Trans-Atlantic Weather Forecast: Two’s Company. Three’s A Cloud. (From WG2E)

This is a copy of the post from Sunday on WG2E, for those that may have missed it.

 

Trans-Atlantic Weather Forecast: Two’s Company. Three’s A Cloud.

 

Have you ever read a fiction book that has given you an idea for something totally different that you could do in real life?

I did.

Many months back I stumbled across YA fantasy author Megg Jensen. She had this book out called Anathema, and it opens with a shaven-headed slave girl, about to be branded to mark her fifteenth birthday. Now that’s the kind of opening that grabs your attention!

It was Part One of the Cloud Prophet trilogy. I loved it. I grabbed Megg and dragged her over to MWi to tell us more. I said then that Anathema was one of the best YA books I had ever read.

The slave girl in question turns out to be a Cloud Prophet, as the trilogy title suggests. She can read possible futures in the clouds.

Here in West Africa clouds are few and far between, but when one put in an appearance Megg’s book had me staring at the sky wondering what the future held for indie authors. MWiDP was born.

* * *

Cheryl Shireman did a very strange thing last week.

Okay, those of you who know Cheryl Shireman will not be the least surprised by that. For those who don’t, Cheryl is author the best-selling indie-published novel Life Is But A Dream: On The Lake, which has sold well over 10,000 copies.

Yet last week she delisted that best-selling novel from amazon.co.uk and amazon.de and handed the UK and Europe distribution rights to us.

Crazy? Time will tell. But this was a calculated risk. A business decision, not a moment of madness. You see, Cheryl’s UK / European sales were pretty much non-existent. And unless you’re one of the very lucky few US authors who have bridged the great divide, I’m guessing yours are too.

We pondered this problem over at MWi back in July, when Barbara Silkstone joined us to debate the very real problem of crossing the pond.

Barbara noted:

As a Kindle author and terminal Anglophile I couldn’t wait to offer my eBooks in the UK. Now as I sit back and watch my sales I wonder if we aren’t two countries separated by one online shopping system. We almost all agree that it’s much harder to sell your books across the pond… no matter what shore you’re sitting on.

Barbara invited authors JA Clement, Ali Cooper, Karen Cantwell, and some obscure chicklit writer I’d never heard of (DD Scott, anyone?) to share their experiences. You can read the full post here.

Since well before then we at MWi had been toying with an idea to try bridge that gap, as part of something far bolder to help indie writers.

This weekend we launched MWiDP – the Mark Williams international Digital Press.

So, what is MWiDP and why should you care?

MWiDP is a new and innovative digital-only imprint aimed at giving writers the best of both worlds: Small press credibility and services, with indie-style returns and indie-style control, backed by a team with a proven record of success.

We are offering a growing range of tailored services to suit the individual requirements of authors, backed with plain-English contracts and the experience and expertise of the UK’s foremost indie writing team.

What differentiates us from other small digi-press publishers is that we are first and foremost successful self-published writers.

  • We know, understand, and have a proven track record for making the new system work for us.
  • We have a proven track record for supporting other writers instead of seeing them as competitors.
  • We have a proven social media platform and two brands – Saffina Desforges and Mark Williams international – that together are a potent force.
  • We are innovative and forward-looking authors and publishers that embrace change and welcome fresh thinking.

Most other small presses, just like the “Big Six”, are simply trying the same old tricks with a new delivery system. They think all they need to do is convert a script to digital and everything carries on as before. How wrong they are.

We are looking for writers to join us in a new cloud partnership where the writer has almost all the advantages of being indie, but also almost all the advantages of a “small publisher” brand.

No complex contracts with a ton of small print in obscure legalese. Just plain English terms and conditions spelt out and agreed by both parties.

As Kindle UK best-sellers twice over, and the biggest selling indie authors in the UK, we have a large base of European and international readers, as well as numerous blogs and websites, and we regularly guest on blogs across the globe, not least here on WG2E!

We are committed to expanding our brand and supporting fellow authors across all genres. And that applies to established indie authors as well as those not yet ready.

And harking back to Barbara’s a post on MWi about the trans-Atlantic divide, we have come up with one possible solution.

