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Messages - TobiasRoote

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Facebook groups: can someone please...
« on: December 13, 2017, 06:42:57 AM »
I've just copied an image off Facebook. It's exact size is 820 pixels wide and 335 pixels deep.

However, to get it to be the exact size without movement left, right, up or down it turned out to be 600x315 pixels, but you will lose about 30 pixels from the bottom of the picture. I put white space in. (Actually I fine tuned that to 600x313 pixels and it comes out exact and you need 45 pixels of that as white space at the bottom which gets eaten behind the bottom margin.)

Writers' Cafe / Re: We Need A Platform of Our Own
« on: December 13, 2017, 05:09:14 AM »

Side-loading is not easy and convenient enough to too many consumers and so the rate of adoption of any new service will stagnate or fail to reach a high enough number from which to build a highly successful platform.

The easiest (yet still insanely difficult and insanely expensive) method would be to entice readers to give up their Kindles for another device with your new ebook sales platform full of curated content built in. That way they could easily download content directly to their device seamlessly instead of fiddling with differing formats, etc.

Basically, tons of readers already use a device to which they're accustomed and already easily load content onto. The new device would have to be amazing enough to convince enough readers to part with that current beloved device. The user interface would have to be the 'EASY' button personified. AND THEN, should you manage to pull off that minor miracle, your store's curated content available for sale would have to be good enough to keep those customers in your eco-system.

So, no, it may not take millions to set up a site, but if you're relying on side-loading to carry your business model, you're in trouble because side-loading is not the 'EASY' button that you'd definitely need to attract enough consumers to your site to make the entire endeavor worthwhile.

What's needed is a bit of lateral thinking. We can't beat Amazon (nobody wants to even try, and I don't blame them). However, there is another option. It would work out a lot cheaper to build an app (or have it developed) to download from any site directly into your ereader. It can't be beyond the abilities of someone out there. You would then charge an annual fee for providing the service to author websites and make the reader-end of the app free. It could carry book adverts for the free version, upgrade a small amount to lose the ads. If you knew what you were doing you could make the product ubiquitous in a very short timeframe.  That would then free authors up from being tied to kindle-based products or 'other' such. We only use .mobi to get onto Kindle Maybe epub is a better way to go across the board (eventually). If we bypass Amazon, (I agree the sideload is an issue) then the app developer only has to stay ahead of the curve to ensure their downloader remains topdog and if it extends to audiobooks, music etc., then it represents a wide market that could be immensely profitable to them leaving the authors to just install the app on their sites, and users to install it on their ereaders.

Writers' Cafe / Re: We Need A Platform of Our Own
« on: December 12, 2017, 10:48:42 PM »
For the record, I've got fifty years of making every mistake possible in tech startups, from the first successful gee-whiz software house startup through turning around and managing the (then) 3rd largest computer services business in the US, to my own three web-based startups. I was one of the first designer/builders of massive online commercial operations.

I understand the desire to have an alternative to today's combo of AZ and the relatively useless platforms. I, too, was sorry to see ARE succumb to whatever succumbed it.

I could write a very long and, through the tears, funny book on e-commerce tech startups. I won't since there's no market for it. But I will offer a few fact-based pointers:

1  The entire point of investing in a tech startup is to sell out in hopefully less than five years for a great deal more than one invested. On the order of at least twenty times more. Any startup that cannot project this kind of payout this fast will not attract the capital needed. Authors who may hope such a startup can offer them a better deal than Amazon does should realize that this alternative is going to be either sold off or folded in five years or less.

2  I've dealt with the Angels and VCs, raised serious money. If someone offers them an investment proposition of an online bookstore, they would laugh. They are afraid of Amazon, folks. Why would they try to do something that even the omnipotent Apple and overpowering Google won't seriously try? Even if they could imagine a payback of twenty times the investment? They won't because they can't.

3  Speaking of money, I see all the stuff being tossed around in this thread, so let's get grounded. Assuming one has developed an essentially self-funding business plan, the venture would require about $3 million in seed money, another $5 million round A, B, etc money, plus from $10 to $25 million more to get the business to the IPO or sellout stage. I have developed a dozen such plans. Anyone who wants to dispute these estimates is free to do so, but I won't bother responding. I offer my experience FWIW to KBoarders, no charge.

