Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Print-on-Demand and Kindle Sales - A Comparison Revisited: Opportunity for Authors Who Self-Publish

Forbes magazine recently ran an article discussing the publishing industry's current attitude and misunderstanding of the ebook revolution in the publishing industry. The Publishing Maven posted a short blog post about this article.

Forbes states Amazon has for the first time sold more Kindle books than print books. Publisher's attitudes range from dismay to denial, claiming Amazon is simply making up the numbers. Perhaps buggy makers reacted the same way when automobiles first began to appear on the roads.

I think publishers are missing the point, and the opportunity, ebooks offer. One publisher complains there is less profit to be made in ebooks. For the publisher perhaps, but not for authors who self-publish directly and bypass the traditional publisher. Yes, the industry is changing but it does not mean publishing will no longer be profitable. It simply means the source of revenue is going to come from a different type of book, in this case digital instead of print.

Editors, designers and cover artists will still be necessary and might make a better living working as freelancers contracting directly with authors. Some of the big publishing houses will survive because they will adapt in time. Others will not. Self-publishing, I predict, will become more common and accepted in the publishing world. 

In my opinion, it is the move to self-publish and not the print-on-demand print model or ebooks driving the change in the publishing world. POD and ebooks are allowing authors to self-publish and make more money doing so. This, and not changes in technology, is what will lead to the demise of many of the traditional publishing houses.
In an earlier post I shared sales figures for the past few months of my print-on-demand paper books and Kindle sales. Today, even with a few hours left for books to sell, I totaled up my sales for the month of May. My books are seasonal to some extent in sales. Summer months are significantly slower. This May sales for print books dropped significantly from previous months but were still nearly double from a year ago in May of 2010 (note to self - you have got to find a way to get your customers to buy books year round!).

Kindle sales dropped this month as well but I still sold 63 Kindle books, only 4 fewer books than print books sold.

The one trend I have noticed since I introduced Kindle editions of several of my books is sales for ALL of my books have increased significantly, particularly the books available in both POD and Kindle editions. My best guess concerning this jump is Amazon must be combing the sales results for both versions, boosting each version higher in the search results.

My best selling Kindle book, The Game of Basketball, shows up first for an Amazon search for "basketball" and second for "coaching basketball." Game Strategy and Tactics for Basketball shows up third on Amazon for a search of coaching basketball. The Game of Basketball today was listed 7th in books and Game Strategy and Tactics for Basketball was listed 4th. 

Game Strategy and Tactics for Basketball is my best selling book in paperback and has sold well for two years. The introduction of the Kindle edition has not hurt sales of the print-on-demand edition and the past basketball season was the best yet for sales of this book. The Game of Basketball languished as a paperback with disappointing sales on Amazon. The introduction of the Kindle edition not only took off as a Kindle book, but seems to be driving sales of the paperback version as well.  The Game of Basketball has steadily climbed in Amazon paper book rankings and sales.

Perhaps what publishers resent is the opportunity for authors to self-publish and simply bypass the publishing houses. Publishers also seem to resent Amazon's role in all of this as well as the technology driving the changes.

People are still reading, and buying books, and this is a good thing. Technology and online retailers like Amazon are making it possible for authors to have direct access to distribution and customers, bypassing the old publishing gatekeepers. Books, editors, designers and authors are not going anywhere. Publishers might be going the way of buggy makers.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Paperback Sales versus E-book Sales in the Past Seven Months

With the end of May almost here, I sat down and took a quick look at my sales figures in the past few months, not in terms of income, but in terms of total books sold, both POD paperbacks and e-books (Kindle Books). The totals startled me a little bit and are indicative of the current trends in the publishing industry.

Starting with the month of November, 2010, and finishing with the month of May, 2011, I have sold 623 paperback books on Amazon (these numbers do not include Expanded Distribution Channel sales or specialty retailers). During the same time period I have sold 291 Kindle books. Please note as well, my first Kindle title went on sale in November and only sold 3 copies. The two totals combined indicate I have sold 914 total books during the past seven months. The 291 Kindle books account for roughly one third of my total sales.

