Just before the start of my three weeks of summer leave from the day job, my leviathan employer decided to reorganize. Again. This is the third time in the seven and a half years I've been with them. 100,000 employees in a giant game of musical chairs, some running for the exit and picking up an envelope on the way, others looking to get a softer cushion and a nicer office. I've left my mobile phone switched on so I can see the e-mail indications of frantic energy expended by all involved without having to engage personally. These are decisive reconfigurations that result in us all singing a different theme tune and not daring to utter the unmentionable jargon of the previous regime. It seems like an Orwellian opera on a three year cycle. I quite like it and wonder what project-type job I'll do for the next 24 - 36 months until the next time. Here in my little house, on the sidelines, I can't whisper in the ears of the corporate architects or try to influence the senior stakeholders. If I could then that would be dangerously close to the hub of top bods who tend to be the first night of the long knives victims of cyclical change. No, I shall go with the flow. What will be will be. I look for the shadow of the leviathan's feet and make sure not to get flattened as they stamp the ground.
I take the same view of developments in the publishing world (described in entertaining fashion by Lev in his AE post of 23rd August below). As the Amazonian outlet wrestles with the big name publishers my faint voice will not affect the outcome. The publisher rallies its cavalry and they follow the beat of drum into battle. The outlet attempts to outflank the attack with large numbers of foot soldiers. The air is thick with propaganda. Amazon isn't very nice to its employees is one clarion call, an article originating from a book that is actually for sale on the Zon (although not doing very well in hardback, Kindle or audio formats!) From a safe distance I watch these monsters throw brickbats and I dart in for any crumbs that fall from their jaws. What interests me is that Amazon has opened up its pre-order facility to indie authors and micro-publishers using KDP. Also that the Zon has been beta-testing paid advertising for authors. Also that there is more to Amazon than books. A chap who lives across the road sells costumes. He took a consignment of several thousand lace gloves from a US supplier last year but the timing was wrong and they sat in his warehouse for months. Then he managed to get them on Amazon UK in time for Halloween and they flew off the shelves. A lot of small companies are leveraging Amazon's reach to achieve product exposure for everything from morphsuits to martial arts equipment.
Product exposure is the Holy Grail for micro-publishers and indie authors.
For those with the cash flow to support an advertising campaign the challenge
is to secure effective advertising placements. This currently means placing a
title in a mailout to a large database of ebook customers. The big boys in this
business are BookBub - an ad with
them to sell a thriller at 99c will cost a cool $500. But it’s not easy to get
a placement with them. Another reliable advertising platform is Ereader
News Today (ENT). They used to charge a percentage of sales resulting
from clicks through their link but have recently moved to a pay-up-front model.
Books and Tips are another. Booksends is also in the
running. The buzz on the grapevine is that these advertisers may be losing
traction – some recent ads placed by indie authors have failed to break into
profit. If Amazon does come up with an effective paid front-of-store advertising
model then might that be the answer to the exposure micro-publishers and indie