Self-Publish At Home, Query Abroad. The Indie Author’s Guide To Becoming A Bestselling Author In A Far-Away Land.

The chances of getting “discovered” by a foreign (outside US/UK) publisher and getting a nice deal in a country you can’t easily reach on your own is pretty remote.

It happened to me with Sugar & Spice when a French publisher came cold-calling, and a nice advance and 50,000 hardcover sales later I’ve no regrets. But I’m not holding my breath until it happens again.

Now I’ve got my new-and-improved internet here in West Africa I’m taking Going Global to the next level.

Not just chasing translators through Babelcube and Fiberead (which together will get you eleven languages if you are lucky see here ((LINK)) and the follow-up post here ((LINK)), but trying two other key tactics:

1)  Finding more translator-partners independently.

My priority countries should be well-known to any regulars. China, Indonesia, Brazil, Turkey, the Philippines, Mexico, Japan, India, South Korea, the Scandinavian countries, Germany, Poland, etc.

And the other countries on my radar should also be familiar. The rest of Latin America, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Romania, Hungary…

The downside to this strategy is that, even if I can get a translator on board and get my ebooks into Polish or Korean or Vietnamese, my chances of actually getting into the ebook stores in these countries is limited, and of course the level of ebook take-up in many of these countries is still low.

Which is where the second strategy comes in.

2) Finding a trad pub print and/or digital partner in these countries.

The indie stalwarts will cry “No! Self-publish and get 70%!”

But that’s a fundamentally flawed approach when it comes to the international markets that ignores certain realities.

Taking Indonesia, Vietnam and Bangladesh as examples, Apple has no iBooks stores in these countries and Amazon blocks downloads to these countries. In countries like Poland, Romania, Norway or Argentina Amazon pays just 35% and surcharges readers.

My first Norwegian translations are just about ready to go live. But these are short stories selling at $0.99 or the local equivalent.  Amazon will charge a Norwegian reader $2.99 (list price plus the Whispernet surcharge) and I’ll get just 35% of the 0.99 to share with my translator.