The reason I compared sales from November of 2010 through May of 2011 is because I did not start selling Kindle books until November of 2010.

The Publishing Maven posted about ebooks making up such a large portion of the book market currently, basing her post on a recent article in Forbes Magazine. Joel Friedlander has been writing and commenting a great deal about ebooks lately at his blog, The Book Designer.

The lesson to be drawn from these sales figures, at least for me, is in the future, every edition of a new book I release will have at a minimum a POD paperback version and a Kindle edition of the title. Ebooks are here to stay but so, it would appear, are paperback books, at least for a few years longer.

Book Covers Do Make A Difference For On-line Sales

Aaron Shepard stubbornly claims simple book covers work best for internet sales, particularly on Amazon. I agree with him to a point. Aaron's covers are super simple and he takes a bit of grief for his covers. His books on self-publishing sell well because he is an expert and the content is valuable and worth the money spent by the customer. Aaron is not going to win any awards for cover design.

I do believe simple covers work best with the small size of the cover photos Amazon provides in the product listings.  Complex artwork and design simply does not show up well.

Even with Search Inside, customers will still judge a book by its cover. Detailed product description information, reviews, and tags all play a part in the customer's decision to buy a book. But it seems the cover still plays a role in encouraging the customer to click on the book's product page to examine all of the above items.

I have learned the hard way covers do play a role in this process. My book, Better Basketball Practices, is for individuals who want to plan, organized and conduct more efficient basketball practice sessions. This is actually an important topic for basketball coaches and very few coaches are able to conduct quality practices on a consistent basis. Sales for the book have been poor despite considerable positive feedback via e-mail from the coaches who have purchased the book.

The cover was ultra basic and while I thought the design was fine, The Publishing Maven hated it. In fact, she hated it so much she created a new cover design for me without asking. I simply received an e-mail with two design options attached. My feelings were not hurt in the slightest - male ego can cause you to do funny things - and I promptly uploaded the new cover file with CreateSpace.

The results have led me to believe covers do make a big difference, even for on-line sales. Sales for the month of May for all of my titles are annually either the lowest or second lowest for the year. Sales for this single title this month alone are equal to the total combined sales for this title since October when it was introduced. Anecdotal evidence, yes, but it has gotten my attention. Future releases will require high quality covers and over time and as I can afford it, some of my older titles will get new covers.

And no, Christie does not design and produce covers professionally. She simply created this one cover for me as a favor. Joel Friedlander, the The Book Designer does though.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Should You Write Your Non-fiction Book?

I recently had an individual contact me to ask questions about the content of one of my non-fiction books (I only write non-fiction). In the course of corresponding the individual asked if I was considering writing a book about a topic within the broad scope of my field of expertise. Unfortunately, the topic is not one I consider myself to be an expert in. For example, I might be a doctor who practices internal medicine. I would not be the specialist you would see for knee replacement surgery.

The individual asserted correctly this topic was one that would have broad appeal to the market I write for. This made me stop and think about the possibility of writing the requested book. I thought about books I had written and had not sold well. I also thought about the titles I have written that have sold well and are continuing to do so. In the process I came up with a set of guidelines to use in determining future titles I will invest the time and energy to write, publish and market.

First, is there a market for the book? Not do I want to write the book, is there a demand, need or market for the book? My two biggest duds in terms of sales have no demand. There was not a market for the book. The time, effort, energy and money invested were wasted. My successful titles sell because there is a need for the information. Some of my books are not big sellers but they sell a few copies each month. Over time, those small monthly sales add up. Those books were worth writing as well.

The second question I arrived at is am I an expert in the topic? If I were to write a book on a topic in my field that I was not qualified to be considered an expert, would this impact the sales of the books I am a legitimate expert in. The risk to my credibility is not worth risk to me.

Do I have the time and skill to effectively market the new book? Can I develop an effective plan? As I publish more books, I find I spend more time on marketing efforts and less time on producing new books. More books that sell means more income for the business. Selling books requires time and effort. Time and effort are required to write more books. You can see the situation develops into a bit of a catch-22.

