Saturday, August 28, 2010

Maybe My Book Won't Be Available In Kindle Soon!

Well, I thought I would have a Kindle version of my book The Game of Basketball available on Amazon by now. Like many things in life, I was wrong.  After successfully uploading my HTML file, created by converting my original print file to HTML, to Amazon's DTP, I received a copy from Amazon for approval before purchase.

I was horrified at the results! Changes in type size, font, and margins abounded through out the text. Most frustrating was the indentation of the left side margins in random locations. I don't know if this is a common experience, but the last thing I want is for a version of one of my books, especially my first book in the Kindle format, to have an interior that looks like the one I just described.

After some serious consideration of whether or not to even continue with the project, I have decided to pay a professional to have the file converted to the Kindle and ePub formats. I am well aware the conversion can be done for free by any individual. The results when I did the conversion myself were worth about as much as free is worth.

So I have now moved on to searching for a reputable individual or company that does Kindle and ePub conversions for a reasonable, or at least what I think is reasonable price, and who will do work that satisfies my requirements.  I like free. I prefer free. But I don't want those two or three killer negative reviews that can kill a book before it has a chance. To be honest, if I used the file I created, even though I truly believe the content of my book is excellent, well written and organized in a user friendly format, my book would deserve those book killing reviews.

I will revisit this topic again in the future for those interested in learning more about the Kindle conversion process.

Friday, August 20, 2010

My First Kindle Book Will Be Released Soon!

I have decided to bite the bullet and venture into the world of Amazon Kindle sales.  I managed to forget some of the information necessary to have my Kindle payments sent to my bank account and have yet to finish the uploading process. I accessed the Kindle DTP through my CreateSpace Dashboard.

The process is actually easier to use than the steps required to create a book file for CreateSpace's POD publishing system.  Kindle requires the cover file be a JPEG or TIFF file. I had my PDF file for my cover converted and converted the text file myself simply by saving it as a HTML file.

Amazon allows you to view the interior file of your book before approving it.  If there are problems you can halt the process and repair or create a new content file for the interior of you book. Not having seen the final results yet, it makes me feel like this is all too easy.

It gets better! Amazon does not charge a cent to create and publish a book on Kindle! 

If you book meets Amazon's criteria, you, the author can sign-up for the program that pays authors 70% of each sale! If that does not motivate you to finally self-publish your book, I don't know what will!

As my book moves through the process I will post information about my learning process and if the venture into Kindle was a successful one or not.  The book, The Game of Basketball, is available as a paperbook using CreateSpace's POD service.  The various experts in the field of POD urge authors to pick a format and stick with it so I have some trepidation about my decision. 

Still, the eBook is making inroads in the publishing world and better to learn now and correct my mistakes than wait until it is too late to take the plunge into the world of eBooks.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Is Traditional Publishing Dying? Is Amazon, POD and eBooks Changing Our Industry Forever?

Fifteen years ago I would have been able to find a publisher for my first book, Game Strategy and Tactics For Basketball: Bench Coaching for Success. I would still have been the one who did all the marketing and promotional work, but I would have benefited from the publisher's distribution system because I would have not been able to distribute the books except by direct sales. Nor would I have made as much money as I have.

Some of my other books would never have been published by a traditional publisher. Nor could I have afforded to use a vanity press to self-publish and risk tying up all that money in a press run of 1,000+ books that I might, or might not eventually be able to sell.

Amazon and advances in technology have changed everything for the author! While change can be painful, and what will transpire in the publishing/book selling industry in the coming few years will probably be painful for many, I think these changes will be good for authors and readers alike.

POD technology and distribution allows authors to have access to distribution, via Amazon and other on-line book sellers without the investment of large amounts of capital most authors do not have. eBooks offer another technology that allows authors to access potential readers via Amazon and the internet.  In both instances, POD and eBooks allow authors to reap more of the financial benefit of their efforts in the publishing industry.

I came across an excellent and in depth blog posting via another blog about self-publishing, The Publishing Maven.  The blog posting linked to from the Publishing Maven was authored by veteran author Norman Spinrad and is an explanation of what he believes to be the "death spiral" of the traditional publishing industry business model and publishing houses. It is a no holds barred look at the current state of industry.

