Self-Publishing Predictions for 2015 (Self Publishing Podcast #138)
This week, the guys wrapped up the year by meandering around a couple of different amazing topics. The voicemails supplied fantastic questions, which lead to interesting mini discussions.
The main topic, the guys’ predictions for the indie publishing world in 2015, was definitely more a wish-list than a try at fortune-telling. Will any of them actually come true?
I mean, who wouldn’t love for Amazon to improve their dashboard? And wouldn’t it be great to have another indie hit Howie-levels of success?
Will any of those things actually come true? Only time will tell.
Here’s the video version:
Show Episode Transcript
Welcome to the Self Publishing Podcast, where if you want something done right, you’ve got to do it yourself and now here are your hosts three guys who took the red pill and the blue pill Johnny, Sean and Dave.
Johnny: Hey everyone and welcome to the Self Publishing Podcast, the podcast that follows three full time authors as we attempt to change the face of Indie publishing. Join us and our trail blazing guest as we shove aside boundaries, freely experiment and occasionally screw up. I’m Johnny B. Truant and my co hosts are Sean Platt and David Wright. Today we’re going to be talking about our predictions, doing the whole Nostradamus thing, and what was fun was Dave said it and I would’ve said it, like do we have any predictions or just trying to think of some predictions, so luckily Sean had some predictions ready for us.
Dave: I have one so yeah.
Sean: Are we really getting right in the topic?
Johnny: No-no-no-no, of course…
Dave: Nobody is even tuned in yet I’m sure.
Sean: That’s good.
Sean: Because people what they do is they start the podcast and then they go to the bathroom you know call their mother whatever they need to do.
Dave: Have a drink of water.
Dave: Their twilight cup.
Johnny: Is it twilight?
Sean: It’s not twilight, just hunger games.
Johnny: Hunger games.
Sean: For two years, for two years I’ve been drinking out of this cup and you think it’s a twilight cup.
Johnny: Sean can’t do anything right today.
Dave: Not today.
Johnny: So housekeeping before…
Sean: I would’ve been happy just like talking what we were talking about before the show for another hour.
Johnny: I know.
Sean: That would’ve been awesome, because I want to break you down on this one.
Johnny: All right, let me get it’s like you’re having so many other things the– okay so first of all guys this is the last show of 2014.
Dave: YES FINALLY WE’RE DONE WITH THIS SHIT!!!! Oh for 2014 oh…
Sean: He’s only half kidding which is awesome. For 2015 we’re like more-more-more, we need a daily podcast and Dave says less, like I want nothing, I want to retire.
Dave: Once a month.
Sean: I want to eat crackers and watch old Breaking Bad re-runs all year.
Johnny: Where are you getting crackers? I’ve never had Dave expressing need for crackers.
Dave: You know it’s funny you mention crackers because we’re– we go out to eat and my son like he’ll you know he’ll eat them but he’s like he’s not excited about the food he gets but when the crackers– when my wife gives him the crackers that came with our super whatever or salad he’s like all excited and all about the fucking crackers.
Sean: I used to love crackers, I take crackers because I figure like Dave was trying to be good and not eating cookies, he’ll eat like crackers.
Johnny: Crackers are a definite step up from cookies and chocolate covered potato chips.
Dave: We need carbs, I’m going to eat good carbs not crackers.
Dave: Or a bag of peanut M&Ms.
Sean: Oh I love peanut M&Ms.
Johnny: If you had the pretzel M&Ms those are– and the peanut butter…
Johnny: Those are my favorites.
Sean: Those are pretty good. When I first started writing I gained a lot of weight because I was sitting for long stretches for the first time in my life and eating peanut Ms by the fatly handful, I was just scooping those things into my mouth and yeah.
Dave: Did you ever notice in peanut and this I talk to my wife about…
Johnny: I love that we’ve– I love how much we’ve fabricated the off topic this style. Let’s talk about peanut M&Ms but I do have to hear the end of this statement.
Dave: I was talking to my wife yesterday about peanut M&Ms.
Sean: Did you win?
Dave: I won. But I said did you ever notice that like every now and then in a bag of peanut Ms you’ll get that one that just tastes like awful, like it’s a rotten peanut or something, and like the very worst thing is when you get like just if you just bought a single bag of M&Ms as opposed to like a giant party bag. If you just bought a single bag and like the last one you ate was that and then you had to go buy another one just to get that taste out of your mouth.
Johnny: I have never had that experience.
Dave: It must be a gas station thing.
Johnny: Even close to that experience I have no [crosstalk 00:04:26]
Sean: You know what is hilarious yeah Dave has told me this story this grievance maybe four times since we’ve known each other. This is not new I’ve heard this but yeah…
Dave: It’s a serious issue.
Sean: Do you remember my response story? The one I always tell about the worst peanut I ever had, it was silica gel that I was eating in the dark and then it come unwrapped.
Johnny: You know it says right on the package, do not eat this.
Johnny: It says on the package.
Sean: It wasn’t in the package, it was out of the package, and I was eating in the dark.
Johnny: You’re the dumb shit that made that warning go on there.
Dave: Why are you eating in the dark?
Johnny: Somebody ate the silica gel.
Sean: We were watching Lost and I had fucking peanuts in there. I’m not going to examine everyone, it was in a handful, I can still taste it when I think about it, it’s the worst thing I’ve ever had to…
Dave: It’s poison.
Sean: Besides your mother.
Johnny: Wow okay, hey welcome to your first episode of the Self Publishing Podcast if you’re new. Okay so here’s the deal, this is the last episode of 2014 because we record them live on Fridays and we’re not going to do on the day after Christmas, so that’s it.
Dave: Are we doing one in the New Year’s week too, I suggest we take two weeks off.
Johnny: I was planning on doing it because it will be the 2nd.
Sean: I’ll miss it.
Dave: All right.
Johnny: And that’s how it goes ladies and gentlemen.
Dave: My family will be home for that two week period and it’s difficult to do the podcast, but yeah okay.
Johnny: You could not go off on rants, it’s possible, it will be fun though I wouldn’t want to do that.
