Popular Ebook Subscription Service, Oyster, Shuts Down

Oyster_Shuts_Down
Oyster is shutting down and most of its staff’s leaving to join Google Play Books:

Via Publishers Weekly:

According to a report on the tech news site Re/Code, most of the Oyster staff, including CEO Eric Stromberg and Oyster cofounders Andrew Brown and Willem Van Lancker, are leaving the company to join Google Play Books. Re/Code called the deal an “acqhire,” noting that while Google has agreed to pay Oyster investors for the right to hire away most of the Oyster staff, it is unclear whether Google is actually buying the company.

While it is also unclear whether Google Books plans its own e-book subscription service, this wouldn’t be the first time the tech giant acquired a startup venture in order to turn it into a Google business. Re/Code pointed to Google’s July acquisition of Homejoy, a service to connect consumers with professional cleaners, which is in the process of being relaunched as a similar service under Google.

Oyster touted a Netflix-style subscription service for ebooks, offering unlimited access to a million titles for $9.95 a month.

Publishers Weekly’s calls to Oyster for comment “have yet to be returned” at this time.

Aside from Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited service… Scribd is now the one remaining standalone e-book service, according to Publishers Weekly. Kindle Unlimited is unlikely to go anywhere soon given its parent company.

The closure of Oyster is very unfortunate news for readers and authors… and, self-published authors, too, because it was another avenue to get your works seen. Self-pub authors could get their releases into Oyster through aggregation services like Smashwords and Bookbaby. Scribd is similar to Oyster because it lets authors make their books available there through aggregation services.

If you’re a self-published author, make sure to stay informed and read Kboards’ thread discussing this news.

Drew Weing on The Creepy Casefiles of Margo Maloo

Do you read Heidi MacDonald’s The Beat? You should be reading The Beat. MacDonald is great at shedding light on kid-lit graphic novels and comics news, and is often the source I find these stories. She reports that First Second is set to publish Drew Weing’s The Creepy Casefiles of Margo Maloo next year. Weing’s design and storytelling are skillfull and wonderful – BOOM(!) word-combo: wonder-skillfull – in the preview pages included, and I’m very interested to check this series out!

On Twitter, Weing links readers to three complete chapters of The Creepy Casefiles of Margo Maloo that available to read for FREE:

Why The Reader’s Perspective Is Key To Print VS. Digital Comics

Kelly Thompson’s latest “She Has No Head!” installment for CBR’s Comics Should Be Good blog tackles Print VS. Digital (from a reader’s perspective). Thompson raises some great points so make sure to read the full article and scroll through the comments for the full discussion on the topic there.

Here’s a run down of points from the post that caught my eye concerning the state of digital comics and how a self-published comics creator could approach digital comics differently from the current trend in the comics industry: price-matching, and “page-matching,” print and digital:

Via CBR’s Comics Should Be Good:

#2. In addition to preferring print to digital it makes my head EXPLODE WITH RAGE that comics generally charge the same price for digital and print comics. UNACCEPTABLE. I don’t know how this happened but it is one of the great mysteries (and rip offs) of modern times (*see: #6!)

It’s an interesting state of affairs concerning how pricing is dictated by “brick and mortar” stores in the comics industry. I think it’s important to look at this approach and identify why self-published comics creators should take a different approach when releasing their content. A popular and effective approach self-published authors (I’m talking novelists) use is to set their digital book at a lower price point than the print version, to make the digital price look more enticing compared to the higher price of a print book. Large comics publishers take a different approach and match the price for print VS. digital so not to disrupt the print market. Releasing their digital comics at the same price compliments the print market and that’s the popular wisdom for now, which is fantastic for the industry, because this approach has encouraged digital comics readers to seek out brick and mortar stores to discover new books, and that’s a great thing for readers and creators.

If you plan to self-published “indie” comics via print-on-demand services like Amazon’s Createspace, I think the industry’s current “price matching” trend is a prime example to motivate one to take a different approach and learn from what self-published authors (I’m talking novelists) are doing right. The comics industry’s “price match” approach, to me, is not a route I plan on taking when it comes to self-publishing my own work (My graphic novel series “Intercept Now!”). If you’re making indie comics, it’s advantageous to look at how self-published authors (shout-out to novelists) are approaching releasing their print and digital releases through print-on-demand services. Setting a lower price point for your digital content as compared to the print version, from what I’ve seen among the self-published author community, is the way to go for self-published comics creators as well.

#5. I now only buy digital comics for space reasons and to a lesser degree convenience – i.e. if the space wasn’t an issue I would forgo the convenience factor and still buy print.