No, that’s not “anti-Amazon”. It’s simply stating the cold reality we need to understand when going global. That outside the dozen or so Kindle stores Amazon is not going to be our key breadwinner.

~~~

But don’t let that put you off. No question the readers are out there. And no question sowing the seeds now for future harvests in the global markets is eminently sensible.

But sometimes sowing those seeds may be best achieved by partnering with trad pub in these countries.

With Google and similar search engines it’s no big deal to find publishers and agents overseas, and there are a number of websites that specialise in such information, complete with useful email addresses and contacts.

But when your English-language email lands in the inbox of the Vietnamese or Korean secretary who doesn’t speak English, always assuming it has survived the local spam filter, what chance they will then bother to track down someone in the company that does speak English? More likely the secretary is as far as your email will get.

You might have just blown your chance of getting a trad pub deal to get your bestseller translated and in book stores in a remote land.

Don’t go assuming foreign publishers will only be interested in the “big name” authors. The reality is those foreign publishers will of course be interested, but simply won’t be able to afford them.

On the other hand your respectably-selling indie title that doesn’t come with demands for a huge advance and special treatment might be perfect for them to expand their portfolio.

And don’t assume that your particular book won’t be of interest because it’s set in the US or UK and has absolutely no connection with the rest of the world.

Sugar & Spice is a dark crime thriller set in obscure parts of the UK and heavily reliant on the detail of the British criminal justice system, with lots of British prison slang and absolutely nothing to suggest it would appeal to readers in, say, France or China. But the translations have topped the charts in both countries. And I do mean topped. So far it’s the only western indie title to reach #1 on Amazon China.

Another factor that gives indies an advantage is list-price. A title that sells at 9.99 in the US is not going to fare well at a similar price in Vietnam, Turkey of Indonesia, but if you’ve been happily selling at 2.99 or less in the US and UK you are hardly going to object if the foreign publisher prices you low in their country.

But that’s all pretty academic if you can’t get their attention in the first place because your English-language email doesn’t get past the company secretary.

But there’s a simple solution. Invest $5 of £5 on a Fiverr or Fivesquid translation service.

Check out these sites and you’ll find no end of people offering to translate anything from 500 words to 2,000 words of English text into just about any language you’ll likely to need, and for just a fiver.

That could get expensive for a translation of a novel, but for a short query letter it’s perfect.

I’m just about to approach publishers in Vietnam and Korea. Having final-drafted the first-contact letter (which should be kept brief, so 500 words should be ample) I’ll be paying £5 a time to a translator to turn that letter into fluent Vietnamese and Korean.

Here’s an English-Korean translator on Fiverr (by way of example, not a recommendation). (LINK)

And here’s a Vietnamese translator. (LINK) Again an example, not a recommendation.

When you compose your English-language template do remember to include a note that you don’t speak/read Vietnamese, Korean or whatever and if they can reply in English that would be greatly appreciated, but not essential.

If the foreign-language reply is brief you can run it through Google translate to get the core meaning, and if the reply is positive then invest another fiver to get it professionally translated back into English so there’s no misunderstandings about what’s on offer.

DO NOT use Google translate to get a cheap translation of your letter to the publisher. At best it will be a poor translation and look unprofessional, saying more about you than your book, and at worst it could be complete gobbledegook.

If you have translated titles out in the big wide world, whether direct, through Babelcube or Fiberread, or through a publisher, it could also be well worth spending a fiver to get short blog posts and other promo tweets, etc) prepared.

Anyone using Blogger or WordPress for their English-language blogs will have seen those wonderful maps showing where your traffic is coming from, and this could be a great indicator of where you (and potentially your books) are finding interest overseas among English-language readers, and where you might therefore want to focus your global aspirations.

We are witnesses to, and can be party to, a global New Renaissance quite unprecedented in human history.

We have unprecedented reach and unprecedented opportunities.

Don’t let them pass you by.

Think about the next five years, not the next five weeks.

The Intercontinental Indie Author

WestAfricaPt1-SpanishCover

When it comes to being an international indie author I like to do it from both ends.

The cover for the Spanish translation of Part One of my West Africa travelogue series, “West Africa Is My Back Yard, came in overnight. Now to format, upload and get it distributed around the world. But it already has more global credentials than you might expect.

Written right here in The Gambia in West Africa, it was translated into Spanish by a translator in Argentina in South America, and the cover was made by my regular designer in Indonesia in Asia. The English-language version has already seen sales as far apart as France, India and Brazil, but I’m looking forward to getting this title into multiple languages.

