Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Awful 'Journalism' From Ian Johnston Of The Soon-To-Close Independent

A truly awful piece of journalism appeared in the Independent this week under the byline of Ian Johnston, describing Amazon as Darth Vadar and accusing it of closing down small publishers.

Strong stuff. Totally wrong, of course. No one has done more to help independent publishers than Amazon. Any book published by anyone anywhere can be bought through Amazon. How does that not help small publishers?

So what is the source of this attack on Amazon?


Ah. So the source is a political spin doctor? Hmmmm. We all know how reliable they are, right?

The adviser is Rohan Silver, who is launching his own book shop.

Ah. So the source is a spin doctor who plans to go into competition with Amazon. Obviously a man with an axe to grind. And what better way to get publicity for his new venture than to attack Amazon in public?

Silver even describes his new shop as 'an Amazon-killer'.  Now I know that spin doctors do tend to tell porkies, but seriously? His shop has as much chance of killing Amazon as I have of walking on the moon.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan - and supporter - of book shops (and libraries).  I shop at book shops and I do signings when asked. And I agree that Amazon's discounting and superb customer service has hurt book shops. But the Amazon marketplace is available to all sellers, and offers opportunities for small publishers to sell their wares around the world.

If small publishers are hurting, then let's hear from them. But let's also hear from all the new publishers that have been formed to take advantage of the Amazon marketplace.

I function as a small publisher. I sell thousands of eBooks a month and 90 per cent of them are sold through Amazon. I am not alone. Thousands of other authors are publishing their own work and most sell their work through Amazon. Small publishing operations like ours would not be possible without Amazon. And hundreds of small publishing companies have been set up to help authors sell their eBooks - that would never have happened without Amazon.

This article by Ian Johnston is one-sided partisan nonsense. And it's not even his own work!

You can read Ian Johnston's article in The Independent  HERE

As you can see HERE  it's a rewrite of an article that appeared in The Daily Telegraph. That's all he did. He didn't speak to anyone, and he didn't add anything. He just rewrote what the Telegraph had published.

What would a decent journalist have done? Spoken to Amazon, for a start. Or spoken to small publishers. Or spoken to someone with a different point of view. Or perhaps realise that the 'story' was a nonsense and should be ignored.

Ian Johnston didn't do any of that. He just rewrote the Telegraph article and the Independent published it. Shame on the Independent, but then it's a pretty awful newspaper these days. Readership has slumped to just 40,000 and it will shut for good next month.

Good riddance, I say. It's a pity, because I was a Fleet Street Journalist when The Independent was launched in 1986 and back then it was a terrific paper and I like most journalists admired it for what it was trying to do. Friends of mine worked for it and they were all enthused by The Independent's commitment to fine journalism. But those days are long gone. Now it's staffed by ill-trained youngsters in the main, wannabe journalists who would never have been hired back in the Eighties.

The Independent will continue as an on-line edition, but I'm fairly sure it won't succeed in that form either. Not with journalists like Ian Johnston, anyway.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

The Power Of Amazon

What's the best way of boosting sales of your eBooks? You'll hear people tell you that social media is the key, or blogging, or sending out free copies for reviews.  But the best way by far is to have Amazon promote your work.

My Spider Shepherd books were selected for a blitz promotion on Amazon on Friday, where ten of the books in the series were offered for the bargain basement price of 99p for 24 hours.

The first book in the series - Hard Landing - was already selling for 99p. The final book - Black Ops - stayed at £4.99.

Did it work?  Heck, yeah! Amazon must have worked their promotional magic because within hours all the books in the blitz were in the UK Amazon Top 50 list.

And two - White Lies and Soft Target - were in the Top 20!  White Lies reached number 16 and Soft Target was at number 19.

All the books dominated the Crime Action Fiction category, nailing pretty much all the top slots!

So an Amazon promotion definitely works. The problem is that it's not generally an option open to self-published writers. The Spider Shepherd books are published by Hodder and Stoughton and while Amazon have occasionally offered promotions for my self-published books, generally they prefer to promote books they publish themselves (through Thomas and Mercer etc) or books that are published by the main publishers. There is a downside too, with prices that low, and with the Government (VAT), the publisher, and Amazon, taking their cut, there isn't much left for the writer when a book is sold for 99p! Not that I'm complaining, it's a great way of getting new readers and the promotion had a knock-on effect with Black Ops, which soared up the charts even though it was at £4.99!