Thursday, May 5, 2011

Ask PZM May 2011

Q: With all the changes in the entertainment industry (such as movies available to download via Facebook) and in the publishing industry (such as imminent demise of Borders), what do you think the future holds for book authors? 

A: The one thing we can be sure about is that, with all this change happening, there will be major impact on what opportunities book authors have for the extension of books beyond traditional publishing or self-publishing.

The April 21st Wall Street Journal had the article “Cheapest E-Books Upend the Charts” by Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg.  The article began:

“The nation's largest book publishers are facing increasing pricing pressure on the digital front as the number of cheap, self-published digital titles gain popularity with readers seeking budget-minded entertainment.

“ Inc.'s top 50 digital best-seller list featured 15 books priced at $5 or less on Wednesday afternoon. Louisville businessman John Locke, for example, a part-time thriller writer whose signature series features a former CIA assassin, claimed seven of those titles, all priced at 99 cents.”

Perhaps the most important information in the article is how Locke isn’t interested in New York publishing houses.  Currently he can decide for himself what and when to publish, something that probably isn’t an option with a New York publishing house. 

But he has hired a literary agent “to field movie offers and deal with foreign publishers interested in releasing his books overseas.” 

Based on the information in the article, I plan to use Kindle Direct Publishing for my novel adaptation of two screenplays about Lt. Commander Mollie Sanders that I wrote with my husband (see  I want to try an experiment publishing this only on Kindle and see what happens.  (I first have to finish the adaptation.)

Here is one very important thing we all need to be aware of whether we self-publish, publish with a small publishing house or a large publisher:

We need to keep as many of the rights connected to a book – present and future – that we possibly can.

If delivery platforms are changing practically at the speed of light, as authors we want to be able to take advantage of these new platforms.  And even in self-publishing we may not have all the rights we think we do. 

I self-published my novel “Mrs. Lieutenant” through Amazon’s BookSurge, which is now folded into Amazon’s CreateSpace.  I thought I kept all the rights myself.  But do I have the right to change the Kindle price to 99 cents?  (I’m in the midst of finding this out.)

Whichever way you publish your books, be sure to read the contracts very, very carefully.  (A lawyer who specializes in book contracts is probably a good idea.) 

You don’t want to discover that a new delivery platform has been developed but you can’t take advantage of it because you gave away the right that would have allowed you to do so.

O brave new world!

© 2011 Miller Mosaic LLC
Phyllis Zimbler Miller (@ZimblerMiller on Twitter) has an M.B.A. from The Wharton School and is the co-founder of the social media marketing company Miller Mosaic.  You can learn about her fiction and nonfiction books at her Amazon author page at
Mrs. Lieutenant is now available on Kindle for 99 cents:


  1. Interesting post. These are difinitely changing times for authors and publishing.

  2. Thanks, Susanne. It's hard to keep up with all the changes. It'll be interesting to see what happens next. Have a great week.

  3. Great post. Lots to think about. Times are a changing! Thanks for sharing.
    C.K. Volnek

  4. Thanks for stopping by, Charlie. Have a great day.

  5. These are certainly changing times with all kinds of new opportunities.

    At the moment my business partner and I are working on helping to publish a fantasy book by a 92-year-old woman -- THE EDNALOR MYSTERIES -- through CreateSpace. It's so exciting to be able to do this for her!

  6. That's so kewl, Phyllis. Who wouldn't feel good helping someone who's probably survived so much. What an inspiration.

  7. While I see that the WSJ is still in the business of slurring all e-published authors as self published amateurs, it is advisable to bear in mind that not all self-published writers are equal.

    The material produced by mid-list conventionally published authors who have self e-published works their publishers have relinquished, and non-fiction self-publishers who have real credentials for their works, is far from the general run of self-published fiction writers who have never even met an editor. For awhile I tried writing reviews for an online site and in the interests of fairness accepted a number of self published works -- most of which turned out to be excruciatingly painful to read.

    Chris H.

  8. I think that's why word-of-mouth continues to be so important to an author. Promoting has to incorporate reader reactions plus somehow add the merits of paying for a book by an unknown self-published author. But if I can buy good books for 99 cents, I'm going to jump at the chance.

    Thanks for the comment, Chris. I think poorly written self-published novels will always be a problem. It's a shame they didn't care enough to get the help of a good editor.

  9. Appreciate the info here, thanks ladies! There's always something to keep an eye on in publishing, isn't there?

    Happy Mother's Day!
    Have a great weekend,

  10. As someone who many years ago taught copywriting courses at Temple University Center City in Philadelphia, I catch a lot of errors in books published by major publishers.

    But I would agree with Chris that self-published authors often do not take the important step of getting their manuscript reviewed by a good editor.

    Fortunately, the 92-year-old woman is very literate.

  11. Thanks for stopping by, Karen. Hope your Mother's Day is very special.

  12. I agree, Phyllis. Having a good editor is so valuable to an author.

  13. Hi Bang, Thanks for stopping by. Your photos are stunning.

  14. Talk about the changes in the publishing world -- here's the first two paragraphs of the May 7th Wall Street Journal article "Three Publishers Aim to Sell E-Books Directly to Readers" by Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg:

    "Three leading book publishers are developing a website to sell physical and digital titles directly to consumers in a bid to widen the distribution of books as the number of bookstores in the U.S. continues to decline.

    "CBS Corp.'s Simon & Schuster Inc., Pearson PLC's Penguin Group (USA) and Lagardere SCA's Hachette Book Group are investing in the new site, called Bookish, scheduled to launch this summer. The site will allow consumers to recommend books to friends and access a wide array of information about authors and titles, said Paulo Lemgruber, the new venture's chief executive."

    What do you think of this?

  15. As a reader I think it's a wild idea. It's too soon to tell if I still have a range of choices to pick from. As a writer, I like the idea but I'm not sold on the thought that only ebooks are destined to be part of our future. I can't be the only person who still enjoys holding a book, feeling the pages turn. Ebooks are great, but I still miss being able to choose a page at random.

    Thanks for another great post, Phyllis.

  16. I just published an opinion piece about this at -- see

  17. Thanks for letting us know, Phyllis. I'll check it out.

  18. My debut novel, Between, is launching June 1. I published it in print through Createspace, in Kindle format through Amazon and in other ebook formats through Smashwords.

    My main marketing strategy is lining up bloggers to review the book. I have over 140 scheduled for June. Price is important, but I think that word of mouth is a critical tool, even more so for independently published authors.

    Fingers crossed that the reviewers like it now. Ha! :)


  19. Thanks for stopping by, Cyndi. And good luck with your debut novel. !40 reviewers just for June? Good for you. I'm in awe of your obvious energy and fortitude.

  20. Cyndi --

    I agree with Joylene -- 140 blog reviewers in one month! That's incredible.

    And very smart of you to publish in so many different formats.

    I just learned that Shelley Hitz sells a Kindle template that looks very good --

    And I hadn't realized that Smashwords would enable other formats.

    Now I have more to look into!


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