Category: On publishing

16 million reasons to get your book on the Kindle this year

By John Yunker,

If you’re an author and your book is not on the Kindle, this is a good year to get it there.

Kindle guru Steve Windwalker cites a market analyst who predicts that 16 million Kindles will be sold this year. If you also count the Kindles that have been sold prior to this year, you’re looking at more than 20 million Kindle owners by December.

Kindle owners tend to be voracious readers. According to the same analyst, there will be 314 million Kindle eBooks sold by the end of this year. This translate to an average of 15 eBook sales per Kindle.

I’m not predicting the death of print books. Not at all. But I do believe that Kindle owners are predisposed to buy books in digital format — and not just because the books are less expensive. Kindle owners enjoy the fact that they can share digital notes from the eBooks they purchase and that they can lend digital copies to friends around the world. These are experiences unique to the Kindle, a reason why there is a group of  Kindle owners who will not purchase a book if it’s not available in Kindle format. They’ll simply wait, or move on to another book.

If you’ve been waiting for a good time to work on getting your book on the Kindle, now is the time.


  Category: On Amazon, On publishing
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An eReader cheat sheet

By John Yunker,

It’s not easy keeping up with technology, as this Best Buy commercial humorously illustrates:

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Consider the eReader.

If you’re in the market for one, you have to navigate a wide range of devices — from the Kindle to the Nook to the iPad.

As publishers, we want our books to be available everywhere, which means across all major eReaders.

With this in mind, we created a “cheat sheet” of the readers we watch most closely. This PDF (which you can download), compares the three leading eReaders (Kindle, Nook, and iPad), as well as the Kobo.

If you’re in the market for an eReader, I would first recommend the Kindle. It’s hard to argue with the pricing, the wealth of books available, and the fact that you can read your Kindle books across a wide range of devices — computer, iPad, BlackBerry.

If you’re a writer and you can only get your book onto the Kindle, you’re in great shape.

Right now, the Kindle accounts for well over half of all eBook sales — possibly as high as 70%.

The iPad, despite its gorgeous full-color screen, does not offer the most extensive or user-friendly bookstore. As this article notes, the Apple iBookstore accounts for only about 10% of all eBook sales. However, if you’ve produced a full-color book, the iPad is an important device to target.

The Barnes & Noble Nook appears to be making positive inroads, particularly the full-color version. A recent NYT article reports that more than a million magazine subscriptions have been sold on the Nook over the past seven months.

And then there is the Kobo, which you might not have heard of. In the US, the Kobo was heavily promoted through the ill-fated Borders chain. But Kobo has recently received a healthy bit of investment and is now focused on expanding into Australia and New Zealand. So we’re keeping a close eye on it.

Given the pace of eReader evolution, this blog post will probably be outdated six months from now. But I still expect the Kindle to be the leader, with the iPad making inroads.

PS: Here’s a NYT review of the latest Nook and Kobo devices.


Is YA fiction too dark?

By Midge Raymond,

We read with interest this Wall St. Journal article on young adult (YA) fiction about how (distressingly, for many parents) today’s YA fiction seems to be getting darker and darker. According to the selection in many bookstores, today’s avidly reading teens can find themselves “immersed in ugliness.”

The part of the article that stands out most to me is this: “Reading about homicide doesn’t turn a man into a murderer; reading about cheating on exams won’t make a kid break the honor code. But the calculus that many parents make is less crude than that: It has to do with a child’s happiness, moral development and tenderness of heart.”

We think about this a lot for every Ashland Creek Press title we publish: How will this book both entertain and enlighten? Will this book  offer something positive in an all-too-often troubling world? Will this book inspire readers to engage with the world in which they live in an optimistic way? This is more important than ever with young adult books.

Our first YA title, Out of Breath, belongs to a genre that teens have been devouring lately. There’s a little romance, a lot of paranormal, and yes, you’ll meet a couple of vampires. It’s certainly not as dark as some teen fiction out there — there’s no serious violence, no profanity, no sex, and no child abuse, self-inflicted or otherwise. And what we hope will surprise readers about this novel is that even amid the darker elements of the story, the book celebrates the earth and nature and shows how we can all connect to it a little more closely.

It’s good to see this article and to know that the tide may be turning — not that we need to create unrealistic, utopian worlds for teen readers but because, as the article notes, “books focusing on pathologies help normalize them.” And it’s not that we should ignore the realities of what teenagers experience — but literature can be one of many ways in which to show them that there is as much light in the world as there is dark.

Amazon now sells more ebooks than print books

By John Yunker,

Amazon announced today that for every 100 print books it sells, it now sells 105 ebooks.

In other words, the ebook “train” has left the station. There is no going back.

As someone with a few thousand old-fashioned print books lining the walls of his house, the success of ebooks is bittersweet. The paperbacks sitting on my bookshelf are not just books but souvenirs; they remind me of where I was when I bought those books, what I was thinking (or not thinking), where I was living. The books themselves are bookmarks of my life.

On a Kindle, a book is, well, largely just a book. But perhaps it is I who is old-fashioned and not the books themselves.

That said, I love ebooks and the opportunities they provide. Ebooks (and Amazon) have provided upstart authors and publishers with amazing opportunities. There has been a changing of the guard among the former gatekeepers.

As publishers, we view ebooks as equally as important as print books. Our goal is simply to get the author’s work into as many bookstores and reading devices as possible. If you have a Kindle, a Nook, a Kobo, an iPad — we’ll be there. If you’re a library, we can be there in either print or digital format. And if you’re a bookstore, we’ll be there in all our paper glory, for those readers who, like us, want books as well as mementoes.


  Category: On Amazon, On publishing
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Ask the Editor: Writing for publication

By Midge Raymond,

Q: Is it better to write something, then seek out appropriate publications, or seek out publications and then try to write what they’re looking for?  Or both? — Sean P. Farley, Escondido, California

A: When it comes to poetry, essays, stories, and any sort of creative writing, I always say: Write what you want to write, first and foremost. (If you’re a freelancer and looking to write for hire, of course, you don’t always get to choose.) But when it comes to creative writing, you must tell the stories you want to tell. For one, being passionate about what you write is the only thing that’s going to interest you enough to 1) stick with it and 2) make it great. And even if you target a specific publication or publisher, unless you get a contract first, there’s no guarantee they’ll publish you anyway — and then you’ve written something that you may not care about as much or that you may not be able to publish elsewhere. So write what you want, always, and then start the publication search.

That said, it’s always good to get an idea of the publications and options that are out there, and this is where the “both” comes in. If you’re planning to submit a novel to an agent or press, do as much research as you can to make sure you’re a good fit. If you’re planning to submit to literary magazines, read and study them; learn what type of work they publish, and this will tell you whether your submission will be competitive. As this LA Times blog post reveals, the big secret to getting published in literary magazines is quite simply to read the magazines.


I wouldn’t recommend tailoring what you write toward any one publication — unless it’s something you’d write anyway — but if you read a lot and are always doing a little industry research, you’ll be in a great position to get your work published. An example: Years ago, I was working on a short story that just wasn’t going anywhere … I had this idea that I really liked but just couldn’t get it done (and believe me, I tried). So finally I set the story aside to give it some breathing room. Then one day, I was reading Poets & Writers and noticed a call for submissions for a short-short contest run by the literary magazine Witness. All of a sudden it hit me: That stubborn story of mine was meant to be a short-short. So I sat down, rewrote it, sent it off, and won the contest. This is not the sort of thing that happens every day (not even every year or two, actually) — but it’s the sort of thing that can happen if you write what you want to write and, at the same time, keep an eye on the opportunities out there.


Good luck & happy writing!