Thursday, June 27, 2013

Low Cost Self-Publishing

Sounds like one of those adds for the many "author services" or "self-publishing" companies that advertise seemingly everywhere on the internet. Some of these companies are reputable and deliver what they promise and charge for. Others in the "author services" industry are simply sharks preying on authors desperate to get their book published.

Sounds grim. 

If that's not discouraging enough, getting published the old fashioned traditional way is not only getting harder, but the industry is changing so fast it is nearly impossible to keep up with the changes.

Take heart though.

Self-publishing is also becoming more and more accepted and common place, and with good reason. The barriers to publish quality books are becoming lower and lower for the average individual.

Here in lies the dirty little secret. Traditional publishing offered editing, book design services, marketing and most important of all, distribution - access to the reading public. If you did not have a traditional book deal, you had no access to any of the above necessary items.

Technology has leveled the playing field. The internet giant Amazon does not care if the book is from a traditional publisher or a self-published author. Print-on-demand technology allows authors, and publishing companies, to make their books available to customers without having to tie up capital in inventory sitting in a warehouse.

Digital books such as Kindle and Nook have further leveled the playing field, lowering costs for the consumer and allowing authors to keep a higher percentage of each book sold. Authors can self-publish and actually earn some money.

While it has gotten easier to get published, it still is not an easy way to earn money or make a living. There are still obstacles in the path of the author who desires to publish his or her work and earn an income from that work.

First, authors who are considering self-publishing MUST understand this is a business. That means you have to worry about legal issues, copyright, taxes, record keeping, marketing, sales, editing, book design, cover design and a host of other things the publishing companies took care of the old days. All of these things cost money. Something most of us have too little of.

Still, it can be done. Your prized manuscript can be published successfully and without breaking the bank to do so. If you are willing to roll up your sleeves, work hard and learn the skills you'll need to self-publish your book.

The first step, develop your marketing plan while your writing your book. It is never too early to start building an audience for your book. For non-fiction authors part of your marketing research needs to include whether or not there is even a market for your book. How many people want to know about the effect of earthworms on soil in a desert? On the other hand, how many amateur Civil War historians and reinactors are there? Fiction authors need to start recruiting and building an audience for their stories.  How to do either of these is not the subject of this post.

The legal stuff such as copyright, taxes, etc, is also beyond the scope of this post nor do I want to stick my neck out legally by giving advice on these issues. You will need to do the research to learn the necessary information.

What else do you need to do to successfully self-publish? First, write a good book. That step somehow seems to get forgotten in the process at times. Second, have your manuscript edited by a professional editor. It will dramatically improve your manuscript.

What about cover and book design, the interior layout of the book? If you have an eye for design and are willing to learn to use, and possibly invest in, software such as InDesign and master the steep learning curve and pay the hefty price tag, you can do your own covers. Or you can have covers done professionally for a reasonable price. 

Finally, the good news is even if you have no clue about book design, typesetting and all the nuances that go with designing and producing a quality, attractive and readable book interior, you can do it yourself at a very reasonable cost if you can use Microsoft Word.

For those who need to spend zero money, other than the price of a book, to produce the interior of their self-published book, obtain a copy of Aaron Shepard's Perfect Pages. It is a guide on how to produce a reasonably good interior file for use with print-on-demand services such as CreateSpace or Lightning Source.

If you can spend around $100, I strongly suggest you investigate the range of interior book design templates from Joel Friedlander's The Book Designer. If you can use Word and take the time to read the detailed PDF format instruction manual provided, you can produce an outstanding book interior. For more information about these great templates click here or just below the Book Design Template below.

Click Here for More Information

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Will the Nook Cause the Demise of Barnes & Noble?

Brick and mortar bookstores have been struggling for some time. It is no secret the giant chain Barnes and Noble has been struggling in recent years. The move to digital books has impacted the publishing industry like no other technological development since Gutenberg and his printing press. 

Amazon's success with the Kindle is certainly forcing BN to compete in the digital book market, driving retail sales from its physical stores to its Nook eReader device. Could the Nook be the nail in BN's coffin?

Some financial experts seem to think the move to drive retail sales to the digital device will be the final undoing of the once formidable bookseller. For more details, click here.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Ingram Book Distributor Starts IngramSpark - New Distributor for Lightning Source and CoreSource

Ingram, the book distributor who owns Lightning Source, the primary print-on-demand competitor of the Amazon owned CreateSpace, has announced a new company, IngramSpark, will be up and running by July 1st.

