eBooks are bestsellers on Apple's iPhone

After playing second fiddle to video games for the past couple of years, e-books have claimed frontrunner status on the iPhone, according to Mobclix.

Now, imagine how much better e-books will be selling when publishers can easily upload them to iTunes, instead of having to fashion a custom application for the App Store. My prediction: Once the iBooks application is humming after the iPad's introduction, e-books sold via Apple will outnumber all other e-book marketplaces put together, including Kindle.

Another plus for publishers: People are more apt to pay for e-books. An increasing number of the games are free.

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Steve Weber is author of Plug Your Book! Online Book Marketing for Authors

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Q&A: To sell my books on Amazon, do I need a Vendor Central or FBA account?

QUESTION: Do you work with an buyer to sell books through their Vendor Central system? I understand that there are different ways to work with, but I am interested in feedback from vendors who have worked directly with buyers (vs. setting up their own listings on the site). I understand that Amazon will send me purchase orders, then I'll invoice them and send products to their warehouse. Not sure what Amazon would call these vendors like me (merchants? sellers?) it's confusing.

Can I expect to sell a lot of products right away?  I have a few hundred of each of my photo books in stock, but don't want to "go live," be bombarded, and caught off guard with orders. I am getting setup with EDI capability, but just wondered what I can expect. The fact that they want each item packaged individually has me worried, too. I am not sure I can handle big orders and all that packing myself, since I am a one-woman show at this point.

Plus, they only offer the "contact us" option in the Vendor Central system and I need a live body to answer all my questions and get me set up. This is my first large retail account and I have so many questions.  If you have a Customer Service phone number that would apply to their Vendor Central new vendor setup, that would be wonderful.  The buyer kindly asked me to refer to "the system" with further inquiries.... ugh!

ANSWER: I have two Amazon businesses. I'm a seller of used/collectible books, and for that I have an Amazon Pro-Merchant account. And to fulfill those orders, I work with Amazon's Fulfillment by Amazon program, in which you list your items on Marketplace and send them to their warehouse.

For the books I've written, those go through Lightning Source and are listed and fulfilled either by Ingram or Amazon. (However, it's also possible for me to sell copies of the books I've written/published through FBA also. I do this when I have extra copies on hand.)

I am guessing that in your case, the Vendor Central part is connected to the "Amazon Advantage" program. I think you need to evaluate whether Amazon Advantage (where you give a 55 percent wholesale discount) would work better for you than FBA, where you pay a 15 percent commission. Here's a cost comparison.

The other option is fulfilling orders to customers yourself. In that case, you'd be a "seller" on Amazon Marketplace, and working directly with individual customers, just like anyone else selling a used book on Amazon.
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Q&A: Should I sell electronic rights to my self-published book?

QUESTION: I am the author of the "Slick Move Guide" featured on my Web site, There is a large company who wants to purchase the rights to my book as an e-book. They have asked me several times and want an answer this week. I am unsure if I want to sell the rights. I don't know why they won't just sell my book as an e-book on their site and we both get a percentage. Do you have any advice for me?

My book is a book about moving and it is a paperback with a spiral binding, and I self-published it. It is a workbook for moving, and has been very popular with companies, corporations, home builders and sports teams. If you go on my Web site you will see some of the companies who are buying/selling the "Slick Move Guide". I do not have a large distributor, just a local distributor. This is the first book that I wrote, and I have no idea if I should sell the rights as an e-book.

ANSWER: I'm afraid this is beyond my expertise, I've never had to negotiate rights. The one thing I'd be concerned about is what your royalties would be and how you would verify each sale. Or is this portal company offering a one-time lump payment?

It may be best to consult an attorney specializing in intellectual property/copyright/publishing. I think it all comes down to the details of your agreement. Would you be allowed to continue to publish? Would you have to sign a non-compete agreement? On the positive side, this proposed partnership could perhaps provide important exposure for your book, and generate sales, even if excerpts or copies were provided as a giveaway by the company. On the other hand, it sounds like they are applying some pressure for you to make a quick decision, so that may be a red flag.
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Amazon promises better visibility for authors on its site

Just received an e-mail from Amazon's Author Central, which promises some feature upgrades, but nothing specific. The message isn't on Amazon's site, so I'm posting it here in its entirety.

