Saturday, April 30, 2011

Books for the Author Considering Self-Publishing Part I

Self-publishing is more than just writing a manuscript and getting the book into print. It is an entire business and a growing industry. Technology plays a huge role in today's self-publishing industry, allowing a single author to build a successful small business.

Self-publishing is also a jack-of-all trades industry. Not only does the author have to write a good book for the book to succeed, the book has to be designed, both the interior and the cover, a method of printing selected, a business model devised, accounting procedures set-up, a marketing and distribution plan created and put in place, book reviews obtained and entire host of other skills learned, mastered or at least aware of.

I have read dozens of books, some really good, some really bad and some in between. For my next few posts I am going to post the books I strongly suggest authors considering self-publishing obtain and read as part of their self-taught learning curve.

The first suggested books are essentially mandatory reading if you are going to self-publish. Aiming at Amazon, Perfect Pages and POD for Profit are all written and self-published by Aaron Shepard, one of the foremost authorities on today's self-publishing industry. Aiming at Amazon focuses on selling books through and provides an entire business and marketing model for self-published authors using this approach.

Perfect Pages describes how to use Microsoft Word to design and create the interior file of a book for use with a print-on-demand printing and distribution service.

POD for Profit focuses on using Lightning Source as a print-on-demand printer and distributor. The book also discusses all the ins and outs of this business model and using LSI effectively and dealing with the quirks of this POD printer and distributor. Even if CreateSpace is to be used as the POD printing service, this book is mandatory reading.

Morris Rosenthal's Print-on-Demand Book Publishing: A New Approach to Printing and Marketing Books for Publishers and Self-publishing Authors is the best overview of the print-on-demand business model. This book is essential reading in order to understand the business side of self-publishing using print-on-demand.

For those authors who are considering using CreateSpace for POD service and distribution I suggest two books. My own Self-publishing With CreateSpace: A Resource Guide for Authors Considering Self-Publishing and Christie Pinheiro's Step-by-Step Guide to Self-Publishing for Profit!:Start Your Own Home-Based Publishing Company and Publish Your Non-Fiction Book with CreateSpace and Amazon.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Review of Writing As a Small Business by Nash Black

Being a self-published author is a business. This means the author must run his or her affairs like a business in order to be successful as a self-publisher. When starting down the path to learn all that is necessary to successfully self-publish, most authors focus on writing and marketing their book. Writing as a Small Business, Kindle Edition looks at the tax side of being a working author.

I was amazed at the shear amount of information in the book and while I did not understand much of it - I don't do our taxes and don't understand accounting, I quickly realized after about 45 minutes of reading this was a book I was going to have read several times and there was much to learn.

Christie Pinheiro, who hosts the blog The Publishing Maven, is a tax accountant and may have more to contribute on this matter.

I do not feel comfortable commenting about the content as I quickly realized how much I do not know about this topic. I do want to say for $2.99 this book has lots of information. Black does an excellent job of writing in a clear and easy to understand fashion, making the topic much less intimidating to me.

While the focus is on taxes and record keeping, the information covers a wide range of topics about running a small business from a publishing point of view. What records must be kept, what do all those accounting terms mean, dealing with audits, types of small businesses, methods and types of publishing, legal issues, estate planning and more.

This is a valuable resource and has joined books on my list of must reads for any author planning to venture into the realm of self-publishing.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Self-publishing Revolution: POD Paperbooks and eBooks - How Big Is The Change?

I write non-fiction books for a niche specialty market. Initially, all of my books were available as trade paperbacks only and were printed utilizing print-on-demand technology. Three of those titles are now available as Kindle books with two more titles in the process of being converted. Five years ago, for me to have published my books would have required a contract with a traditional publisher or an expensive outlay of capital on my part to have a off-set press run of books printed if I chose to self-publish.

Technology has changed everything and Amazon and Barnes and Noble have given me access to customers I could not have obtained any other way. eBooks are further changing the publishing industry and self-publishing does not bear the stigma it once did. In fact, I expect in the future to see larger and larger numbers of authors self-publishing, either via Amazon's Kindle or another format or with POD services such as Amazon's CreateSpace.

