Go Global in 2014: How to Get Your Books into the Global Marketplace

A lot of bookish blogs have posted predictions for 2014. But I'm only making one prediction for the new year: writers will need to start thinking globally.

Growth of ebook sales in the US and UK has slowed, but the markets abroad are growing fast.

Eoin Purcell wrote in the Irish Times last week: "Ebooks outside of the US continue to grow – markets such as Ireland, France, Spain and Germany are only now beginning to see the growth that the UK & US markets experienced two and three years ago."

Publishing Perspectives says that Russia now is the third biggest ebook market, and a Price Waterhouse Cooper study predicts that by 2017, 54% of e-book sales will be overseas.

Gareth Cuddy at Digital Book World said this week, "There was a real opening up of new markets in 2013. This is evident in the fact our publishers sold into a third more countries in 2013 than 2012."

This is especially important information for indie writers. As Dean Wesley Smith said in his recap of 2013 publishing trends:

"During 2013, indie publishing in many, many ways, both paper and electronic, spread out over the world. Now your indie books get a much wider reach than any traditional publisher can manage, which not too many people have talked about yet, but will in 2014."

Zoom. The book business is changing by the minute.

So I figured it was time to get an update from the EBUK blokes: Jay and Mick and the team who run the EBookBargainsUK newsletter (and now blog!) They visited us last October and opened a lot of eyes to the huge market out there for ebooks in English around the globe.

A recent ad I put in their newsletter got my books onto bestseller lists in Australia, Germany, and Canada and even made a sale to the Orkney Library and Archive, the oldest library in Scotland.

Some of this info is a little overwhelming for a non-geek like me, but I think you'll be convinced that getting into as many of these markets as possible is going to be increasingly important.

Do note that self-publishers can get onto a lot of international retailer sites by going through an aggregator like Smashwords, D2D, or BookBaby. You don't have to upload to all these sites yourself.

Going Global in 2014

by the EBUK team

It was back in September that Anne and Ruth last invited us here to talk about the international ebook scene, and there’s no question the global ebook market has got bigger and better since then.

Numerous new ebook retail outlets have materialized even in that short time – we’ll be looking at a couple below – and we’re hearing more and more reports of indie US and UK authors not just selling overseas in increasing numbers, but selling in the most unexpected places, on platforms the authors never knew existed, in places they never knew ebooks could reach.

Which is why we felt it was the right time to launch our Go Global In 2014 campaign. Because if you don’t get your ticket now you may just miss the boat!

More and more authors are coming to realize that, important as Amazon is to any author’s career, we're not living in 2009 anymore.

Amazon is no longer the only show in town 

Amazon is still very much the biggest player in the ebook marketplace, but it's not as big an international player as you may think. 

1) Your books may be a lot cheaper on sites other than Amazon.

 If that sounds crazy you probably haven’t heard about the notorious Amazon surcharges. Respected indie commentator David Gaughran has posted about these on several occasions.

Put simply, for customers outside the Kindle Zone countries (that is, countries without a Kindle store) Amazon bizarrely adds a substantial surcharge to the list price. 

Your $2.99 ebook will cost a reader in Malta or Poland $4.99. 

In Norway it will cost as much as $6.99. (And the author will get just 35% of the $2.99 US price.) 

Similar surcharges apply across the globe to countries without a Kindle store.

That’s always presuming Amazon allows readers to buy at all. Despite that long list of countries in KDP where your ebooks are supposedly going to be on sale, the truth is many countries are blocked completely from buying. Singapore is an example.

Obviously, readers will be buying elsewhere. And in 2014 there are plenty of places to choose from.

2) Kindle isn't the primary e-reader any more. 

The world of e-readers, tablets and smartphones has changed beyond all recognition since 2009.

Having your books on Amazon is great, but they are in mobi format and not much use to anyone without a Kindle device.

Of course if you're on Apple, Kobo and Nook, you will have epub ebooks. 

So what about Apple, Kobo and Nook?

