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Writers' Cafe / You'll be able to have a beer at B&N
« on: June 23, 2016, 12:48:27 PM »
B&N's annual report came out and on the investor's call, they discussed the new B&N Cafe, which will turn from a coffee/cakes menu to a "day" menu (regular food service) including beer & wine. The investor's call to me is always worth a listen (linked below and from the B&N investor's page).

Several new concept stores will open later this year.

Nook Press POD to go live June 28. I suppose I should go look at my Nook Press account.

On the numbers, on $4B annual sales, nook YoY loss is $99M with a total company loss of $200M on that $4B in sales. Many analysts asked why B&N doesn't just shutter the Nook operation; the answer was sort of wishy-washy but they don't want to upset the Nook customers who are also in-store customers. 2M active Nook customers. Mentioned "partnership and other strategies."

Some other tidbits: US total book market is $19B, digital they estimate was $3B in 2013 and consider to be flat. Big cats are (1) coloring books and art supplies, (b) manga & graphic novels, (c) young reader (middle grade).  Bestsellers are maybe only 5% of sales.

Interview with Michael Tamblyn, the CEO of Kobo, on CNBC last month. Sorry if this is a duplicate.

Interesting comment that they are seeing an older demographic on older e-reading customers, and the reason why.

He didn't mention maybe reading glasses...

Writers' Cafe / The youtube video music royalty scam
« on: April 20, 2016, 01:10:11 AM »
Since we're all about the scamming now, I thought I'd share something that's happened to me on one of my videos. I happened to be looking at the list of videos on my youtube channel and noticed that one had been flagged for copyright infringement. The notice says that so and so says that I am infringing their song 'the best happy song ever' (paraphrasing) but they are graciously allowing me to keep my video up. What will happen then is any ads that run with my video get royalty revenue sent to the person who claimed infringement, and if I run that video in my ads, they'll get a slice of my ad fee. I had to contest it and point out my copyright filing of the music in question, which is completely original, and that I have the original mutlitrack recording and the midi files, and about a day later the claimant withdrew their claim.   I've read that there's about 20 million of these claims on YouTube every month. I understand it's fully automated now - both on the claimant's side and on the side of larger publishers (music publishers).

The scam part of this is that you mr. scammer set up your robo-filing system and you spew out say ten thousand phony infringement claims, but always let the infringer keep the video up. Some people like me don't notice, and you pull a few cents from each of them, but if you do that every day, it's real money.

Funny thing is that I have other video that uses licensed music which is already in the youtube music matching system, but it still hasn't matched with my video. There's a process when that happens which is that you send to the artist the registration/receipt from when you bought the license to begin with, and they (the song owner) will clear the track for you. So if you are using stock music in a promo video, make sure you are keeping your license files and receipts and keeping track of what is from what.

Needless to say I find the whole thing to be depressing.

Writers' Cafe / I love you all but what is going on in mythology???
« on: April 08, 2016, 01:07:04 PM »
I think you guys and gals are great.


I notice that  "paranormal" or fantasy fiction with mythological elements that has completely taken over the mythology section of literature in the Kindle store and is taking over the print store.  What I mean is go to the US Kindle books section, then select Kindle Store : Kindle eBooks : Literature & Fiction : Mythology & Folk Tales : Mythology. There's 2600 entries in that category, most of which are PNR.

Basically you can't find mythology books anymore by searching for mythology. Lots of kboarders here. Not much mythology.

Writers' Cafe / 20 million DMCA notices a week
« on: March 29, 2016, 08:59:18 PM »
This article says, if I read it correctly, that most DMCA notices nowadays are filed by bots, and about 20 million are filed every week.

Writers' Cafe / I just might hold a (uselessly trivial) record here.
« on: March 28, 2016, 09:12:49 PM »
I looked on my CD Baby dashboard today and I see that I sold an mp3-CD (via Amazon) to someone in Pituffik, Greenland.

So at 76 degrees north latitude I'm going to claim the record for the most northerly customer sale on Kboards. Any challengers?

Writers' Cafe / Audible Clips gets mentioned on CNBC
« on: March 20, 2016, 08:12:18 AM »
Audible Clips is a new feature on Audible that lets Audible customers post short audio clips from their audiobooks onto "social media." It got a mention on CNBC which is sort of interesting. I'm not really expecting much from this feature, but it's interesting that Audible is getting more media coverage. I must have missed the e-mail that went out when they added this feature (or maybe it's not available on ACX books).

