PictureAllons enfants de la Patrie

The latest round in the Amazon vs Everybody wars is brought to you live from Paris.

Last week Germany began antitrust proceedings against Amazon. This week, France adopted a law that would prevent Amazon from undercutting bookstores by prohibiting free deliveries of discounted books.

France is, to my knowledge, the only nation that has taken such definitive steps to protect independent bookstores.

As writers, we should be following these skirmishes with bated breath. It is not just the publishing industry hanging in the balance.

Large media conglomerates have never worked in our favor, whether they offer favorable terms (at least for now), or not. Mega publishers and mega bookstores have already demonstrated what happens when publication and distribution are restricted to just a few giant corporations. In the long run, Amazon won't behave any better.

Vive la révolution!

French lawmakers adopt 'anti-Amazon' bill

AFP, June 26, 2014

French lawmakers adopted a bill on Thursday that will prevent Amazon and other online giants from offering free deliveries of discounted books, in a bid to support the country's small bookshops.

The Senate gave its approval for the bill, which had already been unanimously backed in the lower house National Assembly, and it is expected to be signed into law by President Francois Hollande within the next two weeks.

The bill bans online giants such as Amazon from delivering books without charge, but still allows them to set discounts of up to five percent, the maximum allowed under existing French legislation.

In 1981 the government ruled that publishers must set a standard selling price for their books in a bid to protect small retailers and set a limit of five percent on any discount.

Culture Minister Aurelie Filippetti welcomed the parliamentary approval, saying it showed "the nation's deep attachment to books."

While the measure adopted on Thursday is not specifically aimed at Amazon, Filippetti has singled out the US giant's practices in the past, attacking both free deliveries and the firm's tax arrangements.

The online retailer reports its European sales through a Luxembourg-based holding company, taking advantage of the duchy's relatively low corporate tax rates for earnings outside its borders.

Amazon insists the arrangement, which has been criticised by politicians across Europe, is legal under the European Union's single market rules.

Filippetti has also attacked Amazon for its "dumping strategy" and for selling books at a loss.

"Once they are in a dominant position and will have crushed our network of bookshops, they will bring prices back up," she said last year.

France is proud of a network of bookstores it says is "unique in the world" and crucial for culture to reach small towns.

The country has about 3,500 such stores—including 600 to 800 so-called independent retailers that do not belong to a publishing house, a chain or a supermarket—compared to just 1,000 in Britain.

Guy Kawasaki is the entrepreneur's entrepreneur. He's also into changing the world, just for the hell of it, and encourages others to do the same.

Book Baby is offering APE for free. (You won't find a better price anywhere.)

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If you are planning on publishing an eBook, this is an absolute must-read. Bestselling authors Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch offer up the ultimate how-to guide for converting, publishing, and selling eBooks

 This book sells for $10 but the authors are letting BookBaby offer downloads for free! (Your choice of ePub, .mobi, or PDF) Guy Kawasaki is the author of eleven previous books, including What the Plus!, Enchantment, and The Art of the Start.

He is also the cofounder of Alltop.com and the former chief evangelist of Apple. Shawn Welch is the author of two previous books, including From Idea to App, and iOS 5 Core Frameworks. He is also the developer of several iOS applications.

The New York Times seems to be enjoying the Amazon vs Everybody wars almost as much as I am. In this latest wrinkle, German publishers have launched an antitrust complaint against Amazon.

While German publishers are joining forces in this antitrust move, let us remember that the largest publishing company in the world, Random/Penguin, is owned by Bertelsmann, a privately owned German company which also happens to control a major chunk of the world’s media outlets.

One of Bertelsmann's corporate divisions, RTL, is Europe’s largest broadcasting and production company. With programming rights in 150 countries, it is currently the largest independent TV distribution company outside the United States. Another of its divisions, Gruner + Jahr, is the largest publisher of newspapers and magazines in Europe, with more than 285 print titles in over 20 countries. Gruner + Jahr also owns Brown Printing, the third largest magazine printer in the United States.

Although it is gratifying to watch the publishing industry attempt to clip Amazon's wings, there is an expression about pots and kettles that immediately comes to mind when German publishers start talking about antitrust legislation.

Amazon Accused by Booksellers of Antitrust Violation in Germany

By Melissa Eddy, New York Times: June 24, 2014

BERLIN — German book publishers have filed a complaint with the country’s antitrust authority against Amazon, accusing the online retailer of violating competition laws and asking the government to investigate.