  • Kobo has been growing slowly, like Amazon, but it has many competitors, as you'll see below. 
  • Apple may have 51 ebook stores but actually many of them only sell public domain titles, so they're of no interest to contemporary authors. 
  •  Barnes and Noble is still more of a player than you'd know from its bad press. Readers can now buy your Nook titles from all four corners of Europe, from Finland up top to Norway on the left, tiny Malta down in the Med, Poland and Austria in the middle, and Estonia and Latvia over by the Russian border. It now has stores in Australia as well. But many of these they are restricted to the Windows 8 platform at the moment. 

But these four retailers pretty much have the market sown up, right?

If only…the publishing world would be so much simpler. 

Think wholesalers as well as retailers

The familiar retailers like Amazon, Apple, Nook and Kobo aren't enough any more. To reach the wider global market you need to have your titles in the wholesaler catalogues. 

These are distribution companies like Ingram, Gardners, Baker & Taylor, OverDrive,  etc. 

Because the wholesalers distribute to so many channels with so many different end-user devices your First Grade epub conversion from a Word doc that might be acceptable on Kindle or Nook will not be good enough.

If you plan on going global you’ll need an industry standard epub file that meets IDPF standards. 

IDPF is the International Digital Publishing Forum. They are the Trade and Standards Organization for the Digital Publishing Industry.

They have a free epub validator here. Just load up your epub file and it will come back approved or rejected. If your epub doesn’t pass the IDPF validator check it WILL NOT be accepted by any serious aggregator, such as Ebook Partnership, who can get your ebooks into the Ingram, Copia and OverDrive catalogues. 

As we showed here back in September, Anne has excellent global distribution, with titles in local ebook stores everywhere from Iceland to Switzerland to South Africa. Anne uses Smashwords and Ebook Partnership together to maximize her global footprint. And of course her ebooks pass the IDPF validation test. (Whew! Actually my publisher handles this. I'm a cybermoron...Anne)

If you’re new to the indie game and looking to move up to the next level as self-publishers you should bookmark the IDPF validator and make sure every file you put out passes the IDPF validation test.

Why is the IDPF validation so important? After all, your Word doc that you put up on KDP looks fine, and you can throw a Word doc into Calibre and out pops an epub. Why all the fuss?

Well for starters your Kindle converted Word doc may not work on all Kindle devices. Don’t take our word for it. Check out Lexi Revellian, who reformatted all her files when she realized the Kindle Paper White was playing games with her ebooks.

For other devices anything but an industry standard epub is just asking for problems. Yes, we know your ebook looks fine on your neighbour’s Kobo and your nephew’s iPad and your Aunt Dot’s Nook, but…

In the world beyond the comfort zone of the US, UK, NZ, Australia and Canada, people are reading ebooks on tablets, phablets. smartphones and apps most of us didn’t even know existed.

Ever heard of Archos? Or the ‘txtr Beagle? TheTolino Shine? The Infiebeam Pi? The iRiver range? Orient? Goopad? (Seriously). Lenova, anyone? Haier? Chuwi? Doodee? Onda?

No, we’re not making these up. Here’s the Onda – an 8”, 16GB tablet for just $115.

Yes, it ships from China, but you can pay by Paypal, so you know your money is safe. No, it doesn’t come with Amazon Prime and film and TV and all those extras that make the KindleFire so worth buying.

But here’s the thing: If you’re not in the US and you buy a KindleFire none of those wonderful extras will work anyway. The KindleFire is just another tablet. And if you’re outside the comfort zone of the US, UK, the EU, Australia, New Zealand and Canada your credit card may not be usable at Amazon. Paypal may be the only international payment option open to you.

And that includes countries where Amazon has Kindle stores. Want to buy an ebook from Amazon India? It’s just one-click, right? Er… No. Check out the hoops you have to jump through just to buy an ebook from Amazon India.

Speaking of India brings us neatly to the Aakash. 

Aakash: The $35 tablet

Way back in 2011 a $35 tablet was launched in India.

And everybody laughed. A tablet for thirty-five bucks? How could a $35 tablet be anything but an unmitigated disaster?