*#6. It seems like I (and people like me) are the reason digital comics have been able to get away with charging the same price for print and digital…because desperate morons like me who don’t have other options have gone ahead and bought them and now the system knows that we will pay for them at that price if we HAVE to and so now they have no reason to change. I have never been angrier with myself. Still, what can I do now? As far as I know…NOTHING.

Thompson’s point at #5 illustrates another interesting practice in the comics industry. The digital version of a comic is essentially the same as its print version… you’re getting the same viewing experiencing viewing the same comics pages in print as the comics pages you’re viewing on your tablet device (or mobile phone, though that’s debatable, or computer screen). You can set a digital DC comic next to its print version and they’re essentially the same pages released digitally as they are in print. Again, this approach makes sense for “the digital to print price match approach” of the comics industry… you’re presenting content that’s the essentially same version in print as it is in digital.

Self-published authors (I’m talking novelists), in terms of presenting their content, take the same approach: the text presented in print is the same text presented digitally because text carries over from print to digital very cleanly. Self-published comics creators are in a different, and fantastic, position. It’s an exciting time to self-publish comics. As Thompson illustrates in point #6 above, she’s having to pay the same price for content in a format that isn’t her favorite option (digital) over the format that she prefers (print). Part of the issue there, I think, is the content is presented the same way from print to digital. The pages she views on her tablet device are the same pages she’d get if she purchased it in print.

Classic Comics Format

Should it be that way? Should the pages, the artwork created in classic printed comics format, be just “ported” over to a digital version to be read on a tablet device? This argument is extremely interesting and Thompson article, from a reader’s perspective, highlights it. I’m very interested to see how the approach to print format vs. digital format will evolve among the comics industry.

Digital comics are a different viewing experience from reading a print comic, and as comics creators, I think we need to tailor a different experience for one compared to the other. The trick there is preparing content that can still be released in digital format that can still be print friendly and practical from a production standpoint.

#8. Additionally, while I don’t want local comic book stores to suffer, the rise of digital comics buying has SO helped bring comics to people that don’t have stores nearby or worse, have felt unwelcome in stores nearby…and that’s an amazing equalizer…it’s the kind of thing that makes me sort of love digital comics. Digital comics, for all their flaws do feel like COMICS FOR EVERYBODY and that’s very much something I’m behind. Digital comics plus social media (twitter/tumblr/whatever) creating a comics community for those who don’t have or don’t feel comfortable IRL stores/communities is a huge win, for comics, for readers, for diversity. This kind of makes me love them more. However…

#9. The entire reason I’ve been thinking about print vs. digital so much lately and am writing about it now is because other than the price point issues which I just have no idea how to address, I thought I had come to terms with buying digital. Yet…about a month ago I held Jem and the Holograms #1 in my hands and it was SO MUCH BETTER than reading it on my ipad. For some reason I didn’t expect this. As someone who has published both basic digital editions and gorgeous hardcover print volumes of my prose, I did not expect to be so struck by the difference between print and digital when it came to my comics. But I was.

Some of the flaws with digital comics, in general as a format, comes back to the size it’s drawn to initially, and how just porting the “print version” to a digital presentation may not be enough to satisfy readers and set digital apart. Presenting the same pages digitally and in print is problematic. A digital comic is a different animal than print comic, so as comics creators, I think we need to be cognoscente of how the comic pages we create fit into the new publishing landscape that we’re in. I think that drawing comics to the traditional comics size of 6.25 x 9.75 will only get trickier and more problematic as time goes on. Drawing comics to the traditional classic size, to me, doesn’t jive with the array of devices people are reading comics on. The sooner the comics industry embraces the 16:9, landscape world we live in, the sooner comics readers will get content that is in line with the screens that dictate how comics need be drawn and how they will be best viewed.

Support The Book of Mojo on Indiegogo!

Support_Book_Of_Mojo_On_Indiegogo

Via Hitfix, Former Pixar and Dreamworks animators have teamed up to turn Everett Downing‘s self-published webcomic, The Book of Mojo,  into a 3D animated short, and they need your help to fund the pilot episode!

The story of “Book of Mojo” centers around Creepy, a homeless teenage witch in search of her missing father. Then Mojo, a giant enchanted statue, literally falls into her life. With no memory of his past, Creepy agrees to help Mojo, for her own reasons. But things quickly spiral out of control when a group of black magic users called The Brokerage come to claim Mojo, saying they created him. The duo must then go on the run into the labyrinth of city streets, avoiding a magic-wielding crime syndicate, the cops, and Creepy’s personal rivals.

To create The Book of Mojo pilot episode, Downing has teamed up with 25 past employees of major studios such as Pixar Animation Studio, Dreamworks Animation, and Blue Sky Studios to form Alchemy Engine, an Indie Animation Studio who “strives to tell stories featuring characters they feel are under-represented in today’s animation market. Committed to providing a different kind of content, they have banded together to take creative risks in producing compelling stories for young-adults.”