Sean: That will be terrible, we could avoid the Better off Undead if you want, but I think I think people want our SPP.
Dave: I’d rather do Better off Undead than this show.
Johnny: You can just take a nap and then the other housekeeping thing is when we return for you live viewers– this is the last time I’ll say this. If you do watch live we’ve been broadcasting live at 2pm eastern on Fridays, and it will move to 3pm eastern on Fridays so just FYI that’s it. I do have voicemails if you want to do some voicemails. I also have voicemails even if you don’t want to do voice mails, I have them either way.
Dave: I’m game, I like the voicemails.
Johnny: All right.
Sean: So you want to take Twitter while we wait for the voicemails.
Johnny: Dave likes interacting with the voicemails, it’s better than interacting with us.
Dave: You two are the only problem I have with this show.
Johnny: All right, so here’s Thomas, he’s not– I promise he’s not a plant he’s got a 99 designs question. So here we go.
Thomas: Hey guys Thomas [inaudible 00:07:11] I have a question about 99 designs. I’m probably going to run a contest to design my book cover like I’m sure I don’t want to get overly specific with my ideas for the cover and buying the designs for it. If they have an original idea that can raise one message in toll I want them to be able to steal it. How would you handle this? Would you give specific ideas or not? Thanks for what you do, have a good day.
Johnny: Well Thomas I would definitely go to 99designs.com/spp before doing that.
Dave: Of course.
Sean: I think that there’s a fine line there, you don’t want to give the designer specific ideas like the guy has to have a purple hat and he has to be six inches taller than the other guy like that’s a bad idea.
Dave: There’ll be a cowboy on top of a unicorn.
Sean: But a good– but your genre your specifics about what you are trying to convey I think are good, the more specific you are the better. We did a terrible job with our contest.
Dave: Yes you did.
Sean: For the Leflore cover and we ended up with something good– great. I love the cover but we didn’t get there on the first try and it was totally our fault not the designers and not 99 designs. It was because we didn’t accurately convey what we needed from that cover. So I don’t think you should be specific about your design ideas, that’s something you want to let the designers flourish at.
Dave: Yeah they are the pros.
Sean: Yeah they are the pros. So don’t give them ideas but do tell them what you are trying to visually communicate for sure and what kind of reader you are trying to reach.
Dave: And like we said I think last week you might want to give a few different ideas that they can run with, so not everybody is giving you the exact same cover. Like if you’re very specific you know a blue rock on a brown table I mean unless that the cover you want, but if you’re that specific you know all the covers are going to kind of look the same, and it’s really going to be hard to find a great cover if every single one of them is the exact same thing.
Dave: My thinking anyway.
Johnny: I was going to say something similar to that the trick in my mind and my experiences with giving instructions is that everybody will follow them. Like if you say like here’s what I am kind of thinking and then you go on to say but use your best judgment and you know have other ideas people will do the thing that…
Sean: Yeah because they want the job they think they’re trying to please you.
Johnny: Right, but that said if we were doing a 99 designs thing for Unicorn Western I find it hard to believe we would not say maybe a cowboy riding a unicorn or something you know like it’s kind of hard to know.
Sean: It’s still ludicrous.
Johnny: Right that said Adult Video is the one we are going to do next I think, and we don’t– I have no idea what to do with that. We went around when Dave did the existing cover and said we don’t even know what it would be like it’s just like– so we’re going to need some help on that, so anyway there you go okay so next…
Johnny: Next question Roland about ISBNs.
Roland: Hey guys it’s Roland Denzel, hope you’re doing well, enjoying the show. Quick question about ISBN numbers and the problem or I guess the question I have is if I buy 100 of them and can I use them for a variety of different publishing projects; fiction, nonfiction, different genres and achieve the publisher record each time I publish the book, or will that buy right now for my next book which is a nonfiction book will all those 100 ISBN numbers show up on that publishing company or that imprint in the different systems the book stores use to look at that. I probably don’t want to do that. So I would love to buy 100 and use them for whatever family friends, all those types of things. So I can rumble longer if you like, but I’ll leave it there, let me just leave it right there. Hope you guys are doing well, that is it. Bye.
Johnny: How many ISBNs does Sterling and Stone own Sean?
Sean: We bought 1000.
Johnny: You want to answer that question?
Sean: Yeah the problem is I’m not 100% sure and I don’t want to say the wrong thing.
Johnny: Oh I think that we’ve proven that by experience, right?
Sean: Well I think that yeah what I think is that it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter you’re entering– you have a bulk purchase of the ISBNs, but then you’re assigning them per book, so it doesn’t matter per ISBN you assign that to whatever you want, and it could be the publisher or record. So there’s two different things happening, there’s the entity that bought the ISBN which is actually somewhat irrelevant that’s like a receipt, and then there’s– it would be almost like a domain.
There’s the person who runs the domain and the person who bought the domain, and yes I guess you can look up to see who originally bought that domain with like WHOIS, but that’s not what most people care about. They care about who is behind the domain and so we bought 1000 ISBNs and we use them for all of our different imprints and that seems to be fine, and I don’t know the answer to that if somebody did some deep digging could they find out who originally purchased them maybe, but I don’t think that’s worth worrying about.
Johnny: We have used the lot that Sean bought before we started putting everything in Sterling and Stone and then having the imprints, so like we have Realm and Sands and Collective Inkwell, Lexi Maxwell. I have some as me just as me just as Johnny B. Truant for like the print editions for Fat Vampire books. So at least in practical usage we haven’t, but if you’re worried the NSA is going to track you down or something then that maybe… if you have that question ask Dave.
Sean: If you’re that sort of fellow who worries about giving your phone company publicly, then you may want to buy separate ISBNs.
Dave: Use one of your other avatars especially if you’re like writing a book that might piss North Korea off.
Johnny: Use a decoy ISBN.
Sean: Oh my God, can we talk about that actually?
Dave: I think we’ll talk about that on Better off Undead.
Sean: I would like to talk about that.
Johnny: Good times okay so…
Sean: I’m afraid about them hacking our podcast though, so maybe we should.
Johnny: Right. How do we not know that Dave isn’t the one who did it in the first place?