Amanda Hocking and J.A. Konrad have made names for themselves as self-publishers who are experiencing success writing genre fiction and selling their work themselves via outlets such as Amazon's Kindle. A quick read of Konrad's blog for authors will let you see just how big an advocate Konrad has become of self-publishing. Mr. Konrad is making a living as a self-published author and not looking back and encourages others to consider self-publishing as well.

How big of an impact has self-publishing and eBooks made on the publishing industry? It is hard to tell. In fact, the big players in the industry do not know the answer to that question themselves. One thing is for certain, self-publishing using either print-on-demand technology or eBooks is here to stay. The publishing houses who make peace with this fact and adapt will survive. Those publishing houses who do not, will go the way of the dinosaur.

What does this mean for the average self-published author? Who knows. We all dream of our book becoming a bestseller, or at least making a reasonable sum of money, but for most of us, the truth is we will be lucky if we sell a few hundred copies of our book. The public, and not the large publishing houses, are the "gate keepers" of quality in books, a fact the large publishing houses seem to not understand.

Some things in the industry will not change. If the book is not a good one, it won't sell. The author must have a sound marketing plan and execute the plan with vigor and aggression. Technology is making this easier than ever before for self-published authors, but the fact remains, there is no substitute for a good book, a good marketing and promotional plan and hard work. As authors we live in interesting times.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Indie Book Reviewer Yellow Pages - New Edition!

Pasted below is Christie's short blog posting announcing the release of the 2nd Edition of this excellent resource. I have already forked over my 99 cents for my copy!

Here's the links to the Indie Book Reviewer Yellow Pages. The Kindle edition is only 99 cents right now. I'll keep it at that price for about a month, so all the people who bought the first edition can get the updated version cheaply.

I did a paperback, Kindle, and Nook version this time, so everyone can use this valuable resource, no matter what type of reading format you prefer. I would appreciate it if everyone could leave a review if they find this reference useful.

I'll be doing a spotlight feature on the reviewers in the book, about one every other day.

CreateSpace Experimenting With Eliminating Proof Copies

The following is a direct copy of an e-mail from CreateSpace. CS is offering a trial service to authors with multiple titles with CS. If I publish a new title between now and May 27th, I can skip the proof copy stage. This saves me a few dollars in the process of getting my book in print, but I always manage to find flaws requiring change in the proof copy. For the brave though, it will save some money.

Hello Kevin, 

As an experienced CreateSpace author, we need your help. In our continual effort to improve the book setup process, we want you to try a new option in your account. When you upload files from now through May 27, you can choose to order a book proof or skip the proofing process altogether. 

As part of this limited trial we'll ask you to complete a survey about your experience. Your feedback is important, and it will help us decide if we should keep this option and invite more authors to try it out.

We look forward to hearing what you think!

Warm Regards, 


CreateSpace Kindle Conversion Round Three Update!

With the release of my latest title, Goal Setting for Sport: A Concise Guide for Coaches and Athletes, I have once again secured the services of CreateSpace, the POD printer for Goal Setting for Sport, to prepare the Kindle files so I can offer a Kindle version of the book. Since I plan to convert some of my back titles to Kindle books, I decided to go ahead and spring for Better Basketball Practices to be converted as well.

Some things have changed since my last Kindle conversion using CreateSpace as the service provider. The price of the basic conversion service is still $69. However, I found out including diagrams can drive up the cost quite a bit. Goal Setting for Sport is all text but alas, Better Basketball Practices is filled with diagrams, to the tune of a total price tag of $175. Still, this is not a bad price for the amount of work involved and below the average price of many companies performing quality conversion work.

The turnaround time has increased by two weeks. When I had The Game of Basketball converted to a Kindle edition it took 5-7 business days. Now the turn around time is 3-4 business weeks. This indicates to me the level of business in converting books to Kindle format has increased significantly. CreateSpace still only converts titles already available in its POD catalog.