Most indies never give translations of their works a second thought because they believe

a) translations are unaffordable,

b) getting new covers in lots of different languages will require a second mortgage

c) no-one knows what ebooks are in the rest of the world, and

d) that the overseas markets are the exclusive preserve of the big-name authors with big-name publishers behind them.

Well, this particular book is pretty niche. A Spanish translation of a West Africa travelogue by a British ex-pat in one of the less-travelled parts of the world is hardly likely to set the charts on fire.

Is it worth an indie spending thousands on translators and hundreds on covers? For a proven bestseller, yes. For a niche title like this, no.

Which is where translator-partnerships and shoestring budgeting comes in.

I’ve covered the translation options before. (LINK)

For this title my Spanish-language translator in Argentina comes courtesy of Babelcube. No upfront costs.

And the cover cost me just five British pounds (about eight US dollars) from my Indonesian designer who plies his services on Fivesquid, the UK equivalent of Fiverr.

A few days ago I needed an update to another cover I’d first bought several years ago and paid $150 for. When I approached the designer she said it would cost me another fifty bucks to make the alteration and it would be a week before she would get to do it.

So I sent the cover to another designer I use on Fivesquid, in Romania, and the cover came back within four hours exactly as I wanted it, and cost me just a fiver.

Which is the same price I pay for all my translation covers and many of my originals now.

So far this month I’ve bought ten covers for my translated titles. At $100 a time that would have cost me a grand. At $50 a time that would have cost me $500.

Using the fiver sites I get ten covers for my translations for just $50.

As I do my own formatting that means each translation that goes live costs me just $5, and even a niche audience title like this one, aimed at a nascent market where ebook take-up is embryonic, can earn out in no time.

As I’ve said before (LINK) you can turn one title into six just by partnering with a translator and getting that title translated and selling in five different languages as well as English. One title becomes six without you writing an extra word.

Do that for two titles and those two titles become twelve.

Get five titles into five languages plus the English originals and your five title portfolio is suddenly a thirty title portfolio.

And somewhere down the road you’ll not only have new income streams but may just find yourself a truly international best-selling author.

It’s 2015, not 2009. The opportunities open to indies today are a world apart from just a few years ago when KDP launched and was only available in one country.

With two billion smartphones out there across the globe, each one capable of holding your ebooks, we have unprecedented reach and unprecedented opportunities.

Don’t let those opportunities pass you by.

Invest in the future, now.

Think about the next five years, not the next five weeks.

Google’s Android One Launches In Africa. Thoughts On Arabic Translations.

Gunjur-Coastline-Gambia

The View From The Beach

Mark Williams At Large

Pray that you never get quite as obsessed about the global markets as I am.

Awoke this morning about 4.30 am (living in a Muslim West African country it pays to be awake before the dawn chorus call-to-prayer shakes you from beneath the mosquito net) and settled down to check the overnight emails while the water heated for my kickstart coffee.

But who needs coffee when there’s a report on publishing in Vietnam in the in-box?

Now that may be enough to send any normal person straight back into bed, but for me the outside world may not have existed for the next ten minutes, and I came back to reality only when my water pan boiled dry.

Vietnam is not on my recommended list right now because of state controls and other difficulties facing “foreign” authors, and for ebook-reliant indies only Google Play among the Big 5 retailers has an ebook store serving Vietnam, although you can get in through regional micro-aggregators like e-Sentral.

But while I’m not recommending Vietnam should be anyone’s priority target, I have to confess Vietnam is a personal priority for me, a) because I love a crazy challenge, and b) because I sincerely believe in the global New Renaissance. I’ll be making strenuous efforts to get at least some of my titles translated and available to Vietnam’s 90 million pepulation before 2016 is over.

The other priority for me is Africa. Not just because I live here, but because there are over a billion people on this continent and in the new globile (global mobile) world every one of them is a potential reader of our books.

So I had just refilled the water pan and was looking forward to my first coffee of the day when I felt that all-too-familiar adrenalin rush as another email in the in-box caught my eye. Google’s Android One has finally launched in Africa!

Cue second Happy Dance of the morning. :-)

I’ve long said Google would lead the way in bringing the internet and western ebooks to Africa beyond the borders of South Africa (where currently Kobo and Google Play operate but there is no iBook ZA store and Amazon surcharges South African readers).