Sean: I think he probably is.
Johnny: And secondarily do you really think that Dave won’t hack our podcast then?
Dave: Because I like Seth Rogen and James Franco, I wouldn’t do that even if I think that movie idea is very stupid but whatever.
Johnny: Who green lit that come on guys, why don’t we do one about Al-Qaida and talk you know.
Dave: I was going to get on it on Better off Undead, but I do wonder if the movie is some sort of propaganda, but I’ll just leave that there.
Johnny: I’ll just leave this here.
Sean: Why well how can you just leave that…
Dave: Saving it for Better off Undead.
Johnny: All right teaser everybody, open loops.
Dave: You know the government is involved in shaping your opinions about other countries, so they can you know more easily and efficiently do whatever deeds they need to do. So they get you onboard and get you to hate people, I mean it’s a known thing not that saying that that will be it.
Sean: I love Dave.
Johnny: Well the idea, the irony Dave is that in Realm and Sands fiction that sort of thing shows up all the time even though we don’t usually believe it.
Dave: You don’t believe it.
Johnny: Yeah, I guess I believe it.
Dave: It must be nice to live it blind but…
Johnny: I believe some of the paranoid things that you’re into, all right…
Dave: I’m not that paranoid.
Sean: I love that he’s into them too like it’s a hobby.
Dave: No-no-no I’m not that paranoid and I’m not into conspiracy theories at all. I think conspiracy theories are usually you know the process of a very ill informed dumb mind, but I do know when shit’s going on.
Johnny: I have a request Sean yeah I don’t know if you’ve reordered the messed up t-shirts, but if you do, can you get one that says I’m not that paranoid for Dave?
Sean: Oh that’s a good t-shirt for Dave.
Johnny: All right, so last voicemail I don’t have a name on this one, here we go.
Female speaker: Hi guys I had a question but first wanted to say thanks so much for your podcast. I just started watching and it actually motivated me to start jogging again not sure that’s what you intended, but now I can get through thirty minutes without focusing on my lungs.
Sean: That’s exactly what…
Female Speaker: But anyway I have a book I wrote during Nano. I’m currently on my second draft. It’s scheduled to go to the editor in January, after that it will go to critiques, another edit, beta readers, but I’m scheduling to publish it in March but what I see on all the critique sites like Scribophile and everything, people talk about how it takes at least a year to produce a quality book and I’m really confused.
Female Speaker: It’s just crazy. I had on my personal schedule to get out at least three full length books and four novellas in a year, is that crazy? And then why is there this kind of attitude that if your book takes less than a year to write it has to suck. Thanks so much guys.
Johnny: I’ll let you guys answer the actual question, but I just want to pause it– just put in front of everybody, the idea that there is a defined period of time of any length that it takes to produce a good book. I’ll just put that there like what? That doesn’t make sense.
Dave: I think they’re, they’re snobs.
Dave: Let’s just call them that, they’re snobs that want to belittle anything that anybody does if it doesn’t take them exactly the same amount of time that it took for them to write their book that isn’t really selling all that well. So they’re upset and they’re angry. I’ve seen this, I’ve seen it not directed at us. Although I’m sure some people think because we write quick, that we’re shit, but fortunately I mean most of the people like our stuff they want to be even quicker. So that’s a good thing, but I’ve seen it out there and I’ve seen it out there like at aimed at other authors and I think that it’s a very petty, jealous, small minded kind of writer that thinks like that.
Sean: Yeah, I agree there’s a couple of things here…
Dave: Unless, unless you know you’ve got a very research intensive book that it actually does take a lot of time to do the ground work, then there I’d make an exception.
Sean: Or if you have a full time job you know and you only get a couple of hours to write a day and you know you’re really taking your time it can take a year. You know we’re lucky we write full time, this is what we do. If a book takes us a full year that’s kind of inexcusable because you know it shouldn’t take 2000 hours to write a book. Like it shouldn’t, but it can but I think to say that something doesn’t have value because it didn’t is an absurd statement and I think you could say that about any kind of art.
Sometime it takes a long time to make a movie, sometimes you can make a really amazing movie in you know a very short abbreviated window and that’s okay. That’s what that art framed out to be. I don’t think there’s a defined time limit; I think to say that there is as Dave said just snobby and petty. I think the game is changing. I think a lot of those preconceptions came from a time when authors had traditional deals, and they were you know they put out one book per year, that’s what they did. So they could spend their time doing one book per year.
Dave: If they are really lying ten other people are moving parts that they can’t control and I’m not likening this to drawing, as an artist I’m pretty slow at drawing, I’ve gotten quicker over the years but there are people that just blow me away, but then there’s other artists that take even longer than I do. I think it’s really dependent on you know how long it takes an individual to make their best work, and you really can’tallow other people to quantify that, you’ll know how long it takes. If you write it and it sucks then take longer next time.
Sean: Yeah, I think that you shouldn’t care, generally you shouldn’t care what other writers think, what you should care about is what the people who read your book think. So let’s say you spend a few months and you put your book out and it gets a lot of one star reviews, you should’ve spent longer, there were some things you were doing wrong. Figure out you know go look at what those one star reviews say and you know do a better job on your next book.
But if you’re getting a lot of five star reviews, you’re getting a lot of sales and you know– don’t then you did everything right. It’s the readers that you should pay attention to not the writers and I feel like as a culture a lot of time we spend too much time thinking what other writers think of us and those are not your customers, they’re too busy worrying about selling their books, you know you want to please readers always.
Johnny: There you go, so do we want to begin with a few of these predictions so we have for 2015? I think I have…
Dave: I could read some…
Johnny: Read some comments.
Dave: Some comments.
Johnny: There you go.
Dave: Okay. Roland is on, thanks for the response question answered. Crissy Moss says for Adult Video I would suggest telling them the feel of the book adult comedy clerks in a porn shop let them run with it. Something will strike your fancy hopefully you can go from there, I agree. Amy Schubert says wow you guys are giddy I said, I’m punchy not giddy, I am never giddy. Jim Wilbourne…
Johnny: Let them learn that the shirt put I’m never giddy on the back.