The increased turnaround time might seem unduly in this day and age of instant gratification but is not unreasonable nor is it much different from other services. What has changed, and I think for the better, is the level of communication between CreateSpace and the author. When I first started using CreateSpace, I essentially dealt with their computers and was never able to talk to a human. Since CreateSpace requires the author to upload POD print ready interior and cover files, this set-up is fine if you can navigate the computer set-up CreateSpace uses.

When you purchase services you get much better service. CreateSpace calls you! Imagine that, a company calling you to ask you how they can serve you! If they cannot reach you by phone on the first attempt, CreateSpace then contacts you through your Member Dashboard's Message Center. If that still does not work, they e-mail you. I learned this because our phone temporarily went out of service due to our dogs chewing the phone line into. When talking with CreateSpace personnel on the phone, they were polite, paid attention, seemed to know what they were talking about, made suggestions on how to use the CreateSpace system to obtain exactly what I wanted and actually followed up on what we talked about on the phone and e-mailed to let me know they had followed up. Wow! What a concept - customer service!

None of this happened with my first conversion. I was contacted only through my Member Dashboard Message Center. I like talking to a living person much better.

I currently have two books undergoing the conversion process. One will be finished two weeks before the other. I hope the quality of the conversion is as good as the first two I had performed by CreateSpace.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Tracking Sales With CreateSpace versus Amazon Sales Rankings

Amazon Sales Rankings of importance to self-published authors, well, any author really. This mysterious number indicates where a particular book title ranks in sales among all Amazon titles for sale at that given hour. The information provided must mean something to the employees and programmers at Amazon, but to the average person checking sales rank, the number means very little.

Why is there so much interest in Amazon Sales Rankings? First of all, the higher the sales ranking, the higher the book comes up in Amazon's search results, making a high sales ranking desirable. Why? The higher a book appears in the search results, the more likely it will be purchased.

Is there any other information to be gleaned from an Amazon Sales Ranking? What about actual sales totals? Alas, this information is hard to determine accurately from Amazon's Sales Ranking. Morris Rosenthal, the acknowledged expert on Amazon Sales Rankings, provides a chart which can be used to estimate sales based on sales rankings. You can subscribe to a service like RankTracer who has done the math and written software to translate the mysterious sales rankings into reasonably accurate sales figures.

If you publish through Lightning Source, which I do not, I am not sure how you check your sales totals (anyone who publishes with Lightning Source it would be great if you would comment on how to check sales totals using this company).

With CreateSpace, you can log in on your Member Dashboard and every hour your sales totals are updated. By viewing the details for that month's sales the day the book was sold can be seen, where the sale took place - Amazon or via Expanded Distribution, and the share of the sale you, the author or publisher, will receive.

This is so much easier than trying to estimate sales based on a nebulous sales ranking. Amazon Sales Rankings are still important, but not in determining sales numbers.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Amazon Announces Kindle Direct Publishing in Germany!

Rather than rehash the press release from Amazon, here is announcement in Amazon's own words direct from the press release.
We are excited to announce Kindle Direct Publishing on!

To learn more about publishing your book on, including royalty and payment options, click here:

Any books you’ve published through Kindle Direct Publishing which have rights in Germany are already available in the new Kindle store on, based on the list prices and royalty plans you've provided for the store.

In addition to the launch of Kindle Direct Publishing on, we're also thrilled to offer royalty payments for our European publishers via Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT). To learn more about this option, including how to sign up to receive payments via EFT, click here:

Taking Notes On a Kindle

In an earlier post this month, I listed a few features I would like to see for the Amazon Kindle. While these all involved being able to mark-up Kindle books like one can with a traditional paper book, I managed to fail to mention I would like to be able to use my Kindle as a notebook and write down ideas as I read to refer to later.

I managed to stumble across an inexpensive software to download on my Kindle called Notepad. This of course means one more supposedly simple app to learn to use. Notepad is currently for sale at the low price of .99 and is a product designed and marketed by a company named 7 Dragons.

For .99 I figured I had very little to loose and the ability to make my Kindle a little more functional. It would be nice to be able to take notes when I travel, which is frequently, and not have to carry a notepad and pen or pencil with me. The reviews for the app were all good so I took the plunge.