Writers' Cafe / Reader Inserts - is this a thing?
« on: March 17, 2016, 07:35:56 AM »
I have been poking around on Deviantart and I am seeing what's called "Reader Inserts" which is fanfic written in 2nd person. Some is in past tense, some present. "There's a letter for you. You open it."  Is this a new thing now? Is anyone writing this way for publication? I find it to be oddly engaging. It reminds me of playing a really old computer game.

Writers' Cafe / It's National Grammar Day and I missed it?
« on: March 04, 2016, 07:26:30 PM »
One of my professor friends posted to me that it's national grammar day here in the U.S.

linkbait follows

"On National Grammar Day, stop acting like the earth is flat." (was I supposed to capitalize Earth there?) from Dennis Barron's blog at U of Illinois. Worth a read.

Writers' Cafe / Need planets? I got 'em
« on: February 24, 2016, 09:11:51 PM »
I posted a few months ago about learning Blender (a 3D design tool) and so I wanted to share some space-related art. I've been practicing making planets in particular and so if you are here on Kboards as an artist or writer, and need a planet for your next sci-fi cover, message me. 

Still have a lot to learn, but it's kinda fun.

All these are from my deviantart page,

My space girl. You can't have her.

Writers' Cafe / 99 book study 2016 results
« on: February 18, 2016, 11:48:09 PM »
I've posted before that I have this semi-random list of 99 self-published titles that I've been tracking on and off for the past few years. These are mostly titles that have been listed over on the KDP forum and have publication dates from mid 2011 to Jan 2014. I've just finished tallying up data for them tonight.

Of that initial set of 99 titles, 31 have been de-listed or removed, up from 16 titles in 2014 (titles in a smaller sample I'd started tracking in 2013).

Five of the remaining  titles are free, 39 are in KU, and 24 are not in KU (65% participate in KU).

The best sales rank in the paid group is 124,000.

In the KU group, 13% are ranked 500K or better, 28% are ranked one million or better, and 52% are ranked two million or better. Three books had never had a sale (all in the non-KU group).

In the non-KU group, 13% are ranked one million or better and 50% are ranked two million or better. The median value for both groups is nearly identical so it didn't really show a strong difference between KU and non-KU. KU books did a little better in terms of sales rank (and I have no idea how to relate sales rank to page reads) but it's hard to draw conclusions.
The free group however has the best total review count and ranks. The free group (five books) had from 62 to 307 reviews and a free store ranking from 737 to 25,000. Three of those had previously been paid titles with sales ranks from 100K to 300K in Jan 2014. Those five free books collectively gathered 776 reviews, while the 63 paid titles collectively took 350 reviews.

The high total review count in that population for free really surprised me and those five books dominate the readership of this sample group (five percent of the books got about 70% of the reviews). I suppose it shouldn't have been surprising.

Writers' Cafe / Amazon / Facebook / Apple Q1 results
« on: January 26, 2016, 06:48:21 PM »
[edited from yesterday to add Amazon]

Amazon fourth quarter sales up 22% year over year to  $36 billion. Net income is $482 million for the quarter - which means, as usual, that Amazon is barely profitable. Operating cash flow was about $12 billion. Amazon doesn't manage to profit as you know.

Media sales are up 11% in North America for Q4 year over year but down 3% internationally (partly due to deteriorating exchange rates), $7.2B total media sales for the quarter. 

304 million active customer accounts.

One of the interesting stats is that about half unit sales last quarter are via Fulfillment by Amazon.


Facebook reported quarterly results today and they are crushing it. Some highlights to think about when planning ads:

$5.6B quarterly ad revenue, up 57% year over year
Mobile is 80% of ad revenue
1.59 Billion "monthly-active" users (with a B) - users active at least once a month
More than 90% of both monthly and daily active users are on mobile
Users watch 100 million hours of video daily on Facebook.
Facebook lite (for low bandwidth countries) has about 80 million users.
Amazon reports tomorrow.

Apple results

Apple Q1 results highlights from the call and from the supplements:

iPad unit sales down 25% year over year

iPhone sales about even year over year  (unit sales tend to be seasonal and vary a lot quarter to quarter)

Total device base (iPhone primarily) of active users (active in the last 90 days) is > 1 billion. About 60% of that is pre-iPhone 6

24% of quarterly revenue is China, 38% "Americas"

$216B in cash reserves (although much of this is overseas)

They are very cagey about media sales which are being lumped in Services.

