Should Authors And Readers Be Allowed To Connect?

connect authors and readers

The publishing industry has fought to keep self-published authors from communicating with their ebook readers

Amazon, in particular, has taken every measure possible to keep authors and ebook readers apart, offering zero means of communication after readers purchase ebooks from its Kindle Store.

Admittedly, Amazon now own Goodreads, a book social media site, so there is a chance for authors to connect with readers there. However, it offers little more than Facebook or Twitter can do. On top of this, Goodreads is a site that has long had a terrible reputation for trolls.

What is missing on social media, is that it is about connecting with readers as a general audience, which is not at all as beneficial as an author connecting directly with readers who bought and read a their ebook.

Why can’t authors include a means of contact in their ebooks? After all, an ebook is an electronic file, which can contain hyperlinks to the Internet and email. Well, ok, an author can include a link to their website, but how useful is that?

Draf2Digital Email SubscribeWouldn’t it be better if ebooks offered a way for readers to follow, join or subscribe to an author?

Yes, it would be, and at last, there is some movement on this front.

While Amazon continues to keep the walls up between authors and readers, other retailers and aggregators are making moves to break down the barriers.

Draft2Digital is the first publishing platform to include a page in its ebooks called ‘New Release Email Notifications Signup’. On this page, just after the end of the book, readers can subscribe to receive emails about the author’s new releases via Book2Read

Smashwords AlertsSmashwords introduced a new service called ‘Smashwords Alerts‘. While it is a notification service for new books by an author, sadly, it is site based, and not included within the content of an ebook. I am not sure how many readers are registered and use the Smashwords Store to buy ebooks, but I would doubt it is a huge number, especially when compared to iBooks or B&N.

As both Draft2Digital and Smashwords aggregate to Apple, B&N, Kobo, Scribd, Inktera and others, it is obvious that unlike Amazon, these retailers allow a subscription page to be included in the ebooks they sell. For this reason, I am a little disappointed that Smashwords have resisted this opportunity.

Authors don’t need names and email addresses

Privacy is a big issue, and this must always be respected. But if aggregators are storing subscription data, either in email lists or as on-site registrations, it could allow for an additional brick to be knocked out of the wall in the future. Sure, new title notifications are fine, but how often do authors release a new book? Once a year?

It would be much better if aggregators allowed an author to send a newsletter.

The aggregator would retain the data of course, but act as a mail exchange for authors and allow perhaps two newsletters per year to be sent to an author’s subscribers.

Well, one can hope.

But let’s take all this a step further

Apart from an occasional one-hour book signing in a bookstore, authors have generally been kept well away from readers by publishers and now online retailers. For self-published authors, book signings are a rarity and the main thrust of their book marketing endeavours have been with the only logical tool available to them, which is, of course, social media.

Now, let’s use a little imagination here.

What if social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter became points of sale. What if an author’s Facebook Page had something as simple as one-click book buy links? What if Facebook decided that they could make money out of buyers of any number of products? What if Twitter added buy buttons? What if authors could manage their marketing and promotion via social media, but achieve an end result? A book purchase.

What if, what it, what if. But I think you get my drift.

Self-publishing is in its infancy and finding its feet. Publishers, retailers, aggregators, authors and readers are all still on a learning curve that has a long way to run yet, so the only constant ahead will be change.

Allowing authors and ebook readers to connect directly will be an enormous change and will have a huge effect on the market, but it is one change I eagerly await.

Derek Haines

Derek Haines is an Australian author, living in Switzerland.

7 thoughts on “Should Authors And Readers Be Allowed To Connect?

  • This SHALL just happen if the Retailers are bypassed. And if the Authors sell DIRECTLY to the e-book Readers.

    I have already sold last month a Compact e-book (which you might call an E-booklet) about 25 pages. In the last page, my primary Email Address — the one used by me most frequently — is given. In the “About Me” section. And I also use a Compact form fill up — in my e-commerce platform — to collect the Buyer’s contact Email Address too.

    I created the E-booklet in PDF, bypassing Amazon’s “theory” that PDFs give rise to poor quality e-books. I intuitively guessed that Amazon “has to” rival the concept of the PDFs and so they are saying this.

    I’m not saying that Amazon’s Kindle e-books are not rich in quality, but what I am meaning is that my PDF book is also rich in quality. No less than the Kindle format even though I did not use the E-ink technology that Amazon is based on. However, the critics could still say that it was a small length book so the absence of E-ink did not matter. But PDF is an evolving technology. Even more evolving than the present state of E-ink, in my opinion.

    By the way: My Booklet addresses the great 21st century debate: P-book vs E-book, from quite a New angle. I name it:

    DOUBLE STANDARD @ PRINT PROPAGANDA
    Re-analyzing the Book Industry

    Category: Non-fiction
    No of diagrams: 6
    No. of hyperlinks: 3

    I have bypassed:
    1. Publisher
    2. Retailer (e.g. Amazon)
    3. Even the Premium version of the E-commerce Platform

    Note:- The only middleman is PayPal!! And for a sale, out of the retail price $4.99, PayPal takes a mere $0.47 share! (As far as I recall.)