Some other questions include:

Do I have the ability to reach my target audience?

If I am not an expert, am I willing to invest the time to develop the expertise?

Will the book be profitable?

How will I sell my book? 

Just as I have developed my own checklist, authors should develop their own list to determine if a books should be written.

The only common item each list should have is does the book NEED to be written? Not from the author's perspective, but from the perspective of a reader? Will some one buy and read the book?

The Real Kindle Killer!

This is a fascinating article and thought provoking. Technology is changing the printing and self-publishing industry, there is not doubt. But is new always better?  For those considering including ebooks as part of your offerings, this is a good read.

The Real Kindle Killer!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Amazon to Allow ePub on Kindle Reader?

Rumors are always interesting and often untrue. If this rumor is true, it will further change both the ebook industry and the self-publishing industry.

The new rumor floating about is Amazon is planning to allow the sale and reading of ePub books on its Kindle reader. It will take me a few days to absorb this if true and begin to ponder the ramifications of what this means for the industry at large and for my tiny self-publishing empire specifically.

No, this is not an April's Fools joke and I am not making this up. For more information, check the link posted below:


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Shortening the Learning Curve for New Self-Publishers - BookStarter

Self-publishing is a business. There is a lot to learn. You can try to teach it all to yourself and this approach will lead to a lot of hit and miss learning. As my Dad calls this approach, its a "scattershot" approach to doing something. You hit some of what you want and miss a lot of what you want.

Education can be expensive, but it is also an investment in yourself and the future of your business. For those who might consider some formal education in self-publishing, try BookStarter. You can also visit the Facebook page of BookStarter.

Am I affiliated with BookStarter in anyway? No. But the cover of my best selling Kindle Book was done by none other than Deanna Riddle, the owner and founder of BookStarter. This company is her dream and her passion - check it out.

CreateSpace Launches New Website Interface - Easier to Use Than Before!

I have spent quite a bit of time recently examining the differences between the two giants of print-on-demand, CreateSpace and Lightning Source. One of the key contrasting features of the two companies is the emphasis CreateSpace places on being easy to use.

CreateSpace has taken their easy to use website and upgraded it with a new site design making the new site even more user friendly. Hats off to CreateSpace! Time is precious and there is all too little of it. Time spent working your way around a website looking for a specific piece of information or trying to determine how to use a specific feature is time wasted. 

Launching a new book for a first time author who is testing the waters of self-publishing is challenging enough. It shouldn't be difficult to use the services of the print-on-demand service the author has selected to print his or her book.

Lightning Source definitely has some advantages over CreateSpace, largely the ability to use the short discount model, making a book more profitable for the owner. Sadly, it is not easier to interface with over the internet, giving CreateSpace a big edge in attracting first time authors as well as authors who struggle with using Lightning Sources website, uploading procedures and file requirements.

If you have not done so already, take a look at the new CreateSpace website.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Ethics, Copy Writing, Distribution, Smashwords and Self-Publishing

In my seemingly never ending quest to learn how to make this venture in self-publishing a financial success, I purchased several books on copy writing. Since I am responsible for promoting, marketing and ultimately selling my books, I figured I needed to learn something about sales writing or copy writing.

Without naming the titles or authors of the books I have been reading, it has been a bit of an eye opener. Both of the authors have provided a good deal of valuable information about the tricks of the trade and how to catch and hold a potential book buyer's attention. 

I have no issue with the "tricks" used per se to make the sale as suggested by the authors so far. What I do have an issue with is the statement, or concept, that you can peddle absolute garbage and get away with it so long as your sales copy is brilliant.

Two issues immediately come to mind. The first is selling a bad book is not good for your self-publishing business. Amazon reviewers can be downright vindictive with their reviews if they don't like your book or feel they were cheated out of their money. This alone can kill sales if you garner enough bad reviews. You won't earn repeat customers who purchase your other books nor will you experience any long tail effect on Amazon.

