Sunday, February 13, 2011

Slipping into the Surreal…

Now that I got my post out about Create Space Vs. Lightning Source I can now get to posting some of the other topics on my mind. Two at the top are recent incidents that are just too strange. Both come to me via Writer’s CafĂ© on the Kindle Boards – a great place to hang out if you’re not already.

First, it was pointed out that MacMillian’s most recent contract has a provision whereby they are allowed to create future works from characters or worlds that you create and they will own the copyright to this. I can’t even begin to express what a huge mistake this would be for any author to sign up for. I’m sure that this is in the contract as a sacrificial lamb for agents to insist deletion of. Needless to say, if you are signing with MacMillian you must insist on the removal of this clause no matter how much money they are offering. Your creation, the worlds and characters of your imagination, is intellectual property with EXTREME value and under no circumstances should you relinquish it to another. You are setting yourself up to be screwed in the end and you’ll have no one to blame but yourself because you signed on the dotted line.

In a related was also reported that the author of the Vampire Diaries was booted from their own series by Harper Collins. My knee jerk reaction was outrage until I read the facts. Vampire Diaries was conceived by Harper and the contracted the writing under a work-for-hire contract. Under these circumstances I stand firmly behind Harper Collins. They have every right to substitute an author under such an arrangement. If the author is upset, well again you knew (or should have known) what you got into when you started this. Don’t blame Harper Collins…blame yourself.

Second is an issue related to the Amanda Hocking, who I now refer to as Amazda. As you may recall I posted about her a few posts ago (and glad to see she is finally getting her props – Now on the USA Today Best Seller’s list and had a major USA Today article). But to make her new found success even more surreal…A book has been posted on Smashwords entitled: Amanda Hocking and her Success Secrets. This would be a great book…except that it wasn’t written by Amanda and from everything I can tell, the author, Laura Donoghue, didn’t even interview her for.

What’s even more amazing is this book highlights a few other authors including: H.P. Mallory, J.A. Konrath, and yes my very own Michael J. Sullivan! When I told Michael about this he Skyped back…”You know we have to buy it as I really need to know how we did it.” I did and read it 1/2 an hour - there's not much there.

Again Ms. Donoghue, did not interview myself or Michael. The book as a whole is cut/pastes from blogs (about 50% of the book contains Amazon reviews of the works of the profiled authors) there is really no insights from this book – Just a few numbered secrets that are so obvious they are laughable. In general the book is poorly researched some mistakes I pointed out in my review of it:

1 – Michael J. Sullivan who wrote The Riyria Revelations is NOT the same Michael J. Sullivan who wrote necessary heartbreak. A quick review of the Amazon author pages would have made this clear.2 – She states that Michael got to $30,000 a month in sales in 8 months when it actually took several years.3 – The stats she stated about multiple books (attributed to a selection of ebook publishers)
  • 1 book published = 10 books sold per month
  • 2 books published = 50 to 60 books sold per month
  • 3 books published = 200 to 400 books sold per month
  • 4 books published = 1,000 books sold per month
  • 5 books published – over 10,000 books sold per month

Are in fact only Michael’s numbers – not the indie community at large – that was taken directly from a post I made.

4 – Rule #4 Set a Low Price indicates:“The highest price a newly self-published author should put on there ebook, is $2.99, and the only reason you should go that high, is to receive the 70% royalty that Amazon pays on books between $2.99 and $9.99.”

But Michael’s books are priced $4.95 to $6.95. And since he is one of the spotlighted authors shouldn’t this strategy have been explored a bit? I’ve posted numerous times (including test results) arguing for a higher price point and the success that can be achieved from such. If this book is telling the secrets of these authors then Michael’s pricing doesn’t support the premise.

I’m of two minds on this book:

  • 1 – It is clearly an attempt to make money off of Amazda’s success – and doing so under false pretenses as far as I can say.
  • 2 – The author was very complimentary to Michael and his works and as it is free publicity I’m not complaining too much.

Anyway, these are two things going on today that are on the top of my mind and so I thought I would share.


Unknown said...

I've sent comments to Michael (Rynia) about the mistakes made. Recently, my book was named by the Library Journal as one of the best Christian fiction books. But in its star review in March of last year, they said I was the author of Rynia. I sent every company (including Barnes and Noble) to make the correction. But it fell on deaf ears.
I wish people would just check the bio on Amazon.
I feel terrible for Michael. But when I do get emails for him I try to direct it to his website.

Zoe Winters said...

LOL! Why do you call her Amazda??

And someone linked me to the book and I went to go check it out, but it's no longer published on Smashwords. Glad you guys got a chance to learn your own success secrets! That'll help you in the future. ;)

crw said...

Hi Robin, interesting post. I believe a court case somewhere (possibly the USA or UK) recently found that Tweets are public property because they are posted for everone in the world to read without paying for them. So it occured to me that one could get a selection of Tweets from a 'celebrity' and put them together in a book and sell it. I'm sure it's either already been done or being done at the moment.

wannabuy said...

" I can’t even begin to express what a huge mistake this would be for any author to sign up for."

I'm floored MacMillan even thinks that is a smart idea to try. With ebooks as large as they are, why wouldn't half the authors just say 'no thank you' and go Indie/Small pub?

Sigh... Some suckers will sign that clause too...


Cathy Keaton said...

I'm pretty shocked! I hope somebody points this book out to Amazda, as you like to call her, lol. She should know someone is making money off her name without her awareness.

And, shame on MacMillian. It seems trad publishers are tightening their grip on new writers in these hard times. But, this is just unfair.

Robin Sullivan said...

LOL! Why do you call her Amazda??

Because her sucess is amazing ;-)