While a Google Play Book store has yet to happen, the new Android One initiative brings it a big step closer, with Google Android One phones (in partnership with Hong Kong’s Infinix) now available in Nigeria, Morocco, Egypt, Ghana, Ivory Coast and Kenya – which by no coincidence whatsoever are among the wealthiest nations on the continent, and the ones I identified would be Google priorities a year or so ago.

There are ebook stores in Africa already (notably South Africa via OverDrive, and in Nigeria) but these are not easy access for western indies. But this latest move by Google is a big step forward, presaging not just Google Play Books stores in the not too distant future, but also laying the foundations for the rest of the Big 5 to look more closely at the continent.

Of those six countries Android One has just launched in, three are English-speaking – Nigeria, Kenya and Ghana – and English is of course widely spoken in the others. The first language of Ivory Coast and Morocco is French, so an easy target for our French translations, and Morocco and Egypt are of course also Arabic-speaking nations.

I’ve spoken often about the prospective opportunities in the Middle East and North Africa as the Arabic-speaking world gets noticed by the Big 5 retailers, and Google and Kobo are leading the way.

And while Arabic translations of your works are unlikely to bring you great rewards any time soon, don’t rush to dismiss Arabic as a worthwhile investment.

Arabic is the sixth most widely spoken language in the world, with over twenty-five Arabic-speaking countries. Total population over 400 million.

• Algeria
• Bahrain
• Chad
• Comoros
• Djibouti
• Egypt
• Eritrea
• Iraq
• Israel
• Jordan
• Kuwait
• Lebanon
• Libya
• Mauritania
• Morocco
• Oman
• Palestine
• Qatar
• Saudi Arabia
• Somalia
• South Sudan
• Sudan
• Syria
• Tunisia
• United Arab Emirates (UAE)

In all these countries smartphones are widespread, and many of these countries have wealthy and literate populations. The biggest hindrances to our ebook reach here are the usual twin-fold problems of availability (I think it safe to say Amazon blocks downloads to all these countries and Apple has no iBooks stores here) and accessibility (ie readers being able to make payments without credit cards).

Over the next five years we’ll see those issues confronted and solved as some of the Big 5 western retailers rise to the challenge.

And be prepared for an eastern operator to emerge in the nascent markets like these and run with the ball, rolling out ebook accessibility on a truly global scale.

The global New Renaissance is real. It’s happening right now.

Already we have reach quite unimaginable just five years ago. In another five years it’s a safe bet most of these countries, along with most of the rest of the world, will have both availability and accessibility to our titles.

Chasing Arabic translations right now might seem like a waste of time and energy. But get real.

The savvy author prepares for the future, and the future is globile. A global mobile market where digital products are accessible to everyone, everywhere on the planet.

Don’t wait until the train has left the station before you buy your ticket. Think about the next five years, not the next five weeks.

Mark Williams international

The Future Is Globile!

Gunjur-Coastline-Gambia

The View From The Beach

Mark Williams At Large

With India set to surpass the USA as the second-largest smartphone market after China, there’s never been a better time to start taking the global ebook scene – and especially India – seriously.

“While it often seems the tech world revolves around the US”, said VentureBeat earlier this month, “this next decade is shaping up to be quite different.” (LINK)

Well, no surprise there. I’ve been saying a long while now that the centre of digital gravity is shifting east. I’ve also been saying that there are some two billion people out there that hold a device that they could be reading our ebooks on.

And that number is growing by the day.

As the same VentureBeat post reports, global smartphone sales (not total, just new sales) will increase from 1.5 billion this year to 1.7 billion in 2017.

India will play a big part in that, with 118 million smartphones being sold in India this year. By 2017 the figure is expected to be 175 million.

And that may well be a very conservative estimate.

I’ve often talked here about Xiaomi, the upstart start-up in China that went from nowhere to become the number one smartphone maker in the country. They also sell ebooks, and as an aside are setting up an English-language ebook section in their Chinese store this year.

This month it has been announced Xiaomi are setting up their own manufacturing plant in India, which will bring down costs and make even more smartphones affordable to Indian consumers. (LINK)

Not to be outdone, Google recommitted to its exciting Android One project in India. (LINK)

Amazon of course is investing massively in India, and so, somewhat belatedly, is Apple, which saw 93% growth in India sales of its ebook-friendly iPhone 6 in April-June of this year following a big TV promotional campaign.

There isn’t an iBooks India store yet, but that will come. Meanwhile Apple devices are just one more instrument on which consumers in India can read our ebooks.

The problem of course – and the excuse we can all hide behind to avoid taking this seriously – is that India has only a woeful 19% internet penetration right now.

Nineteen percent! Now worth bothering with, right?

Let’s just knuckle down with the easy US market. The USA has 86% of its population online after all. An impressive 280 million people.