Dave: First time watching live because my son’s home sick, so I took the day off, let’s hope he naps the whole time. Yeah you don’t want your son hearing us but…
Sean: If he wakes up when Dave is ranting, he will never be the same.
Dave: He’ll cry all day. Gerald Hornsby says one per bag we have the same thing with the bags of pork grind. I guess one bad pork grind per bag, I think all the pork grinds in the bag are probably bad, that’s a gross thing eating fried skin.
Johnny: I’d like to high five Sean.
Sean: I love when Dave gives advice on food, always good.
Dave: I had a teacher in 3rd grade that used to eat pig’s feet and pork grinds like in front of the class, and then she would like pick her teeth with the broom.
Johnny: With a broom?
Dave: A straw from the broom. She would pick her teeth with a straw from a broom and then she’d use that same straw to clean her toe nails, it was the grossiest fucking thing ever.
Johnny: In class, wow.
Dave: In class!
Sean: Wow that is pretty disgusting, man only in [inaudible 00:22:19]
Dave: Yes. God bless Florida school system.
Sean: What were you going to say to me?
Johnny: I was going to high five you on the predictions for 2015 topic and then looking at the post that you linked to which is actually goals for 2015 which is very different.
Dave: Yes, not even close to predictions.
Johnny: You better come up with some predictions motherfucker because that’s what people want.
Sean: I have a few predictions here.
Johnny: All right.
Sean: But I think that our– okay let’s start with things that I think that the Indie community really needs, and I think that you know what we have here is I don’t think that there’s– if there ever was a gold rush, it’s done its over right? So but still I think that there is a lot of energy around Indie publishing, there’s a lot of people who are still discovering that this is a viable option and all of that. So I think that what we have here is the same kind of thing, we’re in the gold rush, the people who really got rich were the ones who sold shambles, right?
And so I think there’s going to be a lot of people who are trying to serve our needs globally and so I think that if you look at the kinds of needs that we really have right now, I think some kind of universal dashboard system is just so desperately needed, and I think that somebody will come along and solve that problem. It may not be in the next year but oh man wouldn’t that be awesome if it was. So that’s my first prediction is some kind of a universal dashboard where you can take all your information from Kobo and from Amazon, and from you know Apple Podcasts and you know App Annie I think is the closest thing like that out there, but it’s still not even close to what we would want, but you can get all your data and you can get all your– what’s Dave doing?
Dave: I’m reading comments on You Tube and laughing.
Sean: Is he playing with himself? So something where you can get…
Johnny: That’s a very grim expression.
Sean: If you can get all of your sales data and all of your revenue data and even traffic data would be great that kind of thing, that would be just spectacular. I know it would be a game changer for us and…
Dave: I don’t see Amazon opening up their EPI to allow that ever.
Sean: Well App Annie.
Dave: I just shit all over your prediction.
Sean: App Annie does it like there will be some sort of work around there, there has to be. In fact Amazon has some sort of limited EPI type thing now it’s just really complicated, and so but I think it’s a nut that needs to be cracked and I think that– or on the other hand Amazon could get a lot better with their dashboards because let’s face it their reporting…
Johnny: There’s no room for them to get any better come on, they’ve got that graph that shows you the grand total of time that isn’t accurate.
Sean: Yeah, I think that…
Dave: Talking about Amazon is like talking about North Korea.
Johnny: We could make a movie about it.
Sean: The dashboard is just its such a mess and I think that it makes sense you know when people first started Indie publishing you know it was a book here it was a book there, but the whole mantra of Write Publish Repeat and the way that the industry is moving where people are putting a lot of smaller titles out and they’re putting a lot of different types of books out and volume has increased, we need better ways to manage that.
And I know that we’re out liars because of the sheer volume of our catalog, but still even on the smaller basis if you have 10 titles you just need a better– you need better matrix. You need better data and I think that it’d be great if there was a universal dashboard, like that would just be amazing but even with at the very least if Amazon really-really– no they did an update this year, but I don’t even remember what they changed it was oooh fancy.
Johnny: They made it slightly less aesthetically horrible in most cases.
Sean: Yeah now the lights twinkle, like it was so stupid.
Dave: You don’t have honey badgers attacking your balls.
Sean: [Crosstalk 00:26:47] So I would love for an actual you know universal dashboard. Some kind of third party to kind of do that for a monthly fee that would be fantastic, but even if just Amazons dashboard got better, that would be awesome.
Johnny: Okay those predictions for 2015 brought to you by…
Dave: Why I have I think this will be the year that Google Play will become more of a player in the eBook world. I see they’re making efforts with their app store; they’re giving out like free albums, like decent albums. They’re giving out free movies, they’re giving people to use their store more, and I think they’re going to do this with books too I feel if they haven’t already started.
Johnny: They certainly have but it’s so by the way. How do you get in there, do you have to do it directly or can you do it through an aggregator?
Dave: Well I go to play.google.com, but you can I mean if you have a Google tablet I do have a Google tablet as well.
Johnny: As a creator though Dave like us, how do we get access?
Dave: Well we haven’t done it yet so, but we’re going to.
Johnny: But is it a direct or can you do it like through like Smashwords?
Dave: I don’t know, I think it’s better to do it direct if you can.
Sean: We should look into that, we should look into that for sure.
Johnny: Well its yeah and I’m not saying that I don’t know, I haven’t looked at it at all but you know we can get into the Sony direct too, but there’s nothing going on at Sony. So I just don’t know how big it is, but I agree it seems strange that Google would ignore that and just kind of let Amazon have the pie.
Dave: Yeah, and I feel like because I follow the tech industry and I think that Google’s install base is getting larger and Apple’s share is starting to suffer a little bit and I think this is only going to continue as you know these companies come up with better android devices that you know you can– because you can use the Google play store from a lot of different devices not just one, and I think the sheer number of devices that will be using this and using it with ease will come into play and I think more people be reading on it.
Sean: I agree with that.
Johnny: I predict that Apple store to counter yours will not get any less shitty, that’s my prediction, though you can only buy through Apple Podcasts and can’t find a proper link, and you have to understand some foreign language…
Johnny: To upload to it. It’s terrible, I don’t know, I predict that we will have a difficult time getting our covers done is another one.
