Posts tagged ‘eBooks’

Self-published…print! AND…then what? (a personal journey account)

O.K., so here’s the reality for anyone interested in becoming an author, or for just whoever might want to know about the process involved when finally getting that tome of yours self-published.  Is it a harsh reality? If I let you think that way…you may never want to try the self-publishing route at all…so let’s just continue to consider it.  You’ve written a story, collection of poems, essays, or the like. You would like to share your work with the world, and thus would like to see it published.  However, despite that want and your gut feeling that your body of work is well-worth being appreciated by the rest of the world…you can not find it a traditional publishing house.

This is what this post is about then:  self-publishing.  Maybe even you are a wayy big-baller, and you don’t want to go the normal route, because you know the drill, and you want your own control over your project.  My first book is a children’s picture-book…and I know since I’m not Jim Carrey, or Spike Lee, who both have recently-published picture-books out right now…the likelihood of me scoring a publishing house, especially because I have my own friend/collaborator who is the artist/illustrator of my project…was pretty slim.  So I didn’t bother going there.

But let’s get to the heart of this post.  I found a printer.  Ingram/Spark.  Best outfit, in my mind, of having the best offerings.  Things like quality printing, fairly inexpensive finished products, and their highly touted global distribution network.  Their claim is 39,000 distributors:  like libraries, on-line retailers, and schools/universities…who if they were to choose your title out of Ingram’s catalogue, could then order as many copies as they would like to carry and or sell.  Which sounds SO exciting! All of those people, able to consider your work!

But…and isn’t there always that one big butt-head thing that stops us? The thing is, even though Ingram, unlike CreateSpace, allows an individual author to publish in a hardback format (aka Case Laminate) and that might be what you would like to see aside from just a paperback (definitely what libraries need) the cost, including an upgrade to a premium color package (for me, or for cookbooks, heavy graphics, etc. which includes a heavier stock of 70#)…is just too prohibitive.  My base price, plus shipping, plus allowing for the traditional ability for retailers to have a “return policy” on their orders, would totally negate any profit I could make, along with a truly horrifying thought that if a retailer could not sell my precious book — I would be on the hook for the return charges!

So, here’s what I have done:  I left my book listed with Ingram/Spark at a premium package.  I disallowed any return policy.  This alone, supposedly and most definitely, will preclude me from being on anyone’s must-order list! I priced it as high as I could to allow for the 55% discount (also supposedly such a tradition, no one will order unless you have allowed this deep cut)  and to allow just the base printing price to be covered.  I think there was something like a $1.80 or so, left-over as profit for myself and illustrator to share.  Because that’s our shared business-plan.  For any on-line retailer, there was still room to make a profit…but not without the gamble of first buying the product outright.  So I know that’s never going to happen.

What is going to happen now is that I am going to still have a very nice place to print off books, one at a time, or as many as I choose to have printed and shipped to me…at a very affordable price; and receiving, for that price..the best quality, professional book I can be proud of.  Then, I am going to continue marketing the eBook version, while at the same time promoting sales of a hardback version, through my own website.  The next marketing move for me, after I can see if I can work out an agreement with any major stores/chains, etc., will be to do just like the big-boy publishers are doing:  print it overseas.  During a recent foray into Barnes & Noble, I found almost every picture-book to have been published (no matter the famous publishing-house) in either China, or Malaysia.

Now, definitely, you may be able to score sales from the global network program, if you are just merely looking to have a paperback listed on Amazon, and hopefully other retailers.  You will be much luckier than I in that regard, as your book will be much less costly to produce, and therefore can be picked up by other retailers! Yay for you! 🙂

Also, do not forget to produce your book in an eBook format!   If you sell it primarily on the internet, you will need to focus all of your attention on marketing it on the internet where you feel your core group can be found. The business (and it is a business) of marketing is almost full-time, and can take very valuable time away from what you love best:  writing! You may then consider, if your finances allow for it, a marketing team to boost awareness of your product.

When I decide I have some buyers for bigger venues, and I am ready to commit time to local fairs, shows, etc., I will order the minimum shipment allowable (like $3,500 worth) of books from China.  Meanwhile, I am happy to sell them one at a time through word of mouth, or like last week, one copy to a nearby lunch patron who was at the same bistro where I was holding a signing!

The true excitement and value comes when just that one person tells you they like your book.  It’s even better when they are a sweet, loveable child and the story reached them innocently, without that child worrying about how the story came by them and what marketing strategies the writer had to employ…it just came to them.  And they tell you they loved it! My book is titled ‘Spoiled Pink’, and the little girl dressed herself (she was 7) all in pink, to meet me! And what was even cooler, is that she and her mom already had a copy of the book, but just wanted to meet me and have it signed! That, to me, is what it’s all about!