Why spare a second thought for India’s measly 19%?

Here’s why: That measly 19% equates to almost 245 million people. Just 25 million people short of the US number, and India is barely off the starting grid.

India needs just a 3% increase in internet take-up to equal the USA. A 5% increase will push India significantly ahead, and a 10% increase will leave the USA far behind.

Imagine what a 25% increase will do…

And then, if you brain can take the strain, give some thought to the rest of the world where internet access is also becoming “the norm”.

With projects like Google’s Loon and Facebook’s Aquila set to transform the way the less accessible parts of the world connect to the net, we are just at the start of an incredible journey.

Just last month Google announced a deal with the government of Sri Lanka to bring internet access to every part of the country via the Google Loon balloon project.

Facebook are already committed to connecting the Third World with the internet, as we see with their innovative (if controversial) internet.org initiative.

But with the Aquila drones project they quite literally move to new highs. Sixty thousand feet, in fact, which is where the Aquila drones will be flying.

While Amazon is working on drones that will one day deliver your POD book to someone’s door, Facebook’s solar-powered Aquila drones – each the size of a Boeing 747 – will be delivering your ebooks to places that right now can only dream of connecting to the internet.

But no need to wait for the Loon and Aquila projects to turn science fiction into reality.

Science fiction is already a reality for the over two billion people who now hold a device they could read our ebooks on.

Three billion is just around the corner, and five billion is on the cards as Loon and Aquila come of age to deliver the net, and as smartphone proliferation (and whatever comes to make them obsolete) escalates.

And that escalation might just exceed our wildest expectations.

Last year I reported on Xiaomi’s fabled flash-sales, when they would sell 40,000 smartphones in less than five seconds.

That is soooo last year. This past week Letv, another of those upstart startups we’ve never heard of, sold one million smartphones in just ninety days. (LINK)

In author terms, that’s one million devices that could be holding your ebooks, sold in just three months.

With 86% net penetration the USA’s 240 million internet users, important though they will remain, are just one small fraction of the reach we indie authors have right now, let alone the incredible reach we will have in five years time.

As indie authors we can and of course should all stay focused on the big western market(s) that sustains us now.

But it’s not rocket science to see the way things are going.

The US and UK markets are not going to get any less crowded with titles. Just the opposite.

• Fact: more and more people are self-publishing for the first time, producing a ton of new titles that compete for visibility and reader’s dollars with ours.

• Fact: more and more established indies are upping their output as they grow in confidence and keep churning out new titles. All competing with ours.

• Fact: more and more trad pub titles are seeing their contracts time out and rights revert. Guess what. The authors of those books are going to slap a cover on them and re-release, flooding the market with even more titles that will compete with ours.

• Fact: trad pub, instead of keeling over and waving its legs in the air as seemed to be the consensus view back in 2011-12, is going to churn out even more ebooks, flooding the market with more titles that will compete with ours.

• Fact: it’s not just fiction ebooks we have to worry about. Smartphones and tablets make great reading devices for the many areas of non-fiction and children’s fiction which, back in the dark ages of black & white ereaders, were an insignificant part of the market. All these new titles will be competing with ours.

• Fact: comics and graphic novels, not so long ago insignificant in the digital reading scheme of things, is now directly competing for readers’ attention. And often on the exact same device those readers will be reading our books on.

• Fact: it’s not just a tsunami of new reading material that we have to compete against. Digital games, digital music, digital film and TV, audio-books, social media… All right there on the same device as our ebooks.

And all this stuff is still in its infancy.

We know how hard it is already to get noticed in the e-stores if we aren’t big names or do not have a well-established brand. The future is just going to be more and more authors chasing an ever smaller slice of the American and British pies. Pies that, put simply, haven’t got much more room to grow.

Because let’s face it, even if US internet penetration increased to 100% and every single man, woman, child and baby in America was connected we’d be talking less than 350 million people.

Now that may sound a big number, but bear in mind we’re already talking 240 million right now.

The number of authors and titles competing for those readers’ attention is growing much faster than the number of readers who have attention to give.

So what’s a savvy indie author to do?

Well, we could take a step back, take a deep breath, and spend just a fraction of that time and effort we currently spend fighting for a share of the US and UK markets and invest in the future, laying the foundations for a truly global presence in a truly global market beyond our shores.

Because mobile is going global, and where mobile goes, the savvy indie authors ebooks will go too.

