Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Amazon Creates New 'X Factor' or Crowdsourcing Offer

This week Amazon added another layer to their offer, a new ‘crowdsourcing’ book submission one, which as with all things Amazon today, immediately polarised many. The lure is to attract would be authors into what some would call a digital slush pile 'X factor’ competition, where readers vote and those works that get the votes, win and potentially get selected for stardom and the recognition their authors want. Under the new service Authors will be asked to submit never before published works. Amazon will then make available a preview of the work and enable readers to review and nominate their favourite and the books with the most nominations will then be reviewed by the Amazon team for potential publication. It is unclear when and if an author can flip a non-selected submission into KDP, but we suspect that will be on offer and provide an added author bonus.
So does the following have an impact on readers, an author, an agent, a publisher and Publishing?
  • Guaranteed advance & competitive royalties: You will receive a guaranteed $1,500 advance and 50% royalties on net eBook revenue.
  • Focused formats: We acquire worldwide publication rights for eBook and audio formats in all languages. You retain all other rights, including print.
  • 5-year renewable terms, $5,000 in royalties: If your book doesn’t earn $5,000 in royalties during your initial 5-year contract term, and any 5-year renewal term after that, you can choose to stop publishing with us.
  • Easy reversions: After two years, your rights in any format or language that remains unpublished, or all rights for any book that earns less than $500 in total royalties in the preceding 12-month period, can be reverted upon request – no questions asked.
  • Early downloads & reviews: One week prior to release date, everyone who nominated your book will receive a free, early copy to help build momentum and customer reviews.
  • Featured Amazon marketing: Your book will be enrolled into the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, Kindle Unlimited as well as be eligible for targeted email campaigns and promotions.

What is different about this new offer to those offered in the past by some publishers and 3rd parties? Is it any different to say Author Solutions? What does Amazon offer that others don’t?

We may need to step back and stop seeing these offers from Amazon as individual offers and start to see them as part of an overall offer which may even go further than just books.

They already have the market share of physical and digital books and in doing also have the largest known customer base and information on their buying, browsing and taste.  They have the largest digital self-publishing share with not only KDP but also Create Space and Audible. They make money on KDP and have probably done more for self-publishing than all the exploiting services that went before and can even boast some significant successes. Authors love it because it is transparent, rewards are high and they have a huge potential audience they can reach.

What this new move potentially does is move Amazon into a strong position to exclusively capture new talent and win their publishing rights, provides a feed to KDP as well as Publishing and adjusts the reward and rights benchmark both in terms of reward and importantly term time rights. The later can’t be overlooked as it is a major move away from the exclusive and some would suggest ‘in perpetuity’ aspects of the traditional model. Couple this with Amazon’s ability to make all activity transparent and remove those old Chinese royalty walls and there is a certain appeal for all.

Can others follow? We doubt that anyone today has the market vision and offer, reach, breadth and ability to leverage money on top of existing money in this way.

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