Showing posts with label self-publishing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label self-publishing. Show all posts

May 29, 2020

Series: What I Wish I'd Known Then

I suspect every writer looks back and wishes things done and undone, and I'm no exception. I write what pleases me, not what I think will make tons of money.  Often I don't know as I'm working on a book if it's a stand-alone or if I'll want to revisit the characters at some point in the future and write them a new adventure.
The technology for book publishing has a steep learning curve and requires constant updating. I started my career with a traditional publisher, which meant I didn't have to worry about that end of things. Now that I'm independent, I decide at what point a book releases, how it's presented to the world, and how to make the internet assist. A while back I learned how to make a boxed set of some of my series, so binge readers can get all the books for one price. I think that's a nice bargain for them.

Recently I learned that Amazon will let readers know about all  the books in a series IF the information is presented to them correctly. As I mentioned above, I often don't know with the first book if it's even going to be a series. (The two main considerations are whether readers like Book #1 and whether I like it enough to pound out 70,000 more words about those people.) I often have to go back and add a series title to the Book 1 file later, so Amazon's algorithms will notice and offer readers the other books.
I've learned that a series title needs to be catchy, and it's best if it's unique." A Dead Detective Mystery" has been used as a series title by other authors, so my four dead detective novels are mixed in with books by different authors and labeled incorrectly (one is called "Book 7"). I have to figure out how to correct that, but I know from experience it will take lots of time and energy to get it done.
Publishing is always changing. That can be good, as the geniuses at Amazon or Draft2Digital make it easier to use their services. But it also means authors have to keep up with formatting, cover creation, promotion, end matter, and more.

I'm always picking up tricks to make things easier, but it seems that like as soon as I learn one, some other new thing comes along.

Oct 17, 2016

Oh, Those Publishing Snobs!

I read a very snarky article yesterday about how self-published authors just don't "get it right." The author explained that as a book reviewer she felt it was her duty (yes, she really did use that word) to point out the failings of those who have the nerve to go out on their own.

I'll say at the outset that self-publishing availability does allow writers to publish work that simply isn't ready. A reader can figure out who those people are by perusing sample chapters on Amazon (or the book descriptions, written by the author in most cases). I have to admit from listening to readers and writers for years, there seem to be readers for every book, good or bad.

I object to someone who sets herself up as a judge of good books based on what the industry says and does. For example, the writer of this article claimed self-published books use the wrong fonts and improper layouts. Her wholesale condemnation and her contention that big booksellers always get it right was both offensive and silly.

Shortly after I finished reading the article, I opened a book released by a major publisher to find close lines, small print, and a spindly, faint font printed on cream-colored paper. Yuk! My first Maggie Pill book was set up according to "industry standards" that someone else chose. People said, "Loved the book--hated how hard it was to read!" After that I followed my own instincts and produced much easier-to-read books.

How many of us have half-ruined our eyes trying to read a big-time publisher's idea of  "proper" formatting? My husband will struggle through a book like that if he's interested, but I've decided life's too short. (If I really want to read it, I buy it for Kindle.) The reading public is aging, and publishers must be aware of that, but their profit comes before all else.

I've also had the "Chapters MUST start on a right-hand page" argument with publishing purists.Why? That wasteful idea should disappear, like the two-spaces-after-a-period we were taught in long-ago typing class that is now taken as a sign of senility.

The article writer went on to disparage self-pub covers, implying that authors try to save a buck by making their own. Most don't, and again, the reader's eye will tell her if the cover is bad. If it is, be suspicious of the rest of it.

The article writer works for an organization that had reviewed self-published books and now has decided not to, for the reasons she listed. That's their prerogative, I guess, and I know the number of books coming out is staggering. Still, the publishing world is changing. By ignoring self-pubbed authors, they'd have missed The Martian, The Wool Trilogy, Still Alice, and 50 Shades of Grey (not a recommendation; just sayin') to name a few.

Publishing purists ignore the fact that some writers get tired of getting pennies for their work and (in my case) a whole year where a publisher announced, "We've gone bankrupt, so all you authors get nothing." Some of us worked hard to learn what to do and figured out that we can do it ourselves. We don't just slap a book together. We want to get it right, and we hire expert help when we need it.

That's the good part of not being a snob.





Oct 10, 2016

Help for Wanna-be Writers



This is an excerpt from my presentation on publishing. It's by no means exhaustive, just a little help to get you started.
 
