$.99 E-Book Specials & Online Writing Class

By Jordan Dane

HarperCollins has been testing the waters of discounting their e-book pricing and it’s my turn. My “NO ONE” series (3 suspense books, including my debut book NO ONE HEARD HER SCREAM) are now available at $.99 for a limited time. Book #1 is a standalone novel, but books # 2 & 3 are a connected story line. They are best read in order.

My debut novel NO ONE HEARD HER SCREAM was named Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2008, NO ONE LEFT TO TELL and NO ONE LIVES FOREVER were selected TOP PICKS by Romantic Times Magazine with NO ONE LIVES FOREVER nominated as RT’s 2008 Best Intrigue Novel.


These books have such a special place in my heart. They bring back so many memories of my first sale and the extraordinary people who helped me. Click HERE for a link to my first sale story. I had to sacrifice a body part to sell and a very generous, well-established author jumpstarted my career.
Over the years, I’ve found the publishing industry has been filled with generous people who I’ve had the pleasure of crossing their paths, either online or in person. I feel very blessed to be a part of such a community so I wanted to bring these discounted books to the attention of my TKZ family.

I’m on deadline with a new YA series for Harlequin Teen (THE HUNTED) so I haven’t surfaced much online. I’m also in the midst of promoting my latest YA – ON A DARK WING (Harlequin Teen, Jan 2012). (Everything happens at once, even if you think you’re planning your schedule. And no one gets a break from the TAX MAN. *shiver*)

I have an online writing class coming up Feb 20 – Mar 3, 2012 also. The Young Adult online chapter for the Romance Writers of America (YARWA) is hosting the workshop. The link for that class is HERE.


I’d like to hear from TKZers. Please share:
1.) Your first sale story
2.) Or what it meant to see your first self-pubbed book on sale
3.) Or what keeps you writing.


The HarperCollins sale links to retailers of my $.99 e-books are below (B&N, Amazon, BAMM, Google EBooks, Kobo, iBookStore & other retailers):

NO ONE HEARD HER SCREAM
NO ONE LEFT TO TELL
NO ONE LIVES FOREVER

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$.99 E-Book Specials & Online Writing Class

By Jordan Dane

HarperCollins has been testing the waters of discounting their e-book pricing and it’s my turn. My “NO ONE” series (3 suspense books, including my debut book NO ONE HEARD HER SCREAM) are now available at $.99 for a limited time. Book #1 is a standalone novel, but books # 2 & 3 are a connected story line. They are best read in order.

My debut novel NO ONE HEARD HER SCREAM was named Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2008, NO ONE LEFT TO TELL and NO ONE LIVES FOREVER were selected TOP PICKS by Romantic Times Magazine with NO ONE LIVES FOREVER nominated as RT’s 2008 Best Intrigue Novel.


These books have such a special place in my heart. They bring back so many memories of my first sale and the extraordinary people who helped me. Click HERE for a link to my first sale story. I had to sacrifice a body part to sell and a very generous, well-established author jumpstarted my career.
Over the years, I’ve found the publishing industry has been filled with generous people who I’ve had the pleasure of crossing their paths, either online or in person. I feel very blessed to be a part of such a community so I wanted to bring these discounted books to the attention of my TKZ family.

I’m on deadline with a new YA series for Harlequin Teen (THE HUNTED) so I haven’t surfaced much online. I’m also in the midst of promoting my latest YA – ON A DARK WING (Harlequin Teen, Jan 2012). (Everything happens at once, even if you think you’re planning your schedule. And no one gets a break from the TAX MAN. *shiver*)

I have an online writing class coming up Feb 20 – Mar 3, 2012 also. The Young Adult online chapter for the Romance Writers of America (YARWA) is hosting the workshop. The link for that class is HERE.


I’d like to hear from TKZers. Please share:
1.) Your first sale story
2.) Or what it meant to see your first self-pubbed book on sale
3.) Or what keeps you writing.


The HarperCollins sale links to retailers of my $.99 e-books are below (B&N, Amazon, BAMM, Google EBooks, Kobo, iBookStore & other retailers):

NO ONE HEARD HER SCREAM
NO ONE LEFT TO TELL
NO ONE LIVES FOREVER

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Writers Tackle the Future – Agents as Publishers?

