Marchbooks' Blog

February 2, 2010

Google Book Settlement

Filed under: On Writing and Publishing — marchbooks @ 7:09 pm
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I have been trying to track this issue in several publishing forums that I follow. There has been some heated discussion and passions are running high on both sides of the fence. I came late to the party, perhaps I was two busy publishing our first two books to see what was going on.

I don’t pretend to be completely educated on the matter. Perhaps I am missing some essential facts, but, for the life of me, I don’t see what there is to debate. Apparently there is a great deal of legalese and subterfuge involved in this settlement, but as in most such cases, it can be boiled down to one basic principle. In this case, that principle is whether or not Google has the right to infringe on the rights of numerous copyright holders; authors, publishers and their family members by trying to bind them to what is essentially a publishing contract that they did not agree to and for which they would get little if any compensation for.

As I understand it, Google has taken it upon itself, over the last several months, through their library affiliates, to scan countless books into their system with little or no regard for copyright. Their claim, again – as I understand it, is that their interest is in preserving older titles and protecting them from disappearing from the grid.

I am all for protecting the great legacy of the written word, however, it seems that Google’s motives might not be so altruistic. First, and probably most importantly, it seems that they made only a token effort to confirm that copyright had actually expired on these texts. Furthermore, it seems that, in their fervor, they blatantly stepped on the toes of numerous existing copyright holders. So now, there is this settlement in the offing which basically groups all authors and copyright holders together (regardless of the status of their copyright). Rather than allowing authors to opt-in to this book scanning program, it places the onus on the author/publisher to opt-out of it, promising little or no compensation for staying in and not even guaranteeing that an author’s books will not be scanned if they opt-out. Huh???????? It begs the question – why strongarm people into this agreement? If this settlement option was such an attractive deal, wouldn’t authors and publishers flock to get on board, without the need for coercion or underhanded tactics?

Confused – yes, incredulous – yes, pissed off – yes, yes, yes. I think the idea of a world library database of out-of-print, orphaned (expired copyright) books is a wonderful idea. I DO NOT THINK THAT PROVIDES AN EXCUSE TO INFRINGE ON THE COPYRIGHT OF COUNTLESS HARDWORKING AUTHORS!!!! These are two completely separate issues. Preserving a heritage of printed material which is no longer covered by copyright law is a terrific goal. Usurping the rights of legitimate copyright holders is unconscionable.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I know from first hand experience how much time and effort goes into writing, editing, formatting, publishing and marketing a book. Because of archaic discounts and return policies, it is hard enough to break even in this business. Now, we are supposed to accept that a company like Google can come in and scan the fruits of our labor (based on their unilateral decision and with no compensation) to use it as they like?

It’s not okay for someone to steal a book out of my hands, it is not okay for someone to print my books and sell them without my knowledge or consent and it is not okay for someone to copy my book and use it for their own benefit. That is the essence of copyright law. So, again I say, what is the debate over? Unless I am missing an important part of this equation, Google is attempting to do a major end run around well established copyright law.

If any of you feel that I am missing some facts and would like to enlighten me, I welcome it. If you are an author/publisher who also feels that your rights may be at risk, let me hear that as well. I welcome any and all feedback on this issue.

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November 30, 2009

Putting A Price On Your Masterpiece

Filed under: On Writing and Publishing — marchbooks @ 5:19 pm
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I have participated in many discussions about how to set pricing for your book. There is much talk about ‘crunching the numbers’. Certainly that is an important part of setting a price for a new title. Any publisher (unless they are publishing out of purely philanthropic motives) must look at the cost of the book, discounts being offered and expenditures to date, to know what they should charge for their book. At the end of the day, the numbers must work so that there is adequate compensation for your efforts. If not, you have basically embarked on a fool’s errand. I don’t know of many people who can afford to be upside down on their figures, to the point where they are losing money on each sale. However, if you don’t look at the numbers, that is exactly what might happen.

If that were the only factor, pricing calculations would be easy enough. Unfortunately, that is only part of the equation. Once we have an idea what we WANT to get for our book, we need to look at what the market will bear. This is not an easy task. With prices running the gamut from Wal-Mart discounts to small indie stores that can only survive by charging full retail, it is not always easy to get a grip on the quickly changing market.

But, that isn’t even the end of it. Add the unpredictable nature of discounting (will Amazon discount my book or not?), a buyer’s perceived value of what you are offering and economic fluctuations, you have got yourself a herculean task. After all, short of a crystal ball, some of these variables are beyond our grasp. For instance, is the current economic situation helping or hurting the book trade? Will a person think twice, or more, before laying down a twenty dollar bill for a book or will they consider it a sound alternative to a much pricier video game or iPod? How much of a price incentive does a publisher have to offer to get a consumer to take a chance on an unknown author? Not to mention the obvious difficulty a small publisher will encounter while promoting a new author. It is not easy to be price competitive with big names which warrant huge print runs by large publishing houses.

Discounts pose another inscrutable mystery. With similar discounts, we see these differences in pricing between Amazon and Barnes and Noble on our first two titles; The Little Insanity – B & N  —  The Little Insanity – Amazon  and Nightsweats in Bigelow Hollow – B & N  —  Nightsweats in Bigelow Hollow – Amazon  Go figure. As you can see, Barnes and Noble offered significant discounts where Amazon offers none. There is no way of predicting how a vendor will, or if they will apply discounts to your title.

