Tyward Books – Building a Legacy of Literacy

My publisher, PDMI Publishing, LLC, is opening a book store on Monday, February 9, 2015.
Yes, a full-line brick and mortar book store!
I can’t wait to visit there and do signings… 🙂

Grand Opening Tyward Books 09 Feb 2015

Book donations wanted!
Tyward Books
7032 HWY 431
Albertville, AL 35950

The Main Premise of Star Wars – A Hard Sell to New York

I recently read a literary agent’s page wherein they commented on the sameness of the YA dystopia queries they were receiving. Specifically, this agent received a large number of manuscripts where the protagonist is an assassin protecting their family.

Of course, authors submitting manuscripts to agents are also mindful of the marketing whims of major publishing houses. The implication here is that over two dozen authors all came to a “realization” that a YA assassin protecting her family would be a good foundation for a solid story, and a “safe bet” to market to agents and the Big Five publishers.

My reply comment suggested that the best, most tense foundation for a story would actually be a teenage protagonist battling a dystopia controlled by her close family member(s). One of my “fanboy” theories about the Hunger Games trilogy is that President Snow may be Katniss Everdeen’s secret grandfather. He banishes his son to District 12 and later has him killed. In a case of perfect karma, that son’s daughter ends up being the leader of the rebellion against Snow’s regime.

I further commented that this specific plot might be a “hard sell” to the Big Five, as evidenced by the agent’s mass of querying authors taking a (literally) more family-friendly route.

The “hard sell” plot = A young protagonist ends up leading a large-scale rebellion against a regime controlled by a close family member their senior.

Q: Would such a plot work?

A: “Star Wars”

That’s right, the basic premise of the original Star Wars Trilogy is now something the pack of querying YA dystopia authors has ruled out, as being too hard to sell to the major New York publishing houses. 😈

Should Barnes & Noble drop the Nook?

You read this post’s title and thought, “My god, Daven must be joking. How could he even suggest such a thing? Even the most die-hard paper book lovers can’t dispute that e-books are the main-volume product of the future.”

A “future” that is already slipping out of Barnes & Noble’s grasp:

Digital Book World: Barnes & Noble Bookstore Sales, Nook Sales Down Over Holiday Period

Nook Media sales declined 12.6% versus a year ago.

Forbes: Barnes & Noble’s Big Problem — and What to Do About It

– Nook is losing money
– Nook isn’t growing
– Nook is sinking when a rising tide is lifting all other boats

LA Times: Should we be crying for Barnes & Noble?

“You say you are closing a third of your physical bookstores over the next decade, all while admitting they are not unprofitable?” Petri writes. “Please listen to yourself.” Petri says she’s afraid Barnes & Noble will give up brick and mortar bookstore in the name of chasing e-book profits.

Chasing e-book profits would make much more sense if they were making e-book profits. 😈

LA Times: The incredible shrinking Barnes & Noble

Barnes & Noble’s retail stores do sell the Nook, but that’s not what Klipper points to as setting the chain apart. He told the Wall Street Journal that less than 3% of the company’s stores lose money — because they’re a destination for people in a way other retailers aren’t. “You go to Barnes & Noble to forget about your everyday issues, to stay awhile and relax,” he says.

So Barnes & Noble is closing profitable bookstore locations to divert the funds to the money-pit Edsel of e-readers? Not a good business model. We all know what happened when Borders outsourced their .com to Amazon. 😈

The strength of Barnes & Noble is that they are a brick and mortar retailer. Period.
The Atlantic: The Endangered Fate of Barnes & Noble

The same newsletter quotes Daniel Raff, a Wharton management professor, suggesting that the pessimism toward the bookseller may be overstated:
[He says that] Barnes & Noble was resourceful in devoting store space to the Nook and has assets that could be utilized. “When you talk ecosystems, it’s not just the digital stuff. . . . The comfortable majority of publisher profits are physical books, and they need distribution.” Indeed, Barnes & Noble’s biggest asset may be the reality that publishers need shelf space to sell books.” Ultimately, he and other observers have concluded that bundling print books with digital versions may be the next phase of bookselling and that would be a plus for Barnes & Noble.

When it comes to e-readers and digital content, Amazon has eaten B&N’s breakfast, lunch, dinner and they are now licking the last few crumbs of apple pie crust off of B&N’s dessert plate. The problem here is B&N’s myopic view from within:

Digital Book World: Revenues Increase for Nook in Second Quarter Even as Losses Mount

Internally, Barnes & Noble leadership is still optimistic about Nook’s long-term prospects.

“The Nook business will scale in 2013,” said Lynch on the call. Helping it scale will be its partnership with Microsoft, which will pay Nook $50 million a year for the next three years as an advance on profits (read: unless there are profits, it’s financing for Nook).

“We expect our two highly acclaimed new NOOK products, and our Microsoft partnership on Windows 8 to further fuel the growth of our digital business…”

If Windows 8 wasn’t laying a Vista-size turd in the marketplace and handing the tablet market to Apple on a silver platter, I might share a bit of their optimism. Having Microsoft throw money into your money-pit does nothing to solve the fundamental problem, indeed the only real guarantee B&N gets here is “three years of life support” for the Nook.