The complaint, filed last week but announced on Tuesday, comes nearly two months after Amazon began delaying shipments of titles from Bonnier, a leading publishing group in Germany, as part of a dispute over dividing revenue from e-book sales. Amazon is engaged in a similar struggle with Hachette in the United States.

“Amazon’s business conduct not only affects those publishers involved, but poses a danger to all who offer e-books in Germany,” reads the complaint by the German Publishers and Booksellers Association. The group submitted its complaint to the Bundeskartellamt, the federal antitrust authority, on Friday. The document continues: “We call on the Bundeskartellamt to open an investigation and halt Amazon’s actions.”

Read the rest of this article here.

It is received wisdom that writers must actively participate in the online community by participating in discussions, replying to comments made on blogs, posting their view on forums, and so on. These interactions, collectively referred to as "engagement," are presented as requirements for building a profile.

There are scads of articles for how to maximize "engagement" on the net, however, for the purposes of authors, most of these recommendations are completely misguided.

Before I get into why these internet pundits are wrong, let me clarify what that term "engagement" actually means for writers.

Engagement, as a marketing term, means getting someone to buy something or exhibit interest in your product in some tangible way. If you are a writer, engagement means getting someone to buy your book, or write a review. If you are a blogger, it means traffic to your blog. If you have launched an author website or Facebook page, it means having people visit, read your page(s), and make return visits. In short, engagement boils down to numbers.

Keeping that definition in mind, how does it benefit you, as an author, to enter into an online fracas with a person whose sole purpose in life is to annoy people? In fact, some of these "trolls" are even willing to pay for the pleasure of harassing writers. (Read Derek Haines' story here.)  Now, if you were riding on a bus and a complete stranger sat down and starting berating you, you would simply get off the bus. It would be useless to try to argue with them. When someone does that online, it is equally as pointless.

If you are a budding author here are a few simple rules to follow when embarking on "engagement:"

1) If someone makes an insulting comment on a public forum about your book, or anything else you've written, do not reply, even to defend yourself.

2) If someone writes a spiteful comment on your blog or Facebook page, delete it.

3) If someone writes an inappropriate review, personally attacks you, or uses your book for a negative ad campaign, make a complaint. Do not address the "reviewer" directly. (Some of these "reviewers" get paid for driving down the ranking of competing titles by posting negative reviews. Recently, on Amazon, I found 22 identical negative reviews for books on pain management, all of which were posted within a two-day period. I flagged every one of those reviews as inappropriate.)

4) DO NOT post your opinions on blogs other than your own, or any other public site.

5) DO express your thoughts in interviews. Interviews do more to help build your profile than leaving a comment on a blog, and interviews have the added benefit of providing a buffer. (Suggestion: Book reviewers frequently post author interviews.)

6) DO reply graciously to people who give your books a thoughtful review, or who leave good comments, but only if the site is moderated, or if it is your own blog, website, or Facebook page. Reward people who behave themselves.

These two agents are looking for writers. As always, take a tour of the agency's website before submitting. Check out the authors they have represented and which publishing houses they have worked with.
Mary Krienke
Sterling Lord Literistic

About Mary: Mary joined Sterling Lord Literistic in 2006 after receiving her MFA in Fiction from Columbia University. Born and raised in Nebraska, Mary received her BA in Psychology and English from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. She now lives in Brooklyn. Find her on Twitter: @MaryKrienke.

What she is looking for: Mary represents literary fiction, creative nonfiction, and realistic YA that pays close attention to craft and voice. She is especially drawn to new and emerging writers who seek to push boundaries of form and content, and she responds most strongly to writing that reaches great emotional and psychological depths. She is equally interested in work that illuminates through humor or by playing with genre. Her other interests include psychology, art, and design.

How to submit:  If submitting fiction, please send a synopsis and the first three chapters or a 50-page sample. If submitting non-fiction, send a detailed proposal. The queries should be sent to info [at] sll.com with “Attn: Mary Krienke” in the email subject line. Cover letters should be in the body of the email but send the actual submission as a Word document attachment.

Renee Nyen
KT Literary

About Renee: Several years in the editorial department at Random House’s Colorado division provided Renee with the opportunity to work with bestselling and debut authors alike. After leaving Random House, she came to KT Literary in early 2013 to cultivate her passion for YA literature. Drawing on her editorial experience, she loves digging into client manuscripts and helping authors shape the best story possible. You can follow her on twitter @Renee_Nyen.

What she is looking for: Young Adult and Middle Grade fiction. "I'm always interested in YA historical fiction, mystery, sci-fi, and thrillers, but genre is not as important to me as strong prose and compelling characters."

