The growth of self-publishing (and not of sales!)

Millions of self-published authors started to flock to Amazon.
They haven’t worked with experienced editors or a great designer. But Amazon is more than a fantastic place for book lovers to search for book: it is also a fantastic place for readers to talk directly to authors.
In fact, book readers love Amazon; they can easily find the books that they want at great prices, get recommendation and find used and rare books.
Amazon allows us to create our free author account; the beauty of this page is that we are the only one who controls it. We decide how to present our author biographical information and book synopsis. We can begin to appreciate the opportunity we are handed with our account.
An important element is that people like what other people like. Peer to peer reviews have never been more important! Readers who stumble across an unknown book by unknown author ( just like me …) are going to be very interested in the reviews -both the star ratings and what the individual readers had to say. People consider customer reviews and rating when deciding which titles to promote. Good reviews in online bookstores, such as Amazon, make a difference to sales.
A book won’t appear in top 100 lists without (honest) reader feedback. Constructive feedback tells authors what they are doing wrong and shows them specifically how to correct it. Positive feedback boosts business and criticism can help they to improve their offering. Unfortunately, if you are not an Amazon bestseller, you are not going to be in the top.
Just like being popular in high school, it may not mean all that much in real world.

Preferential attachment in the growth of self-publishing

In the old days, if you were accepted by the publisher, you passed the test. Now, customers vote on the book’s quality, in terms of reviews and ranking on Amazon.
I perform a schematic study of the preferential attachment mechanism (and the fitness model) in networks.
The classical preferential attachment mechanism for networks by Barabási and Albert (1999) assumes a linear relationship between the number of neighbors of a node in a network and the probability of attachment.
Preferential attachment is often referred to as the “rich get richer” scheme, meaning that hubs (i.e. hubs are nodes with high degree) grow faster than low-degree nodes (i.e. the degree of a vertex of a graph is the number of edges incident to the vertex).
Many networks represent asymmetric relationships represented by vertices and edges.
These relationships allow us to distinguish active and passive nodes, depending on the role they play in the creation of edges:

  • Some networks are directed: each edge possesses an intrinsic orientation from one node to another;
  • Some networks are bipartite: a bipartite network contains two kinds of vertices, and all edges connect one node type with the other. We can distinguish between active and passive nodes.

Social networks consist of person connected in general by friendship. Some social networks are undirected, and others are directed. For directed social networks, a directed edge from person A to person B means that person A is following or otherwise connected in an unilateral way with another person.
In a social network, preferential attachment results in the rule that people who already have many ties are more likely to receive new ties. In directed social networks, preferential attachment means that people who are followed by many people are more likely to receive new followers.
We could think of Amazon as a user-product rating network . Given a set of users and their reviews of items, recommendation system generate ranked lists of items to recommend to individual users.
We could focus on generating a directed weighted graph among users as a projection of a bipartite graph of users’ ratings of items. The projection contains weighted edges that reflect the degree of connections between two nodes. There are two sets of nodes: one for items and one for users.
The degree distribution over users and degree distribution over items follow power-law distribution.
Unfortunately, there is a fair amount of luck involved in writing and selling your book.
Some readers can afford to be very selective and will not consider taking on a first time author (and book), unless you happen to be already famous.
In self-publishing, as an author, some companies won’t take your book on their site unless you have a certain amount of stars (I know how frustrating it can be, especially when you’re first getting started!). These companies simply don’t have enough time to read every book submitted to them to find out for themselves whether this book was good or not. Their criteria is that the book must have 4-5 stars and have at least 4-6 reviewers on Amazon.
Everyone has their own interpretation of what each star means. Some people think they are being generous if they give 3 stars, others think 4 stars is being way too harsh. It’s a broken system.
Ok, nobody likes customer reviews and everyone keeps quiet and says as little as possible. However, it’s important to know what readers think about a book. Personally, I’d like to read a critical book review of my book, “The Physics of…”, for better or for worse.


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