In a nutshell: Amazon is inserting links from book detail pages to author profile pages. Look about halfway down the pages linked below, and you'll see a thumbnail image of the author, and the link "More About the Author."

Amazon says it may also add these links to Kindle edition pages.

My take: Authors have taken it on the chin this past year. Amazon killed its Connect author blogging program, and removed all traces of that content from book detail pages and Amazon's home page.

Certainly there was a need to trim Amazon's cluttered book detail pages. But in the process, they've revoked the best tools authors had for juicing their Amazon sales. Authors still can't post blog content for a specific title. Heck, there still isn't a reliable way to correct errors with Amazon's bibliographic data. You might as well send a fax to the Department of Motor Vehicles.

In the meantime, a startup, FiledBy, has begun offering authors free basic Web sites. So here's Amazon's response. I guess it's better than nothing. After all, why would anyone "blog" on Amazon's site if there's no way for anyone to find the content? I've noticed that hits on my Amazon profile have dropped off by more than 80 percent this year.

Here's the message from the Author Central Team:

We are excited to let you to know about a simple but important change that will help many more Amazon customers find Author Pages and Author Blogs and learn more about you and your work.

In short: We now link to Author Pages from book detail pages on Amazon. A new feature called “More About the Author” can be found right under the Product Details section on book detail pages. Examples below:

This is a simple and perhaps obvious feature. But it’s also one that many authors asked us about, so we wanted to tell you the good news as we rolled it out. We thought it also might be a good opportunity to share a bit about what we’ve been doing with Author Central and what to expect from us in the coming weeks and months.

At Amazon, we’ve made our goal to give authors a more prominent “customer-facing” role within our store. This will not only be helpful and fun for Amazon customers, but we love the idea of enabling authors to better promote themselves and their work and to reach both fans and new readers. In pursuit of this goal, we think Author Pages is a great new feature. They are further improved by the data you contribute via Author Central. So why wait to launch “More About the Author”? And what about features like Author Blogs?

When we build something new at Amazon, we often introduce it in a “soft” way at first, allowing us time to work out some kinks before we increase its prominence within our store. Over the past few weeks, we’ve had the chance to find and fix any number of bugs, many of which you told us about (We’re not done, of course, so please keep the feedback coming!)

As we’ve improved Author Pages, we’ve steadily made it easier to find them. For example, a few weeks ago we made them easier to find in search. We also added a link from author names on detail pages (take a look right under the book title on a detail page – hovering over a hyperlinked author name will yield a link to the relevant Author Page). “More About the Author” is another step forward as we methodically increase the prominence of author information across our store.

Of course, there’s still so much to do – we have many new features in the works, including improvements to what you see already. For example, we want to allow customers to navigate from Kindle detail pages to Author Pages the same way they do from detail pages for physical books. Also, the current “More About the Author” feature is extremely simple -- it doesn’t yet do “smart” things like link directly to fresh Author Blog content. We expect to add both of these features in the coming weeks. (If you’re wondering about the change from the “old” Author Blog feature, the simple explanation is that the previous implementation proved a relatively inefficient use of detail page space. We want those pages to be as tuned as possible to selling your books –we think our new implementation will not detract from that goal while still exposing your Author Blog content for interested customers.)

So stay tuned and thanks for your patience and support while we keep improving the beta version of Author Central. Contact us any time at:

Best regards,

The Amazon Author Central Team
Steve Weber is author of ePublish: Self-Publish Fast and Profitably for Kindle, iPhone, CreateSpace and Print on Demand

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Interview with Peter Jurich, author of 'Typing With One Hand'

Today's post is a Q&A with Peter Jurich, author of Typing With One Hand. Peter is a young author who is using social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, a blog and Web site to connect with readers.

Q: How did you decide to write your first book? Please describe it, and what inspired you to write it.

A: First and foremost, thank you for hosting me. What a wonderful thing web 2.0 is that we have the option to "meet" one another!

There are two main reasons that I decided to write a book -- specifically a memoir. They're not very exciting reasons, but they are what they are. The first reason was that I was bored; the second was that it was an accident.