How to submit: Please submit a query letter with the first three pages of your manuscript pasted in the email to queries (at) ktliterary.com. If she likes your query, she’ll ask for the first five chapters and a complete synopsis. The synopsis should include the full plot of the book including the conclusion.

Graphic novels, or, as they were formerly known, comics, have always been popular among teens. But the publication of MausPersepolisWatchmen, and other contemporary graphic novels has launched this medium as a literary genre of its own.

Tie-ins and film productions based on comic book heroes have driven this genre into the lucrative mainstream, nonetheless, the alternative comic tradition still invites creative thinking, and imaginative writing. Some of the biggest names in the graphic novel industry still welcome submissions.

As always, read the publisher's submission guidelines very carefully before submitting.

Drawn & Quarterly is currently the most successful and prominent comics publisher in Canada. It was founded in 1990 by Montreal resident, Chris Oliveros, who was only 23 at the time. Drawn & Quarterly has a strong reputation in the comics community and its anthologies have won a number of Harvey Awards. The publisher has a reputation for the quality of the books it publishes, both in terms of content as well as the books' paper, binding and design. Submissions: "Drawn & Quarterly welcomes submissions for consideration in a number of our publishing venues. We have a seasonal selection of general graphic novels, strip collections, and children's focused publications. We do not review scripts." Electronic submissions accepted. See full guidelines here.

Top Shelf Productions is an American publishing company founded in 1997, owned and operated by Chris Staros and Brett Warnock. The company is based in Marietta, Georgia, Portland, Oregon, and New York City, New York. Top Shelf publishes comics and graphic novels by authors such as Alan Moore, Craig Thompson, James Kochalka, Andy Runton, Jeffrey Brown, Nate Powell, Alex Robinson, Jeff Lemire, and Matt Kindt. Submissions: "Regarding submissions, we're easy. Just send us a xerox copy of what you'd like us to look at (or a URL link), and enough postage if you want the materials returned to you. Just please do not attach and send image files to our email addresses. Also, we cannot accept scripts or plot synopses, unless they are accompanied by a minimum of 10-20 completed pages (i.e., fully inked and lettered comic book pages). We prefer to respond via email, so be sure to include your email address with your submission." Read full guidelines here.

Dark Horse Comics was founded in 1986 by Mike Richardson in Milwaukie, Oregon, with the concept of establishing an ideal atmosphere for creative professionals. Dark Horse publishes many licensed comics, including comics based on Star WarsAvatar: The Last AirbenderBuffy the Vampire SlayerAliensPredatorMass EffectDragon AgeConan and Who Wants to be a Superhero? Dark Horse also publishes creator owned comics such as Frank Miller's Sin City, Mike Mignola's Hellboy, Stan Sakai's Usagi Yojimbo, Gerard Way's Umbrella Academy, and Michael Chabon's The EscapistSubmissions: "Dark Horse still welcomes your submissions, and all submissions will still be reviewed, just as they always have been. The only difference is that submissions can no longer be mailed back to the sender. The reason for this change in policy has primarily to do with the growing number of submissions; Dark Horse simply does not have the resources necessary to respond individually to each submission. Submitted samples are often kept on file for future reference, but only those creators for whom Dark Horse has immediate work will be contacted." Dark Horse requires a signed submission agreement. View full guidelines here.

Image Comics is an American comic book publisher. It was founded in 1992 by high-profile illustrators as a venue where creators could publish their material without giving up the copyrights to the characters they created, as creator-owned properties. It was immediately successful, and remains one of the largest comic book publishers in North America. Submissions: "Image Comics only publishes creator-owned material! In other words, we want to publish YOUR comics—we aren’t looking to have you work on books that WE dream up. When you’re submitting stuff to us at the home office, we expect it to be something original, not something utilizing existing Image characters. Image Comics accepts only PROPOSALS for new comic series or graphic novels, etc.WE DO NOT ACCEPT writing (that is plots, scripts, whatever) samples! If you’re an established pro, we might be able to find somebody willing to work with you but it would be nearly impossible for us to read through every script that might find its way our direction. DO NOT SEND your script or your plot unaccompanied by art—it will be discarded, unread." Read full guidelines here.

Titan Publishing Group is an independently owned British publishing company, established in 1981.The books division has two main areas of publishing: film and television tie-ins, and cinema reference books; and graphic novels and comics references and art titles. The company is a division of Titan Entertainment Group, which also owns Titan Magazines. The company has a backlist of over 1,000 graphic novels. Submissions: "The majority of our graphic novel titles are licensed from overseas publishers or acquired through agents. We do however publish a growing number of originated graphic novels. We run portfolio sessions at comic conventions where your work may be reviewed. We are interested to hear from writers and artists who would be interested in working on licensed projects we have already contracted. Please send initially a brief synopsis and covering letter only, not a full manuscript." Read full guidelines here.