I must add that those who say such a venture would require "100 million dollars" or more do not appear to realize that this venture is NOT a truly high tech undertaking. 80% of the investment will be in marketing, not "technology".

4  Building and operating an online retailing enterprise is hellishly hard. It takes great, smart, dedicated people to do it. One hundred hours a week or more. These are not people who care a whit about the stuff being sold. These are people who care ONLY about selling it smarter, faster, and cheaper than the other guys do. And they expect to be paid well in excess of 200K per year plus a big stock payout come IPO or sell-out day.

5  KU is a huge barrier as many have noted. If I were stupid enough to try this project, I'd exclude fiction authors who place their books in Select. How would we ever know them all? Good question. Would there be enough quality books left to make a rich catalog? Yes.

6  I'd also require authors to agree to let the site handle promotion. If a book is good, then there is a market for it. But authors generally don't know how to reach it. They opt to write in over-stuffed "genres", instead. They go along with Amazon's game since they think all the people who want books are looking for them on Amazon. This rationale benefits only Amazon and the top-most authors in the big-volume genres.

Is this clear? We'd take the entrepreneurial risk! If a book passed our vetting process, we'd get it sold, period. (Because we'll know where the audience is, of course.) Would most authors accept lower commissions for no risk? LOL, look out for the mob!

7  I'd pay authors a reverse-order commission based on sales volume per title. Meaning a book with fewer sales gets a lower payout. This is the only way to earn enough fast enough to pay for the massive audience aggregation needed to hit critical mass. I'd put a ceiling of 50% on a strong-selling title. I'd also let the author opt-out *at that level* from our in-house promotion program, and make perhaps 10% more commission.

8  I'd build-in best practice customer support and author servicing. I happen to be an expert in this specific area, so know it can be done in a manner that adds profitability. If one says customer service is a "cost", then avoid them.

9  I'd seriously consider a membership plan whereby readers pay a nominal fee to get the best deals and freebies each month. We want readers who value our books and who value our service.

10  I'd use a new kind of reviewing approach. The one I have in mind is patentable so I won't detail it here. I make the point solely to emphasize that the reviews area is Amazon's main vulnerability, along with the high % of utter trash in KU, and the sheer stupidity of its "discovery" scheme for readers.

and, speaking of service, this:

This, for serious readers, is at the heart of our problem. A new book sales platform without its own curation scheme would be a waste of time and money.

I'm not addressing the many strong points of Tobias Roote and others as to the barriers facing such a venture. Amazon would surely react if it looked like being successful. Nor will I add more negative comments regarding the likely failure of a coop-style ownership plan.

No, I'll stick with the point made at the outset: assuming such a venture was funded and implemented, and succeeds, what will we self-pubbers do when it is sold out from under us in as little as three years?

Finally, Julie and her many fans will note I've failed to address her enormous point, namely, why would consumers opt for this alternative to Amazon? Most, I concur, will not. But the very same Jeff Bezos who would scrooge us all down to a quarter-cent per "page" is the one who, with Kindle, has unleashed a tsunami of literate people. No one is asking how these readers will want to consume e-materials three years from now. My thinking is very much focused on this question, and how to serve the coming need better than Amazon does, or can, with its rickety operational scheme in books.

So long as one platform dictates the rules of the game, those are the rules by which we must play. Those who see "going wide" as an alternative to being an AZ pawn are actually still in the Bezos game since his company has effectively blocked any other platform from becoming a sizable, effective, author-friendly competitor.

My own answer is to focus on books for intelligent adults and forego the mass-market pap. One of my hobbies is demographics, and I know that the hundreds of millions of readers with brains out there are frustrated at not readily finding the material they want. Googling simply brings up the popular trash that "ranks". Ditto with Amazon. We'll only be serving these people. Then, we'll be executing a plan that lets us add sales from our own site when the remaining problems are overcome and[/b][/b] when we have a large enough list to exploit this capability. I'm expecting to ultimately see 25% of revenues from these "direct" sales, 25% from Amazon non-Select, 25% from KU/Select titles, and 25% from the other platforms.


I'm putting this in my folder of 'sage advice' for when I need reminding. :D

Writers' Cafe / Re: We Need A Platform of Our Own
« on: December 12, 2017, 08:46:09 AM »

It's funny, google and zon are currently at war. Zon refuses to sell google products and google now refuses to let youtube run on zon products.

hehe. Everyone is in a big  p*ss ing match as they want to lock customers into THEIR ecosystem. Although, zon started this war from what I can tell. It's in keeping with deranking spiking books (which impacts bub more than anyone else).

Th sooner Jef [] off to Space the better for everyone. :P Isn't that why he keeps him self 'ultra fit' so he can jump into one of his ships and  [] off to Mars?

Edited to remove profanity. Drop me a PM if you have any questions. - Becca

Writers' Cafe / Re: We Need A Platform of Our Own
« on: December 12, 2017, 08:31:27 AM »
Nothing. The comment wasn't directed at the little app.

Aaah! OK :D

Writers' Cafe / Re: Buy Buttons - Advice Wanted
« on: December 12, 2017, 08:18:01 AM »
I'm tinkering with this. I've save the Books2read logo and am turning it into a button. On my website I'm going to be installing it as a 'buy' button. The first time a reader selects a platform option they will be asked if that is their preferred option. The next time they click on one of my Books2read buttons it will take them directly to the platform of their choice - a single click from my website to my book on sale.

It's not a sophisticated option, but is achievable for most amateur web developers.

Writers' Cafe / Re: We Need A Platform of Our Own
« on: December 12, 2017, 08:02:03 AM »
Frankly, I'd be pretty happy if Apple and Google, who already have the $$ and the infrastructure, would just step up and take ebooks seriously. At least then we would have some healthy competition.

This, in an ideal world would be the short term answer. The problem we all have is our dependency on others to resolve our problems for us and take away the pain of making a living by promoting us over everyone else and favouring us over all others. Amazon works because people can write and forget, write and forget, [repeat]

Bookbub will eventually support this I think and will include links directly to the authors web site (provided they are ecommerce enabled) rather than just the big publishers.

I've said in other posts that Bookbub may be the answer to Amazon's dominance. Your idea would be workable if ecommerce sites were standardised, and I'm not sure it's doable without BB getting an affiliate rake-off. Lots of progress to be made there before it could work, IMO Although I'd love BB to do some work in developing their own platform as well as D2D who is quickly getting there.

Writers' Cafe / Re: We Need A Platform of Our Own
« on: December 12, 2017, 07:53:56 AM »
That's the one item of inconvenience that separates Amazon's one-click operation from others. When you register your Kindle with Amazon, it knows how to send files without asking the purchaser for the device's email address. I'd guess that the typical user doesn't know the e-mail address and doesn't know how to find it.

You can also simply send the file as an attachment to an e-mail message. No app required.

Not sure what your problem is - its an Amazon kindle app - they do it all when you use your login details to register it in the same way as your Kindle.

Other device providers have similar operations. Sending your file to a Nook, Android, iPad, etc., gets into some tricky side-loading. Tricky to the uninitiated, that is. The developers of the system being proposed will certainly need to learn how to implement something to compete with all the various one-click interfaces. The number of potential customers will decrease exponentially as the degree of user difficulty goes up.

Most people using epubs tend to know how to download on their mobiles or tablets. At least most of the people I know do. It gets easier all the time.

But I think it's a great idea.

ETA: Upon reading Julie's post, which is spot on, I withdraw my implied support of this idea.

I'm not sure what [if anything] this little app has got to do with Julies post.

Writers' Cafe / Re: We Need A Platform of Our Own
« on: December 12, 2017, 06:35:50 AM »
In order for a business to succeed, it must fill a consumer need. What is the CONSUMER need? How would this service benefit CONSUMERS? What benefit does the service offer that would justify a consumer changing their shopping patterns and shopping at this site?

Outside of the lack of a clear CONSUMER-FOCUSED reason for this site, let's talk about the type of "business partners" indie authors are.

There was a time that there was a vibrant ebook ecosystem with lots of small, mom-and pop estores that catered to niche markets. Amazon did not kill them. YOU ALL DID. Indies killed them by going exclusive with Amazon and starving them of content. Indies killed them by only listing with other retailers so they could list for free and make Amazon price-match. Indies killed them because indies never supported sites outside of Amazon. And it is only now, years later, when they are beginning to realize "Wait a minute, Amazon really is not our friend?" that all of the sudden they want someone else to do all of this work to build a new site to pander to them.