Dave: Covers yeah those are going to be impossible to get done. If only there was somebody that could help you do covers.
Johnny: I know of none, all right what’s our next prediction?
Dave: I predict that 99 designs will continue to become a great– not become continue to be a great place to get book covers done, professional, quality book covers like we’ve gotten.
Johnny: I haven’t heard of this story, tell me more Dave.
Dave: Well in 99Designs you have a contest where you put your idea for a book cover out there and a bunch of different designers will compete to get you the best book cover possible…
Johnny: Like a gladiator style competing or is it to the death?
Dave: They do fight to the death.
Dave: They do fight to the death and a lot of designers have died. That’s probably a bad thing for a business.
Johnny: Because I mean for it not just for the cover but also just to see the support of it all.
Dave: I don’t want to see you bleed. So yes going back to this in so different designers will compete to get you the best book cover possible. We’ve used them many-many times and they really-really in a most recent contest design offer…
Johnny: For Leflore Deblunk?
Dave: Because I don’t really know the market and they have tons of designers there that know all the different markets. No matter what you are writing there’re designers there that cater to that genre and can produce a professional quality book cover for you, something that looks like it belongs on a… but we’ve heard… there has not been a single cover that we’ve done with them where I was like I like oh I could have done better. No, every one of them has been awesome and they are great. And you can get your readers involved too with you know design contest. Let them kind of vote on them you know, who’s going to win. And that gives them…
Johnny: Okay, because I appear to be cut off from the hang out I’ll finish this and just say to start your custom design today at 99Designs.com/spp and enjoy a free power pack upgrade valued at $99. And that power pack up grade will make your contest stand out from the crowd; they’ll highlight it with a prominent background and feature it. You will get more designs that way. So start your custom design today at 99Designs.com/spp.
Man fucking Google. I don’t know if I can– can you guys hear me? So there you go connection difficulties, what are you going to do? I don’t know if it’s me or its Google or what. So what were you guys talking about there with the You Tube audience?
Dave: I was just reading some comments Tommy also said, people who claim you should spend a year or more writing a book like an idiot always believe their own work is literally genius, it never is.
Sean: Yeah or rarely. I think sometimes there are some people who have that opinion. Who do spend that long writing a book and their stuff is very-very good. But you know here is a personal story. I ran into somebody that they live in the city, and we were talking about the difference in their book.
They are a professional author. They are traditionally published and they wrote a book. And they spent about 2 years per book. And I was saying you know like I was being self deprecating, I can never do that, I’m not built to do that, I’m not wired to do that. And this person’s book just came out recently, and I went and I looked at the reviews on the book and there the book got trashed.
Like the book got trashed and has a lot of reviews on it and the average I think it’s like 3.2 stars, and just spent two years doing that. And it’s traditionally published and it’s a respected book supposedly like when it was coming out it had a good premise behind it. I don’t know how well written it is because I haven’t read it you know. And here is somebody from our own community.
So right now I’m reading the Breaker Series. I’m going through the Breaker series by Ed Robertson. And I thought you know what we’ve known Ed for long and I like to check out his book. So I started reading the breaker series. And you know this is actually kind of interesting. This is instructive to the whole audience here is that I didn’t– I’ve never read Ed’s books. So I didn’t know how good they were.
I just knew that I know he is very good at figuring out Amazon Algorithms. His covers look professional you know there his key words are smart. There is all that stuff that does help move books. So I thought maybe that’s some of it. And I’m reading the books. And I’m like no Ed is just a damn fine writer. That’s why he sells books. He has great reviews because his writing is good.
And guess how fast Ed writes. Ed writes several books a year and he is very fast. Ed sells books, his readers love books. He tells of world told story. And you know it’s not too precious. So there is two people that I know whose books I’ve read or actually I didn’t read the other book. But whose books I’ve experience with, whose stories I have experience with in a very short window. And one took a long-long time and it’s not well reviewed. And one was quickly and it is well reviewed and readers love it. So they have it.
Johnny: So do you think– go ahead Dave.
Dave: I was going to read some comments unless you were saying something related to that.
Johnny: Well I was going to wonder if I should change the title to our goals instead of predictions, but go ahead.
Dave: Okay John Oakes left a comment on You Tube. I did the power pack with your link recently and here is the cover that won for my next title. It’s a book called Death Pope, looks pretty damned awesome.
Johnny: I like the title.
Dave: I love that cover. It’s kind of a retro artsy look, I like it.
Sean: Where is it? Where have you seen it?
Johnny: It’s on a You Tube link he has, you can follow it there. It’s a big long ass Facebook thing so I can’t like just say it, so you could write YouTube. Rachael Davis says I checked into it, you can go direct with Google play; I’m not sure about going through Smashwords. Some responses to that Jim Wilbourne says I’ve heard the pros upload pros randomly discounting books without permission.
Sean: Well that’s not good, that will keep…
Dave: That’s true with a lot of people though, Amazon can do that too.
Sean: But I think part of what Dave is predicting here is that Google will get smart about that because Google is a smart company. And if they want to take Amazon’s lunch money they’ll find ways to do it. And you know how Amazon is taking the publisher’s lunch money? By pleasing Indie authors, right? They are pleasing Indie Authors so Indie Authors are you know part of you know KDP select and on and on and on.
If Google was willing to play some sort of ball like that, then they would be very well equipped to do it. It’s a matter of does it fit in with their business model and what they are trying to do? And Dave’s prediction is yes it will be part of their business model and what they want to do. And I think that as soon as they make that decision the game gets better for all of us because look we’ve been saying we don’t like this select has all this power and it makes us worship Amazon.
You know I love Amazon and Amazon is great, but they really are the only game in town for a lot of the stuff that we as Indies want to do. And you know…
Dave: That’s 75% of it.
Sean: Yeah and that’s why we champion Kobo because they are at least trying. Like they are another game in town and they are trying to…
Dave: Well Kobo is the game in town and other countries like Amazon is in the US. So I mean Kobo is big. They are not like small you know moment popular operation. They are big company and they do very well in other countries. The presence in the US is…
Sean: Is dropped by Amazon.