As with other items I mention on this blog I will let you know what I think of it once I have been able to use the software and learn my way around it.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Aaron Shepard Announces Change to CreateSpace For His Color Books!

Aaron Shepard, one of the leading figures in the world of self-publishing and a strong advocate for using Lightning Source Inc. (LSI), announced on his self-publishing blog he will be changing POD services for several of his books with color interior books. Mr. Shepard will continue to use LSI for his all black and white interior books.

The decision to make the change came about due to CreateSpace's ability to handle interior color printing on a more consistent basis and with greater ease than using the LSI system. The information concerning the technical differences between color printing is explained in a bog post by Mr. Shepard.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Paperback or E-book, Which is More Popular? The Results of a Survey and the role of Pricing

On the blog Selling Books there is a post today about a recent CNN survey examining which version of a book is more popular, paperback or an e-book. The survey, an on-line and unscientific study, found people prefer paperbacks to e-books by a margin of 80% to 20%. Yet an earlier report by CNN contained information indicating e-book sales had surpassed paperback sales are were still rising. 

Neither the blog posting or the CNN articles referenced had an explanation for either result, the preference for paperbacks over e-books and the fact e-book sales are out pacing paperback sales. I have an idea of how both results are factual and easily understandable.

I like my Kindle reader. My wife loves her Nook. Yet both of us prefer traditional paper books. I write in mine, make notes, highlight and otherwise mark-up my paper books. I use them as references constantly. I mainly read non-fiction. My wife just likes to hold books while she reads them. She reads fiction.

Why do we both like our e-book readers? Two simple reasons. As a history teacher I can carry hundreds of books around in a small device that weights at most one pound while my wife likes the lack of clutter produced by books laying around the house. Both of us really like the fact e-books stretches our limited budget for new books much further than if we continued to purchase mainly paperback books.

Of the two reasons, price is the overriding factor for both of us. Given the state of the nation's economy and the need to either be entertained for a period of time or the need to find information, the lower cost of an e-book is a major factor, I think, in the rapid rise in e-book sales. I am sure there are other factors, but cost has to be the driving issues.

What does this mean for self-publishing authors? Quite simply, don't abandon your POD service, in my case CreateSpace, and you better be offering e-book versions of your titles as well as paperback. It also means as the publisher and author, careful consideration must be given in how you price both versions of your book.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Planning a Book Launch - Give Your Book The Best Chance to Succeed!

I am working madly on my next big, in terms of pages, non-fiction book. It fits my primary field of professional expertise, athletics, but unlike most of my books is broader in scope and is applicable to any team sport. My expressed plan in writing the book was to help basketball coaches, the sport I have expertise in, and widen my potential sales base by writing the book in such a way the contents were applicable to more sports, increasing the number of coaches who might want to purchase the book.

Time and time again I have read comments by successful non-fiction authors and book marketing gurus stating a successful book launch and marketing strategy was planned before and while writing the book. And so it is with four months left to my target launch date I am not only working furiously to finish the manuscript but to also have everything in place for the book's launch.

The book will be printed using POD by CreateSpace and I plan to take advantage of the Expanded Distribution offered by CreateSpace. The book will be available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and a Sysko's books, a coaching product retailer specializing in direct sales of DVDs and books to coaches. The book will also be available in a Kindle and Nook version as well.
I plan to take maximum advantage of the long tail effect of Amazon in driving sales. While sales from Syskos are steady, they are wholesale and not nearly as large in number as sales of my other titles from Amazon. The store on my website will have been converted to an Amazon store. I will no longer sell books directly but steer all sales to Amazon. Using Amazon Affiliate status I can drive sales from my website to Amazon and benefit from both the long tail effect and the commission from books purchased on Amazon through my website.

For this book, I plan to seek out reviews on a scale I have never engaged in before. If time permits, I hope to have a review by Midwest Book Review. I plan to send out a generous number of review copies to coaches in a wide range of sports in hope of collecting blurbs, positive reviews and if possible, positive Amazon Reviews.

Currently I am working to amass a list of bloggers who might be interested in the content of this book and who blog about sports other than basketball. I have a good list of bloggers who cover coaching and basketball now. All of these individuals will receive review copies and a request to consider being part of a virtual book tour in mid to late August.

