Writing in the Digital Age: Nook Press – A Boon, or Boondoggle?

Nook Press: Self Publishing made simple imageWill Collaboration Tools in Nook Press make it the Next Best Thing?

I dithered about whether or not to make Nook Press my topic today. There are other exciting things happening in the world of writing in the digital age (speaking of which, my second audiobook, The Next Best Bride released today). And all I’ve done, besides read the teeth-gritting TOS, and the FAQ, is migrate my PubIt account to Nook Press (something that was very easy for me).

But then I decided that Barnes & Noble has done something that may very well be a game-changer, or the biggest-thing-no-one-really-wants since electric socks. So I am going to make this a two part post.

Part the first (today’s subject matter): the interesting responses to Barnes and Noble announcing Nook Press.

First, a snippet or two from the press release:

NOOK Press builds on the success of PubIt!™, Barnes & Noble’s original self-publishing platform.  In just two and a half years since its launch, PubIt! has propelled many writers to become national bestselling authors, and the program continues to achieve incredible growth:

Hmmm. National bestselling authors. That’s probably pushing it, because to do that, an author needs to sell well on B&N and Amazon. But they have definitely given authors their chance at those lists, because combined B&N and Amazon sales made NY sit up and take notice, so I’ll give them half credit for that.

Leveraging technology from partner FastPencil, and designed with input from PubIt! authors, NOOK Press now offers unique collaboration, content creation and publishing tools in an elegant and intuitive interface.  With NOOK Press, Barnes & Noble continues its long tradition of connecting authors with great stories to millions of readers.

This. This is the interesting part. No other etailer offers collaboration tools (that I know of, please feel free to enlighten me in the comments section if you know of one). I have a Wattpad account, which allows collaborations, but no sales. B&N has staked a lot on the notion that writers and readers are looking for this kind of collaborative effort. Because I’m up for anything, I’m going to try it.

I nosed around a little, but I am unclear how to add beta readers (I don’t want collaborators per se, but only readers who can give me some insight into what readers are looking for, which is what we call beta readers). I’m also unclear if B&N has the same definition for beta readers as I do, since you appear to have to have a Nook Press account to be invited to beta read. I’ll be finding out more in the next two weeks, and I’ll share.

Apparently, among author communities, this collaboration tool is not enough to win high marks. Some snippets of what has been said around the blog block:

Holly Lisle takes issue with the terms (which I don’t find to be different from Amazon, Kobo, etc., but there was a linking glitch that made the contract in the entirety, royalty payment clause included, unreadable from within the portion that you had to accept).

Harry J. Connolly is not happy with the lending agreement that allows readers in B&N physical stores to read 100% of any given novel while in the store.

Passive Guy thinks B&N was a little tone-deaf to the changes authors using the PubIt program really wanted to see.

Overall, though, I’m hearing that authors are reacting with a wait-and-see attitude. I suspect some of us are tired of having to learn new interfaces every few months (the unavoidable side effect of rapid changes). However, I was already planning to try out the beta reader method that many successful authors have been using (get beta readers to help you pre-edit the manuscript to make it the best it can be for your core readers — not copy editing, but story editing like “I really wanted to see her reaction to him when he did that; etc.). The little things that readers need that authors…at least authors like me…sometimes forget to put on the page in enough detail and with enough impact). So, I’m going to try it with Shop and Let Die.

Wish me luck!

Part the second (coming in two weeks), my experience putting my soon-to-be-released Shop and Let Die through the Nook Press collaboration tool process.

So: boon or boondoggle? Time will tell.

Kelly McClymer is the author of the Once Upon a Wedding historical romance series (two out in audiobook just this month!); the Salem Witch teen trilogy, and three standalone novels, Blood Angel (YA fantasy), The Ex Files (chicklit), and Getting to Third Date (YA romcom). For fun, she is launching a new cozy noir genre with her upcoming Shop and Let Die. Oh, and as a new granny, she will be dipping her toe into writing for children, with Caleb Meets the World (pictures coming soon).




Writing in the Digital Age: Nook Press – A Boon, or Boondoggle? — 20 Comments

  1. I have hesitations about collaborating on line. A secure site today will be hacked tomorrow. Do I truly want my words, words that I own by copyright, out there in the world before publication? When I’m editing an anthology, do I want stories owned by other authors available to the world on such a site?

    I’m shying away from this feature. I see this as appealing to gamers collaborating on a story world. Not for me. I write pretty much in private until publication.

  2. I know what you mean, Phyllis. I think many writers are feeling this way. However, this is the new Wattpad-bred writer generation, so who knows what will happen.

    It just struck me as very coming-from-left-field. I still feel a little stunned by it. In some ways, it is encouraging, because they are thinking outside the box, so to speak. In another way, it does seem to do what the brick-and-mortar B&N stores did so well — community building.

    The question is, does the author community want this kind of building, or not? I’m guessing there will be a big divide among the yeas and the nays.

    • I would LOVE to be able to critique and collaborate via an ereader. I read and edit on an iPad and am limited to pdf for markup if I don’t want to spend a couple of hours transcribing highlights and notes back into Word. I prefer reading in the iBooks reader, but would switch to another if I could export a marked-up document or otherwise share with the author.

      But I do share the concerns about a system that doesn’t limit sharing to people I designate.

      • Sharon, I’m going through that right now. I like to load the critique ms on my iPad Kindle app to read. But note taking is not good, so I take hand notes. Then I have to transcribe. A real pain.

        As far as I can tell from my reading, I have to invite collaborators, no one can just add herself to my book without my approval. Anything else would be a nightmare.