Writers Tackle the FutureJust as publishing houses are trying to capitalize on the “new frontier” of ebook publishing and redefine their business models, so too are agents. Most recently, Bookends announced its intention to offer ebook services, following suit with Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. Undoubtedly more literary agencies will follow.
Can a literary agent who represents the author (in theory) also be that author’s publisher? Is there a conflict of interest in this arrangement? If you read Bookends and DGLM’s announcements (see links above), they present their case as simply a value added service their agency would offer. Existing clients who wish to navigate the new frontier (without doing it themselves) can delegate the details to their agency for their backlists, short stories to promote upcoming releases or epub works that might not be as marketable. They offer their expertise in editing, marketing, and packaging for their usual 15% fee.
Yes, that’s 15% of all book/unit sales. And since there is no “print run” on a digital novel, this could mean 15% forever if that’s not defined by contract. Authors who have looked into self-publishing know that an author can hire one or more contractors to coordinate the effort of packaging their book with formatting, editing, cover art, and uploading said book into the retail outlets who will offer the work online. They don’t have to do it themselves. (I’ve heard cost figures of $1000 – 2000 per book, but since some of you have gone through this process, please weigh in and share your experiences on costs, level of difficulty, and what you “farmed out.”) If advertising is involved, that’s something an author always has the ability to pay for and do on their own.
If that’s one alternative, that an author hires the work done by third parties, what specifically does the agent bring new to the table in this regard? Arguably, an author can hope their agency brings years of industry experience to package the best product, but beyond their opinion (which they would bring if they represented the author as agent anyway), what value can they add to improve sales without the promo dollars of a publisher’s budget (traditionally only offered to a select few authors or book projects)? What kind of promo is required for ebook sales outside what’s already made available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, etc.? Yes, it would be nice to have the promo budget of James Patterson, but how realistic is that for the average author?
On top of the question of value derived for an agent’s 15% fee, who retains the rights for the work? Yes, typically the publisher would retain rights for a specified time, but if the agent is the publisher, who would be the advocate for the author if the agent representing their interest is now the publisher? And with no print run to determine when an author can ask for their rights back, how will the author ever reclaim their work? Who is protecting the rights of a new author who may not be aware of the pitfalls? Normally that might be the agent, but if they are now the publisher, who then?
Anyone can have an opinion about this. Realtor’s have laws regarding their representation conduct, for example. I worked in the energy industry where third party energy marketing arms had to be totally separate on paper and physically housed apart from its affiliate, the regulated utility. Operating practices had to be auditable and employees had to sign ethics agreements annually that could be grounds for termination if this code of conduct was violated. Enron became the prime example of conflict of interest that defined many of the laws that are in place today.
If this trend continues where agents become publishers, I see much harder issues ahead on contract terms, sub-rights negotiations, fiduciary obligations, and better conflict of interest policies where ebooks are concerned—and AAR must weigh in with specifics since it’s obviously not clear. In the ever evolving world of ebooks, agents becoming publishers is another strange twist. Is this the shape of things to come—another nail in the coffin of traditional publishers—or merely literary agencies struggling to be relevant in a new age?
I’ve had talks with my agent and we’ve addressed strategies going forward. We both see ebooks as a new opportunity for authors, but we recognize that the way deals are negotiated now, that will most likely change. New questions must be explored open-mindedly—for example:

1.) What’s a fair ebook royalty rate? Is 50% a more acceptable industry standard or should it be subject to negotiation deal to deal?

2.) Can a book deal be done where an author retains ebook rights to be leveraged by an agent? Would 15% agent fee be warranted then?

3.) When can an author get rights back in a digital world—from a publisher or an agent?

4.) Should any publisher get only a limited time period to said rights? If so, what royalty value would that have and is the term of the arrangement variable and negotiable?