Dave: Yeah. Jim Wilbourne also says I’m hoping that Google Play which with the exception of books I’m not a fan of buys Nook for many reasons which would be good for Google, Barnes and Nobles, Authors and Readers. John Oakes says well I’ve listened to you bustards for 200 hours now I’m now watching live. The way this is progressing I’ll be living in Austin, by next year buying obscene amounts of strawberries.
Johnny: I don’t understand that one.
Dave: I’m not sure. I figured it was some reference to something. One of the books I haven’t read.
Sean: I don’t know [inaudible] [00:38:30] to the wedding scene, Austin’s strawberries
Dave: I don’t know, I’m sure you’ve talked about strawberries or something I don’t know.
Johnny: I just noticed that Tom Hinton linked to the gothsuptrees.net site from our paths.
Dave: Yes. Yeah that’s not our site, this is just…
Johnny: But it is the site that inspired the Goths thing.
Dave: Yeah it is. I do like the Goths so…
Johnny: And in trees.
Dave: In trees, anywhere really Goths anywhere.
Johnny: I feel like we are all over the place today. So are we going to change it to our goals instead of our predictions?
Sean: I have more predictions, but I also have a prediction…
Johnny: If you stuff enough predictions in here then we can get away with the predictions thing and just you know.
Sean: Yeah well I have a couple more predictions, but I do have a prediction that’s tied into one of our goals to which is one thing that we really want to do this year is to develop an app. You know I’m not sure because I want us to dip our toe into that, you know I think we want to do something for fiction or sure at some point. We want to do something for Non Fiction for sure at some point.
I don’t know what one will tackle first but one of those, but I think that authors getting into Apps, again I don’t know if this is next year but I think it’s one of those things that once it happens it will happen. You will see like this author did this thing and this other author did this thing and you will see a slew of it. And the data there is all of a sudden there is too many apps and there is you know it’s reader confusion which isn’t a good thing.
But I think people are getting more and more comfortable with Apps and using Apps and you know I think that this coming year could be the time where really see that start to blossom. And I know for us personally we want to that in this coming year.
Johnny: There you go, all right. So why don’t we move into goals then because I don’t think we have a lot more predictions. And there will be compare goals and predictions.
Dave: I have one more prediction then before we go into goals.
Johnny: Okay there you go. Bustard! We’ll be here for three hours.
Dave: I thought that’s how the show is supposed to be.
Johnny: Well it is but then you sent us a link for the goals and so we are going to do goals, we could have been better organized.
Sean: Okay so…
Dave: Why? This is the end of the year show.
Johnny: That’s true.
Sean: Another prediction I think is and we’ve talked about this a little bit but discoverability. You know I think that that’s one of those billion dollar ideas out there that people are trying to solve. And once they do you know we as authors we’ll really win, but there is no…
Dave: Like the next Bookpub sort of thing?
Sean: Yeah like there is just no great discoverability engine out there. There’s just not. You know we’ve got Amazon’s is the best, but its Amazon’s. And still it’s only good– it’s good by comparison of you know nothing else, no competition. But an agnostic you know recommendation engine that really promotes those books that have buzz around them because readers are reading them and it’s not Goodreads, that’s not what I mean.
Those people are readers and they are– the crowd there I’m not saying anything to spare Jean [phonetic] about Goodreads but you are more likely to find a group of people who think of what should take an year or two you know be written, like that’s– it’s just is more that crowd. You know my sister would be in that crowd…
Dave: So you are talking about an engine that would specifically cater to the kind of books that the customer wants to read?
Sean: Yeah, so I’m not talking about any…
Dave: So if you have a lot of books that takes two years to write then that’s what it will suggest for you if you like you know a pop sort of book that’s quick to write and just full of fun and action, it’ll suggest that.
Sean: Yeah because algorithms are getting better and better. And you know internet engines are getting better and better and better. I haven’t seen one for books; I haven’t seen one for fiction at all. Non Fiction again because it’s key word, I don’t think there is a problem there. I think discoverability on non Fiction is pretty fantastic as is.
But Fiction is a different beast, and you know that is coming. I just don’t know when but oh men it would be an awesome year if it happens in 2015. Like I would love to see some kind of you know big thing happen in the world of discoverability.
Johnny: All right. So you wanted the goals then here, our goals for 2015?
Sean: Yeah, I could talk all day about that but I’ve talked about it, anyone else want to take the ball?
Johnny: Well the first one that– I mean I really don’t want to do the thing where we just recap a blog post. This is meant to expand the pond. But I think this is– and the other thing too and I was talking on a podcast about this the other day not this one. As you listen to goals and as you listen to we did one for the almanac about things we wanted to do for the end of the year and we hit most of them.
Don’t like– take them as instructive as goals and then adjust them accordingly. Because I think that a lot of people are going to look at what we do and they are going to say well how does this even apply to me because I don’t have the big huge company and I’m not doing the same things as you guys are. The more important lesson is to set goals within your own scope if that makes any sense.
Sean: Yeah because it’s really easy to get into the you know compare what’s the comparing type?
Johnny: [inaudible] [00:44:10] I think.
Sean: Yeah you don’t, you just don’t want to do that because you want to take nuggets. You want to say okay well they are trying to accomplish this thing and maybe it applies to me in this way. And as we say in our opening now this isn’t advice because…
Johnny: We actually don’t say that but it is implied.
Sean: We don’t say that?
Johnny: It’s not in the opening. The opening got way-way-way too long I ended up cutting it out.
Sean: Well it should be like it’s implied because it isn’t advice.
Johnny: Welcome to the Self Publishing Podcast, it’s not advice, I’m Johnny.
Sean: Because a lot of what we do is actually bad advice if that’s the way it’s delivered, because you know that we’ll start with the multi genre thing, like it’s absolutely right for our company and the ten year plan that we have. But it’s terrible advice if you are a single author working by yourself trying to quit your day job. You know it’s the wrong route. And so our goals are like that. And also you are going to think that our goals were not born this year.