Why would any sane person want to build this site when half the people clamoring for it expect it to be NOT FOR PROFIT so they can make more money? Why, as a business person who is about to invest a huge amount of time and capital in creating and promoting this new infrastructure, would I want to deal with potential business partners who think I should be working for free or next to nothing just so they can keep 80-90% of the sale as opposed to 70%?

It seems like folks want this fantasy altruist who is independently wealthy and has a lot of free time on his hands who, for reasons of the "public good", decides to fund this website and do all of this work for no financial reward? And half the people saying they would support this site would drop it in a heartbeat the moment Amazon tweaked the Select fund pool to increase revenue by 1/2 cent a page read.

Meanwhile, these "indie-focused" sites pop up all the time. And they fail...all the time. Because the reality is that it is not fiscally feasible to sustain any retail site without a plan to make money. Nobody who creates these sites ever actually thinks through the basic overhead of maintaining the site and assumes all of the authors are going to do the work of driving traffic to the site. That is why they fail. They set up this bare-minimum infrastructure based on what AUTHORS want, with no regard to what CONSUMERS want, and then expect all of the authors to promote the site and drive traffic to it. But the authors don't because they are all still driving traffic to Amazon.

Do you know why Drivethru is still going strong? Because they always had a plan to make money, and all of the tools they created are designed to make it easier to sell to consumers. They are not "indie-focused." They are "consumer-focused." Drivethru goes out and promotes itself to its core demographic. Those guys attend conventions and actually network with hobby shops that send traffic to them through affiliate programs (customers buy core books in the store, and then go to Drivethru to buy supplements that aren't available in print).

But doing that kind of stuff takes money, and according to some people in this thread, Drivethru doesn't deserve the 35% cut they take for what they do. They should be working for free, I guess.

Geez! I so like this post, but there's no button.

Writers' Cafe / Re: We Need A Platform of Our Own
« on: December 12, 2017, 05:49:07 AM »
What is the name of that app?

When you want to send a file to your kindle, or someone else's. you right click on the file and click 'send to kindle' it then gives you the options and it's that simple. The app send the file via your registered kindle's email address and moments later it's available to download onto your kindle.

Writers' Cafe / Re: We Need A Platform of Our Own
« on: December 12, 2017, 02:29:15 AM »
No one said anything about making big bucks, or growing fast, or competing with Amazon on their scale, or destroying Amazon, or any of the other things people seem to want to credit to Hollis. All she did was broach a subject that's been going around for a while so people could discuss it.

Nobody is being rude, blunt yes.

AND you will need to make big bucks [relatively speaking], because its not going to be cheap to setup and run. As you quoted my comment, but missed out the list of things that would need to be done, I assume you just wanted to make a small point. The 70% royalty would be realistic because you can't have something for nothing in this world. If you want success you need to pay for it. A $2.99 book sold at 10% royalty gives the site owner about 20 cents. 250 books a day gets him/her $50 which is $1500 a month. Out of that $1500 there is site fees, programming costs, merchant fees, advertising, promotion, graphic designwork, SEO, etc. ,etc.,  Not much (if any) left as income.

The fact is that you can go about this in two ways.

You can play at it which means it will fail, or you can be serious about it and still probably fail. Most online ventures fail. They fail because people get involved on a wave of enthusiasm, don't realise how much work/money/time/effort is involved, get upset when things don't explode into growth and success, get bored at the lack of activity, frustrated at the results of their promotion and marketing, and sit there wringing their hands when the site goes down and they don't know who, or what killed it.

Nothing wrong with keeping your feet on the ground and discussing this all in real terms.

Writers' Cafe / Re: We Need A Platform of Our Own
« on: December 12, 2017, 02:01:49 AM »
Aside from all the above, isn't "side-loading" into a Kindle device a relatively tricky process? (For people used to a One-Click Purchase/Delivery system). Would this idea exclude the majority of Kindle owners? How much of the market does that represent? Amazon's greatest strength is that ease-of-purchase GUI. If it could be more easily replicated, a lot of authors would be more interested in selling direct from their own websites.