 

 

 

 

Entering the eBook World…recently self-published account

It’s a beautifully overcast day, so I’m going to keep with the mood, and write a mellow account of my foray into the world of electronic publishing.  To make it even easier (for myself, as well as you, dear reader) I am going to recommend, right off the bat — that you buy this wonderfully inexpensive, informative eBook:  Laura Shabott’s 2013 title, Confessions of an eBook Virgin:  What everyone should know before they publish on the Internet.  It is only .99! You can purchase it directly from Amazon; even download a kindle-type reading device that will allow you to read it on most tablet devices.  And there you will begin to learn all about eBooks!

I then looked into Smashwords, BookBaby, Google Books, Amazon/CreateSpace, and finally settled for having my eBook converted by ConvertAbook…mostly because they were inexpensive for doing the actual conversion of my printed file, and also because everyone else was busy in November, with a huge number of authors looking to get their works converted and on online retailer’s shelves for the Christmas (2013) holiday buying season.

ConvertAbook has a customer service team who answers calls and emails readily, and looks immediately at any issues you may be having.  They are very inexpensive to use…but if you need more assistance, BookBaby or Smashwords claim to offer more.  I do believe they charge more for this assist…ConvertAbook for instance does not upload your finished file to your eBook retailer’s, such as Amazon and the iTunes store.  This, only by the enduring persistence and intelligence of my web designer guy, was the only way that happened for me.  And even with that, it was a frustratingly long experience.

Why frustrating? Because my title was a picture-book…yep, apparently I chose the most difficult genre to produce…as the pictures and the story have to be in a fixed-format style, for most eReaders.  Once it was on-line though, the split between Amazon/iTunes and myself was 70/30.  Not a bad split.  Evidently, with everyone rushing to get an eBook out these days, and pricing them at free, to 99 cents and up…the online retailer’s are trying to hold the line at quality, and hoping to get author’s to price their product’s a little higher as to avoid just a garage-sale type atmosphere.  If you price them higher then, you are able to retain a higher percentage from sales.  Makes sense to me!

You can also google Digital World, and join up to receive on-going information about the eBook world.  If you have your heart set on a certain timeframe by which you want to see it up and on on-line retailer’s eShelves…best give yourself some time, explore a book such as the one mentioned above (I do not know Laura S., nor, as you can tell by my huge following, accept any paid advertising!) and do look into what the afore-mentioned companies have to offer you…and then, based on who you choose to go with…get in line! Because the eBook market is getting busier every day!

Above information learned while converting and uploading my children’s picture-book, ‘Spoiled Pink’, into both the Kindle version on Amazon, as well as for Apple’s iTunes’ book store.

http://www.thespoiledpinkbook.com

 

Self-published (recently) with tips! *PART ONE*

This past November, I self-published my first title, a children’s picture-book…’Spoiled Pink’.  In learning several things regarding the publishing world, I decided perhaps if anyone were to read this, they could pick up a few tips, and perhaps spare themselves some of the angst I experienced in my first foray into self-publishing.  I will try to keep it quick, and to the point.

1.  I’ve been reading different people’s blogs to both motivate myself, and to glean the tips they freely provide.  I used to think it would be nice to connect to people as well, but I know that with a purported 77 million bloggers world-wide, the chances of me finding and connecting with people who could become friends is very limited.  Even with those odds! 77 million users! A serious writer must of course eventually realize that this is very much a solitary pursuit…and while becoming educated to the ways of the writers’ world…you should not expect much more.  Information and entertainment (limit your reading time, or you will find little time to hone your own craft!) are about the best one can expect.  And that alone is worthy of gratefulness.  So read other people’s tips! They can be motivational, educational, and save you time!

2.  On content:  Having said the above, take everything with the proverbial grain of salt. I have read a lot of people’s blogs regarding initial works you may feel ready to publish…and a lot of them say, just get it out there! Forget the fear! Push on…”My first book…I use now as a doorstop, but I’ve learned so much since then.”  A writer, they go on to say, is continually perfecting their craft.  While that of course is true, please take it upon yourself to make sure your best effort is exactly that — your best effort! Nothing cemented the concept of it being the best it could possibly be, until I read the Kirkus Indie review I had paid for.  The first words I read… “debut picture-book” immediately chilled me to the bone.  I was already labeled as a children’s author…and it had been duly noted that this was my first “attempt” at being a writer.  Traditionally, you were judged based on your first work.  And if that wasn’t the best and did not garner glowing reviews or sales…that was it.  One statistic I remember from somewhere is that most writers publish only one title in their lifetime. Not adding up possible life-times…this is not an encouraging stat! Bottom line…even though this is about self-publishing, and a lot of people are currently into just that…don’t discourage your future self from getting out that second title! Do hire an editor, a graphic designer for your cover art (Our Kirkus Indie review said the ‘Spoiled Pink’ cover was brilliant) AND, get yourself a Kirkus Indie review. The five hundred plus bucks is well worth it.  It can also clue you in as to what may need to be done to your work to get it even more polished.  The best part is being able to use it in all of your marketing efforts.  Maybe even if your reviewer happened to be off his/her game that day and gave your book a passing nod…sometimes this is all it takes for people to notice you. Hey, someone thinks, Kirkus said it was good…so it must be. Then, like the ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’, you’ve convinced not only someone to read your book, but perhaps already be preconditioned to like it!