There’s a book that tells you EVERYthing about the self-publishing process. It’s around $15.00 but worth it. Let’s Get Digital-https://www.amazon.com/Lets-Get-Digital-Self-Publish-Should/dp/1475212607

Before you get too excited about all the money that’s going to roll in, you might want to read this article: “Everything You Wanted to Know about Book Sales but Were Afraid to Ask”-

Site to find free-lance editors, cover artists, etc. Reedsy. You tell them what you need, they match you with someone who can do that. https://reedsy.com/#/freelancers

To make Kindle E-books: Kindle Digital Platform- https://kdp.amazon.com/

To make paperback books through Amazon: CreateSpace- https://www.createspace.com/

To make paperback books through Ingram (It's more expensive, but bookstores can order them without admitting that "awful Amazon" exists.) IngramSpark- http://ingramspark.com/

To publish just about anything to various outlets: Smashwords- http://smashwords.com/   
or Draft2Digital-http://draft2digital.com

Bowker is the only US provider of ISBNs. If you buy from anyone else, they’ve bought from Bowker and are reselling them to you. http://www.bowker.com/

U.S. Copyright office: again, if you get “help” with your copyright, you’re paying someone to fill out the short form the government requires and paying a LOT more for it. www.copyright.gov/

BEWARE sites help authors navigate the dangerous waters of publishing. They rate publishers and agents by complaints received, so I always check before I deal with an unknown entity.

Writers Market lists agents and publishers with lots of info on what they represent and how to contact them. https://www.amazon.com/Writers-Market-2017-Trusted-Published/dp/1440347735

Jan 19, 2015

Self-Publishing: A Few Thoughts on How Not To

There was an article in the Sunday paper yesterday about a young man who'd chose self-publishing. He had a cute idea for a children's book, and after being rejected by traditional publishers, he went to work and got it together himself.

And ordered 1000 copies of the book.

I wish I'd met him before that point in his brand-new career.

Here's my understanding of the scam some "helpful" publishers use to make money off earnest, unknowing writers: They "help" you publish your book, charging you every step of the way. They encourage you to buy a bunch of copies because "When this thing takes off, you're going to want them on hand!" They often charge the author full or nearly full price per book, so he gets no profit unless he jacks up the price, making dutiful friends and relatives shell out more than they should for a book in order to be supportive. Bookstores don't want them, because people don't want to pay big bucks for a book they've never heard of by an author who's equally obscure. These publishers promise fantastic promotion and personalized service, but the people I've spoken to who went that route were almost universally disappointed with the skimpy results they got from such promises.
In the end, the author has laid out a bunch of money, has books he can't unload, and is left with a bad feeling about publishing.

There are alternatives. Don't get me wrong: any sort of publishing involves some financial investment. You will have to pay for editing, and you should hire someone who'll tell you the truth. You might have to pay for cover art and set-up, and unless you're REALLY talented, you should. But there are publishing options that aren't designed to only make money for the publisher. One is Createspace. (I'm sure there are others; I'm just using what I know.) It's Amazon's company, so it was definitely created to make money, but they're pretty up front. There are no set-up fees to upload a manuscript and make a POD (print on demand) book, and they'll take your MS in Word .( I still pay a formatter to set the book up the way I want it. I think it looks better.) You can use an ISBN or they'll assign you their version of an identifying number. There's a minimal charge per book, and you can buy a few at a time, so you can order to supply your needs just a couple of weeks ahead.

Ingram now has IngramSpark, which charges a set-up fee but still charges a minimal fee/book and allows you to order a few at a time. (The fee is around $50.00) They have a calculator on the opening page of the site that figures how much you'll be charged/book, which is nice. The advantage to using Ingram is the book is then available to book stores, most of whom won't touch an Amazon book.

I was at a conference last year where they recommended publishing with both, which is what I did with the Maggie Pill books. That way they're available in all the Amazon outlets and also to larger entities, like bookstores and libraries, who order books in bunches through Ingram.


Both of these companies are fairly easy to use, though it takes some practice and I find that with Ingram I have to call and wait on hold for a long time rather than email with questions. No one reads the emails. There are lots of things you need to know about any sort of self-publishing venture, and I'm not going to go into all of it in this piece, but you need to read everything you can in order to decide exactly how you want to proceed.

This is my experience, and I freely admit that opinions will vary. I'm not getting rich in publishing, and I never intended to make a living with my writing. But
I don't have 952 books mildewing in my garage that I've already paid for but can't sell.

Everybody Lies

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