This Week in Indie Publishing

Amazon Has Filed Suit To Stop The Six-Figure ‘Book Stuffing’ Kindle Scam

Some self-publishers slip entire books into the back of their latest ebook, taking a larger chunk of that month’s royalty fund as a result — as much as $100,000 per month.

Last Tuesday, an Amazon subsidiary filed suit in federal court seeking to confirm an arbitration award against British book publisher Jake Dryan and his companies, relating to claims that the publisher’s companies abused Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), the Amazon self-publishing program. According to Amazon Digital Services LLC’s petition, Law360 reports, the self-publisher breached Amazon’s terms by using bots or “clickfarms” to inflate page views and manipulate their ranking. However, the petition also identified another practice in violation of Kindle’s terms: The act of “combining selections of works they had already published into purportedly new books.” It’s a much-hated move called “book stuffing” by the self-publishing community, and this suit is the first indication of a legal precedent against it.

Why is book stuffing so offensive that Amazon filed and won an arbitration case that included it? It comes down to the way the Kindle program pays authors: Through a global royalty fund that is split between all of the self-publishing authors included in the Kindle subscription services. The fund is doled out per number of pages read. Book stuffers slip entire books into the back of their latest ebook, getting significantly more pages in front of their reader’s eyeballs and taking a larger chunk of that month’s royalty fund as a result — earning as much as $100,000 per month.

Read the rest of this story HERE.

The Billion-Dollar Romance Fiction Industry Has A Diversity Problem

Books stacked in a library. The Romance Writers Association issued a statement earlier this week criticizing their own history of excluding black authors from RITA prizes.

Guillermo Legaria / AFP/Getty Images

The romance genre is a juggernaut that continues unabated.

It’s a billion dollar industry that outperforms all other book genres, and it’s remarkably innovative, with a strong tradition of independent and self-publishing.

It’s also an industry that’s been grappling with a diversity problem. The RITA Award, the top honor for romance writers awarded by the Romance Writers of America, was awarded this week, and the organization acknowledged that in its 36-year history, no black author has ever won the prize. According to the RWA’s own research, black authors have written less than half of 1 percent of the total number of books considered as prize finalists.

Read the rest of this story HERE.

The death of the Great American Novel

Photo by Casey Gomez
A few years back, a very troubling commercial began making the rounds on major networks. I don’t remember exactly what was being advertised, but a series of children appeared on screen proclaiming what they wanted to do when they grew up.

“I want to be the first woman on the moon!” one girl exclaimed. This was a fine enough start; Jane Fonda’s 1968 disasterpiece “Barbarella” notwithstanding, having more women in space is something anyone can get behind.

“I want to run for office!” another boy said, sporting the same awful bowlcut that plagued my elementary school yearbook photos. This one was a little more dicey given his hair, but if a Holocaust denier can run for a House seat, so can little Lloyd Christmas.

“I want to write the next Great American Novel!” a third child screamed loudly.

Read the rest of this story HERE.

How Trump Is Shaking Up the Book Industry

America’s literary bubble is rethinking its identity.

A bookstore is pictured. | Getty Images

Donald Trump’s election victory plunged America’s elite, liberal and coastal circles into an identity crisis, as journalists and pundits who had been so sure of a Trump loss grappled with charges of insularity and willful disregard. They penned introspective essays and took deep dives into the statistics only to conclude that they were indeed elite, liberal and coastal.

But in sleek SoHo penthouses, Brooklyn brownstones and Upper West Side cafés, a community that is perhaps the ultimate bubble—the New York fiction publishing industry—is still struggling to come to terms with its isolation. They are asking themselves how literature became so detached from the contours of American life in so many parts of the country. The perspectives of the white working classes and the rural poor, the demographics that handed Trump the presidency in 2016, have been largely absent from the novels printed every year. And as these demographics become increasingly central to the country’s political conversations, the publishing industry is wondering what it needs to do to change.

Read the rest of this story HERE.


New research reports the most popular tomes tend to be thrillers, mysteries, and memoirs.

A customer shops at Barnes and Noble in Rockefeller in New York City.(Photo: Mark Mainz/Getty Images)

Every author dreams of making the New York Times best-seller list. The odds are not good: Over 100,000 new titles are published each year, but fewer than 500 crack the Times‘ tally.

Who writes them? How do they get there? How long do they typically stay? In the journal EPJ Data Science, researchers from Northeastern University analyzed eight years worth of data to provide some intriguing answers.

Let’s start with some unambiguously good news: People are still buying old-fashioned, ink-on-paper books. Over the years covered by the study—2008 to 2016—2,468 works of fiction and 2,205 non-fiction books made the list for at least one week.

Read the rest of this story HERE.

16 thoughts on “This Week in Indie Publishing

  1. That last one does t surprise me as much as I thought it would. Hoping Amazon doesn’t fix the first problem in a way that kills off book bundles too. I mean, a human paid to check submissions with a high page count could catch the issue, but it’s never a human given these tasks.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The final sentence of the Trump article, ‘ “Like actors who feel that they have a responsibility because they are public figures,” he said, “it is time to see more writers commenting on current events through fiction,” ‘ I would amend to read “commenting on history and current events.” Without history, current events lose context, and after all, everything in “history” at one time constituted “current events.”

    No author can be completely objective (such writing would be mealymouthed and boring), but what we don’t need is a passel of novels in which the characters are pumped up with political opinions that have nothing to do with character development or the story arc, just to make the work currently “relevant.” Such writing would be the equivalent of name-dropping, and there’s no place for that.

    What we do need are storytellers who can write fiction that resonates with the human condition: stories that are worth reading, no matter when or where they take place.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Author Inspiration and This Week’s Writing Links | Staci Troilo

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