The second issue is an ethical one. Have written my share of books I fully understand most authors think there is nothing wrong with their book and it is the best one out there on the subject or in the genre. Haven been on the receiving end of a few of those nasty reviews, once I calmed down enough to read the review and compare it to the book in question, a couple of the reviewers I have to admit had a point. Thankfully, with print-on-demand I was able to make the needed changes but alas the bad reviews remain. 

What's my point? I did not intentionally sell the customer a bad book. Fortunately, most of my books that have received reviews have received the wonderful 5-star variety!

But to knowingly sell a customer a bad book is not just bad business, I have to believe it is unethical as well. Shame on the authors of the copy writing books for even suggesting it is OK to sell a poor product to an unsuspecting customer.

This brings me to the issue of expanded ebook distribution via Smashwords. I have been reading a lot of rave comments about the distribution of ebooks for indie and self-publishing authors available through Smashwords. I think Smashwords offers authors some great advantages ranging from the 85% royalty rate to the ability to offer coupons to discount books or give books away for FREE!

Sitting in my stack of Kindle books to read is the guide on formatting an ebook for Smashwords. It is going to wait for awhile though. As much as I think building my ebook division is an important investment for future financial success, I am going to wait before I distribute any of my books through Smashwords.

Why? I have read too many stories about the quality of the books that emerge from the Smashwords "meatgrinder" conversion process. I am not willing to work as hard as I do to promote, market and write what I believe are good books and then knowingly sell a poor product. I do think Smashwords is headed in the right direction and have adopted a wait and see approach. When the company works out the bugs in its conversion process, I will jump on the bandwagon and distribute ebooks through Smashwords.

In the meantime, The Publishing Maven wants me to do something about some of my earlier book covers. It seems if I want to keep my integrity after publishing this blog post, I am going to have to start working on improving the covers of my first few books.

For readers interested in reading past comments I have posted about ethics and self-publishing, just click here to be taken to a previous post.

Selecting a Print-on-Demand Company: Comparing CreateSpace and Lightning Source for Print-on-Demand Self-Publishing

The print-on-demand version of Selecting a Print-on-Demand Company: Comparing CreateSpace and Lightning Source for POD Self-Publishing is now available from Amazon for just $6.95. Authors have so much to learn once the decision to self-publish has been made. The decision making process can be even more confusing when trying to select a print-on-demand service to print books and aid with the process of book distribution. 

The industry of self-publishing has seen enormous change in the past decade. The internet and online retailing via Amazon and Barnes & Noble has given self-published authors access to readers they were previously denied under the old model of publishing. Print-on-demand via companies such as CreateSpace and Lightning Source not only makes self-publishing as a business venture financially possible, it also provides authors with access to distribution to book retailers.

CreateSpace and Lightning Source are the two biggest names in the print-on-demand industry and choosing which of the two companies to use can be a difficult decision, especially for a first time author. Selecting a Print-on-Demand Company: Comparing CreateSpace and Lightning Source for POD Self-Publishing is meant to clarify the advantages and disadvantages of using either company in a clear and easy to understand manner.

By gathering all of the information in one place and organizing it, this book is a valuable tool in the decision making process of selecting a POD service to self-publish and distribute a book.

In addition to the information gathered in the book, noted self-publishing authorities Christy Pinheiro (The Publishing Maven) and Joel Friedlander (The Book Designer) are contributors to the book as well, sharing their experiences with the two companies.

For Authors who would like to wait for the Kindle version, it will be available in several weeks and will be on sale for .99.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Review of The Self-Publisher's Quick & Easy Guide to Copyright by the Book Designer, Joel Friedlander

I have spent hours and hours learning as much as possible about the self-publishing industry. A lot of those hours could have been saved if books like The Self-Publisher's Quick & Easy Guide to Copyright by Joel Friedlander. I obtained the Kindle edition of the book and found it to be an easy read.

Joel explains the concept of copyright in clear language and provides examples of copyright pages, copyright disclaimers and how to give credit. Also exposed are myths and information about copyright as well as several urban legends about copyright.