Make no mistake, the future of the internet is global mobile. And here I exert my right as an author to invent words and lay claim to the word “globile” to summarise this new phenomenon.

The nascent markets are going to expand at a phenomenal rate over the next decade, as the developing countries simply skip that expensive and cumbersome desktop and cable phase we grew up with, and go straight from no internet access to a globile world where everyone and their camel has a mobile device in their hands.

And for savvy indie authors this presents us with incredible opportunities, because just like the US market in 2010 and the UK market in 2011, the globile markets are still pretty much an open goal for those authors willing to go the extra mile.

While the individual globile markets may not (China aside) be as big as the US market, they collectively already pack a punch and can deliver a healthy chunk of change.

And in five years time…

Where will you be an author brand in 2020?

Think about the next five years, not the next five weeks.

Ebook Bargains UK

Far more than just an ebook promo newsletter.

Far more than just the UK.

Getting In To Google Play (It’s Still Possible!)

Gunjur-Coastline-Gambia

The View From The Beach:

Mark Williams At Large

With the Google Play self-pub portal still down (LINK) I’ve been getting tons of queries about whether this is a block on indies, or a genuine issue with the portal.

Safe to say it seems a genuine issue with the portal. Why Google seem in no hurry to fix it is another question, but I can confirm indies can still get titles live on Google Play today.

The big US aggregators Smashwords and Draft2Digital do not have deals with Google Play, and it looks like they never will (payment model incompatibilities) but there are alternatives.

The British aggregator Ebook Partnership will get you into Google Play, but theirs is pay-up-front service, and while there are sound reasons for going this route, it’s not the best option if you expect low sales levels or are just wanting access to a handful of stores.

Bookrix will get you in to, but they appear to have an all or nothing retail outlet option and an unimpressive list of outlets anyway.

But there are two very nice pay-as-you-sell aggregators in Europe – Xin-Xii and Narcissus, that will also get you into Google Play.

Yesterday I used the Narcissus portal StreetLib to upload a title to Google Play specifically to see if indie titles were still being allowed in through the aggregators while the direct portal is down.

And I’m delighted to be able to report they are! My title sailed through in less than 24 hours. So clearly the self-pub portal being down is not some ploy to block indies from listing in the store. Another great conspiracy theory bites the dust.

I’ll be doing a full report on StreetLib (Narcissus) for the EBUK blog soon, as part of a series on the aggregator options available, but meanwhile you can find it here. (LINK)

Ebook Bargains UK

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Far more than just the UK.

Wattpad – An Essential Tool For Any Author Going Global.

Gunjur-Coastline-Gambia

The View From The Beach

Mark Williams At Large

 

I’m in the process of revamping my Wattpad presence, thanks to local improvements with my net access, and it can’t come a moment too soon. I plan to put ALL my titles on Wattpad in full, available free to read. And no, I don’t think it will cannibalize sales.

In group discussions on Facebook and elsewhere I’ve recommended Wattpad and have watched all but speechless as eager authors jumped on board, built up a pretty impressive following, and then started complaining because they weren’t seeing tons more sales.

Using Wattpad to generate short-term sales is to totally misunderstand the nature of the beast.

That’s not to say Wattpad cannot generate short-term sales, but approaching Wattpad with that aim is a recipe for disappointment and missed opportunities.

Wattpad is by far the biggest and best global vehicle for discovery and building an international fanbase, and it’s about to get a whole lot bigger and better.

Currently Wattpad is seeing about 45 million users each month, but founder Allen Lau is talking quite confidently about hitting one billion users within ten years. (LINK) http://publishingperspectives.com/2015/07/will-wattpad-attract-a-billion-users-ceo-says-easy/

But what’s far more exciting is that Wattpad is looking at getting into licensing on a large scale as a means of monetizing the site for investors.(LINK)

If you’ve not been taking Wattpad seriously up until now, then this should be the incentive you need to start.

Back in 2012 Wattpad made deadlines when it got a big deal with Harper Collins for Wattpad author Abigale Gibb’s The Dark Heroine.

That was followed by Anna Todd getting a cool half a million bucks from Simon & Schuster for After.

Incidentally, keeping in with the Latin American theme of previous posts, Anna Todd was at the Buenos Aries Book Fair this spring, and was overwhelmed with readers wanting signed copies. Spanish is one of the key languages used on Wattpad, and Todd built up a big readership across the region through Wattpad that paid dividends when her book was published there.

Wattpad went on to get Todd a film deal for the book with Paramount.

More recently Wattpad has worked with Twentieth Century Fox, and is currently syndicating Wattpad content for publication in magazines like Cosmopolitan.

Across Asia and Latin America Wattpad has been helping popular authors get publishing deals. In the Philippines – one of my key countries global indies need to be looking at – Wattpad is getting authors publishing deals by the hundreds.