With the future changing as fast as it is, agents can still add value and provide a real service with regard to foreign sales, audio, film and negotiating print rights on ebooks. I’ve never been much of an advocate for an agent editing a book before an editor gets their input. I hire an agent to be my advocate and negotiator. I don’t want their attention focused on a multitude of revisions with their clients that dilutes their effectiveness in the marketplace, which should be their primary concern. Some agents give editing advice as part of their representation deal, without charging a fee. Below is article 8 of the Association of Author’s Representatives (AAR) Canon of Ethics.

“The AAR believes that the practice of literary agents charging clients or potential clients for reading and evaluating literary works (including outlines, proposals, and partial or complete manuscripts) is subject to serious abuse that reflects adversely on our profession. For that reason, members may not charge clients or potential clients for reading and evaluating literary works and may not benefit, directly or indirectly, from the charging for such services by any other person or entity. The term ‘charge’ in the previous sentence includes any request for payment other than to cover the actual cost of returning materials.”

According to their announcement, Bookends explains that their 15% fee provides their editing expertise as a part of the package. “For the work we are doing with them we are getting paid a 15% commission… we also provide revisions and edits for those books that might not have been published before.” How is this different than a vanity press? And how is this in keeping with AAR’s Canon of Ethics as stated above?

Bookends and DGLM’s announcements justify their 15% agent fee with a list of services that can easily be obtained elsewhere by third parties who aren’t also charged with advocacy on the author’s behalf. In an effort to sound forward thinking, these agencies are ignoring the potential for conflict of interest and undermining the relationships they already have with publishers by competing with them.
Another concern I have are the people querying agent/publishers who are desperate to be represented. If Bookends, DGLM or other agents, find a marginal book that would be a tough sale to a traditional house, they can “offer their services” and take money from people who don’t know better. The countless folks in a slush pile become a gold mine, the gift that keeps on giving. And if there is no a delineation in who offers these services—with a definitive separation of companies—an agent’s existing author clients could get ignored because an agent is too busy cashing in on people bent on being “represented” by a real agent.
On the subject of conflict of interest, agent Jessica Faust in a comment to her Bookends blog post stated, “My feeling is that whether or not it truly is a conflict of interest comes down to how a situation is handled by the agent, and in many ways, that’s for the agent and the agent’s clients to determine.”
What do you think? Should a conflict of interest be done by consensus between an agent and client? Or should more definitive guidelines be established by more objective parties, without a personal stake in the answer?
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The Threshold of Pain

There’s been a great deal of discussion here at TKZ as well as on other blogs and forums about the changes taking place in the publishing industry. Most of it revolves around the rapid emergence and popularity of e-books and electronic publishing, and how it’s affecting traditional publishing. The industry as a whole appears liquid and seems to be changing almost by the day. Many of us are trying to find a stable place to stand as the ground shakes around us.

I don’t have any solutions to present here today. If I did, they would probably be outdated by the time I post my next blog. But I do have some observations.

For over 20 years, I worked in the video postproduction industry. During that time, one of the biggest advances in television and motion picture production was the advent of digital technology. Before high definition digital video, the only way to capture high quality images was on film. Even for personal home use, there was nothing better than standard 35mm film (some formats in the professional arena were larger sizes). For decades, no one envisioned that high quality images could be captured and delivered on any other format than film. (Note that film is still far greater resolution than high definition video). Even with its inherent grain, its ability to attract dirt, its somewhat fragile, easily damaged surface, and its constant weave and jitter through the projection system’s gate, it was as good as it can get. No other image delivery method could match film.

Today, most major motion pictures are still shot on film due mainly to the fact that film, unlike video, has much wider latitude and dynamic range, and still has the highest resolution available. But the image delivery system is changing. Now, original negative is transferred from film to video and color corrected within the digital domain. It is then projected in digital format rather than analog. Instead of individual frames passing through the gate of a projector, the images are retrieved from a hard drive or transmitted via satellite and projected electronically in resolutions up to 4k. It’s called digital cinema. No more scratches and weave, no more prints wearing out or film breaking. The thousandth time the movie is projected, it looks exactly like the first time.

Has the movie-going experience been hurt by digital cinema? No. In fact, it’s been enhanced beyond what the audience even realizes. The image is rock solid, crystal clear, and comes with multiple channels of digital audio for a totally entertaining experience. In most viewers eyes, it’s better than film.