Amazon appears to be the 900 pound gorilla in the current state of flux in the industry. Even with POD and eBook technology, without Amazon authors would not have the necessary distribution system to survive as self-published authors. Not only does Amazon market and advertise our books, it provides shipping and distribution, collects the funds from all sales and deposits the money in our bank accounts.

CreateSpace, a subsidiary of Amazon, allows us to access POD technology for paper print books as well as a wide range of author services. As of the time of this post being written, CreateSpace does not yet offer the self-publishing author the ability to have book files converted to the Kindle format as part of the publishing and distribution process.

Monday, August 16, 2010

CreateSpace, Amazon and Barnes and Noble - Expanded Distribution

When I self-published one of my first books about coaching basketball, a true disadvantage, albeit a small one, was the book would only be sold on the internet via my web site and Amazon. Since my business and marketing plan was to follow the sage advice of book marketing expert Aaron Shepherd as advocated in his book Aiming at Amazon, I did not see this as a problem. I planned to steer my sales to Amazon.

Without much fanfare several months ago, CreateSpace started a new program where authors could sign their books up for expanded distribution as part of the ProPlan service. I was in the process of publishing a new book at the time and went back and signed up for this service for all of my books. Within a period of two weeks the books I signed up for the service appeared on the Barnes and Noble web site.

I still did not think much of the expanded distribution service. I had enough to do trying to promote and market my books, work on new projects and keep up with my real job. Until I got last month's sales figures that is.

One of my books sold 36 copies last month. Eleven of those were via expanded distribution. The CreateSpace monthly report, which is much more detailed than it used to be, another positive improvement by CreateSpace, included a breakdown of how and where each copy was sold and on what date.  Eleven of those 36 sales took place on Barnes and Noble, not Amazon. Without lifting a single finger, I had sold eleven books!

That got my attention.  Eleven books may not sound like a lot, but it was nearly one third of that title's sales last month! I have to give CreateSpace their credit when it's due. While my profit per copy was less (the price you have to pay for expanded distribution sales - after all, Amazon is letting a competitor sell a book it is publishing for your), because of a new program that took me about 30 seconds to register my book for, I increased my sales.

This is one more positive feature authors searching for a company to use as their POD service.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Solid Advice for Authors Concerning Author Web Sites

I finally downloaded Kindle for Macs (free by the way) and purchased for $.99 Morris Rosenthal's latest Kindle book, Content SEO For Writers: Creating Websites That Work For Search Because They Work for People. It offers solid advice for authors who desire to build a web site that can be successfully used to promote the author's books. Rather than disclose the content of Morris' latest book, if you have a Kindle or download the free reader for your computer, spring for the cheap Kindle book. I suggest you do it quickly before Morris raises the price.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Using Amazon's Kindle for Market Research

I have yet to purchase a Kindle from Amazon though ostensibly my wife gave me a Nook for Christmas. I got to read a couple of Sherlock Holmes stories and that was the last time I got to use it. I have yet to have any of my paper books that are printed using POD technology to Kindle but the urge to both purchase a Kindle and convert, or write, a book for sale using the Kindle is increasing almost daily.

Today I read a blog posting by self-publishing expert Morris Rosenthal about his latest book. He has released it on Kindle only for $0.99. If it sells reasonably well and the feedback he receives is encouraging or helpful, Morris stated he will probably release a POD paper version of the book. Morris states up front in the blog posting about his book, it is about SEO for author websites, that the main reason he is selling it as a Kindle and for such a low price is to test the market to see if it is worth the investment of money and time to produce a paper book. Certainly food for thought as an inexpensive way to test the waters for a book idea.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Will Bookstores Become Things of the Past? Good or Bad News for Self-Publishing Authors?

We just returned from a much needed family vacation. During the course of the trip I managed to read some excellent fiction books that were part of a series and having finished the ones I brought with me, I ventured into a bookstore to purchase the next book in the series.  My wife commented on the fact this was the first book we had purchased from a brick and mortar bookstore we actually physically entered in some time.

After some reflection on her remark I realized she was not only correct, but I could not remember the last time I had purchased a book from a brick and mortar bookstore. This fact made me realize in a personal way as a self-published author just how much the book world has changed and will continue to change.  

