Howdy, Writers! It’s been a while, so I thought I’d do the re-entry to my blog through a round up. Hang onto your hats, because this one will cover some of the bigger things that have been influencing the writing world lately – Hugh Howey and Barnes & Noble and Anne Rice, oh my!

1943 year Antique Old Grunge Notepad in the Rope Frameon wooden background

Hugh Howey and – So most people are aware of self-publishing’s resident flag bearer, Hugh Howey with his mega success in the publishing world and the one to tilt his proverbial pen at the traditional publishing world. With the help of another writer and a spider program that searches through Amazon’s numbers, he has started and broken down some statistics to show that some of the best earners are self-published authors. He claims that there isn’t a better time than now for writers to self-publish their works and provides statistical breakdown of the data the site mines to help prove his point. While it’s garnered lots of attention, it has also had its numerous detractors from, well, the predictable other “side” of the publishing world. Google Howey and Author Earnings to find numerous editorials and articles. But what Howey has provided is some definite data that shows that self-publishing is alive, kicking, and a viable option.

Anne Rice and the Anti-Bully Reviewer Petition – I don’t have much to say on the subject having already written before during the initial kerfuffle online about bullying reviewers other than the fact that censoring reviews could be the worst idea for those who review as well as those who rely on them for visibility. No, it’s never fun to deal with a review that seems to attack the writer rather than the work. However, putting writing out there for public consumption means that anyone can say what they want about it, even if it’s not palatable to read. While the petition asks for Amazon to find a way to curb those reviewers who seem to make an effort to harm authors and their business, the problem remains of how that could be done without destroying the review system. How can anyone tell the difference? Also, it’s a slippery slope to encourage censorship in close approximation to books.

Barnes & Noble: The Nook, the Store, and The Death Rattle – So B&N is hanging on in early 2014 despite physical stores closing all over the United States. There’s been interest from G Asset Management to take over 51% of the business. They’ve discontinued their Nook Touch. They’ve reached an amended agreement with Microsoft to stop developing a Windows Nook app. While many are not surprised by the slow sinking of the business, it is something for writers to pay attention to due to the fact that less places where books are sold mean that discoverability and even the body of consumers who are encouraged to read may shrink. Having large bookstores in very visible places helps encourage reading and prevents monopolies of other large book sellers, such as Amazon, from forming.

Sony Gets Out of E-Reader Business – As of March 20th, Sony will no longer support any e-reader business. They are directing any of their customers to Kobo. Any of the books or credits that Sony customers have will transfer directly to Kobo based on the communication from Sony to its customers. One less e-reader may not seem like a great loss, but for self-publishing authors, less platforms on which to sell books means less visibility and discoverability as well as giving more power to the big game in town – Amazon.

ACX axes Audiobook Royalties – ACX, an Audible company owned by Amazon, used to offer a royalty-share program for authors and their narrators and producers that started at 50% profit-share and could escalate to 90% profit-share the more audiobooks sold. They also offered a $25 bounty to each person involved in an audiobook if it were the first purchase of a new Audible customer. They released the major announcement in February that as of March 12th, royalties would only be offered at a flat 40%, non-escalating. And only a $50 bounty in total would be offered to be split between those involved in the audiobook production. ACX was the way that many indie authors produced audiobooks. The change in royalty rate came fast and hit like a hammer, allowing those who made deals prior to the March 12th to be grandfathered in to the original royalty rate, but those who come after to deal with the aftermath. This could affect the quality of narrators and producers willing to offer their services to authors, and directly calls attention to how an Amazon-owned company could make such a huge royalty change with no preamble and no response to those involved.