They are born because we are going into the seventh year of you know doing this in one form or another. You know we’ve been work everything that we are doing, we’ve worked towards for a long-long time. And so we are finally getting into the point where we are going to be able to do some things that we’ve wanted to do for a while, and only now have we you know laid the proper ground work where that’s even possible.
And so I think that it’s really important to realize that you know to look at it with you know some distance and see that this isn’t anything we could have accomplished overnight, and that we’ve been working really-really hard you know couple a 100 hours a week between us for a long time to be able to even make a list like this.
Johnny: In general the thing about goals is it’s also about purpose outcomes like what you really want versus what you’ve been doing if that makes any sense. So you might just go along and it’s like I need to finish this series. I need to finish this series and you just think like that’s what I want, I want to finish this series.
But if you stop and assess and you say what I really want is to sell a lot of books or I want to see my books in Barnes & Noble, or I want to like there are many different aims you can be going for, and if you sort of recalibrate on that it will get you where you want to go rather than just blindly following forward. I think I told the story about when I was working on my PhD and I realized that my reason for wanting to get the PhD after a while was to have a PhD which is the stupidest reason to do all of that. So it’s that sort of thing that can occur and…
Dave: Well did you get your PhD?
Johnny: No I got a year into it and said the only reason I was going for it…
Sean: Oh you are Dr. Johnny now?
Johnny: No the only reason I was going for it is because I had started it. And I just thought that I should. I mean that’s a lot of these things that we are trying to do like our…
Sean: That doesn’t mean you can’t call him Dr. Johnny.
Johnny: You still can and I would actually prefer it. But our goals are– I mean this is a perfect example of what Sean was just talking about, like a lot of people their goals are to make money as quick as possible or something. And our goal actually isn’t that or at least it hasn’t been and it’s to build a wide base. And so it just helps you to focus in on those things. So I don’t want to go in a whole wide set of goals sort of thing. But I feel like…
Sean: But no I think it’s important to frame that a little bit because…
Dave: That would be a good first step episode of the year, goal setting and maybe. I mean that’s when people make their resolutions and stuff.
Johnny: No, we could always shift this one and say here we’ll meet you guys next year for the goals one.
Dave: I got a couple of comments; John Oakes says the strawberry thing it’s from BOU a while back when you talked about the obscene amount of strawberries that the Platt household consumes.
Johnny: They do consume a lot.
Sean: There you go.
Dave: Mel Primrose says I know a few episodes back you guys were talking about going with KDP Select, are you still sticking with that with the advent of Kindle Unlimited? I think in the right circumstances Kindle Select is a great tool. It is for some of our properties more than others and we will be experimenting.
Johnny: I’d like to clarify that we– the way that’s framed you guys were talking about going with Select, I want to frame that. We were talking about experimenting with certain franchises in Select, not about going with Select. We still I mean I’ll speak for myself. I hate Select as a concept. And I feel a little dirty that I want to use it at all because it’s just kind of like I’m playing in the Amazon’s thing with exclusivity, and I like the idea of going broad but that said they do wield the bid camera right now and it would be stupid of us to just ignore it.
Dave: [inaudible] [00:49:05] North Korea.
Johnny: I am.
Sean: Yeah, I actually I haven’t even told the guys that this is for a meeting after our podcast.
Dave: We got a meeting too, good god.
Sean: But I actually thought of a pretty logical way to use it like short stories seem like…
Dave: I was going to do that today actually with the dark crossing stuff.
Sean: Right, dark– that’s exactly what I was thinking. So a good way to use this like here is an example. So we’ve got one of the things that’s coming out next year is we have a new Barisio short and that’s going to you know to our audience. And then basically you can take any short story and you could put that out and you want those borrows, because borrows you get paid for borrows.
And so shorts are a good example because you have them, where they are– you don’t need to be multi platform with those. Those are not your murky titles, they are not your books, they are not your series, they are just they are shorts. And I think that there are some people who like reading the shorts but they don’t necessarily want to buy them. But if they are in unlimited and they know your name and they like you and they just want that quickie, like okay I’m going to go and read that short story but I don’t want to buy it. It’s just so perfect for that and you get paid regardless. I think shorts and we like writing shorts, and we have shorts.
And we want to be writing them anyway, so it seems like shorts are very good place to experiment with Select. And that’s the thing about Select. It’s just not a whole say yes or no. You have to really look at not what your goals are but where your outcomes are. What do I want to achieve from putting this in Select. And if that is in alignment with you know your– what you want to do, then I guess it makes sense. But don’t just do it to do it because we’ve done that. We’ve put stuff in select and thought it’s going to do this thing and then it doesn’t perform and you just have to know ahead of time.
Johnny: So what do you want to do with these goals? Do you want to go through them? Or do you want to save them?
Dave: I think we should do it for the first show in January.
Johnny: All right.
Sean: I do like that idea and we are actually– because if we do them now we have to rush through them, if we do them later…
Johnny: We did have predictions is just sort of it’s a wrap party show. We are wrapping 2014 yey! I feel a little like I don’t know that we gave out ton of value on this one, but whatever.
Dave: What? Like we ever give value.
Johnny: I don’t know I just feel like we kind of meandered today because we weren’t…
Johnny: Wait is this a landmark? I feel like we are not doing it right and Dave feels that we did it right, it’s usually opposite.
Dave: It feels good to me; if it feels good it’s right.
Sean: It feels good. I thought we had some– they aren’t see that’s the thing though…
Johnny: I hate it when we have an idea then we don’t approach it that’s all. Like we were going to talk about goals, I don’t.
Dave: I did warn, I did state do we even have predictions because I had one or two, but I didn’t know…
Sean: We had four predictions four.
Dave: That’s enough. Okay predict anything more, get some comments.
Johnny: Do you want to make any predictions about Emjion [phonetic]?
Dave: Emjion commented.
Dave: He says I’ll read it in Arnold voice, welcome to Self Publishing Podcast; it’s not a tumor heh heh.
Sean: I think I’ll make another prediction, I think that next year we’ll see a couple of more home runs, big stories that come from Indie publishing you know everybody knows…
Dave: Like Hugh Hawes, we didn’t have a Hugh Hawes this year, did we?