Excerpts from the book will be prepared as magazine articles and provided to a range of coaching related magazines in hopes of generating interest from a broad range of coaches at different levels of coaching and in as wide a range of sports as possible.

My own e-newsletter will be used to announce the POD and e-book versions.  The book will also be included in the direct mail and e-mail promotion for the annual fall coaching clinic I organize and administer.

Some of the chapters will make for nice spin-offs as short Kindle books I plan to sell for .99. These books will promote the larger print and Kindle version of the book as well. I also plan to offer the Kindle version at a much lower introductory price initially in an effort to drive early sales and boost the book's Amazon sales ranking.

Finally, a traditional press release will be sent out to as wide a range of media as I can generate in the time available between now and the day the book appears on Amazon for sale.

This will be the most comprehensive effort on my part to launch a book. I am sure I will make mistakes but it is also my hope the effort will pay off and this book will be my most successful title yet in terms of sales.  I will keep those of you who are interested informed.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Are Self-Publisher's Kidding Themselves - The Financial Reality of Self-Publishing

A quick check of the website of any author services company's website will find examples of highly successful self-published authors who used the company's services. The mainstream media has stories touting indie authors who bucked the establishment and self-published. Other success stories can be found involving sales with e-books and the fact some mid-list authors are now able to earn a living self-publishing on the Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble's Nook. I enjoy reading J.A. Konrath's blog for new authors. Amanda Hocking's success has been covered in USA Today and the story focuses on her use of e-books as her medium to publish. Based on the story it looks like Ms. Hocking will be able to earn a living as a genre writer and a self-published author.

But what does the typical self-published author experience in REAL sales? The real numbers appear to be a bit grim as this story indicates: . I recall reading in a post by Morris Rosenthal, one of the founding fathers of modern self-publishing, stating if a self-published title sells 200 copies, the author has done well. I e-mailed Mr. Rosenthal and asked him where he got this figure and he politely e-mailed back and replied he did not recall but stated based on his years of experience and communicating with self-publishing authors, the number is probably a bit high. In the linked article some grim figures are provided. It appears for many authors the actual number is about 150 sales for a title.

How have my own self-published titles fared? I haven't quit my day job. But, I have recouped the money invested in my website (I probably spent too much), covered my monthly e-newsletter cost, web hosting, bank charges and production costs for my books. The wife and CFO of our tiny publishing empire said we were a few dollars short of breaking even on our enterprise after three years.

I can honestly say some titles in terms of sales are total duds (but have served their purpose well as give-a-ways at coaching clinics). Some sell OK seasonally. Some sell well by my standards as paperbacks and one sells really well as a Kindle book. I have two titles that have sold over one thousand copies in just under two years and I am pretty happy about those titles. I am not getting rich, but at least I have reached the break even point and new titles are paid for out of revenue from earlier titles.

I fully realize as a non-fiction author who writes to a potential audience with a fixed total number of potential readers I will never be a "best-selling author." Nor will I make millions. I do not think it is unrealistic to expect my efforts to result in a decent extra source of income.

In the mean time, I have learned a great deal. I have more to learn, and as it has been said so many times, hope springs eternal.

Friday, April 15, 2011

E-book Sales Continue to Rise While Hardback and Trade Paperback Sales Decline

It was reported Amazon Kindle book sales had passed up Amazon's hardcover sales recently. A story in Publishers Weekly reports e-book sales the past two months have equaled that of trade paperbacks. The comments posted seem to indicate these numbers may only reflect sales from publishing houses and not include sales from indie authors or self-published authors. Still it is a trend those of us who self-publish must pay attention to.

To see the specific numbers click on the link and you will go directly to article in question.

Kindle Features I Would Like To See!

I really like paper books. You can hold them, smell them and write in them. You can even use them to cover your eyes to take a nap. When my children gave me a Kindle for Christmas I was very appreciative and promised to use it.

My Kindle reader has grown on me.