3.  It’s ready…where to publish?  I myself opted for CreateSpace, right off the bat.  Seems everyone was using them, they were inexpensive; and as a subsidiary of Amazon…you got your title up on Amazon instantaneously, with a promise of possible world-wide distribution.  It seemed the route to go, and boldly I went.  I found out a couple of things.  The cost of publishing pretty much precludes a realistic partnering with any outside retailers because of one big rule. Traditionally and more importantly, because of our current economic climate, there is little room for pricing variables and booksellers need to be able to return any books they can not sell.  Amazon/CreateSpace does not allow for such a practice.  Bottom line:  You will not have anyone order your books to sell in their on-line businesses, or brick and mortar stores.  Other things that did not go well:  shipping practices.  The first copy I held in my hand had high-quality printing and binding, and beautiful rich color…but had suffered its ride to my home.  The first few pages were wrinkled and the front cover was creased.  I googled shipping problems, and found that they simply ignored all complaints, and never addressed the very real need to add protective materials to their shipping.  As for pricing, I was dismayed to see Amazon reduce the price of my book after only 24 hours.  Only then did I look at the contract between me and about fifteen of Amazon’s best attorneys, and read that they were free to price my title at whatever they wanted, at any given time. This ticked me off just a tad, as of course, our first and immediate sales are to the locals and to our relatives and immediate friends and sphere.  Here I was quoting them one price, and here was Amazon, offering it up at something else.  I recall an immediate discount of like 17% — overnight! In any event, that was enough to get me to drop them the very next day.  

*PART TWO* (to be continued) My new relationship with Ingram/Sparks!

*PART THREE* (to be continued) All I know (NOW!) about eBooks!

Above information garnered while producing http://www.thespoiledpinkbook.com 

 

 

Where did January go?

Luckily, this is the second year in a row that I did not make resolutions.  On purpose.  If I had, I’m sure the not-blogging-enough guilt would be kicking in about now.  But it hasn’t, and that’s nice.  What wasn’t nice was January.  This is both a catch-up with what I’ve been doing, as well as an outline of what set me off in January, which I will be detailing herein for very near posts. 

Things that have prevented me from blogging:

Kicking off the beginning of January…was a huge gulf of sadness at the life that my grandmother leads in an assisted-living-till-dead, nursing home in the State of Texas.  It’s kind of a long and strange story for one post, but suffice it to say, Texas SUCKS as the worst State in the Nation for poorly run homes (I’ve learned by reading statistics) and I’m incredibly saddened by what I’ve witnessed.  I can’t believe the care that is not given, and the state of affairs for our elderly.  I was not allowed to visit with my grandmother, as she is oppressed by both her current caregivers, and the two people who finagled a Power of Attorney over her…her own children. (The black sheep of the family at that!) Her other two daughters are on the good side, and have been freaking out over the state of their mom for the last two months.

My grandmother claimed she had been kicked, and strong-armed by someone there at the facility…but when I showed up…to take her for X-rays, needed glasses, and a shopping run for much needed supplies; I was told I could not accompany her to her room, take pictures of her, or use my camera as a recording device.  I was also not allowed to take her off of the premises.  (Full story later)

Next up for me, came the sickness it seemed everyone was suffering.  This lasted 3 weeks or so, and the less I speak of those dreary days, the better.

Interested in self-publishing? I will launch into a post about that soon, because January consisted of trying to get two versions of an eBook launched; and waiting to get well again, before I could launch myself and my book, ‘Spoiled Pink’, into the world of book-signings again.

How about real estate? Thinking of buying, selling, or just tearing your hair out over the prospect of never getting an offer accepted? I’ve got a future post on that too…seeing as how I’ve sold real estate the last twenty plus years, and have a partner/husband going through a lengthy legal battle right now…trying to procure his rights, and a commission to a deal he more than procured.  I’m going to detail why your offers are not being accepted, and why real estate laws have to change…to protect the seller, would-be home owners, and the very economy…which is the underpinning to our economic survival! Anyhow, in January it’s been talk of our lawsuit…talk of lack of inventory…and how prices now, may very well blow up in our faces yet again! (So very near post on our current real estate scenario, and what drastically needs to change in the real estate world.)

Lastly, I’ve been struggling to stay out of all of this drudgery, and continue writing.  But what I’m currently working on is a picture-book of poems/prose for children, which is supposed to be all airy & bright.  Full of hope, and good cheer.  Stuff that us grownups rarely seem to encounter these days.

 
A future post to be expected too, on surviving as best as one can, learning which battles to be fought, and how to fight for what matters,like the elderly. Keeping happiness and joy alive, so we can keep hope alive for our children…is very important to me. 

 

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