point to not read my reviews on Amazon.  There were several reasons for that:

1.     As any student of sampling knows, the people who post reviews are not a fair representative of the reading public.

2.     Anyone who has ever purchased anything from Amazon can post a review, but that doesn’t mean they purchased the book they’re reviewing.  That makes it the Wild West.

3.     Some reviewers spam all of an author’s books.  Excuse me, but if you didn’t like one book, why go paste in that same exact blistering review on all the books that author has had published?

4.     Some authors spam other author books as a means of promoting their own book.  These people need to grow up.

5.     Customers unhappy that a book hasn’t yet been published on Kindle often post one star reviews of the print book, as a form of protest.  All that does is hurt the author, who often has little control over when and what form the publisher releases the book.

6.     At Who Dares Wins Publishing we do control formatting and dates.  But what we run into are customers who purchase an eBook and then have problems downloading it on their end (less than 1% of our customers).  Because they mess up, they blame us and post scathing reviews (except in one case where we had uploaded a flawed copy and pulled it immediately).  We always respond to those customers, offering them another version and, surprise, it turns out the book is fine with no formatting problems.  However, those people don’t go back and remove their bad reviews and don’t follow up positively.

7.     One star reviews seem to carry more weight than Five star reviews.

Because of the last two reasons, I now force myself to go over the Amazon every once in a while and check the reviews.  We see a definite correlation between lost sales and scathing reviews, but not great reviews and positive sales.  One aw-shit seems to outweigh one atta-boy.

Some suggestions:

1.     Only people who buy the book, and that version, have the right to review it.

2.     Reviewers should not be anonymous.  This prevents the bullying and spamming that is prevalent.  It also allows the author/publisher, to address the problem if need be, such as technical problems or downloads.  And thank readers who really enjoy something.  The future of publishing is an author-reader relationship, but we can’t relate with people who aren’t identified.

3.     When the person downloading messes it up, they should have recourse to notify the publisher and have the situation worked out immediately rather than have a product that doesn’t work.  At Who Dares Wins Publishing we not only will resend the formatted book, we usually add another title as recompense for the reader’s trouble.

4.     When a title is brought as an eBook, allow the previous reviews of the title to be carried forward as these are focused on the content:  the book itself.

5.     Allow people to recant their reviews if technical problems have been resolved.

A final suggestions: If you really enjoyed a book, go, review it. Review the format you bought it in. Remember, a typo is different from bad formatting and bad formatting isn’t necessarily the fault of the author, or even the publisher. Technology does fail at times. If it’s a self-published eBook or from a small publisher, take the time to go to their web site and contact them.  You might be surprised at the positive results.

The future of publishing, as we note in Write It Forward, is wide open.  And readers, more than ever, are going to determine the success of failures of books.