Is it an impossible task? Difficult, but not impossible. As with most things, you have to do your homework. Crunch your numbers, check your competition and get as much feedback as you can from your intended readership. If you can overcome a reader’s reluctance to open their wallet for a new author, I personally do not believe that a dollar or two difference will make or break the deal.

www.marchbooks.com

November 23, 2009

Books for Xmas

Filed under: About March Books — marchbooks @ 6:22 pm
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It’s that time of year again. Where did the year go? We at March Books feel very blessed at what we have been able to accomplish this year. After launching our new publishing company, we released our first two fiction titles with wide distribution. We are busily working on the release of eVersions for both the Kindle and Nook readers. In addition, we are forging ahead to prepare the sequel to ‘Nightsweats in Bigelow Hollow’ and another YA release – ‘The Invisibles’.

 In this most difficult of holiday seasons, we would like to give something back to the community. From now until Christmas (11/20/09 to 12/25/09), for every ten books sold, March Books will donate one book back to the community. One charity that we have already earmarked for donations is this year’s annual ‘We Are The Children’ Christmas party in Hartford, CT. We hope to put many new books into the hands of eager children and the libraries and schools that serve them.

For book clubs and schools, quantity orders of ten or more will be eligible for the eleven-for-ten promotion upon request (with proof of purchase) to bookstore@marchbooks.com. All other sales will be tabulated at the end of the cycle and donated books will be distributed to area libraries, schools, veteran’s organizations and children’s charities.

The Little Insanity

Nightsweats in Bigelow Hollow

Wishing You All A Happy Holiday Season

www.marchbooks.com
www.marchbooks.ning.com

 

July 14, 2009

Thoughts on Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’ by Janus Kane

Filed under: On Writing and Publishing — marchbooks @ 8:38 pm
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I recently finished reading Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’ for the second time. What a wonderful addition to any writer’s library. The first time I read it, I was on vacation. Understandably, it did not get my undivided attention, but I didn’t fret. I knew that it was a book I would be returning to.

Stephen King is a very generous author – he does not seem to hold much back. The first half of the book is a delicious buffet of reminiscences; the history that brought him to the typewriter and kept him there. For someone who admits to only spotty childhood memories, he manages to give us the full flavor of the experience.

Although it is autobiographical (not my first choice in reading matter), it is peppered with so many lively anecdotes and injected with so much humor, that I found myself laughing out loud on more than one occasion. It is such a departure from his traditional horror/fiction, but he handles the transition with ease.

King then moves on to the nuts and bolts of his writing process. There is not much by way of revelation in this material but his analogies are interesting and thought-provoking. He begins by summing up his thoughts on what writing is. To King, (if I can paraphrase) writing is a form of telepathy between author and reader. It is an interesting concept that rings true to my ear. King takes you through an exercise where he ‘telepathically’ plants the image of a table covered with a red cloth. A cage, containing a rabbit with the number eight on its back, sits on the table.

That image, like so many that he has drawn before, easily takes shape in my mind. I cannot dispute the fact that writing is, in fact, a type of telepathy, sending stories, emotions and images across the miles. However, that is not the first thing that came to mind when I read the word ‘telepathy’.

I do not try to over-think it, but the question of where my own stories come from is one that trots through my head from time to time. After all, my own genesis as a writer came much later in life than did Mr. King’s. It is a strange and humbling experience, the first time you see a story take shape beneath your pen. Even stranger still is when you see that story take a U-turn, following a direction that you never anticipated.

My recently completed novel, ‘Fate Laughs’, was originally meant to follow a 15-year old Southern girl through the fallout resulting from an unexpected interracial relationship. Suffice it to say, the story took many twists and turns before it touched on that particular social aspect. Was it planned, plotted or contrived? Not in the least. I just put my pen to the paper and followed where it led.

That is what I think of when I hear the word ‘telepathy’ in relationship to writing. Call it your muse, the universe or divine inspiration, these stories seem to be coming from somewhere. At least for me, it does not seem to be an act of pure creation.

When I am truly in writing mode, I have come to see myself as a receiver (much like a radio receiver). Because I generally work on more than one story at a time, I sit with my brightly colored composition notebooks piled before me. Then, I tune into the story by reading the previous chapter. Once I get a clear reception, I write until the reception gets muddy, at which time I pick up another notebook and tune into that story. It is the greatest of entertainment. I hope you enjoy the results half as much as I do.

http://www.januskane.com

 

To Be Released in August 2009

To Be Released in August 2009

March 6, 2009

Publishing in Today’s Tough Economy

Filed under: On Writing and Publishing — marchbooks @ 8:02 pm
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Is there ever a good time to start a venture of this magnitude? Entering the complex world of publishing is a daunting endeavor under the best of circumstance. These are certainly not the best circumstances. With businesses folding all around us, what besides temporary insanity would prompt such an undertaking?

The answer is simple. There has never been a greater need for a little dose of healthy escapism. What, other than a good book, can better transport us out of the sea of troubled waters that is now our reality? What else can give your mind the kind of vacation that it so desperately craves?

A good book may not cure your problems. It won’t make them go away. But, perhaps it will put us in a better frame of mind to come back and deal with them. And even if it doesn’t, it will still give us those blessed hours where we can focus on someone else’s problems, someone else’s life, someone else’s story – all for less than the price of a take-out pizza.

March Books is all about bringing good stories to eager readers. We believe in good, healthy escapism – wherever and whenever you can get it.

Read on.  Visit our website http://www.marchbooks.com

Kelly escapes from Black Institute

Kelly's escape from the Black Institute

Meet Jenn, Jason, Kyle, Kyra, Beth and Brad

Meet Jenn, Jason, Kyle, Kyra, Beth and Brad

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