Friday, December 20, 2013

Barriers to International eBook Sales: Guest Post by Tara Maya

Tara Maya is the author of The Unfinished Song (Book 1): Initiate, an epic fantasy for young adults. She has a successful blog/website, and is one of those writers that draws on a myriad of life experiences to create her sweeping stories. Today Tara is talking about some of the aspects of selling eBooks on the international market. Included below her guest post is information about her book - along with an excerpt - and links to find out more about her. 


3 Barriers to Ebooks on the International Market

There are three important barriers to selling ebooks on an open international market.

Technological Barriers
As far as your computer is concerned, there should be no international borders. The internet is global, but there are connectivity issues for some countries. The United States has the greatest penetration of ereaders, with the UK about a year behind, and other countries behind that.

Eventually, however, most countries will probably make the same leap from paper to ereaders. Third World countries where paper books are expensive may leapfrog directly to ereaders in the long term.

Penetration of the ebook technology impacts sales in the short term, but is it a good idea to sell international right (while keeping US or UK rights)? Of course, this will depend on the author, but in the long term, authors should assume that the entire global market will switch mainly to ebooks.

Legal Barriers
Traditionally, authors sold rights to publish their work separately through different local publishers on a national basis. Nations, meanwhile, regulated books sales within their borders. The two systems meshed.

Now, in theory, indie sellers on Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo and other international venders, can opt to sell their books worldwide in one swoop. Yay!

Unfortunately, the laws of the various states still impede free global commerce. Many states have protectionist laws, which apply both to merchandise in general, and—unfortunately—ebooks in particular. A number of countries have prejudicial taxes levied against ebooks (but not paperbacks) or against international venders (to support government-favored businesses).

A more serious problem in some nations (such as China or Iran) is censorship. Not long ago, for instance, China passed a bizarre law forbidding time travel as a literary device in fiction. While the recent Star Trek movie has made me sympathetic to this urge, it’s obvious that such laws are extremely hostile to both an open market and the flowering of the creative arts.

Language Barriers
Even if technological penetration proceeded evenly and if there were no protectionist or censorship laws imposed by nation states, a huge barrier remains from the point of view of an author selling ebooks internationally. This is the oldest barrier to intellectual cooperation of them all, the language barrier.

Writers using English have access to the largest and most progressive ebook market, and therefore are going to be most tempted to ignore other markets. Writers in Lithuanian are more likely to pursue translation.

There are three possible solutions to the translation problem. One is better translation software, but this seems remote at the moment. Present generation software translators do not even suffice to translate email legibly, never mind literature.

The other is a more accessible service market of translators. Right now most qualified translators will not work on spec, and the cost of their services is well beyond what indies can afford.

One third option would be if a large company such as Amazon, Google, Kobo or some new player, were to have their own team of translators (perhaps aided by software to make their work economically practical) who would offer to translate books sold through their sites. They could vastly increase the number of books they could offer to international customers, and by keeping translators on salary, decrease the risk to translators of translating less popular works.

Meanwhile, any author who can make their book available in languages like French, Japanese or German can take advantage of the smaller pool of competitors.


The Unfinished Song (Book 1): Initiate by Tara Maya


Dindi can't do anything right, maybe because she spends more time dancing with pixies than doing her chores. Her clan hopes to marry her off and settle her down, but she dreams of becoming a Tavaedi, one of the powerful warrior-dancers whose secret magics are revealed only to those who pass a mysterious Test during the Initiation ceremony. The problem? No-one in Dindi's clan has ever passed the Test. Her grandmother died trying. But Dindi has a plan.

Kavio is the most powerful warrior-dancer in Faearth, but when he is exiled from the tribehold for a crime he didn't commit, he decides to shed his old life. If roving cannibals and hexers don't kill him first, this is his chance to escape the shadow of his father's wars and his mother's curse. But when he rescues a young Initiate girl, he finds himself drawn into as deadly a plot as any he left behind. He must decide whether to walk away or fight for her... assuming she would even accept the help of an exile.

Blue-skinned rusalki grappled Dindi under the churning surface of the river. She could feel their claws dig into her arms. Their riverweed-like hair entangled her legs when she tried to kick back to the surface. She only managed to gulp a few breaths of air before they pulled her under again.

She hadn't appreciated how fast and deep the river was. On her second gasp for air, she saw that the current was already dragging her out of sight of the screaming girls on the bank. A whirlpool of froth and fae roiled between two large rocks in the middle of the river. The rusalka and her sisters tugged Dindi toward it. Other water fae joined the rusalki. Long snouted pookas, turtle-like kappas and hairy-armed gwyllions all swam around her, leading her to the whirlpool, where even more fae swirled in the whitewater.

"Join our circle, Dindi!" the fae voices gurgled under the water. "Dance with us forever!"

"No!" She kicked and swam and stole another gasp for air before they snagged her again. There were so many of them now, all pulling her down, all singing to the tune of the rushing river. She tried to shout, "Dispel!" but swallowed water instead. Her head hit a rock, disorienting her. She sank, this time sure she wouldn't be coming up again.

"Dispel!" It was a man's voice.

Strong arms encircled her and lifted her until her arms and head broke the surface. Her rescuer swam with her toward the shore. He overpowered the current, he shrugged aside the hands of the water faeries stroking his hair and arms. When he reached the shallows, he scooped Dindi into his arms and carried her the rest of the way to the grassy bank. He set her down gently.

She coughed out some water while he supported her back.

"Better?" he asked.

She nodded. He was young--only a few years older than she. The aura of confidence and competence he radiated made him seem older. Without knowing quite why, she was certain he was a Tavaedi.

"Good." He had a gorgeous smile. A wisp of his dark bangs dangled over one eye. He brushed his dripping hair back over his head.

Dindi's hand touched skin--he was not wearing any shirt. Both of them were sopping wet. On him, that meant trickles of water coursed over a bedrock of muscle. As for her, the thin white wrap clung transparently to her body like a wet leaf. She blushed.

"It might have been easier to swim if you had let go of that," he teased. He touched her hand, which was closed around something. "What were you holding onto so tightly that it mattered more than drowning?"

About Tara Maya 
 Tara Maya has lived in Africa, Europe and Asia. She's pounded sorghum with mortar and pestle in a little clay village where the jungle meets the desert, meditated in a Buddhist monastery in the Himalayas and sailed the Volga river to a secret city that was once the heart of the Soviet space program. This first-hand experience, as well as research into the strange and piquant histories of lost civilizations, inspires her writing. Her terrible housekeeping, however, is entirely the fault of pixies.

Tara’s blog
Tara’s Twitter
The Unfinished Song on Facebook
Barnes and Noble

Initiate is free everywhere except on Barnes and Noble (where it’s $0.99). You can download a free .epub version via Smashwords.

1 comment:

  1. No matter the barriers authors do their best to get their books read by as many as possible. While my country may not be as saturated with e-readers as others, there are a lot of computers and flash drives for those who don't own computers to keep their files until they access one. For my books next year I plan to do a lot of foot promotion of pdf copies for what would translate to around $2.50-3 USD. With the high prices of books I hope my books will help offer an affordable alternative to readers who are willing to read affordable books on their computers. I think you made some great points today Tara. Thanks for sharing.


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