The installed base of active devices is very impressive. Not surprised about the decline in tablet devices as the same has been reported for Android based tablets.

Amazon's Q4 report is out on the 28th at 2pm PST.

Writers' Cafe / Lowest... Royalty... Ever.
« on: January 21, 2016, 12:23:02 PM »
Today I looked on my sales report from Google Play for audiobooks (via the CD Baby distribution I have to their music store). I had a couple sales there, which is pretty cool since they don't advertise audiobooks, but I also saw that I had Google Locker royalties.

I had a total of 3 cents, and then I looked at the actual results for the rate, and it works out to 5,000 track plays per dollar. Since a typical audiobook has maybe 30 tracks, that's equivalent to 0.6 cents for an entire six hour audiobook. It means I had about 150 track plays (I can actually see the individual results by track, because they're treated as "songs".

I get about $6 per outright audiobook sale from Google Play via my aggregator. Google Play and Amazon's mp3 store now both price "albums" for download around $10, and the standard royalty rate is about 70%.

Google Locker royalties, as far as I can tell, are like Itunes Match payments for music. The way those work is like this: people can upload their music libraries into their Google Music locker, or their iTunes library. In iTunes, you can upload anything, no matter where it came from and I assume that the Google Music locker works the same way. So to appease the music industry, they treat the plays from the locker as streams and pay streaming revenue.  Such as it is. Which isn't much.

Writers' Cafe / Three million new Prime members in the 3rd week in December
« on: December 28, 2015, 05:44:39 PM »

Lots of interesting tidbits in this Amazon press release.

The sales on the Fire tablet are somewhat confusing as I've read some analyst claims that the device was 0.5% of all sales in December (I can't seem to place my finger on that report at present however). This is the new $50 Fire device.

Basically Amazon had (is having) a great December. Actually I figured someone else would have posted on this by now.

Writers' Cafe / Yet another video trailer thread (with illustrations)
« on: December 28, 2015, 12:16:46 AM »
Yes, this is another trailer thread. The video in the link below was made from the marketing track for my audio dramatization of the Island of Doctor Moreau. So yes it takes some liberties with the story, but that's not the point of this thread.

James Mackey was the illustrator for the sketches. I gave him the details of each of the fourteen scenes and asked for quick storyboard sketches, with separation of the foreground and background. So typically there is a foreground "cell" and a background - he just did these on paper and so I composited them by cutting the background out of the foreground cells in Photoshop and chroma-keying them in the video tool, and then adding a little animation and some colorization to each layer as appropriate.  It was a pretty quick project also.

It's just something different so I thought I'd share.

Writers' Cafe / All your genetic engineering nightmares will come true now!
« on: December 12, 2015, 08:31:48 PM »
For those of you who write genetic alteration sci fi.

There was an interesting article in Science News last week. It was about something called a gene drive. It's a special type of altered gene that has the special feature of being replicated into the chromosomes from both parents of an offspring of an animal that contains the altered gene. That doesn't sound like much. But normally, half the genes are inherited from each parent, meaning that an anomalous gene that doesn't confer an advantage tends to disappear in the population over time. But with the gene drive, the gene will tend to increase into the population until all the offspring have it.

All the offspring.

So if you want to eradicate an entire species, now you can. Or alter the entire species. Not that it's easy, but it's possible now.

Writers' Cafe / Flipkart is a Pandora's box of literature
« on: December 09, 2015, 02:15:35 PM »
I was just perusing the Flipkart site (which is one of the largest e-retailers in India) and I came across this:

"Open up a Pandora's box of literature for you and your kids with all the fiction titles in every language imaginable; instill nurture the love for books at an early stage, which is the greatest gift you can give your offspring, with age-specific book for children and teenagers."

Flipkart, you make me smile.

Writers' Cafe / ACX access for non-US / non-UK authors
« on: December 06, 2015, 04:58:56 PM »
As many of you know, my company, Mondello Publishing, currently focuses on audiobook production, ranging from simple single-narrator titles to full cast audio drama with music and sound effects.