Crossing The Pond is one of MWiDP’s unique new services to non-UK authors.

The UK is the biggest English-language e-book market outside the USA. Measured by books bought per head of population it is the biggest.

Since Kindle UK opened in summer 2010 the UK e-book market has expanded rapidly and continues to do so, with a number of UK-exclusive e-retailer sites like Waterstone’s (UK equivalent to Barnes & Noble) and Tesco (UK equivalent to Wal-Mart) available to sell through.

Of course amazon.co.uk is by far the largest. And while in theory you can load your ebook to both the UK and German Amazon sites through your amazon.com account, it is self-evident that for those that do their UK sales are invariably nowhere near US sales.

We believe our proven expertise in selling in the UK market (over 100,000 ebooks sold and two top 100 hits in our own right) can be used to help promote your books.

We believe we can bring exposure and support to overseas authors doing well “at home” but struggling in the UK market, so we are offering packages to suit authors’ needs.

The Crossing The Pond package offers you the chance to pass us the UK distribution rights to your ebook and allow us to sell it here on your behalf.

Why should we do better than you are on your own?

For these reasons:

First, any books published under our imprint will be linked to all the other books under our imprint, including our own best-sellers. All books will receive full placement on our blogs, including the new MWiDP site, and be included in our newsletters, promotions, etc.

Each author will have their own promotion page on the MWiDP site and can here include other ebooks they have available, including links to US-based vendors like amazon.com and B&N for that title, even though we are not distributing them. So you pick up international sales direct, as well as from UK buyers.

The next step is that each author will shortly have their own MWiDP-Author Name site as part of the deal. Each site will carry the books of all the MWiDP authors in the sidebar and as clickable pages, but the central content will be for just the author concerned, and that author will have access to update, use as a blog, use the newsletter facility etc, and link to their own website, etc.

We will seek to share links between all MWiDP authors, creating a “cloud” that will become bigger and more efficient as more authors join.

Important always to understand that in the new digital paradigm fellow authors are allies, not rivals. We’re not fighting one another for shelf-space anymore. The more we support one another the more we all benefit.

We hope to have100 authors signed up by the end of the year. As part of the team that will be your name and books out there as permanent fixtures on 100 new websites.

When we have a thousand authors… 

Within the MWiDP cloud you as author then have the chance to team up with authors of similar genre or style and support each other further with blurb exchanges, reviews, tweets, etc. As publishers we’ll be actively encouraging interaction and mutual support.

We’ll also be looking longer term at producing free excerpt anthologies, and numerous other ideas to expand the exposure of all the MWiDP team.

Further, as fellow-authors we are constantly on the look-out for new sales avenues and promotional opportunities, both within the UK and worldwide, and we are in constant discussion with fellow writers, publishers and, where appropriate, agents. As part of MWiDP your interest are our interests.

We can’t guarantee to make you a best-seller, but we can guarantee you increased exposure and our full support.

Practicalities:

For writers providing the ready-formatted manuscript files (mobi / ePub) and cover art files we offer an 80-20 return in the author’s favour, based on the full royalty we receive from the distributor.

Example: a title sold at 2.99 on Amazon nets 2.00 after fees. The author therefore gets 1.60 and we get 0.40.

True, you can get the full 2.00 on your own, but we believe we can get the author a bigger market share that will far outweigh the 0.40 you “lose” on the deal.

Contracts are for two years with option to renew. But where you have provided your own ready formatted script file and cover image file you have the right to cancel at any time, subject to thirty days notice. So if opportunity does come knocking and you want your full distribution rights back, it’s no problem.

Where we at MWiDP provide editorial / format / cover and other services the cancellation period will vary accordingly, but for most clients for the Crossing The Pond service it is presumed you will already be on amazon.com / B&N, etc, so a simple matter of file transfer.

For new authors, or established authors launching new titles, we will be offering a range of bespoke services to suit all needs, including editorial, format and cover design assistance.

* * *

Finally, Cheryl was the first, but by no means the only author to join us at launch. Prue Batten‘s wonderful book A Thousand Glass Flowers  has just gone live today. Greg Johnston‘s Consumption: A Novel will be live shortly.