In my other lives I am a history teacher, basketball coach, train enthusiast and a reader of theology and science fiction with some political works thrown in as well. At an early age I developed the habit of carrying a book with me to read during any spare moment, a habit that persists till this day. Given my varied interests and profession, I often carried a backpack full of books around with me. Now, I just carry my Kindle reader. Not only are many of the books I obtain now less expensive as a Kindle book, I don't have to carry them around.

Unfortunately, the ease with which I could markup a physical book is not the same with the Kindle. Yes, I could invest in one of those Apple devices and it would have more functions. Yet, since I have already adapted to the Kindle and its size, I hope Amazon will add some of the following suggested features.

The ability to insert media into a Kindle book. For example, a history of the Great Depression will mention FDR's famous fireside chats. Why not insert a video, or at least an audio file, of the very first fireside chat, the Bank Holiday speech. Books on coaching basketball would be well served by this feature, allowing the author to insert video clips demonstrating what is being described in the book.

Also, rather than using the current set-up to highlight books, I would rather Amazon develop a stylus where you can write in the Kindle book by writing on the screen of the Kindle. Ditto with highlighting. Develop a stylus that allows you to highlight by touching the screen. 

My high school students would flip if they could have a Kindle with these features. They are also the youtube generation and because I teach at a "laptop" school, they expect to see things as well as read about them. As soon as I bring up FDR's first fireside chat concerning the Bank Holiday, within 30 seconds a hand will go up saying they have found it on YouTube, can they show it to the class. I think this is great but what if the kids could have a Kindle reader and the text book already had the desired media embedded in the book? Now you have something teachers and students alike will really want to use.

The second feature would allow me to have the best of both kinds of books in the Kindle version. I could write, take notes and sketch ideas on my Kindle book just like I do a paper book. I would be able to carry 100+ history books in a two pound device instead of lugging them around and having them clutter up my car and classroom. It would help me further overcome my resistance to the Kindle reader as my primary source of reading books.

Now, if Amazon can just figure out a way to make a Kindle reader smell like a good book!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Bashing Amazon

I enjoy reading the Yahoo POD Publishers Message Board. I have learned a great deal of helpful information from the other authors, small publishers and self-publishing authors who visit and post on this message board. The board is well moderated with an even hand on allowing authors communicate to preventing flame wars from starting.

Periodically a string of posts will start with the purpose of bashing Amazon. The stream of thought ranges from Amazon is an evil corporate giant whose only goal is monopolistic control and domination of the publishing industry or to loot the reading public and authors of every dime possible. Other threads include how Amazon cheats small publishers and/or self-publishers and when Amazon is done destroying the legacy publishers their next target will be to crush the little guys.

When I read this sort of stuff I have to wonder what these authors/publishers are thinking. Yes, Amazon takes a chunk of the sale. Why shouldn't they? If it had not been for Amazon, the sale would not have taken place! How many self-published authors are able to sell their books in a traditional brick and mortar bookstore? 

How can a self-published author make the existence of his or her book known and available to literally millions of customers? How much money does Amazon save self-publishers with its shipping and distribution system? 

I use CreateSpace, owned by Amazon, as my POD service and most of my sales come from Amazon, which means Amazon makes money off me printing the book and gets a cut of the sale. Once a month Amazon electronically deposits my profits in my bank account. Once the book is in print, I don't do anything except promote the book, which I would have to do if the book were sold in traditional bookstores. Then there are the sales of my Amazon Kindle books as well and the income generated from this revenue stream is growing slowly but steadily each month.

Amazon also provides us with tools to market our books and through Associate sales to make a little bit extra as well. Why do some people have a hard time understanding Amazon is entitled to its share of the take? Amazon's investors have a lot of money tied up in the infrastructure that makes all of this possible. Amazon does its share of the work in the process of selling and delivering our books to readers. Amazon has earned the right to get paid.

If it were not for Amazon, I would not be able to make money writing and selling books. It is that simple. Why do some authors and publishers want to bite the hand that feeds when Amazon provides the little guy with something the old publishing system never allowed, access to customers on a level playing field? Human nature is a strange thing at times.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Writer's Block for Non-fiction Authors, POD and Kindle Books

Writer's block seems to be the baine of fiction author's existence. As a non-fiction author I have experienced it is as well. Truth be told, I simply got tired of working on a project and just stopped, making what I experienced more of writer's fatigue than actual writer's block. When finished, my next "big" book will be around 250 pages in a 6x9 trim size book. For a non-fiction book aimed at my particular market, that is a good sized book.