IngramSpark will act as the gateway for publishers, small and self-publishers with a big enough list, to use Lightning Source for print-on-demand distribution and CoreSource for ebook distribution.

For authors who already use either Lightning Source or CoreSource, IngramSpark might not be of interest. But for those who are considering whether to use Lightning Source or CreateSpace, this could be a major factor in the final choice of which company to use.

Why use IngramSpark instead of dealing directly with LSI? The stories of how complex using LSI can be exist for a reason. Aaron Shepard himself, one of the primary advocates of using LSI for POD as a major part of any self-publishing author's business plan, suggests first time authors investigate, if not actually use CreateSpace for their print-on-demand service and distribution to Amazon.

Questions authors will want to check into include the discounts an author will be able to set using IngramSpark. The primary advantage of using LSI instead of CreateSpace was the ability to use the short discount business model. Discounts as low as 20% could be set using LSI while CS requires a 40% discount.

Competition is good. If IngramSpark can serve as a source of competition for CreateSpace, self-publishing authors and small publishing companies who rely on print-on-demand will be well served, by the two giants of POD in the industry no less.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Must Read Book Promotion Posts, Blogs and Books for Self-Publishing Authors

There is so much to learn for authors who want to make the jump into the indie publishing world, to decide to self-publish their book, be it fiction or non-fiction.  I have read well over 100 books on self-publishing and an untold number of self-publishing blogs. 

To be honest, I have wasted a lot of money and time along the way and still have so much to learn. Some of the books and websites I have come across though are well worth the money and time I have spent and have helped me in my efforts to make this self-publishing venture worthwhile.

Anytime you create a list of anything, someone will disagree with your selections. Still, in an effort to share what I have found helpful to the authors who visit this blog and save them time and money, here is my list of sites, blogs and books I have found to be helpful, worth reading and worth spending money on.

Blogs to visit:

Aaron Shepard's Publishing Blog: Aaron is one of the most helpful experts in the field of self-publishing. His blog often deals with the actual nuts and bolts of using the tools available to create physically create a book for either POD or Kindle. Aaron also understands the business model an author needs to adopt to make self-publishing viable financially. Always worth a visit.

Newbie's Guide to Self-Publishing: This is J.A. Konrath's blog. I often disagree with his worldview and political philosophy. Often. But Mr. Konrath has a passion for encouraging authors to self-publish. He shares actual sales data, encourages authors, explains what is good and bad about traditional publishing and while a huge advocate of self-publishing, will offer caveats about that approach as well. Guest posts are a frequent feature and always interesting and educational.  You don't have to agree with Mr. Konrath about everything he writes, but you will always learn valuable information about self-publishing/publishing and often leave his blog feeling encouraged to press on in your efforts. Some topics of practical importance frequently covered: pricing, marketing and insider news.

Morris Rosenthal's Self-Publishing 2.0: Morris has a lot to say about publishing and self-publishing. He was one of the early adopters of print-on-demand and has written extensively about this business model as well as the inner workings of Amazon. Morris by education is an engineer and loves data and math. Morris often posts about trends in self-publishing based on data he collects. He writes about a wide range of topics, some of which may seem a little out there, but are always interesting.

The Book Designer: Joel Friedlander is the author of this blog. Topics range from guest posts to the nuts and bolts of book design and production with all kinds of topics related to self-publishing in between. Joel has a huge collection of information available on his website, you just have to take the time to work through it all. Joel is a professional book designer and the creator of Book Design Templates.

Book Promotion Sites:

I have visited a large number of these. Here is the one post I have found the most helpful. It's worth visiting and reading. Helping readers find your books is critical.

It's not exactly an official book promotion site, but you will find an enormous amount of information about promoting books, self-publishing, copyright issues and just about anything else you can image related self-publishing. Check out the Yahoo Group pod_publishers.


Being an avid book reader and with the advent of Kindle and lower priced books, I have read lots of books on self-publishing and related topics. A large number of these I wish I passed on.  As the industry changes, the information you need to know changes.

Aaron Shepard's Aiming at Amazon was, and still is, the first book any author considering self-publishing should read. It outlines the basic business model most of us need to consider as well as the basic starting marketing plan to work from.

Authors who plan to incorporate print-on-demand into their business model should read two books that not only describe this technology but the business model based on this printing/publishing technology. Aaron Shepard is the author of POD for Profit, which details using Lightning Source to print books using POD and the business model involved. Morris Rosenthal, of Self-Publishing 2.0, is the author of Print-on-Demand Book Publishing, another must read if you intend to use POD as part of your self-publishing model.