If you are an author in the US or UK, then Audible's ACX program lets you work with a pool of narrators to produce and distribute audiobooks via their parent company Audible, and Audible's distribution partners. Unfortunately rights holders outside of those two countries don't have access. This offering is for authors who would like to produce an audiobook but are not in those countries. We would like to provide this capability for a small number of authors as a way to allow us to better serve the audio book public and to help us capture market data.

What we're proposing here is a simple agreement for "pay for production" audiobooks. In this agreement, we will assist you, the author, at no cost, in posting your audiobook project to a worldwide network of narrators using industry-standard submission sites. We also have a growing number of narrators who we have successfully contracted with before. You select the narrator you want and negotiate pricing. We'll help you work with the narrator to complete the production and ensure that you've reviewed the results and are satisfied.  You'll pay your narrator per your agreement and we'll do a final mastering of the tracks per the ACX specification, perform the uploading of the tracks, and complete the ACX contract terms.  You'll pay us a small one time mastering fee for this work, and, once ACX accepts, we'll pass on 100% of all royalties under $100 per month to you, less any transfer fees. If you make over $100 in a month, we'll take only 6%. Each following year we'll also collect an annual $60 fee, and the agreement will continue for the seven year ACX exclusive period.

For some titles we may instead be interested in fully licensing your audio rights or entering into a different royalty sharing agreement. Those will have to come on a case-by-case basis.

For more info, pm me or email to
info at

-Bruce Van Deventer

Writers' Cafe / Another lousy quarter for B&N's Nook division
« on: December 04, 2015, 05:26:47 PM »
Quarterly report is out today.

Nook sales down 30% for the quarter, relative to last year. Nook operating costs are unsustainable (per the telecon if I heard correctly). Bookstore and Nook back-end to be merged it sounds like. Nook sales (including digital content) are now only 5% of B&N total sales ($890M for the quarter).

Writers' Cafe / Any pencil sketch artists out there?
« on: November 24, 2015, 12:12:16 PM »
Looking for an artist to put together a set of pencil sketches to storyboard a concept for video submission to Amazon studios. There would be a few dozen quick sketches that would be set against existing audio, to highlight basically a 2 hr story into five minutes of video. Message me or post here if you're interested.

Writers' Cafe / M-pesa: a self-publishing gamechanger?
« on: November 22, 2015, 11:42:10 PM »
Here in the U.S., "60 minutes" just ran a show on Vodaphone's m-pesa mobile payment system. "M" for mobile, and "Pesa" is the Swahili word for money. I was pretty impressed on how easily it seemed to work in a "third world" country in which much of the population is un-banked and has no credit cards. The story talked a lot about m-pesa in Africa, which is where it started, how low the fees are (in fractions of a U.S. cent), how low the minimum transactions are (a few us cents) and  how popular it is. Basically it's a mobile payment and banking system run by the mobile phone carrier.

It seems to me that an e-book platform that targets reading on mobile devices (which are becoming ubiquitous worldwide) and uses a payment system tied to the phone system itself, like the m-pesa system, will do well. It could actually be a real social game-changer, too.

M-pesa has been rolled out in Afghanistan, Romania, Kenya, India, and South Africa.

Here's more about Mpesa in Tanzania

Here's the vodaphone mpesa page for India

Writers' Cafe / Amazon physical bookstore in Seattle
« on: November 03, 2015, 09:37:14 AM »
The Seattle Times says that the rumor about the new store in University Village being an Amazon bookstore is true - store opened today. It wasn't a terribly well kept secret.

(update - see spaceship downthread; made using Blender)

Part 1:
I'm looking for a cheap 3D modeling tool to use to make spaceship cover art. Any thoughts? It doesn't have to be fancy; just looking for something to help with perspective and then I can paint over.

Part 2:
What writerly gift is on your Christmas list?

Just in time for Halloween, our full cast audio dramatic adaptation of the H.G. Wells classic is available on a pay what you want basis at Gumroad at this here link:

The price field is editable which is how you pay what you want, which can be 0.

Please leave some feedback about the product presentation and your experience using Gumroad for audiobooks.

Limited to U.S. only.

Writers' Cafe / Amazon reports 23% net sales growth for Q2
« on: October 22, 2015, 01:24:53 PM »
For those of you who follow such stuff:

Amazon reports profit, sales growth, strong results for Amazon Web Services yet again, apparently.

The conference call starts at 5pm EST. Listening to muzak in the meanwhile.

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