Surprise! The Aakash has been a phenomenal success. In the first quarter of 2013 the Aakash not only outsold Samsung in India, but sold twice as many tablets as Apple in India.

And this is just the beginning. The Indian tablet and smartphone market is still in its infancy. The number of Indians who will be buying tablets, phablets and smartphones in India over the next year or two is going to be staggering.

And many of them could be reading your ebooks on these devices.

Tablets, phablets and smartphones are taking off internationally on a scale that's hard to imagine. Many will be using devices we’ve all heard of and are comfortable with. But many more will be using devices we’ll never ever hear of and couldn’t pronounce if we did.

And they’ll be buying their ebooks from stores you’ve never heard of, too.

If you plan on going global in 2014 and reaching a truly international audience you need to make sure you are in as many of these stores as possible. Including the ones that don’t even exist yet.

No, no need to read that again. You read right the first time.

If you play your cards right, you can be in new stores from the moment they launch. Anne R. Allen did just that in Bild in Germany.

The Bild Ebook Store

Never heard of Bild? Given the Bild ebook store only launched in mid-December that’s no surprise. Luckily our patent early-warning new ebook retailer detector alerted us and we were there for Bild’s first day – and there were six of Anne R. Allen’s titles beaming back at us. (Much to my amazement...Anne)

As we explained here last time, Germany is a key market for your English language titles. For one thing it has as many English-speakers as Australia and Canada put together!

So with Amazon Germany, Apple Germany and Bild does that makes three ebook stores for Germans to choose from?

Nope. A quick count suggests there are about twenty German ebook stores, and we’ve probably missed several. Expect LOTS more through 2014-15 as market fragmentation accelerates.

But we’ve chosen to mention Bild here not just because Anne’s in it. Bild is part of a much bigger picture emerging. You see, Bild is part of a key consortium of ebook stores that together are challenging Amazon’s supremacy in the German market.

Sadly while Kobo has the largest German ebook store by number of titles, it has yet to make a serious impact in Germany. That will change as Kobo expands its presence in the country, but the big threat to Amazon comes not from Kobo, Apple or Google Play but from the domestic market. Not ‘txtr, surprisingly, but what is loosely termed the Tolino Alliance. 

The Tolino Alliance

The Alliance is a consortium of German publishing interests acting together to promote ereading in Germany. By summer 2013 they were estimated to have grabbed 34% of the German ebook market.

The Tolino Alliance comprise Thalia, WeltBild, Hugendubel, Buecher, Deutsche Telecom and Bertelsmann, who together are selling the Tolino e-reader and tablet across some 1500 retail stores. No surprise it did rather well then, despite some dismissive reports from industry commentators.

Nate Hoffelder over at The Digital Reader typified the reaction to the Tolino Shine: “The Shine is going to bring generic ereaders to a whole new level,” he said, adding “Let me know when Tolino has a plan to sell ebooks better than Amazon, because that is the point at which they might start winning. At this point all I can see is that they are making the same hardware mistake as everyone else.”

Three months later Nate wrote a post headed, “Tolino Shine eReader Has Great Success in First 100 Days.”

The Tolino Alliance goes from strength to strength. Check out their website - In October they launched their tablet range, and in December their latest ebook store.

Nate talks about “winning” and “selling ebooks better than Amazon”, which somewhat misses the point. The thing is, it's not about winners and losers. It’s about market share and selling books. Not selling books better than Amazon.

The Tolino Alliance is devastating Amazon market share in Germany. Yes, Amazon are still the biggest, but for the Tolino Alliance to not just barge Apple to one side but to eat up a third of the market so quickly is pretty phenomenal, and perhaps a sign of things to come, not just in Germany but globally.

But Bild ebooks is of interest for other reasons too. We talk a lot about market fragmentation on our blog, and this new German ebook site is a fine example. For starters it’s run by a newspaper – the German tabloid Bild, which immediately gives it high visibility. Especially given Bild already has a digital music subscription service, and also sells video.

It’s powered by Buecher, part of Holtzbrinck. Holtzbrinck, who also own Macmillan, are one of the Big Five publishers. (They're also behind the Skoobe ebook subscription service, which long predates the US getting subscription ebooks).

