Business, Indie Publishing, Publishing

Blockchain: Will It Change The Publishing Industry As We Know It?

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Recently, I read the whitepaper by The Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) called, Authors & The Blockchain: Towards A Creator Centered Business Model which was published this past spring.  The report was an eye opener in regards to the potential of this latest technology that could change how we do business in almost every sector of the market from finance to yes, even publishing.  In fact, they refer to blockchain publishing as publishing 3.0 in this report.  Now before I move on, I know what a lot of you are asking: Rachel, what the heck is blockchain?  In short, it’s a digitalized and decentralized public ledger that records transactions made in cryptocurrency.  And for those of you not sure what cryptocurrency is, it’s basically digital currency that is encrypted and not issued by a bank.  This makes the currency more secure and cheaper to make transactions.  Blockchain is the software that cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Litecoin were developed on.  I encourage you to read the whitepaper that ALLi published and if you’re still confused about blockchain’s definition, check out this Youtube video created by Simply Explained.

Blockchain either excites or frightens business owners as well as governments with the promise of eliminating middle men as well as making business deals 100% transparent.  Experts believe that in the next few years, blockchain will revolutionize every aspect of the economy.  In fact Goldman Sachs, as well as JPMorgan Chase, have invested heavily in the new technology.  So far only two companies called, Publica and Po.et have launched with the premise of independent publishing via blockchain.  I’m sure there will be more on the way as this technology evolves.

 

The Problems That Could Be Solved With Blockchain

Social media expert Gary Vaynerchuk, predicts blockchain will be the next big thing and offers a warning, “It’s gonna eliminate all your margins…When you make money by being in the middle and the internet and blockchain come along and they’re actually the middle, you’re in trouble.”  In other words, those who don’t provide value (literary agents) will lose in this new business dynamic.  This benefits traditional authors because they get a 15 – 20% pay increase just from this one elimination alone.  Here are more problems blockchain could potentially help all authors with:

  • Copyright Disputes: Products (manuscripts) are time stamped.
  • Piracy: Manuscripts are encrypted, so you can’t strip the DRM from the file.
  • Sales Reporting: Once a transaction takes place the entire ledger is updated almost in real time.
  • Late Payments: Payments are almost instant on blockchain because everyone was preapproved via cryptocurrency.

The Problems That Could Be Created By Blockchain

I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t address the downside to this new technology, and some of it includes:

  • Privacy Issues: The ledger is public and unchangeable so there is no real anonymity.
  • Mistakes: Even the fastest and smartest computers make errors.
  • Consumer Reluctance: There’s no telling if consumers (readers) will follow authors from retailers like Amazon.  Also, there are several prominent voices within the financial sector calling cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, a scam.
  • New Overlords: Though there is hope that this will democratize the industry, there’s also danger in that new companies will monopolize this technology.

The Unknown Variable: The Publishing Industry Itself

Does this mean the traditional publishers will get onboard with this new technology?  Based on their response to the Kindle revolution in 2007, I doubt this will be implemented with any sort of speed.  In fact, I see them kicking and screaming into this new way of doing business.  It will most likely be the indie authors who yet again, load up their wagons and head off into this unknown frontier.  The publishing industry may be interested in the money saving aspect of it, but I doubt they’ll know how to execute.  Let’s be frank, many of them didn’t even know what metadata was a few years ago.

Blockchain has the potential to make things like fraud a thing of the past, and since the the publishing industry is rife with fraud I can see most authors welcoming this new transparency.   For example, in May of 2018, it was revealed that a bookkeeper at a prestigious literary agency had stolen seven million dollars from the agency.  This person had been stealing for years and apparently no one at the agency was paying any attention.  *Cue eye roll*  Also let’s not forget three years ago, when I talked about the case of Harper Lee, whose agent went to her nursing home and got Lee to sign over the copyright to the literary classic: To Kill a Mocking Bird.  So fraud and theft runs deep in the publishing industry and it will only get worse as intellectual properties become more and more valuable.  Blockchain won’t stop people from being shady but it will pull back the curtain and that’s what a lot of publishers and agents don’t want.

However, I believe it will be indie authors who will benefit the most from this technology because blockchain not only offers to make deals more secure but quicker.   The more and more I look at it, blockchain is a positive move for the publishing industry all around, but the question still remains, will we be able to execute?

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Business, Indie Publishing, Publishing, Writing Business

Selling Your Foreign Licensing Rights: What Authors Need To Know

 

Amanda Hocking's Watersong books

Last week, I discussed how to get your self-published book translated using various techniques from hiring contractors to using a royalty splitting website. Today I’ll talk about the next logical step in this journey and that is selling your foreign rights to a publisher. Yes, you can sell your book’s rights whether they be digital or print to a publisher in another country.  Sounds cool huh?  Seeing our books being sold at  store overseas is the dream of many authors.