Amazon have a lovely little app that sits on your PC, or in Chrome browser that will flick a file straight into your Kindle, or all your kindles. It will even save it to your Amazon drive without any extra effort. It's not difficult and yes, it does mean that people should be able to sell from their own websites.

Writers' Cafe / Re: We Need A Platform of Our Own
« on: December 12, 2017, 12:17:13 AM »
I'm not romance, but I think this discussion is worth having because it indicates that authors generally are increasingly frustrated at the actions or the lack of action/reaction from the big game players (Amazon, Google, Apple etc.,) None of these companies are interested in what authors think, or do, so long as the titles keep coming and they can use them to serve their other markets.  In this case ireaderreview makes a ton of valid points and people should read them carefully because anyone considering entering the market in this way is going to HAVE to deal with every one of them. That said, I do think it is viable and doable, but don't expect to make big bucks, or grow fast because it's not that easy or cheap to do.

You need to make the decision to do it
You then need to figure out how
You need to construct a gameplan based on your research
You need a domain, a hosting platform that can manage largescale traffic
You need to build a website that is scaleable
You need to entice authors to you and give them something for their trust
You need to find the readers who will buy from you - lots of them
You therefore need a few payment providers (PayPal, Payoneer, Skrill, etc.,etc.,)
To do this you must become a legal entity for tax purposes etc.,
You need to then pay heavily for promotion to build a mailing list of buyers
You need content to bring them to your website, not just books but all kinds of interesting genre related information
You need to provide 24/7/365 support because everywhere is opening time somewhere in the world
You also need the support and patronage of big named authors and you can't afford to let ANYONE down

I could go on.

There are two things that are relevant in the above list. The first one is it's all down to 'you' and the second is 'how much will all that cost before you even open the door to sellers or buyers'

This is a GREAT idea and good discussion, but be realistic. Authors are authors, programmers are programmers and websites don't manage themselves, they go down to bad coding, get hacked by allsorts, get attacked by competitors using blackhats and taken down by constant DNS attacks. If they survive that they are sabotaged by the big game players who don't want the competition generally by inserting trojan horse spies into the mix and ensuring lots of bad press evolve around the company.

All that said, you could possibly grow enough to be a niche platform that doesn't hurt anyone enough to be bothered and that's probably the way to do it. Keep small, under the big boys radar, grow your base, save your money, develop your systems, become a small, but solid operator, then after a few years quietly increase your market share.

The thing about the romance sector is there are a lot of prolific writers who are very enthusiastic and will probably support your venture, but it isn't going to be an easy ride and they will need to support the site with 100% commitment for 'you' to succeed. You will need a ton of goodwill.

That's just my opinion as a "web developer, hosting company, IT company person" [retired] :D

Writers' Cafe / Re: Calling all science fiction authors: 2017 survey
« on: December 10, 2017, 10:46:21 PM »
Why is income capped at 50K and number of books at 25? You're losing a lot of data at the upper end.

show off! :P

Writers' Cafe / Re: Findaway Voices as an audio alternative
« on: December 10, 2017, 12:42:49 PM »
I agree with your point that the website could be better.

Doing a side deal with a narrator might well be cheaper, but if you haven't worked with that narrator before, I would think there'd be some advantages to working within the Findaway system. However, if someone just wanted to use Findaway to hit the other distribution channels not covered by ACX rather than for the whole process, that's also an option.

It didn't work out cheaper Bill, but the narrator got ALL of the money and it was a big difference to him. Findaway is good if you're looking for narrators and as you say, non-exclusive platforms. The danger is that if you go with the major ones which are all SEVEN YEAR contracts even on non-exclusives, then you're committing yourself to a partnership with FINDAWAY for that long. I think that's a MASSIVE commitment at 10-20% of your royalties when there's nothing beyond the narrator selection in the company. So, if you sell a thousand books over the next 7 years at 25% of $20 that's $500-$1,000 your giving them for nothing that you can't do yourself by dealing directly with ACX or the other big one (name escapes me).