Oh, and Bertelsmann, one of the companies in the Tolino Alliance? They own Random House Penguin, the world’s biggest publisher.

Next time you read how the Big Five has its head in the sand about ebooks, bear that in mind.

“Glocalization” and “market fragmentation”

"Glocalization" and "market fragmentation" are terms you’ll often see on the EBUK blog

"Glocalization" is a combination of "globalization" and "local". It's a measure of how multinational companies go about their business in foreign lands. Do they stick out like a sore thumb or seamlessly interact with the local environment?

"Market fragmentation" means sales are going to more and more smaller retailers instead of one or two monolithic giants.

Let's look at those new retailers in Germany.  Those local German stores start off with an inbuilt advantage over foreign competition, even if the foreigners got there first–so they are already fragmenting the market. 

And sometimes the new kids on the block gain an advantage over the established players, because they don’t carry the inevitable baggage that accumulates with age.

Many Germans haven’t forgiven Amazon for originally launching the Kindle in Germany without even bothering to translate the packaging and manual (bad glocalization), and Amazon has had more than its fair share of bad press in Germany everything from tax avoidance to Nazis in the workplace – and it has continuing issues with employee strikes.

But thanks to the early start with the Kindle, Amazon has held its own in the ebook market.

So far.

But as market fragmentation accelerates, and glocalizing stores like Google Play, now 44 ebook stores worldwide, and – to a lesser extent – Kobo, compete with the other international players like ‘txtr (18 international ebook stores, plus partner stores) and Sony (seven global stores) and the many hundreds of new White Label stores that WILL materialize worldwide through 2014, it’s essential indies are in distribution networks that will get you everywhere.

It cannot be stressed strongly enough that – while Amazon, Apple, B&N and Kobo are your primary retailers in the US and UK markets, you need to be in a wider distribution network than just the current front-runners.

Can small presses and indies get into the Tolino Alliance stores? Given those links with trad publishers you might be thinking there’s not a snowball’s chance in hell. But Anne R. Allen has managed it. (Again, all credit goes to my publisher...Anne.) 

Here’s Anne in Buecher and in Thalia. And yes, she’s in Weltbid, Hugendubel, Club Bertelsmann too. Of course if Germans don’t want to buy Anne’s books from an Alliance store they can choose from other local German stores like ‘txtr, Ciando and Libreka (there are others!). And then of course Anne’s in Apple Germany, Amazon Germany, Kobo Germany, Sony Germany and even Nook Germany.

Obviously they will be focussed on German language titles, but don’t let that put you off. Click on this link to Anne in the Ciando store and check out what language the site is in. Yes, it’s in English. If you check out the Bild site they have a top 100 English-language ebook chart link prominently displayed on the home page.

Surprise, surprise, it’s all big name trad pubbed titles – but there’s a reason these big names got to be so big – it’s because they are available everywhere. And in the new world of global ebooks they will just get bigger and bigger, while indies can get left behind.

That’s why it’s so important to Go Global In 2014.

How many ebook stores will you have available in in Germany for 2014? The ebook market is just beginning to take off globally. Take five minutes out of your busy schedule to check if your titles are available in Germany and other key markets around the world. And if they are not, set an hour aside to do something about it.

To help you find your titles we’re making available our EBUK Global Footprint template 

This is an Excel sheet which lists the English-language ebook sites (or ebook sites accessible through an English language portal) in the countries to which we send newsletters.

Just drop us an email at info.ebookbargainsuk.com with “Footprint” in the subject bar.
We’ll send you a Global Footprint spreadsheet template that you can copy for each of your titles. We update these regularly, as new retailers emerge or as we increase our promo newsletter reach to new areas.

It will help you keep track not only of where you are (you may be pleasantly surprised to find you’re in more places than you thought) but all importantly where you are not.