When Amazon first went on-line it was not uncommon for readers to search for books on Amazon and then go to their local bookstore to purchase the book.  Now it is a common practice to see a book that looks interesting and to write down the title and upon arrival at home purchase the book, for less than it would have cost in the store, from Amazon.  For those of us who are price conscious, Amazon will even allow us to purchase used books (probably from brick and mortar stores struggling to adapt and survive).

Then along came the eBook. Like many self-publishing authors I have been watching this aspect of the publishing industry with interest. My wife purchased a Nook. She loves it. My daughter reads more from a computer or some type of reading device than she does real paper books. My college aged daughter uses electronic textbooks for some of her classes. Now my wife wants a Kindle.  The eBook is here to stay and will only grow in usage and popularity as the technology improves.

What does this mean for the self-published author? I think the trend, while sad, bodes well for those self-publishing authors who have written solid books, produced them in a professional manner and take the time and effort to properly market their books. Gone is the limiting factor that brick and mortar bookstores did not sell self-published books.

Amazon and the eBook revolution have changed this forever. In fact, self-publishing expert Aaron Shepard has long touted the idea self-publishing authors should not even attempt to sell books in traditional bookstores. Amazon, the internet and the ability for authors to sell directly to readers either via eBooks or a paper copy of a book printed-on-demand has removed the barrier between the author and the reader who wishes to purchase the author's books.

I doubt bookstores will completely fade away, if for no other reason than to sell used books or rare books. But the business model of brick and mortar bookstores will have to change for these stores to survive and that is probably good for self-publishing authors as well.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

More Might Be Better When It Comes to Self-Publishing and Making a Living

As a general rule, I believe in the old adage "less is more." You can do more and a better job when performing one task instead of spreading oneself too thin performing a variety of tasks. How many major corporations have lost their way by purchasing a wide range of companies and diversifying? After struggling to find their way in the touch and competitive world of business, these companies often sell off the divisions they purchased to diversify their business. In other words, they re-focused on their original business. Less became more.

In the world of self-publishing the opposite might be true, at least for the self-publishing author who is attempting to make a living in the publishing industry.

Why break with a principle that I believe to be true and not only practice, but encourage others to do so as well? For some simple reasons. I have no illusions that I can write a best selling blockbuster work of fiction that will hit the New York Times Bestseller's List and garner a movie deal in the process. But I do have considerable information to share about several non-fiction topics. None of these topics would appeal to a wide general audience.

If my goal is to make enough money to be able to quit "my other job" I am going to need to have multiple books selling one or two thousand copies a year. I am also going to have to keep researching and writing additional non-fiction books as the oldest titles on my self-published back list begin to decline in sales with the passage of time.

What is the perfect number of books to have in print as a self-publishing author? I do not know. I would imagine the given area of expertise and the amount of money a given author wants/needs to live for a fiscal year will be determining factor. If the author can write a book that will sell to a wide audience, it might be wise to focus on marketing that one single title and developing as many business opportunities as possible from that one book. For other authors it might take five or six books to generate the necessary income.

Regardless of the number of titles an author self-publishes, it takes lots of hard work and time.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Amazon Stokes the eReader Wars!

For those who have been following with interest the battle for market dominance in the world of eReaders, Amazon has once again raised the stakes. Early in June of 2010 Amazon lowered the price for a Kindle to $189. A Kindle is now available for $139 albeit it does not come with all the 3-G bells and whistles the $189 version does. The lower priced version does offer wi-fi and if you want one you will have to wait. 

A quick visit to the Amazon site and the $139 Kindle product page you will discover that as of August 4, 2010, the first production run has sold out and readers who want to obtain a Kindle will have to go on a waiting list. It will be interesting to see what the competition, Apple and Barnes and Noble, will do in response to this latest pricing challenge issued by Amazon.

Newsweek and Self-Publishing

The big news concerning the weekly news periodical, Newsweek, to most people is the fact the publication was sold for $1 to a new owner who hopes to resurrect the dying news giant!  For those of us interested in self-publishing, Newsweek might be of interest due to the article the magazine ran in its August 9, 2010 issue about self-publishing.

The article was a page in length and talked about recent trends in self-publishing including the fact that a few successful authors who had published using the traditional approach were now using self-publishing to get their works in print and reaping more of the profits as a result.

Overall, it was a good over view of self-publishing as it is today and the information was presented in a positive light. Also mentioned was the trend for many authors to self-publish using e-books as the medium of choice.