On boredom: My first year of college was over and it did not go over very well. I attended school to be an actor and realized halfway through my second semester that it is not what I wanted to do. I transferred to a community college and was not enjoying it. I just needed something that would make me happy. Writing did just that.

On accident: My friend and I were having a conversation about the future -- not unlike many conversations young people have. One of us had brought up the idea of what we'd like our memoirs to say when we grow older. That got me thinking: Why do I have to wait until I'm older to write a memoir? Isn't life exciting now?

Of course, the truth of the matter was that life was NOT exciting. But I came up with a title I adored. "Typing With One Hand" implanted itself in my head and would not leave. I couldn't wait until I was 50-years-old so I could write it. A title that catchy HAD to be worth the wait!

But I couldn't wait. One night, I sat down at my computer and didn't get up for two years.

Q: How do you use social networking in your writing and in promoting your work? What sorts of tools do you use, and which get the most reaction for you, or the best feedback/criticism? Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogging, etc.?

A: Social networking is becoming a pretty unhealthy addiction with my generation. Five minute homework breaks can easily turn into two lost hours when you're browsing pictures of your friends and pretty girls on Facebook. So the key is finding a way to use it without feeling lethargic or empty.

That said, I would be absolutely nowhere today if not for social networking. I owe about 90% of my success to Facebook. Facebook makes it way too easy to establish an Internet presence for yourself, and if you have a product to sell, there's no excuse for you not to have one.

I never quite jumped on the Twitter train until very recently, but have discovered that, while Facebook is excellent for spreading the word, Twitter does just that for meeting other people in your field. Probably because of the ease with which it is set up.

Currently, my blog ( gets more traffic than my website ( because I've started blogging a little more consistently. I haven't really made a substantial update on TWOH since I put it up a year ago, but at least with "Sympathy," I can depend on my RSS feed to transfer my writing to Facebook, and I can tweet about my new blog posts.

Social networking -- as old as I feel seeing 14-year-olds with BlackBerries and asking myself, "Why can't we just go back to how things used to be?" -- is an absolute necessity for anyone who is trying to get noticed by providing a service.

Q: When did you start writing on your own, for things that weren't for a school project? What has been the reaction from friends/family, among those who've seen your work?

A: Actually, as I said earlier, I was never really into writing too much as a career. It never struck me as a good idea even though I LOVED creative writing assignments in school and often went above and beyond what was expected. I guess I was pretty set on acting.

Be it as it may, I couldn't escape what I secretly loved the most, and what happened happened.

My favorite reaction thus far has been from my 83-year-old grandmother who looked upon me as incapable of the brief sexual and drug experiences I touch upon. "I'm very disappointed in you," she said, "but I love you anyway." She and I had a half hour phone discussion we brought her to terms with the differences that come between generations. She may not respect us young'ns any more than she did, but she at least understands us now.

The responses have overall been encouraging. Because I've made myself so accessible to readers, they absolutely love being my editors! I receive an email every two weeks or so from someone who has caught a typo, didn't like the way something was phrased, etc.

The real hurdle came during the writing process itself when I told people I was writing a book. The real criticism happened before some even saw a product! "No, you're not. You can't do that! You're just a kid." True, but I've never felt that's a reason to discourage anyone, no matter the age. Best to let kids make their own mistakes. So far, though, this has not been a mistake.

Q: What is your ultimate goal as a writer? Are you aiming to earn a living as a writer? Become a bestselling author? Write screenplays?

A: Is it really possible to earn a living as a writer these days?

While being a bestseller would be nice, that's not very important to me. More than anything, I'd just like to be able to sustain myself by doing what I love to do. I'm 23 and starting grad school next year. At this age, my needs are not much; I'd just like to subsidize my rent and have beer money.

As far as what I'd like to write, screenplays are definitely an option because I wouldn't dare limit myself. I'm going for my bachelor's in journalism and working on a novel that is far far different than either the memoir or any objective report. I suppose then my ultimate goal as a writer is to explore every avenue I can to consistently find diverse projects that keep me smiling myself to sleep.

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Steve Weber is author of Plug Your Book! Online Book Marketing for Authors