For example, if you are in Amazon India through KDP and in India’s Flipkart store through Smashwords you are probably confident you have the burgeoning Indian ebook market sown up pat. But as you’ll see from our Global Footprint template you could also be selling ebooks in Landmark, Pothi, Infibeam (oh, go on then, here’s Anne in Infibeam), W. H. Smith India, Google Play India, Crossword, Newshunt and Rockstand, to name but a few.

Indians can also buy from stores like Smashwords, Diesel, Blio, All-Romance/Omni-Lit, Scribd and similar retailers that don't have territorial payment or download restrictions.

How many options are you offering Indian readers to buy your ebooks?

Why is it so important to be in all these smaller stores? Because being there is half the battle.

And that applies equally whether you are selling in the US, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, India or tiny Malta.

As we mentioned above, while Amazon will surcharge a Maltese reader wanting to buy your book, good old Nook have a Windows 8 option for Malta. And for those Maltese not using a Windows 8 app they can buy from their local Malta ebook store. Just one more of the many new retailers that launched since we were last here.

Among the other new arrivals Google Play opened ebook stores in Argentina, Chile, Peru, Colombia and Venezuela. In case you’re wondering,

Amazon has Kindle stores in none of these countries, and surcharges readers in all of them, so your Kindle-exclusive ebook is not going to be very appealing.

The Internet is called the "world wide web" for a reason. It is truly global. Your ebooks can be read, and talked about, pretty much anywhere on the planet. The question is, can they be bought?

Here’s the thing. When your many Amazon readers love your books and tell all their friends, many of those friends will be on other platforms. When those friends look on their favourite ebook site – which may be one of those unpronounceable ones you’ve never heard of – and find you're not there – you've just lost a sale.

You've also lost a sale from their proudly Australian friend down under who only buys from local Aussie stores like Dymocks, Booktopia or QBD.

And their Aunt Mabel who was given a smartphone for Christmas with a Blio app pre-installed and has no intention of learning how to use something new.

And when they wax lyrical to their relatives in Munich about your book and said relatives go to Thalia or Hugendugel and find it's not there for their treasured Tolino ereader you've lost another sale.

And when that first reader's cousin in Calcutta with the Infibeam Pi2 goes to buy your book from Infibeam, and their brother with the Akaash checks on Rockstand but your title is only on Amazon India and Flipkart...guess what?

Anne mentioned in her intro some of the unexpected places she’s had sales recently. It’s a safe bet these sales weren’t from casual browsers who happened to spot her books. They came from word of mouth recommendation over the 'Net – almost certainly from the ton of books Anne’s been selling on good old Amazon.

Yes, Amazon is by far Anne’s biggest selling platform, but the international market is where her new customers are coming from. Readers who don’t use Amazon probably heard about Anne’s books from readers who do.

Readers will find you. But only if you are there.

For indies wanting to sell globally it cannot be stressed strongly enough - if you are not in a retailer's catalogue you have no chance of selling there. Loyal customers to that store won't go setting up a new account somewhere else just for you. They will buy someone else's book instead.

Being there is half the battle.

What about you, Scriveners? Are you as gobsmacked by all this as I am? Who knew there were that many retailers? Or that indies can get into the big wholesaler catalogues? I'd never heard of a "phablet" before, had you? (I "corrected" it as  typo the first time, then realized it was a real thing.) I find this all very exciting, but also a bit overwhelming...how about you? 

Go Global In 2014!

Ebook Bargains UK

Far more than just another promo newsletter.

Far more than just the UK.

You can contact EBUK here. Their subscriber list is still relatively small compared to something like Bookbub or Ereader News Today, but they reach 14 countries – they just added Japan this week – plus they're inexpensive, offer lots of options and have the advantage of not being an Amazon affiliate. That means they don't get any money from Amazon or other retailers, so they can promo whatever books they like – even freebies –  on whatever sites are available, because they don't get a commission from any retailer.

Besides, they promote indie bookstores instead of the big four retailers.This week they're promoting Vromans in Pasadena in the US newsletter. (And our own Ruth Harris has a nice spotlight.) 

They will be rolling out more newsletters soon, including to the Middle East and Scandinavia, and each newsletter features links only to retailers available in that country /region. Same titles, but thirteen different sets of links. 

Jay Hounsell says "Advertisers should expect results in bingo numbers, not telephone numbers. For this reason we keep our fees very low and it's Buy One get One Free." Unlike other newsletters they offer a variety of listing options - One Day, Something For The Weekend, Featured Title of the Week, Author Spotlight, Series Showcase, etc.

Book of the Week

After reading all this, I'm kind of embarrassed to say my new ebook is only available at Amazon, but it will be on other platforms soon. If you do have a Kindle or Kindle app it's only $2.99 right now...Anne

My new comedy, The Lady of the Lakewood Diner is at Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon CA

Who shot Morgan le Fay? 

The Lady of the Lakewood Diner is a comedy about a six-decade friendship between an aging rock star and her childhood best friend—the owner of a seedy diner in Central Maine, who might be the only person who can figure out who's been trying to kill the rock diva. 

"This isn't just "funny women's fiction for the Woodstock generation," it's a canny cultural observation that brings to mind two of my favorite British authors, Barbara Pym and Penelope Fitzgerald. Yes, the humor is there and sometimes spew-your-cocktail funny, but the character depth and plot fulfillment go so far beyond the humor. I felt I knew these people. I felt I was there."...Debra Eve of "The Later Bloomer Blog."

"In a panoramic view sweeping three decades, Anne Allen's "The Lady of Lakewood Diner" integrates the suppression of the fifties into the growing counter-culture of the sixties and the anti-war protesters of the seventies, all through the lens of the young women who live it. Folk music, the U. S. moon landing, JFK, The Vietnam War, Martin Luther King, the birth of Rock n' Roll, racial unrest, feminism, lesbian and gay consciousness, improvisational theater, Woodstock, the struggle of Vietnam veterans returning home and growing political unrest of U.S. military involvement all become part of the young women's lives as they mature....A cultural masterpiece for the discerning reader."...Kathleen Keena, author of Adolescent Depression Outside/In

Opportunity Alerts

Dog Lovers! Here's one for you: AMERICAN KENNEL CLUB FICTION WRITING CONTEST NO ENTRY FEE. Submit one short story, maximum 2,000 words. Entries can be on any subject, but must feature a dog. (But it can't talk) Prizes $500, $240, $100. Deadline January 31.

CRAZYHORSE PRIZES IN FICTION, NONFICTION, POETRY $20 fee (includes subscription). This is a biggie, well worth the fee. This venerable literary magazine has published the likes of John Updike, Raymond Carver and Billy Collins. Winners in each category receive $2,000 and publication. Submit up to 25 pages of prose or three poems. All entries considered for publication. Submissions accepted in the month of January only.

2014 BETHLEHEM WRITERS ROUNDTABLE SHORT STORY AWARD $10 ENTRY FEE. Submit 2,000 words or fewer on the theme of "Food Stories". In addition to a $200 prize, the first place winner's story will be considered for print publication in the Bethlehem Writers Group's next anthology or as a featured story in Bethlehem Writers Roundtable. Their last anthology won Indie Book Awards for Best Anthology and Best Short Fiction. Second place will receive $100 + publication in the BWG Writers Roundtable. Deadline January 15th.

Geist Literary Postcard Contest Canada's favourite writing contest is back! Enter now for your chance at literary fame and fortune! How it works: Send a story and a postcard—the relationship can be as strong or as tangential as you like, so long as there is a clear connection between the story and the image. If you’re not sure where to look for a postcard, you can make your own or visit Wikimedia Commons. The story can be fiction or non-fiction; maximum length is 500 words. For a classic example of a postcard story, read "How to Survive in the Woods" or "Death in the Family." Prizes of $500, $250, and $100 CND $20 fee. Deadline February 1st.

Writers over 40: Midlife Collage is a literary website that runs a creative nonfiction essay contest every month with progressive cash prizes. Stories must be true. Approximately 800 words. All submissions are entered into a $50 Weekly Contest. If a writer wins a $50 Weekly Contest, the writer may submit a Never-Published Story into their next $100 Contest. More info at Midlife Collage contest page.

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