I’m all about self-publishing, so make sure to check out Everett Downing’s official Gumroad page to download both installments of the original webcomic by clicking the images below. For more information about Book of Mojo, make sure to follow Everett Downing on Twitter!

Mojo_Book_One_On_Indiegogo_By_Everett_DowningMojo_Book_Two_On_Indiegogo_By_Everett_Downing

Book Baby To Make Print Distribution to Retailers Accessible to Indies

Via Bibliocrunch,  Good E-Reader reports that Book Baby will make it possible for self-published authors to distribute their titles to retailers “like Barnes and Noble through their website (with the potential due to sales and customer requests for in-store sales), Amazon, Powells, NASCORP, Ingram Network, Baker & Taylor Network, plus up to another 150 other outlets.”

The best part? One of the chief concerns that prevents bookstores from carrying self-published works is the inability to return unsold titles, even at the author’s cost. BookBaby’s program will allow these outlets–from the local indie bookshop to Barnes and Noble’s physical locations–to return unsold books for a full refund, while still not incurring any cost to the author. BookBaby will absorb the cost of the refund. “This is different from any other Print On Demand program out on the marketplace,” said Steven Spatz, BookBaby President. “Self-published authors deserve to have a place on the book store shelves around the world, and our program delivers the maximum exposure through retail stores and wholesale catalogs.”

You can read the full article here.

Learn more about Book Baby by visiting their website.

Spot The Difference

Notice a bit of a revamp to my site?

I’ve done some general editing to the look of the site. I’m excited to have a direct link to the Newsletter for my upcoming graphic novel series Intercept Now! in my site menu at the top of this page. I’ve also revamped my personal Tumblr, as well as the official Intercept Now! Tumblr.

Look for more self-publishing news this week!

Free PDF Downloads: Self-Publishing Courses from Bibliocrunch!

Bibliocrunch helps authors collaborate with curated editors, book designers, marketers, and other publishing professionals who can take their book to the next level. For a limited time, they’re offering all of their self-publishing courses for free download in PDF format.

These free courses include Beginner’s Guide to Self-Publishing (ebook)Beginner’s Guide to Selling Books Online (Course)How to Request ReviewsSample Marketing Plan, and more!

You can find my Bibliocrunch page here! Make sure to visit Bibliocrunch to learn more about their servces!

If you’re interested in self-publishing, Bibliocrunch hosts #IndieChat on Twitter, where industry experts and authors discuss and share tips on the indie and publishing landscape. #Indiechat is held every Tuesday at 9pm EST. You can learn more about their upcoming chat, #IndieChat – How to Get Your Books into Libraries, so you can join in on Tuesday, January 20th!

Self-Pub: “The sky isn’t falling. The world is turning.”

Via Hugh Howey:

You may have heard the sky is falling. You may have heard that the self-publishing gold rush is over. There have been a number of forum threads, blogs, and articles about this lately. I’ve been mulling over whether there’s truth to the claims that everything is getting worse for indies. And naturally I have few thoughts:

My first thought is that self-publishing is maturing, which means it’s beginning to share some of the cynicism seen among many traditional writers. There’s a big difference in the subject of this cynicism, however. Forums for authors with traditional publishing aspirations have long been peppered with threads about the query grind, the rejection letters and emails that pile up from agents and publishers, and the desire to quit and give up on the hopes of ever making it as a writer.

Hugh Howey’s perspective on this is motivating and extremely helpful, so Make sure to read his entire post by clicking the link above.

Hugh Howey On The Liliana Nirvana Technique

Via Hugh Howey’s Official Site:

So what exactly is it?

The idea is this: Annual releases are too slow to build on one another. And not just in the repetition of getting eyeballs on your works, but in how online recommendation algorithms work. Liliana suggests publishing 5 works all at once. Same day. And she thinks you should have another work sitting there ready to go a month later. While these works are gaining steam, write the next work, which if you write and edit in two months, will hit a month after the “hole” work.

Why does this work? I think it has to do with “impressions,” or the number of times people see a product before they decide to take a chance on it. (In this case, the product is your name.) It also has to do with recommendation algorithms and how new works are treated on various online bestseller lists. From my own experience, I know that it was following WOOL with four more rapid releases that helped my career take off. I followed these five releases a month later with FIRST SHIFT, and I released a work every three or four months after that (SECOND SHIFT, I, ZOMBIE, THIRD SHIFT, plus several short works).

You can read his entire post here. Originally discovered this link thanks to the always informative & invaluable Kboards! If you plan to self-publish, make sure to bookmark Kboards and join their site!