How does this relate to analog vs. digital books? We must remember that what readers get when they purchase a book is a container holding our writing. Just like film and digital files can contain the same images, analog and digital books can hold the same words. An analog or printed book is simply a delivery vessel—something that contains our words and delivers them to our readers.

Remember Kodachrome film? It was first manufactured in 1935 and quickly became the most popular method of capturing and delivering images to the casual photographer. Eastman Kodak canceled production in 2009. Why? Because digital cameras had finally surpassed film as the most popular method of taking pictures. No one was buying Kodachrome anymore. But pictures were still being taken. Only now, the delivery system—the container—is digital files.

Could that happen to books? Maybe. And if it does, it probably will take a long time. After all, it took Kodachrome 74 years to die. But I hold to the theory of the “threshold of pain”. When something new comes along—let’s call it a widget—the first adapters must experience a certain amount of pain in order to try it. As the widget is further developed, refined and perfected, the pain starts to diminish. As the pain continues to decrease, more customers migrate to the widget because they learn of its pleasures and are willing to tolerate or ignore any remaining pain. At some point, the negatives along with the price dips below the threshold of pain, and the widget is embraced by the majority of the audience.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         Here’s an example. Six years ago, I bought a 60” Sony HD TV. They were mostly available in high-end electronics boutiques. Top resolution was 720p. It cost me over $5k. There was a lot of pain in my wallet and the fact that it took months to get any kind of HD into my home. Today, I can get the same size screen at 1080p resolution at Wal-Mart for less than half the price. Hardly any pain. A whole lot of pleasure. And HD TV’s are as common as toaster ovens. The TV is a delivery system. What it delivers is images—or more specific, entertainment.

I believe that as a delivery system, analog books can be replaced if the replacement brings the user more pleasure than pain. If the reading experience is as good or better than analog. If they are reasonably priced. Easy to read from. Easy to use. Massive storage. Unlimited battery life. Unlimited selection of books. Scratch-‘n-sniff paper smell. OK, that last pleasure is future-ware.

Are e-books the answer? I don’t know. But what has happened is that due to the economy, competition, and a shifting marketplace, the electronic publishing flood gates have begun to open. A lot of new widgets are flowing out. The one thing they all have in common is that they are delivery systems. But what they deliver will never change. Our words. Our art.

Are you an early adaptor who likes living on the bleeding edge of technology? Or do you sit back and let others be the lab rats before you pull out your wallet and head over to Wal-Mart?

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Catching the digital wave

Digital book sales, aka e-books, continue to soar.

According to the AP and other news reports, Random House has announced that they are digitizing thousands of additional books. Excerpts will be available online.

This move comes in the wake of the explosive growth of Amazon.com’s Kindle reader, which Oprah put on the map. I haven’t tried the Kindle yet, but if I’m lucky, maybe I’ll wind up on Santa’s list for it this year.

In general, it sounds like the heads of the book publishing industry must read the pixels on the wall and embrace ebooks, or risk becoming that industry’s next version of Detroit’s Big Three.

Of course, buried in the recent news reports about rise of e-books was the caveat that digital book sales represent only a thin slice of publishing’s pumpkin pie–estimated to be about one percent. But I’m old enough to remember when Japanese car makers had only a small piece of the American automobile market. Today, they’re cleaning our clock.

I do love the idea of being able to sample book excerpts and audio books online. That’s a powerful “sales lead-in” that’s going to encourage hard-core hardback book readers like me to jump aboard the e-book wagon.

I think it’s time for all of us to stop mourning the nongrowth of paper book sales, and celebrate the new digital age. It’s the future. Let’s embrace it. For example, last week when I posted, I was freaking out about the changes in the industry. This week, I have decided to reframe my thoughts about the book publishing crisis, and seek out the hidden opportunities in those changes.

Because ready or not, the digital era is here.

So what about you? Are e-books in your library yet? Have you asked Santa for a Kindle?

Update: Speaking of changes in the industry–in the comments, Joe alerted us to the fact that Houghton Mifflin has told its editors to stop acquiring manuscripts. Here’s a link to the article.

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