In fact in the Philippines Wattpad is so popular it even has its own TV show,. Romance writers here would do well to check out out Wattpad Presents. (LINK)

Given the practical problems we in the west face getting contacts with publishers, let alone TV producers, in such places this presents a fantastic opportunity for the future as Wattpad gears up its licensing model.

Lau is saying similar deals are in the way in Europe. Notably France, Italy and Germany.

This is just the beginning for Wattpad, and of course where Wattpad leads others will follow. Not least the other free-reading sites, but also other media.

Right now we are talking about global reach for books, films, magazines, TV, etc, such as was quite simply unthinkable five years ago. Imagine what the next five years will bring…

This is why I always talk about a global New Renaissance, not just an ebook revolution.

What we are seeing unfold right now is quite unprecedented in human history. We are just at the beginning of an exciting new journey that goes way beyond publishing an e book on Amazon or B&N.

It’s incredible to watch, and even more incredible to be part of.

But just how much we help shape the New Renaissance, or how far we let is pass us by, is down to us.

Will you be part of it?

 

 

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Mexico’s Two Biggest Bookstores Join Forces With Kobo To Fight Amazon KIndle MX.

DiversifyIn2015

Kobo took a big leap forward in Latin America as July closed, with a unique partnership that brings together Mexico’s two biggest, and rival, bookstores in one new Kobo-powered ebook store.

It’s an unprecedented move on the global ebook scene, and possibly the start of many similar partnerships to come as domestic bookstores set aside local rivalries to challenge Amazon’s global ambitions.

Amazon is well-established in Mexico, and has lately been upping its game in this key Spanish-speaking market. In fact, outside Brazil, Mexico is the only Latin American country Amazon is taking seriously right now.

Back in November 2014 El Financiero reported Amazon had bought its first warehouse in Mexico, which was all the warning Mexico’s domestic ebook retailers needed that Kindle.MX was about to be upgraded from a toehold store to the first foot on the ladder. Think Kindle India two years ago, or Kindle Netherlands today.

So while ebooks are still a tiny fraction of the book market in Mexico there can be no doubt the direction things are heading.

The problem for domestic stores in any country where Amazon sets up shop is that the Everything Store has deep pockets and, as and when it finally stops surcharging readers are starts taking them seriously as customers, it can quite simply out-spend any local rival, running at immense losses if need be, for as long as need be.

That, no doubt, was at the heart of Kobo’s unprecedented approach to Mexico’s two giant bookstore chains, Libreria Porrúa (LINK)  and Gandhi (LINK), which between them have 100 bricks & mortar stores across Mexico.

While Kobo is no stranger to partner stores in Latin America or elsewhere around the globe – it has long since been operating Brazil’s Libraria Cultura ebook store (LINK), and had partner stores everywhere from the UK to Australia to the Philippines – this is the first time two rival bookstores anywhere have joined with Kobo to operate a single ebook store while continuing to compete in the print sector.

The new store will be called Orbile, and will be live sometime next month (September).

Orbile will kick off with 70,000 Spanish language titles alongside the full range of over 4 million ebooks that Kobo has to offer.

Both Gandhi and Liberia Porrúa previously ran their own ebook stores, but these will be set aside for the new joint venture. Presumably the self-pub portal Gandhi operated will be absorbed into Kobo Writing Life.

No word yet on how the benefits of the new store will be shared among the participants, but both bookstore chains will be selling Kobo devices in-store, and of course there will be Kobo campaigns nationwide to promote the new venture.

For forward-thinking indies looking to go global this is great news. While Google Play and Apple also sell ebooks in Mexico, and are easy access for English-language indies, none of the Latin American ebook retailers (of which there are far more than you might imagine) are easily accessible to us outsiders.

The new partnership means indies have a chance to get noticed by the Porrúa and Gandhi customers, and is going to be a shot across the bows for Kindle MX that may see Amazon revise its royalty policy on sales in Mexico (currently only 35% unless you are exclusive in Select) to encourage indies to take the Mexican market seriously.

While English-language books do sell in Mexico it is of course Spanish-language titles that are going to see the real action, and with Mexican trad pub titles still priced exorbitantly high, there is a big opportunity here for savvy indies to play the price game and score in this potentially lucrative market.

For thoughts on how to break into the translations game without taking out a third mortgage, check out the two posts on the Ebook Bargains UK blog on this subject, here (LINK)  and here (LINK) .

The July issue of Publishing Perspectives Magazine has Mexico as one of its seven countries to watch. (LINK) .

The Latin American ebook market is about to blossom, and this new deal with Kobo will help it along.

 

Ebook Bargains UK

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