Like I said, I'm disappointed at such a lacklustre backup of an initially brilliant concept.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Calling all science fiction authors: 2017 survey
« on: December 10, 2017, 11:07:40 AM »
did the survey - no answers.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Findaway Voices as an audio alternative
« on: December 10, 2017, 10:18:34 AM »
I'm using them, but frankly they're not up to much. They are great at finding you narrators, and good email support. However, the website suffers from a lack of investment in time and effort - it doesn't do much and what it does do it really doesn't do well. There are no restrictions (which is great), but there are NO RESTRICTIONS - which is frankly amazing!

An author can do deals with the narrator and sidestep Findaway. Unethical? No! Because Findaway have not even tried to tie down the narrators or the authors. They just made over $400 on an intro - not bad money?  but where are they now? I've got a book out there which is in process of publishing, and they sent me an email telling me who is taking it (well some of the platforms), but there is going to be no listing of sales on a daily or any day/week basis. A monthly report by email apparently. Not good enough.  I will continue to use them to find my narrators, but will do deals directly where I can.

If I ever saw a golden opportunity thrown away, FINDAWAY is IT!

From what people re saying the man has too much work already and bombarding him with emails asking about testing are going to make things worse. Suggestion. Why not let the business run (limp) with those on board letting everyone know how it goes and the rest of us keep to the sidelines and await further development. This is either going to work really, really well... or not.

I like the idea, but........ $49 a month????

Writers' Cafe / Re: Removing ads
« on: December 09, 2017, 03:17:38 AM »
Can I suggest adblocker. I don't get ANY ads :D

Writers' Cafe / Re: Will Book Report help in this case?
« on: December 09, 2017, 01:18:23 AM »
Book Report only displays what Amazon's KDP reports does. If it ain't there, it ain't on it.

Writers' Cafe / Re: OCD or what?
« on: December 08, 2017, 02:07:11 AM »
the dratted ';' is a pain because the spellcheckers don't pick it up 'EVER' where it's been incorrectly substituted by fat fingers. They shouldn't put the darned thing next to the '  The only way to find it is to do a book wide search on ';' and check EVERY SINGLE INSTANCE. Who has a lifetime to do that?

Writers' Cafe / Re: Do you italicize foreign words?
« on: December 06, 2017, 08:10:15 AM »
Yes, I use italics if I'm using a foreign language in a book - in short instances it can work very well. However, I've just finished reading a trilogy where there is a French MC and every piece of dialogue she speaks is in French, (then in brackets, the English translation in italics). It threw me out of the book the longer it went on (which was a long, long time). So, yes, use italics (as much as you need), but play down the actual foreign language as much as you can. Think of your reader who doesn't care if you can speak like a native, or not.

98 seems a bit iffy to me. Their landing page is 'amateurish' there's no contact information, no 'about us', or 'anything at all' that subscribes to the possibility they are 'legit' I'm not saying they aren't [legit] but if they are they don't know a lot about self marketing that's for sure. You click the link and it goes nowhere, does nothing. My browser tells me not to trust them.  My gut tells me they're a scam. I will wait until people tell me they 're okay before I even consider them as an option. As said further up. It is just as easy for you to create ten adverts, split test them yourself and save yourself $49 a month. (that's FIVE FREE DAYS of advertising !!!!!)

Writers' Cafe / Re: AID Fund (Authors in Distress)
« on: December 05, 2017, 12:18:49 AM »
I interact with authors and readers quite a bit on my own social media platform. Quite often by being 'friends' I get to know of their own personal issues. Some of them are suffering, sometimes I help out, but choose anonymity in the donations. I will privately promote a book if I think it will help. Often I 'buy' the book because I 'know' it will help. I'm not saying this to solicit attention for my deeds, but to point out to everyone on here that if you want to help people do it, but creating a fund to do so isn't the answer. Most people have a PayPal account. If you feel inclined to help ask them how best you can do so. Charity (because that's what it is) is a private matter and I think the ones that really need your help aren't necessarily going to be the ones that ask for it. Personally I would never contribute to any joint funding organisation because at the end of the day I don't want percentages going to fund organisers or 'admin costs'

Writers' Cafe / Re: Are you publishing a novel for Christmas?
« on: December 03, 2017, 01:30:13 AM »
I'm releasing my audio book for Christmas. It's going through the process of publication now.

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