Archaia Entertainment, LLC is an American comic book publishing company established by Mark Smylie in 2002. Mark Smylie formed the company as a home for his comic Artesia because the publisher, Sirius Entertainment, wanted to print the third series in black and white. He realised he might as well publish other titles and early titles included Mouse GuardRobotika and The Lone and Level Sands. Submissions: "Submissions for graphic novels are more than welcome, and we will be looking for works that enthrall and excite us, that strike us as having a unique take or perspective on a medium, story, character, or genre. While we’ve primarily published works in the adventure, fantasy, horror, pulp noir and science fiction genres, we are interested in passion projects, works that are driven by a creator’s unique vision and voice, and so authors are invited to submit works of any genre to us. For graphic novel creators, please note that Archaia does not generally put creative teams together for creator-owned titles (i.e., we do not pair writers with artists), so submissions should only be for book and series proposals that have finished art pages already available." Read full guidelines here.

Fantagraphics Books is an American publisher of alternative comics, classic comic strip anthologies, magazines, graphic novels, and the adult-oriented Eros Comix imprint. Many notable cartoonists publish their work through Fantagraphics, including Jessica Abel, Peter Bagge, Ivan Brunetti, Charles Burns, Daniel Clowes, Roberta Gregory, Joe Sacco, Chris Ware, and Gilbert Hernandez and Jaime Hernandez aka the Hernandez Brothers. Submissions: "Fantagraphics Books publishes comics for thinking readers - readers who like to put their minds to work, who have a sophisticated understanding of art and culture, and appreciate personal expression unfettered by uncritical use of cliché. Fantagraphics will practically always reject any submissions that fit neatly into (or combine in a gimmicky fashion) the mainstream genres of superhero, vigilante, horror, fantasy, and science fiction. While some of our publications are suitable for young readers, we do not publish children's picture books." Read submission FAQs here.

PictureHe's brawny, and she's ... flexible

Digital Book World has recently analyzed some statistics on romance book sales in Europe. It is not surprising that romance/erotica is the top-selling genre. Sex sells. (Freud didn't really need to teach us that.)

What is interesting is that 1) ebooks dominate, which means, 2) Amazon, Nook, and Apple dominate, which means, 3) lower-priced books dominate.

In this genre, readers go for cheap titles, which means self-published ebooks outperform their traditionally published counterparts. In short, self-published romance writers actually stand a chance at success.

If you are a romance, writer click on the link below for your top resources.

Top 6 Sites for Romance Writers

Romance Ebook Sales Stats From Europe: Dominance and Submission

Digital Book World, June 9, 2014 | Gareth Cuddy

In a genre full of dominance and submission, we rip away the bodices and lift the masks to reveal the truth behind the sales figures.

Figures from the Book Industry Study Group (BISG) in this report from late last year highlight that romance/erotica is the top selling ebook genre and has the largest gap in digital vs. physical shares. That report also explains how Amazon, B&N Nook and Apple have 95% of the market between them, heavily skewed in Amazon’s favor. Dominance and submission, anyone?

The first thing that pops-up when discussing the romance and erotica genre is the impact of self-publishers. It is particularly strong in this area and has turned this genre into probably the most competitive space. It’s a honey-pot for avid readers and self-published authors – a match made in heaven if ever there was one!

Read more here...

Reader's Digest recently announced that Andrea Hurst was opening her doors to new writers. Andrea is an established agent with a good track record. Make sure you go to the site and read the submission guidelines carefully.
Andrea Hurst, President of Andrea Hurst & Associates, is reopening submissions this summer to unsolicited queries from June 1 – September 1, 2014. Andrea Hurst is an established agent with over 25 years experience as a published author, developmental editor for publishers, and skilled literary agent. Her clients and their books have appeared on the Oprah Show, Ellen DeGeneres Show, Good Morning America, National Geographic network and in the New York Times.She is not always open to submissions, so this is a rare opportunity.

What she is seeking: “I am looking for upmarket, book club women’s fiction, commercial women’s fiction/romance (contemporary or historical), young adult fiction, and most areas of nonfiction (authors with a substantial platform who have already developed a solid, highly polished proposal – this includes memoirs, health/wellness, business, self-help/personal growth, memoir, cookbooks, pet books, spirituality). As of 2014, we are now accepting middle grade contemporary fiction as well.”