  3. I don’t understand why people are up in arms about the “100% access to people using wifi in B&N stores” clause. That was in the PubIt contract as well (http://pubit.barnesandnoble.com/pubit_app/bn?t=reg_terms_print) and, furthermore, it replicates the fact that people can read 100% of your print book while they’re in a physical bookstore.

    Personally, I think the editing and collaboration features in the new Nook Press website are a huge waste of their effort. If you want beta readers, just send them a copy (EPUB or Word or PDF). You don’t want your beta readers editing your document! But that “edit and collaborate right on B&N’s website” feature is the big new differentiator of Nook Press vs. PubIt. I can’t imagine wanting to do that, nor can anybody I have discussed this with.

    • David, the collaborate and write on the website was a headscratcher for me, too. I have a process going. I use Scrivener to write, revise, and edit, and then Jutoh to create the epubs, and I like the way I do things.

      Beta readers on Nook Press can *not* edit the book — they can only comment. The one advantage I could see doing the beta reading portion of the publishing process on Nook Press is that the B&N community is a community of readers (as opposed to Amazon, which does more than books), so you may attract people to your beta project and then make sales of your other, non-beta, books to those who are your core audience.

      But that is a big if.

      On the other hand, I “grew up” in the traditional publishing world. I wrote and polished my book to an inch of its life before I gave it to an agent or editor. In the new Wattpad generation, that’s an old-fashioned concept. B&N may possibly have decided that pleasing the old fogies isn’t worth the time or effort. They may want to embrace the young ‘uns.

  4. I usually, but not always, write my novels in public, anyway. I have found that creating novels as a serial on my blog is a fantastic way to write. When I’m done I pay my editor to clean up the problems, but the night to night story telling, and the readers, keeps me from having plot holes.

    Also, if my character behaves in a way they readers don’t like, they let me know. After which, I write the character back into their good graces.

    It just isn’t something I think I’d use, but I do wish them well. (Note: I’ve just pulled my first novel down from Pubit, as I’ve decided to go with KDP Select, but I’ll be back after 90-days…maybe.)

    • Brian, I tried blog serialization, too, for the same reasons you say — motivation to write and see what readers say as you go along. And then, of course, you clean it up, get it edited, and publish it 🙂

  5. One thing this “collaboration” feature might work for is a writing class. Or a crit group. Could that be what they have in mind?

    It is a weird development. It’s not on anybody’s shortlist of things they want out of an e-publisher. While Apple may live (and sometimes die) by the principle of “give people what they never even knew they wanted until they’ve got it,” I’m not sure about this.

    I’ll be very interested to see how the experiment turns out.

    • Exactly, Judith. I do not know one author who had this on the short (or long) list of things they’d like to see B&N offer. I think the lack of much reaction in the writing community (yet) is reflective of that “hunh?” moment so many of us are experiencing.

  6. B&N is simply looking for a way to drag in readers. They don’t care about authors. If a bestselling novelist puts up his/her book and opens it to beta readers, just think of the excitement! Thousands of readers flocking to B&N.
    I realize with today’s social media that selling books has become a group effort and creating a community around the author is necessary for marketing. This introvert would rather starve.
    Sorry B&N. Provide real marketing if you want me to invest any effort. Provide me with a way to put print books on your shelves. Otherwise, you get Amazon’s crumbs.

    • I do wonder about that “drag in readers” part. One thing I noted is that authors will be doing the beta reader/collaborator invitations, and those who accept must join Nook Press. I’ve already decided in my “grand experiment” that I’ll offer more than Nook Press option for interested beta readers. I don’t want to shut people out. But I also want to see how it works inside Nook Press, too (I always want my cake and to eat it, too, to my mother’s grave disappointment).

  7. Pingback: Nightspore » Do Barnes & Noble want to sell e-books on the Nook?

  8. I haven’t etched my thoughts in stone, but what Holly reported on the contract was not exciting. Plus, I agree that none of this was on my short list — in fact, I’ve pointed out for years to people trying to create collaborative software for writing that people write for different reasons. A collaboration is very different from a solo effort. I want at least my first draft done before people chime in.

    For starters, I want to know what the diehard fans think of it. Then, betas from people who are not diehards would be interesting. But would that be what I want from B&N? No. I think Pat is closer to what’s happening here — they want to compete with Amazon/Goodreads. It may also benefit a certain type of writer. We’ll see.

    • True, Cat. But I think Holly was focused on the fact that the royalty rate was not referenced directly in the contract by percentage, which isn’t the case. The TOS is no worse than any of the others, as far as I could see — although I’m not a lawyer.

      My line in the sand for these grabby TOS is the term for parting ways. As long as I can do it at will, I’m good. Never had that deal with Kensington or Simon & Schuster. If that changes, then I guess I’ll go work at Starbucks.

  9. All that excitement about the relaunch of Pubit/Nook Press and it’s still US-only. If you’re outside the US like me, you still have to go via a distributor. You’d figure B&N could have opened to international authors like Amazon, Kobo, Smashwords, etc… did years ago.

    • Haven’t seen that mentioned at all, Cora, and I agree, you’d think they would open up to Internationals, even if they did something like have only three approved banks for payments to go through or something.

      I do understand that what with payments, that could become complicated. I hope it’s on their radar. I still think promotion is a bigger deal than this new path. But again, certain writers may find it interesting or valuable.

      Kelly, if B&N put the contract up and did not initially include certain things IN the contract that belong there, that tells me they are still as scatterbrained as the people who wasted eight hours of my time over a pulled review. That is definitely a lesser problem, but still does not make me sanguine about their long-term success. They don’t get the broad banner of “value added” — not what writers are trying to provide their readers, and that they should be providing to writers and readers.

      But if the contract is okay, and there is a fast exit clause, then I probably won’t pull my account.