The procedure to obtain a copyright and the two different methods available are covered in detail, and having gone through the nightmare of dealing with the copyright office several times, I wish I had been in possession of this book before I attempted to file for my copyrights.

I learned quite a bit of new information, at least new to me, from this book.  While I had previously learned most of the information in the book, the final chapter on the Library of Congress' Cataloging in Publication program cleared up the CIP data block and the issues it involves for self-publishers, mainly being denied access to the program without the use of the Congress' Preassigned Control Number program.

For new authors, and some old hands, this book is an excellent reference to the important matter of copyright.

Self-publishing and Distribution

When I started my adventure in self-publishing the entire concept of distribution was a foreign one to me. I had a vague idea of selling my books to a couple of specialty retailers and had learned Amazon would allow self-published books to be sold through it's site. Needless to say I have learned a great deal since I got started.

I have yet, as far as I know, to sell a book to a book store. If I never do, that's fine with me. Since all of my print books are printed using print-on-demand via CreateSpace of Lightning Source, I have access to Amazon, Ingram, Baker and Taylor and through CreateSpace's Expanded Distribution Channel, Barnes and Noble.

Ebook sales have been improving each month so far thanks to Amazon's Kindle Book Store. I have yet to sell a single copy of an ebook for the Barnes and Noble Nook which is disappointing. I have to blame myself I suppose as I have done nothing to promote the fact the book in question is available for the Nook.

I have been investigating Smashwords as a means to further expand distribution but the thought of dealing with another conversion process is a bit daunting at the moment. Still, it would make my books available to more customers.

Distribution, or at least access to distribution, is an important aspect of publishing oft overlooked by self-publishing authors. I also wonder if I am hurting my overall sales by making my books available to through so many different channels. The overwhelming bulk of my sales come from Amazon. For each sale that does not take place on Amazon, that is one sale not driving the long tail effect for me on Amazon. The other side of the coin is the idea I would not have made that individual sale unless it was available through the distribution mode and retailer who made the sale for me.

If I only had one or two books, this really would not be that big an issue for me. As the number of books I have in print grows, it becomes an issue of time keeping track of distribution and working to make my books available to more avenues of distribution. As a result, less time for writing.

I am not complaining, really, as self-publishers have more access to distribution to readers and customers than ever before. This is just one more example of how self-publishing is a business, not just the simple matter of writing a book and getting it into print.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Self-Publishing With Amazon's CreateSpace available with new interior design!

Self-Publishing With Amazon's CreateSpace has received a new interior design and some information updates! It is once again available for sale on Amazon. The book gives an overview of the print-on-demand business model and the technology and take the reader through the process of using CreateSpace to self-publish a book.

The update of the book comes in advance of a new effort on my part that will be available on Amazon soon, Selecting a Print-on-Demand Company: Comparing CreateSpace and Lightning Source for POD Self-Publishing. It will be available in both paperback and Kindle versions.

More information about the book and its launch will be forthcoming in the next few weeks!

Barnes & Noble Nook is Keeping Me Waiting

I have several Kindle editions of my books and one of them is selling very well, at least by my measure of success. All of them sell at least a few copies each month, some months more than others. So far, I have only one of my print books available for sale for the Barnes and Noble Nook. It might be my one and only.

It has yet to sell a single copy.

I usually use the Kindle conversion service offered by CreateSpace because of the low price, $69. I did have one book converted by eBookArchitects and was very pleased with the results. The service from eBookArchitects does cost more but you receive converted files for both the Kindle and the Nook.

Since I had planned to use eBookArchitects anyhow, it made no sense not to set up an account with Barnes and Noble and offer the book as a Nook title. The Kindle version of the book has sold enough to pay for the conversion so I am happy. 

I am still waiting to sell a copy for the Nook. I guess I will have to break down and buy a copy myself for my wife's Nook.

Cost is always a concern for me in my "business decisions" and I am certain it is for other authors who self-publish. If I am not going to be able to sell my books via the Nook, is it really worth the extra money to have eBookArchitects do the conversion? Please note, there is nothing wrong with their work, the customer service and I have only good things to say about eBookArchitects. 