There are several options that self-published authors have, you can find an agent who can sell it for you, or you can try to do it on your own.  But before I begin, I have one very important question…

Have You Exploited All Your English Rights?

Did you know you can sell the English rights of your book to publishers in other countries? Just as English language music and movies are sold all over the world, so are English language books. So before you go and get knee deep in translations of your work, make sure you’ve exploited all of your licensing rights. If it’s possible to sell your book’s English rights to a German publisher, why not?  In fact, you can sell those rights to publishers in every country on the planet.

Unfortunately, many traditionally published authors stop with selling their U.S. or U.K. rights and that’s absurd.  There are many publishers in other countries that would love to do business with you so what are you waiting for?

Can I Still Shop Around My Book To Agents and Publishers?

Yes, if you’re upfront with your agent/editor there shouldn’t be any conflict. However, you must be specific as to what you’re actually selling them. If you’re selling only U.S. English rights you must make sure that’s in your contract. This is important because many authors are finding publishers doing what’s called a rights grab where a publishing company tries to buy up all your book’s licensing rights without paying you adequately for them.  Sadly, there are many stories of authors who have mistakenly sold all of their book’s rights for a few bucks and that’s just wrong.  A book publisher has no business owning the movies rights to your book!
Here are a just few ways you can license a book:

• Digital (Ebooks)
• Print (Paperback and hardcover)
• Foreign language versions
• Audio
• Movie
• Merchandise (T-shirts, toys, posters, etc.)

Agents

Unfortunately, in some countries it’s necessary to have an agent if you want to be published with a legitimate publishing company. There are some literary agencies that specialize in foreign rights sales and are happy to help you for a percentage of your royalties.  Some of these agents subcontract other agents overseas with whom they split a fee with if a property sells.  There are also literary agencies who prefer to deal directly with publishers.

Doing it DIY Style

Recently, several websites have popped up that cater to matching publishers with authors. The most popular ones with indie authors are Pubmatch and IPR License. IPR License has a yearly fee of $79, while Pubmatch, has both free and paid services.

Both sites are relatively new, IPR License was launched in 2012, while Pubmatch was created in 2009 and is co-owned by Publisher’s Weekly.  So neither site has been around for a long period of time.

However, I have yet to find any decent reviews or testimonials from either site. There are no Hugh Howey’s or Colleen Hoovers that have emerged from these places. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try, I just wouldn’t shell out money for the paid services. Go free and check out the site for yourself then, decide what’s best for your book.

So there you have it, a complicate subject explained as simply as possible. If you have any experience with Pubmatch or IPR License please tell us about it in the comments section. Lord knows, I’d like to know if anyone is having any success.

Business, Legal, Publishing, Writing Business

The Argument For Spending Money: Copyrights

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Image via Pixabay

Copyrights:  Why You Need Proof of Ownership!

Registering your manuscript with your government’s copyright (intellectual property) office is one of the most basic responsibilities of any indie author.  To claim the copyright of any work, one needs legal documented proof from a government copyright office.  Though copyrights are not free, they are much cheaper than hiring a lawyer and paying court fees.  In the U.S., one will run you about $35 in the U.K., ₤39 (for 5 years) and in Canada, $50.  Trust me, it’s money well spent.

What you get is not legal protection but evidence.  Your work is legally yours when you commit it to paper or digital file.  What you are paying for is a paper with a registration number that legally connects you to your book.  When I got mine through the mail, I was so excited that I immediately published my book.  It almost felt like getting a driver’s license.  Sadly, not everyone feels this way about their work and prefer to do things on the cheap which has spawned all kinds of hair brained schemes which could harm an author’s career.

Myths About Copyrights That Will Not Die

  • You can skip the whole legal process by mailing your manuscript to yourself via certified mail.  This is called the poor man’s copyright and no, it’s not true.
  • It annoys editors at publishing companies who want to buy your work.  Do you know what a publisher does after acquiring a book?  They register it at the copyright office!
  • Anything your write down is automatically copyrighted and can’t be stolen.  That’s like saying your car won’t get stolen because it belongs to you, try telling that to a thief!

Still not convinced a copyright is a necessary expense?  Here’s a story for ya: Just a few years ago, there were several people pirating books on Amazon by the hundreds, if not, thousands.  However, when authors reported these people for stealing their work, Amazon asked THEM to prove they were indeed the “real” owner of the property.  Remember indie author stands for independent author.  Nobody’s watching our backs, not Amazon, or anybody else!

I hope none of you ever has to defend a copyright but let’s not base our writing business on wishful thinking.  In the real world there are thieves, con artists and dream killers, don’t open yourself up to being robbed of what’s rightfully yours.  *Stepping off soapbox*

If you want to read more on the subject of copyrights and worst case scenarios check out: What To Do When Someone Pirates Your Ebook