Sean: Right. Everybody knows Hugh Hawes, but I think that we’ll have another couple of books that just come from– because think about it right. This is a slow build. We’ve had this community for a few years now. And there are people who you know they are getting their stuff out. I think that you could see someone like Ed Robertson.
Let’s use him as an example again, like the Breaker Series could be bought. You know and you know made into something. This is just an example, but I think some big thing could happen from within our community and that elevates us all. And I could…
Dave: It’s going to be Space Shuttle. Your bag is going to buy the right Space Shuttle.
Sean: That would be fantastic. Never ever-ever-ever in a million years, but that would be fantastic because yeah he really does need to make another 1942.
Dave: That was a great movie.
Johnny: It was a great movie.
Dave: Missy Morgan says I agree with Sean as a reader I’m desperate for an easier system of finding books I like. Amazon’s recommendations are very contrived which pisses me off and Bookpub is for deals, I want to find books, books based on what I like not just deals. Roland Denzel also agreed saying that books are often in weird categories are misleading and not detailed enough.
Jim Wilbourne says Google play could be big competition for the Amazon algorithms. Google play already has a music subscription service. It wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to see Google Unlimited, the platform that competes with both Amazon unlimited books and Audible. See they’re audible, I mean Ubber [phonetic] has such a lock on the market. I’d be curious to see if Google could do something with that.
Sean: I would too. That seems a lot harder.
Dave: ODB has a comment; in my recent book searches I’ve seen an obscene increasing number of serials and links to Song of Ice and Fire-style series flooding the market. I completely understand and agree with the marketing benefits of that publishing model, but I personally feel like there is a tipping point for my interest in as a reader and finding nothing but multi book purchases and serial buy-ins. Do you guys think there is a critical mass for the serials as a publishing option?
I don’t think there is enough serials honestly. I think there is a lot of people doing serials wrong. I think there is a lot of people that are like breaking up– well I don’t know if they are doing it now. I know back in a year maybe a year half ago people started like breaking up books and trying to do serials, and serials like started doing well and they would break up a book that really shouldn’t be a serial and that I don’t like. I would love to serials take off because I think Amazon really so far is shit the bet on that but…
Sean: Yeah I agree with Dave. I do think there is a lot of serials out there, but I do use quotes with that. Stuff that is really designed from the ground up to follow the narrative structure of the kind of serialized television that has been so wildly popular in the last you know 5 years to 10 years. You don’t see that that much.
Dave: Yeah and I don’t want to see it like people cashing in like okay I got a book that’s not doing well, so I’m going to take this book and make it in the 10 parts, 15 pages a year and put it on Kindle Unlimited. Yeah if that’s what OD is talking about yeah that’s some shit I don’t want to see and I agree with you.
Sean: Yeah, but I think that that readers won’t stand for that. Like they’ll stand for it for a tiny bit until they feel beaten up and then they’ll walk away from it.
Dave: Yeah and when people stop buying it those books will stop appearing in your awesome box and stuff I imagine and they’ll just kind of gently fade into the good night.
Sean: Yeah I agree.
Johnny: I don’t have a prediction here but I do have sort of a request or wish list item is I would love it if Amazon would let you classify like clean up your author pages. Like I was looking at author pages recently and to have– because we know we did that what kind of Sterling and Stone reader are you post, we did what kind of LOL reader are you, and it forced me to think in product lines.
So like what’s a good example, Yesterday Is Gone is a good one because there is five seasons out. Like you know what kind of Collective Inkwell reader are you post if such a thing exist, you would talk about Yesterday Is Gone the series. You wouldn’t talk about Yesterday Is Gone season one, Yesterday Is Gone season two. Or when you are doing episodes you are doing episode one, episode two for you know the thirty episodes so far or whatever it is.
Like that just doesn’t make sense and it would be nice to be able to say compartmentalize or something like to organize things would be great, but I don’t know that there is much.
Sean: I think that that goes with the dash board thing. I think that Amazon needs to get– they need to continue to keep up in the empty, right? If they want to make it, they…
Johnny: They could definitely sit on their Loral’s and they should.
Sean: Yeah. So giving us more control of our author pages makes a lot of sense, like we want to– we had this discussion recently. We were thinking about what’s the best way to send traffic on this particular CTA. And if we had control over our Amazon author’s page and could you know make it like a landing page you know.
I don’t mean like yellow highlight and a buy now button anything like that, but where we had control over the elements a little more than we do and we could highlight different stuff, then that’s a very powerful marketing tool. And I would be willing to send more of the traffic to Amazon, but as it stands I want that traffic because I want to be able to control the customer experience a little bit better.
Dave: Missy Morgan says great show guys. She also says quite a few Indies have been in the news over here in the UK over the past few months doing really well here. Yeah we are not saying that you know no authors are breaking out and becoming huge. Or basically you talking about if somebody is so big that everybody even outside of their genre knows about them, like everybody knew about Amanda.
Everybody knew about Hugh Hawes and a few of the other ones, they just they break so big that everybody knows their name and they are like in entertainment weekly. And they are the [inaudible] [00:58:55] places that Indie authors generally aren’t being talked about.
Johnny: All right, so are we going to be done then or we’ll do the other thing?
Dave: Better Off Undead up next.
Johnny: Better Off Undead where Dave is going to rant about movies that sounds he is going to rant about the…
Sean: I guess.
Johnny: The interview. All right, so this has been the Self Publishing Podcast…
Dave: This is off North Korea.
Johnny: I like that as a title.
Sean: I like that a lot.
Dave: No, I do not like that as a title.
Johnny: Maybe I get sense through that.
Dave: I do not want to do the target.
Sean: You shouldn’t have said that, it’s done.
Johnny: All right, so thanks for listening to the Self Publishing Podcast. If you would like to get our best advice without all the off topic bullshit be sure to pull the book, pick up our book Write Publish Repeat the no look acquired guide to self publishing success at selfpublishingpodcast.com/wpr. And I should probably have created the link for Fiction Unboxed for the sequel, but I’m loving the initial reaction to that. So thanks everybody and we’ll see you next year. See you in 2015 guys.
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