At the moment Amazon require us to forward contracts as proof we have rights to the new books we are releasing. It’s great to know Amazon are checking for piracy, but it is adding a day or two to publishing time.

Blogging guru Anne R Allen has no less than three previously unpublished novels being released with us this Fall.

Anne also has two books being released by another US-based small press, Popcorn. The first of those went live at the weekend. And in a move that will surely drive home the difference between the old world and the new, we are not invoking a non-compete clause to stop that happening. On the contrary, we will be actively liaising with Popcorn to support Anne, and working on some joint projects with Popcorn in the future.

In cyber-book stores there’s plenty of room on the shelf for everybody so it makes sense to work together.

And remember, two’s company. Three’s a cloud!

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  1. Read this post over on WG2E, but read it again for its awesomeness 🙂

  2. Smart move there Mr. Williams. It seems like what you’re doing is very much like United Artists. In the early days of cinema, some of the biggest names of the day, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Charlie Chaplin, and D.W Griffith teamed up to make their own studio. The head of Metro Pictures (Richard A. Rowland) said that “the inmates are taking over the asylum”. Of course, authors don’t need major capital to release an e-book but it always seemed like it was a matter of time before writers started uniting and leveraging off each other. Rather than be the lone wolves and try to make it by themselves.

    “Important always to understand that in the new digital paradigm fellow authors are allies, not rivals. We’re not fighting one another for shelf-space anymore. The more we support one another the more we all benefit.”

    Thank you. You don’t know how many of the snarky writer advise blogs I’ve stumbled upon that said that “you’re competing with every single book in the universe” and how it’s like a “vicious fight”. Of course, a customer might buy one book over another but at one to three bucks a pop, I’m sure they’ll be buying another book soon. It’s not like a TV, where you only buy one. Nor is it like a basketball game, where one team wins and the other goes home sad and sober.

    Anyways, best of luck with your new venture.

    • It’s so silly to tear each other apart. If we support one another in creating great content, we keep readers reading. If there’s always something exciting on their “To Read” list, they won’t turn to other forms of entertainment. That’s the exciting part of being an indie. It’s not like one bad book is going to make a reader stop reading forever! If that was true, I would stopped reading long ago, stopped watching movies long ago, and stopped playing video games!

      Healthy competition to push one another to that next level is important, and we can all do that behind the scenes by helping one another. I LOVE this concept and hope it catches like wildfire!

  3. Hi Mark!

    I’d like to discuss the possibility of you handling the european marketing of The Last American Martyr. By what means can we discuss this–email, etc? I have your email address, but in the past some emails didn’t get to you. If you would, please contact me at winton15@att.net. Thanks heaps.

  4. I’m so jazzed to be part of this awesome new adventure. I like reading Andrew’s analogy with United Artists. That didn’t turn out too badly for them, did it? This is going to be a fantastic opportunity for me and all the MWiDP writers. Here we go–wheeee!

  5. What a fantastic idea! I’ve been lucky enough that the UK makes up a third of my sales (don’t ask me how I managed that) so far, but I know a LOT of indies who are doing really well in the US but can’t crack the UK at all. (I’ve yet to crack Germany.)

    I love that you’re all about supporting indies and not seeing them as competition.

  6. An update for those who follow this blog. It was announced that I signed with MWiDP here on September 27th. At that time, the ranking of Life is But a Dream: On the Lake was #100,400 in the UK.
    As of a few minutes ago, on October 3, it is
    Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #15,669 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
    #90 in Books > Fiction > Women Writers & Fiction > Women’s Literary Fiction
    That is quite the jump in less than week! From 100,400 to 15,669 and in the top 100 of Women’s Literary Fiction!
    Thank you UK readers! And thank you to Mark and Saffi for this wonderful opportunity with MWiDP !!! 🙂

  7. I am interested. How do we proceed?

  8. Just read your update, Cheryl. Congrats, how awesome! Such a great idea here, Mark. I love forward thinking. 🙂 Okay, back to reading more about this in the “Next Step Pack” that I just received!

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