CreateSpace is simply less expensive. Kindle conversions done by CreateSpace have their own issues. CreateSpace will not do the conversion unless the book has already been added as a print-on-demand print book. Nor will CreateSpace do conversions for the ePub format since it competes with the parent company Amazon's proprietary Kindle format.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Self-Publishing via POD versus Off-set Press Run - The Issue of Distribution

Every book I have self-published has been either print-on-demand or a Kindle or Nook ebook. I have no experience with off-set printing and the challenges of distribution using that approach to having a book printed.

A question e-mailed to me by an author who plans to self-publish made me think about the requirements of self-publishing using an off-set press run. Part of the argument for using print-on-demand is the pluses of not having to pay for a press run, store the books, ship the books and all of the assorted costs involved in that approach. Yes, the cost per copy is higher, but you have none of the other costs associated with the traditional approach to printing, both in terms of actual cost and time and labor.

So much is made of this part of the business model of print-on-demand that I think many authors have overlooked a key element of the model, distribution. I know I take for granted my books will magically appear on Amazon, Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble and Barnes & Noble Nook. Were it not for the distribution systems and networks of CreateSpace and Lightning Source, this would not be possible.

The author whose question triggered this thought process wanted to take advantage of the lower cost per copy of an off-set press run and wanted to learn how to gain access to distribution networks other than Amazon Advantage. I realized I have no idea of how to do this without the aid of CreateSpace or Lightning Source who simply provide this service as part of the overall package. I don't intend to learn how either. There are plenty of other things I have to master to be a success as a self-publisher.

Self-publishers have it good right now. Yes, there are big hurdles to overcome still to be financially successful but the availability of print-on-demand WITH distribution provides access to readers never before available.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

It's Nice To Know Your Book Helped

I received an e-mail yesterday from a college basketball coach I have been fortunate to get to know over the years. He is one of the most innovative offensive minds in the country and his teams lead the nation in scoring in the NAIA. What does this have to do with self-publishing?

This Friday his book, all 400 pages of it, will be available on Amazon! Coach Porter is pretty excited about it and wanted to thank me for all of my help, such that it was, in helping him get his book published. I was/am pretty excited about the release of the book because of the information it contains. Then I read the portion of the e-mail thanking me for the copy of my book Self-Publishing With Amazon's CreateSpace I had given him. 

He said it was right on the money and helped him get through the process smoothly and with ease. Coach Porter also indicated much of the information about self-publishing in general was helpful in making business decisions about design, editing, etc. Wow! That e-mail certainly made my day!

Self-publishing can be a lonely experience and when you are having one of those months where sales are slow, it can be discouraging as well. To receive an e-mail thanking you for the help your book provided it great!

Non-fiction authors might see more of a direct connection between the books they write and helping people. Fiction authors provide help that is just as important. To be able to escape the drudgery of life or your problems for a few hours is helpful as well and can provide the relief needed to move forward and attack the challenges facing you.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

A Review of Joel Friedlander's Kindle Book: The Self-Publisher's Quick & Easy Guide to ISBNs and Barcodes

The Publishing Maven herself, Christy Pinheiro, told me in a discussion some time back it was her opinion many Kindle purchases are impulse purchases due to the often low price. As of late, I have been guilty of making some impulse purchases from the Amazon Kindle Store. One of those impulse purchases was obtaining a $2.99 copy of another Joel Friedlander Kindle book, The Self-Publisher's Quick & Easy Guide to ISBNs and Barcodes.

It was money well spent. The concept of the ISBN is a simple one. In practice though it can cause quite a bit of confusion for a new author is just getting started in self-publishing and going through the enormous learning curve all new authors experience. 

Obtaining an ISBN can be expensive or one can be obtained for free. What is the difference between the two? It can be quite confusing.