The most important sentence quoted above: Barnes & Noble’s biggest asset may be the reality that publishers need shelf space to sell books.
A considerable percentage of B&N physical shelf space is being occupied by Nooks.
Did the Kindle win the market via physical shelf space allocation?
No.
In fact, Kindle has much less shelf space now that Target and Wal-Mart have decided to stop selling it, but does anyone think this will be a major factor in Kindle’s future?
No.

Barnes & Noble is a brick & mortar retailer. It’s time for them to act like one. People go to B&N to browse printed books, not Nooks.

The root of the Kindle’s success is its online content environment.
Even if B&N wishes to burn through tons of money trying in vain to compete with Kindle continue to sell Nooks, the Nook belongs online.

For the stores, it’s time to replace the Nook space with book space.

Update 25 February 2013:
Barnes & Noble Chair wants to buy retail business

Barnes & Noble’s founder Leonard Riggio disclosed in a regulatory filing Monday that he wants to acquire the company’s stores and website, but not the business that makes the Nook e-reader or the company’s college bookstores.

N.Y. Times: B&N Vs.Simon & Schuster Dispute Said To Hurt Sales

Update May 2013: Yahoo Finance: Ten Brands That Will Disappear In 2014
(note what brand #2 is) 😈

Update June 2013: Forbes: Barnes & Noble Bows To Apple And Amazon; Exits Tablet Business

The Mill River Recluse

Yahoo News: How (Darcie Chan) became a best selling author.

A dozen publishers and more than 100 literary agents rejected (The Mill River Recluse).

It has sold more than 400,000 copies and landed on the best-seller lists.

There’s also Amanda Hocking (Toronto Star article).

She kept writing, kept sending query letters to publishers, and kept getting nothing but rejection letters back.

After “Switch” was turned down (which has become her best-selling book, she says), Hocking looked into self-publishing.

What’s right with this picture? 😉

In my Oct 2nd post The Rejection Window, I said:

By (5-10 years from now), the majority of authors will be likely to e-publish their manuscripts immediately after the traditional publishing industry’s first rejection. Revisions of manuscripts just to fit the ever-changing whims of agents and traditional publishing will increasingly be seen as a waste of time and effort. The implications of this sea change are staggering.

The next watershed event (and this will be epic): Someone will sell 500,000+ e-books without ever having submitted the novel to anyone in the traditional publishing industry.
I can just picture this author quoted as saying, “Why bother? They would have just rejected it anyway!” 😆

Said event would reach whole-new-level epic status if the author sells the motion picture rights and the title becomes a hit movie! 😈

The Rejection Window

One of the most important factors determining the future of the traditional publishing business is what I call “the rejection window.” The rejection window is the length of time an author will keep submitting and revising their unpublished manuscript to agents and large traditional publishing houses.

Before the advent of digital self-publishing, authors’ only real choices were to keep the rejection window open for an infinite length of time, or shelve the manuscript. The traditional publishing world is full of true stories of authors who waited ten, even twenty years before their manuscript was published.

Those stories are now history. No author in their right mind is going to keep their manuscript’s rejection window open for ten years or more. Not when they can self-publish their story as an e-book.

Some authors are already slamming the rejection window completely shut. They aren’t even bothering to submit their manuscripts to agents and publishers. These authors upload an eBook the moment it’s finished.

What will define the future of the major publishing industry is the length of time for which the authors who do still submit manuscripts to agents and publishers will keep their rejection windows open.

In many cases, authors are deciding to keep the window open for a year, two at most. Many authors are already advising their fellow writers to immediately self-publish rejected manuscripts as eBooks and for their colleagues to move on from there and pitch their next books to agents and publishers.

The majority of submitting authors appear not to be following this advice right now, given the massive number of queries agents and publishers are still receiving as yet. Authors’ dreams of getting a $500,000 advance die hard, especially in tough economic times. But what will happen when those dreams finally wither away in the harsh light of reality?

Five, maybe even ten years from now, agents and publishers will most likely still be receiving an ocean of submissions. The sea change I predict is: If the traditional industry rejects a first-time submission, they’ll never “sea” it again. 😉 In other words, if the publisher said “We love your story, but we want you to re-write one of your characters,” few if any authors would bother with such re-writing.

By then, the majority of authors will be likely to e-publish their manuscripts immediately after the major publishing industry’s first rejection. Revisions of manuscripts just to fit the ever-changing whims of agents and large traditional publishing houses will increasingly be seen as a waste of time and effort.

The implications of this sea change are staggering. Novels with traditional market best-seller potential will be rejected for minor deviations from established content formulas, then become successful eBooks shortly afterward. The more this happens, the stronger the case will be for major traditional publishers to accept novels they would have rejected before. The old business model of waiting for the author to re-write a rejected manuscript over and over again will no longer work. This is when the wall of large traditional publishing house formulas will at first start to crack, then finally crumble under the increasing pressure of the marketplace’s realities. The large traditional publishing houses will have to evolve, or die alongside their old business models.

In case anyone thinks my post is pessimistic:
Tech Crunch: The Future Of Books: A Dystopian Timeline

Another great blog post, by one of my fellow RMFW members:
Think Banned Thoughts: Publishing is dead! Long live publishing!

Kristen Lamb – Rise of the Machines: Human Authors in a Digital World