    Reply
  • Direct selling can work, but only for non-fiction and self-help books, Nirupam. For fiction, it is rarely viable. Direct selling of ebooks is reliant upon gaining enough organic traffic to a site to pick up sales. Non-fiction has the advantage of being able to use targeted SEO. But for fiction authors, SEO is not easy, so their websites rarely gain enough organic traffic to justify setting up an online store.

    Also, fiction ebook buyers are almost always hooked into a retailer and device, and are used to one-click buying with their credit card details held by the retailer.

    One point though about your ebook. Why don’t you offer it in .epub and .mobi format? Reading an ebook in .pdf is most suited to desktop or laptop reading and not for a tablet, phone or e-reader.

    Reply
  • Thank you for this New point for me! Yes, the .epub & .mobi are superior to .pdf from the viewpoint of the Tabs & Phones & E-readers. Which, more recently, are rising in popularity (especially phones) in terms of the E-book reading. So it’s an important point for me in the future. Right now, I have still these two formats (epub & mobi) standing at some distance in my “Learning Curve”.

    Of course, I may delegate this conversion work to professionals. Instead of learning out this “New Syllabus”. But I have some budget restriction suddenly for a short while for this project. As I am now busy for self-launching a more lengthy, earlier written, Non-English language Manuscript of mine (Bengali language, about 150 pages) into an E-book.

    For this, I originally contacted Local publishers in the past. But they are just unsuitable in 2 major directions:
    1. E-book publication
    2. & in the Editorial capacity too(!) to appreciate even the Topic of this another Non-fiction work of mine.

    So I manufactured my own Helicopter. It is better to travel by this vehicle if no Plane is available!
    I DECIDED TO “GO IT ALONE”.

    The little Money I currently have saved, is allotted for this project, Hopefully after launch – within this 2016 December – I’ll have new cash flow, Part of which will then quite likely go to the Epub or Mobi conversion of My English E-book already launched.

    Note:- If you are interested about how I approach even a NON-ENGLISH ebook self-publication JOURNEY, you may also contact me at my Email Address:

    deepinnernet@yahoo.com.au

    Further note:- This English E-book launch was like a “Lyka project” for me (sending a Dog in the outer sky before sending the Mankind itself into the space).

    Reply
  • I’m sorry, but there’s quite a bit of misinformation here. Please research your topic more thoroughly before posting misinformation.

    You ask:
    “Why can’t authors include a means of contact in their ebooks?”

    Answer they can and do. Amazon does not prohibit inclusion of email or links to social media in ebooks sold on their platform. I am just starting out and I include links to my own social media pages as well as links to post about the book on social media. Amazon does, however, prohibit links and affiliate links to their competitors’ bookstores (kobo, smashwords, etc).

    Second, It’s disingenuous to laud smashwords for their “smashwords alerts” and ignore that Amazon also has a site based notification called “author pages that allows readers to subscribe to notifications of new books and posts to the author page.

    You ask “what if social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter became points of sale.” Amazon asked the same question and experimented with a tweet to buy hashtag a couple years ago, but it did not do well and so it was pulled. The hashtag was #amazoncart

    Also, many indie authors publish more than one novel a year. In fact some publish a new novel every month.

    Reply
  • So far my books do well on Smashwords. They did poorly on Kindle, not sure why. But I have been experimenting with proper categorization of my books( which is fiction) and I am seeing good results on Bn.com.

    As far as social media goes, I think Pinterest and Twitter has been working well for me…Facebook not so much. But I encourage readers to Tweet me and start conversations about the books.

    Reply
  • Wait, are you saying that Draft2Digital automatically includes a page at the end of authors’ e-books? As in, Draft2Digital CHANGES the ebook file submitted by the author before aggregating it?

    That’s not good. That’s not good at all. Boy am I glad I use Smashwords, if that’s the case.

    Authors should (and many, like myself, DO) include links at the end of their books to sign up to their mailing lists. I don’t actually include an e-mail address myself, but I’d have no objections to authors doing just that.

    But that should always be the author’s responsibility. No e-book retailer or distributor should have the right to modify an author’s book in any way. That would be seriously blurring the lines between retailer/distributor, and publisher, don’t you think? And those of us who choose to self-publish do so for a wide variety of reasons – full control of our final product being not the least of those reasons.

    Reply
    • Thanks for your comment, Graham.

      The links that Draft2Digital automatically update are fully controlled by the author or publisher. These are usually other book titles by the same author. But to have all other ebooks updated, the author or publisher does have to click to make it happen, It is very useful when releasing a new title, as it saves having to update and upload all of the other files.

      There is no loss of control, only a lot of time saving.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *