Friday, September 6, 2013

Random House Still Trying to Outrun Amazon

This fascinating little industry tidbit (below) appeared in Publisher's Weekly a couple of weeks ago. Wattpad, for those of you who are not familiar with the site, features free chapters of self-published books. It boasts a readership in the millions. (Its Alexa ranking in the US is 2,553, which is very good.) This makes Wattpad an excellent platform for new writers, who generally care more about getting noticed than raking in the cash. (That comes later.)

Given Random/Penguin's recent launching of its various e-imprints, Loveswept among them, I was wondering how it was going to compete with the lure of Amazon's KDP Select, a program that has dominated the self-publishing scene for more than a decade. KDP Select allows writers to give away their books during 5 out of every 90 days in exchange for exclusive distributing rights. As a promotional tool. nothing beats giving something away for free, so Amazon, which has an immense reach, drew writers to it in droves.

Random/Penguin's strategy, apparently, is to give books away for free before they are released. Chapters will be published on the Wattpad site in serial form, another tried-and-true method for hooking readers.

The progress of Knox's novel, Truly, is something the industry will no doubt keep a close eye on. If Random/Penguin's strategy works, it will solve the pesky problem of how to build an online readership while undercutting Amazon's most successful marketing scheme.

Random House's Loveswept Partners With Wattpad

Publisher's Weekly, Aug 19, 2013

Thanks to a deal between Random House's digital-only romance imprint, Loveswept, and Wattpad, author Ruthie Knox will have her new series appear in serialized form on the online writing (and reading) community. Through the deal, Knox's novel Truly, which is the first title in a planned series, will debut on Wattpad as a free story in the fall, before being released as an e-book by Loveswept in August 2014.

Chapters from Truly will begin appearing on Wattpad on September 3, and continue to appear until the conclusion to the story is posted on November 4. Throughout the process, RH will invite Wattpad readers to take part in choosing the cover for the e-book. The effort, RH said, will also allow a high level of author access to Knox as readers will be able to use Wattpad's platform, which has mobile engagement, to contact her

Allison Dobson, v-p of business development and digital publishing at RH, said that Wattpad offers an "innovative approach to content creation and distribution," noting that the site already draws "millions of voracious readers" from all over the world.

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