How to submit: Submit by Sept. 1, 2014. No attachments. Absolutely no phone calls or regular mail contact, please. E-query andrea [at] andreahurst.com.

For those of you who are not following the Amazon vs Everybody wars, you are missing the prize fight of the century. Amazon's hard-ball tactics are part of its bid to take over the world.

I am not joking.

Amazon has monopoly on its mind, in a very big way. Now it is using its platform to deny pre-orders of Time Warner videos, including the hugely popular Lego Movie.

If you can't figure out what is happening, let me sum it up for you: 

1) Amazon cornered the Internet market on sales of electronics, media, etc. by offering lower prices, a greater share of royalties for self-publishers, fast delivery, etc. 

2) Amazon then used its expanded platform to make unilateral changes in book pricing agreements, forcing publishers to reduce their wholesale prices to Amazon, while Amazon maintained its retail prices. This resulted in losses for publishers, especially the small ones, reduction in royalties for their authors, and increases in Amazon profits. 

3) Publishers objected. Authors objected. Stephen Colbert objected.

4) Amazon delayed releases of books by the publishers who'd objected, delayed shipping, and pulled pre-releases, which normally garner a huge percentage of sales, while simultaneously offering other "equivalent" and/or cheaper products.

5) Competing retailers started offering the books that Amazon had blacklisted - at a discount. Walmart rakes it in.

6) Amazon pulls Time Warner videos.

Why should you pay attention? 

If you are a self-published author using Amazon as your primary outlet, and are doing so because you get the lion's share of royalties along with a great platform, I can guarantee you that as soon as Amazon knocks out all of its competitors your share of royalties will plummet.

And there will be nowhere else to go.

Amazon Stops Taking Advance Orders for ‘Lego’ and Other Warner Videos

New York Times, By David Streitfeld , June 10, 2014

The Everything Store is shrinking again. Amazon customers who want to order forthcoming Warner Home Video features, including “The Lego Movie,” “300: Rise of an Empire,” “Winter’s Tale” and “Transcendence,” are finding it impossible to do so.

The retailer’s refusal to sell the movies is part of its effort to gain leverage in yet another major confrontation with a supplier to become public in recent weeks.

In a standoff with the Hachette Book Group, Amazon is refusing to take advance orders and delaying shipments. Amazon and Hachette are wrangling over e-book terms. The retailer is in a third standoff in Germany, with the Bonnier Media Group.

Disputes between retailers and vendors happen every day. What is unusual here is not Amazon’s relentless desire to gain margin from its suppliers, but the suppliers’ growing resolve to hold the line. If other suppliers adopt the same attitude, that might have significant implications for Amazon’s pell-mell growth.

The confrontations indicate that Amazon’s long-stated desire to sell everything to everybody might be taking a back seat. The biggest book release in the middle of June is the new J. K. Rowling novel from Hachette; the biggest movie is “Lego.” Amazon is basically telling its customers to go elsewhere for them, which is a very un-Amazon thing to do.

Read the rest of this article here.

Sam Baker says the short story is the perfect literary form for the 21st century, and I agree with him.

Between texting and tweeting, attention spans have shortened to almost microscopic proportions. We can't even B bothered 2 write whole words anymore, let alone sentences.

So, why exactly is this good news?

Well, those who are accustomed to getting to the point quickly (short story writers in other words), can now have their moment in the sun. Amazon is publishing short singles, and so are some of the romance and sci-fi publishers.

After you have finished reading why Sam Baker thinks this is the ideal time to be a short story writer, click on the link below and start submitting! 

Top 5 Online Resources for Short Story Markets

The irresistible rise of the short story

By Sam Baker, The Telegraph - May 18, 2014

There’s no doubt about it, the short story is having “a moment”. It started this time last year, when Lydia Davis, not so much a short-story writer as a short-short-story writer (some of her tales are only a sentence long) won the Man Booker International Prize, a decision that took the literary world by storm.

When Davis’ triumph was followed by a Nobel Prize for the Canadian short-story writer Alice Munro, people started to mutter that something significant was afoot. While two successive prizes could be coincidence, the renaissance of the short story was confirmed when the American George Saunders won the inaugural Folio Prize at the start of the year for Tenth of December. Something of a writer’s writer – beloved of Zadie Smith and Jonathan Franzen – Saunders was catapulted into public view and on to the bestseller lists. And with him – blushing as it cast off its “Who? Little old me?” mantle – went short-form fiction.

Read more here ...