The chapters are short and meant to be read in any order. The reader can pick up the book, open to any chapter, read it in 10-15 minutes and have information that can be used immediately. The more I work on the book, the more chapters come to mind and I add a new "chapter" to my working list. The result in the end will be a much more useful book for the readers who purchase it. Unfortunately, the more I work on the book, the longer the book appears it will be. My resulting attitude towards the book is it will never get finished (that won't happen, God willing, because the wife says I have to finish the book and I know what is good for me). The more I work on it, the more work, it seems, I have to do.

Fortunately, self-publishing allows escape from the tedium and with the technology available today, it also allows for quick publishing, at low cost, of short books that are really chapters of a much longer book. Like most authors who self-publish, I always get a kick out of seeing the proof copy arrive and it provides me with a burst of energy and enthusiasm to get the next project rolling.

It ocurred to me one of the chapters I had completed would make a good stand alone book that is short and would make a good Kindle book with a matching low price of $2.99 and will sell some copies as a low priced POD paperback. With the low entry price offered by CreateSpace to get both versions of the short book, it is 56 pages long, it makes perfect sense to take a break from the larger, energy consuming book, and publish this one excerpt as a stand alone volume.

For about $150 I will be able to launch this short book on Amazon in both a POD paperback and a Kindle version no later than June 1. I am confident within a few months, perhaps longer, I will earn back the money invested and this small side venture will earn a few dollars a month for my tiny publishing empire. It will also give me a needed boost to finish the larger, and hopefully more lucrative book.

The technology of POD and ebooks today makes this practice not only feasible but affordable for self-publishing authors who write non-fiction. With traditional off-set printing and the costs involved, I would never take this approach unless I was certain the chapter used as the basis of the spin-off book was certain to sell and sell quickly. 

If fiction authors can sell short stories to get a feel for the viability of fleshing out the story into a novel, why can't non-fiction authors sell chapters of a larger, but incomplete work, to generate some income, test the waters for the larger book and get a break from the drudgery of working on the larger manuscript?

If this venture pans out and earns back the money invested in it and sells reasonably well, this might be a practice I engage in on a regular basis.  Once the little book is in print I will keep the readers of this blog informed on its progress and if this experiment is a success or failure along with what I learn in the process.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Facebook Page for CreateSpace Authors

This social networking thing is not going away. My daughters communicate through Facebook almost as much as they do by texting their friends. The retail store my wife is the business manager for is showing signs of increased sales as a result of the store's Facebook page. So, it would seem Facebook is one more thing I have to learn to deal with in a positive way so I can better promote my books and increase sales.

On the plus side, CreateSpace has created a Facebook page for its authors, providing a place for CreateSpace authors to "meet" and communicate. I have only visited a few times but have learned a few interesting items. While there are days I feel like the proverbial old dog resisting learning new tricks, I do enjoy learning new skills and ideas. It just takes a little longer than it used to for the new information to stick.

For those who are interested, here is the link to the CreateSpace Facebook page:

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Graphics on the Kindle by Manuel Burgos - A Review

Like many self-publishing authors, I entered the industry when print-on-demand made it possible for us to make decent money by self-publishing. Amazon gave us accesss to readers and the ability to market and promote our books. The Amazon Kindle has given us another profitable means to access readers and sell our work. 

In the seemingly endless learning curve self-publishers face, I have been spending time learning as much as I can about the new technology of the Amazon Kindle, how to create books for Kindle, pricing and marketing strategies. 

My three books now available as Kindle books had very little in the way of graphics. The fourth book in my list of books I plan to convert has nearly 80 diagrams. In order for readers to readily understand the content, the diagrams need to be clear and easy to understand. I plan to pay to have this book converted to a Kindle ready file.

