One of the things that my husband and I say about publishing is that at least half of what you learned about publishing five years ago is wrong. Possibly more than half.
A good percentage of what you learned about publishing in the last two to three years is also wrong now.
The field of indie publishing isn’t changing as fast as it once did—back then, I’d say that fifty percent of what you’d learned in the last six months was wrong and out of date. The pace has slowed.
But it hasn’t stopped. Things still change regularly.
I wanted to talk about two things that either have changed or are in the process of changing, that you should keep an eye on.
New variables keep being added to the print market.
For example, there’s now a beta program with Amazon that some publishers I know are a part of, that allows them to pre-release print books on Amazon. I assume that at some point, that’s going to be rolled out generally. So a change is coming regarding that.
Then there’s Lulu, a platform that I’ve discounted for a long while because their terms of service (TOS) was so egregious. Now, Lulu has made it easier (NOT easy, but easier) to sell print books from your website using their service. I still have some issues with it, their TOS needs to be cleaned up and the process isn’t easy, not yet. But it’s something I’ll keep my eye on because I’d like a better method of selling print books from my website. Currently, I use Bookshop.org, but that has its drawbacks as well.
Then there’s the whole Ingrams catalog thing.
As of June 1, 2023, Ingrams no longer charges you to either upload your print book or make changes to it. Instead, they’re going to take a percentage of the sales, based on LIST price, not the discounted. (Ingrams requires you to set a discount of at least 35%. But their percentage is based on the price you set for the book, not the discounted amount.)
There are many more options in terms of paper weight if you go direct through IngramSpark. Plus, they do real hardbacks and dust jackets. But if you go through extended distribution on Amazon, you’re still part of the Ingrams catalog. Ditto if you go through Draft2Digital print.
According to the people who run D2D, once they have more people in their print program, they’ll be able to go back to Ingrams and negotiate a better deal for their books. Again, a change to watch out for.
Categories on Amazon
I’m sure you’re going to see a lot about this in the coming few weeks. In a nutshell: Amazon only allowed you to choose two categories for your books when you uploaded them. However, you could email them and request to be put into additional categories, so that eventually, you’d have ten total.
Many people used this to spread their books far and wide. I never did, as I didn’t see the point.
Now, Amazon has decided that all books get three categories, period. They’ll no longer put your book into additional categories if you email them.
Why did they do this? Well, my scrying bowl isn’t that powerful. I speculate that there were a lot of books targeting what they perceived as “soft” categories. If their book was popular at all, they could be in the top 100 of that category without any effort.
The problem is that it made those categories useless for readers trying to find books that should be in that genre. I’m sorry, but Slave to the Alien Hoard is NOT a cozy mystery. Nor is it humorous science fiction, or even urban fantasy. But the author put it into those categories anyway, because they believed they could get some traction there. (And who knows? Maybe they did.)
What will happen now that Amazon is only allowing three categories? Again, my crystal ball is pretty hazy at this point. I figure it’s going to be harder than ever to get those top slots in the popular categories because there’s going to be so much competition. Will the “soft” categories remain soft? I’m not sure. Again, more competition, so it might be more difficult to slip in books that aren’t in that genre anymore.
It’s a developing change, and more will be happening regarding this, I’m sure. And who knows? Maybe I’ll have some thoughts or guidance on the matter, once it shakes out.
For now, if you have books that you haven’t touched in a while, my advice is to go edit those. For me, this last week, every time I edited an existing book, Amazon made me go in and select that third category. By the end of June, my goal is to go through all the existing popular series of ours and make sure they have the appropriate categories.
Though I’m sure this all will change again…
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