The author does an outstanding job of making a simple, but potentially confusing topic, easy to understand. The seven chapters are ISBN 101 for Self-Publishers, How to Read an ISBN, How to Buy ISBNs, Answers to 20 of your ISBN Questions, Deciphering the Bookland EAN Bar Code, How to Buy & Use Barcodes and ISBN and Barcode Resources. The information is presented in a logical order and the writing is clear, factual and easy to understand.  This book eliminates any confusion about the important topic of ISBNs.


Friday, May 6, 2011

An Experiment With .99 Cent Kindle Book As a Launch Strategy

My latest Kindle book, Goal Setting for Sport: A Concise Guide for Coaches and Athletes was uploaded this morning. It is my hope it will appear on Amazon tomorrow. A post will appear on my website announcing the availability of the .99 version until June 1, 2011, at which time the price will go up to either $1.99 or $2.99. On Tuesday an e-mail will go out to the 1,700+ coaches on my e-mail list.  

The POD version has sold some copies and has already garnered three 5-star reviews. Hopefully Amazon will link the two versions as soon as the Kindle version is posted by Amazon.

I realize most authors who use the .99 price point are selling fiction but I am interested to see if this pricing strategy works for non-fiction as a launch so the book, both Kindle and POD versions, sell quickly enough to drive the title up in the Amazon Search Listings, causing the long tail effect to kick in much sooner.

I will compare my sales of this title against those of my best selling Kindle book in its first month and see if there was a noticeable difference in sales volume (not net profits) using this strategy as a launch for the Kindle book. In early June I will update the readers of this blog on this marketing strategy and report the results, good or bad, and what I have learned.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Joel Friedlander's A Self-Publisher's Companion - A Review

I recently obtained a Kindle copy of Joel Friedlander's new book A Self-Publisher's Companion. It is not your typical how-to self-publishing book. It offers a very different view of the industry and encourages authors who self-publish to think about what I will call philosophical issues. Mr. Friedlander encourages authors to define what success is for their book, why does the author want to self-publish or what is motivating the author? These are all valuable questions few authors think about.

The content of the book is based on 450 blog posts written over an extended period of time. Going through the blog archives, Joel found many articles of value about the nuts and bolts of self-publishing, how-to articles if you like. Instead of writing a how-to book, Joel sifted through his material and created as he calls it, a "why-to" book. Also covered in the book are topics such as book design, social media for authors, Ebooks, marketing and branding.

The book is well organized and easy to use. This is a valuable reference manual I will use over and over, particularly the section on design. I also found Joel's questions about why an author publishes are thought provoking and important. The answers to these questions will differ for each author but provide insights on ways to market and promote your book and ideas for design.

Joel's website and blog, The Book Designer, are great sources of information. You can access the site via the link on the right side of this blog in the listing for self-publishing blogs of interest.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Software for Do-it-yourself Self-publishers

Even with an entry cost as low as $39 at CreateSpace, some authors may struggle to get their first book self-published due to financial considerations. This is particularly true if the author hires an editor to give the book an all important edit. Other authors may have the desire to create both the cover and the interior of their books.

As with everything else in self-publishing, there always seems to be one more hill to climb in the learning process. In an effort to shorten the learning curve for other authors, I would like to suggest some software to learn how to use so time is not wasted in determining what software to attempt to master.

If you only want to learn one, I suggest learning Adobe InDesign. I spent two days at a training seminar and plan to repeat the course. There is a lot to learn and I need to go through the basic course again before I know enough to feel comfortable poking around and really learn how to use InDesign. I am determined to master this software as it can be used to create covers and the interior files for POD books. It is a professional grade design program and can import items from other Adobe programs such as Photoshop.

Word can be used to create interior files and covers but it will take a lot of creative effort and care to produce files that look professional. If you feel up to this or have already mastered Word, I suggest obtaining a copy of Aaron Shepard's Perfect Pages and read it cover to cover. Aaron creates the files for his books using Word for Mac and shares his technical know how and experiences with creating LSI files in Perfect Pages.

The Publishing Maven, Christie Pinheiro, uses BookCoverPro to create the covers for her books. She assures me the software is relatively easy to learn and creates professional looking covers.

If any of the readers of this blog have other software to suggest, please post a comment to share with the other visitors.