For authors who want to take a do-it-yourself approach to getting books published on Amazon's KDP, Aaron Shepard has two books worth reading, particularly if you publish works of non-fiction. The first in this series is From Word to Kindle. This short Kindle book describes how to convert a book manuscript in a Word document to a Kindle ready file for upload to KDP for publication.

The second book in this series is Pictures on Kindle. If your book is going to include photographs, graphics or any other visual images, and you plan to do the interior yourself, this book is helpful. The prices is right as well as it sells for .99.

Finally, I recently stumbled across David Gaughran's Let's Get Visible: How to Get Noticed and Sell More Books. Let's face it, we all need for readers to find our books in order to get the reader to buy it! This book was interesting and helpful and I learned things I was previously unaware of. It was well worth the .99 cents I paid for the Kindle version.


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

CreateSpace Interiors Versus Book Design Templates

I am a huge fan of CreateSpace. This Amazon owned company has helped me not only get my books into print, distributed to online retailers, but has done a lot of my covers, interiors and provided editing for several of my books. The author services I have used, cover design, interior design and editing have, I believe, been fairly priced.

But who doesn't want to pay less for the same product?

Cover design and editing are something I will probably continue to farm out. Interior design I will probably do myself from now on using Microsoft Word for Mac to create my interior.

Word is designed to be used as a word processing program, something it does well. It is not a professional publishing software.

Since part of the reader's experience in using a book is the readability and aesthetic appearance of a book's interior, it would make sense not to use Word to create the interior. The flaws in the final product, particularly in regard to spacing of letters and words, makes Word a less than desirable tool to create the level of interior design expected by most readers. Readers who will often go to the trouble to leave a negative review on Amazon for a poor interior design.

If you don't want to pay to have a professional book designer to craft your book's interior and you are the do-it-yourself type, you can invest in expensive publishing software and tackle the tough learning curve to master using the software.

Or you can save money, do-it-yourself, use Word and create an appealing interior for your beloved book.

This is made possible by a new product designed and sold by Joel Friedlander, The Book Designer. I had reviewed Joel's new interior book design templates earlier and really liked what I saw.

I have since had more time to utilize the template I have and like the product event more. First, let's take a look at the cost comparison between using a professionally designed interior, with its two to four weeks time frame for production, and using one of Joel's Book Design Templates.

CreateSpace offers two reasonable priced options for a professionally produced book interior design. The less expensive option, Author's Advantage Book Interior, uses a variety of predesigned interiors for the author to choose from.

The Total Design Freedom Custom Book Interior is the more expensive option but the author, after consulting with a designer, will receive a custom designed book interior.

Let's compare the pricing options for a Book Design Template. The template I have been working with is a 6 x 9 version of the Britannia template. A single, one time use template can be purchased for $37. For $97 a multi-book license can be purchased, allowing the template to be used repeatedly. For those who are interested in providing design services to other authors, a Commercial license can be purchased for $197.

A print and eBook option is available as well. For the paper edition and an eBook template the price is $47 for a single use license. The multi-book paper and eBook version is available for $107. The commercial license paper and eBook option is available for $207.

The most expensive option for the Britannia template, which is priced the same as all of the other Book Design Templates, is less than the least expensive option from CreateSpace.

How easy is the template to use? I have finished several chapters by cutting and pasting in  just under 30 minutes. Most of that time was spent thinking about how to do the first chapter, which was as simple as cutting and pasting. I was making the task much more difficult than it needed to be, I simply could not believe it was that easy.

The customer support is excellent. I had one small visual issue I could not figure out how to resolve. One e-mail initiated the help I needed to solve the problem, complete with step-by-step instructions with screen shots to provide me with directions I could not misinterpret.

I am so sold on these templates I am now an affiliate for Book Design Templates! If you want to purchase one of Joel's templates, please consider going through the icon on this blog to make your purchase.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Pricing eBooks for Maximum Profitability

Do you price your ebook to make the most per unit sale by setting a high price (and have fewer sales) or do you set a low price and make more total profit by increasing your volume of sales? Is there a happy medium in pricing allowing for both maximum profit per unit sale and driving an increase in the volume sales at the same time?

Experimenting with pricing is a bit scary, time consuming and requires the collection of data to determine what works best.

Smashwords has done a lot of the data collection and has released a study filled with information that self-publishing authors should find helpful in their decision making process concerning the pricing of their ebooks.

The link below will take you to the study. It is worth the time and effort to read the article.