With an eye towards understanding how to better prepare graphics for future books, both Kindle and print-on-demand versions, I obtained a copy of Manuel Burgos Kindle book, Graphics on the Kindle, now in its 2nd edition. Like most short Kindle books, the price is low, a reasonable $3.99.

The book contains and introduction and four chapters. These segments include a basic overview of how e-ink in the Kindle works, the shades that can be reproduced and the needed technology. Also covered how to prepare images, using clip-art, special effects and file preparation.  Burgos provides a section that includes sample images and the book itself has graphics interspersed throughout.

What the book does not provide is ideas about the creative use of the technology to produce the best possible graphics. How does an author determine the best way to present the graphic? I realize this is the artistic part of graphic design, but it is certainly the area I struggle with the most.

Did I get my money's worth? I feel like I did. Is this book the final answer to everything you will need to know about creating and using graphics for your Kindle book file. I don't think so.

If I decide to tackle creating my own files for Kindle, I feel like this short book is a good start to learn how to produce the diagrams my books require. For anything beyond placing the graphics in the file, I will probably have to resort to a source of information dealing with the creative use of graphics to obtain the best possible means to convey information.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Goal Setting and Self-Publishing - Ten Goal Setting Guidelines

Simply deciding to self-publish a book is a necessary first step in becoming an author. Moving in the direction of actually getting the manuscript written, book production accomplished, developing a distribution and marketing plan and finally getting the book sold and making money is another issue all together. Each of these stages requires a great deal of work and at any point in the process the author may despair and give up. Using a well defined set of goals aides greatly in the process of motivating an author to finish these tasks AND  doing a good job in a timely manner. 

Years of experience as a coach have taught me the great value of appropriate use of goals. While setting goals is not rocket science, it is not as simple as saying I have a goal to self-publish a book. There is more to it. What follows are ten simple guidelines for authors to use in setting goals to aid in the goal setting process.

Ten Goal Setting Guidelines for Self-publishing Authors

1) Set Challenging but Realistic Goals

Goals that too easy are not motivating and will cause the individual to lose interest. Goals that are unrealistic will have the same effect. Find the balance between the two types and the goals will be powerful motivators to achieve the desired outcome or performance.

2) Goals Must be Specific and Focused

Broad general goals have little to no impact. Set very specific goals that are focused on a single objective, skill or task.

3) Goals Must be Measurable

Goals that cannot be measured are goals that cannot motivate. How can you tell if you have achieved the goal or are making progress towards the goal unless it is measurable?

4) Goals Must be Written

Write your goals down. Post the goals somewhere prominent where they can be seen. Review the written goals. There is something about the act of writing goals down and seeing the goals that makes them more real and important.

5) Effective Goals Have a Deadline

Set a realistic deadline. This provides a sense of urgency to accomplish the tasks necessary to achieve the goal.

6) Effective Goals are Flexible

Things happen. Sometimes goals, deadlines or the focus of a goal need to be changed. It is not the end of the world. Be willing to be adaptable and flexible.

7)  Effective Goal Setting Utilizes a Series of Smaller, Sequential Goals Progressing Towards the Ultimate Goal

Finishing a book and getting it to market is a big goal. It is so big and so distant it can seem unachievable. To prevent becoming discouraged, and to truly use goals effectively, set intermediate goals that lead to the achievement of the ultimate goal. Set a goal of a specific number of pages a day to be written, a goal to have the marketing plan finished by a specific date or to set up your Kindle publishing account or POD service account. All of these are steps in the process of ultimately seeing your book in print and in the hands of your readers.

8) Effective Goals are Performance Oriented

Outcome goals are important. But failure to achieve an outcome goal can crush the dream. Performance goals are more helpful and provide guidance in the process of performing the tasks required to achieve the ultimate outcome goal.

9) You Must Determine Your Own Goals

You have to set your own goals. Goals established for you by someone else do not have the same meaning or motivation.

10) Effective Use of Goals Requires Evaluation and Follow-up

Once you have succeeded, or sadly failed, in achieving your goal, effective goal setting requires evaluation and follow-up. Which goals worked and which failed? Why? Follow-up on everything you learn in this stage of the process. The information obtained will be valuable for the next project.