Three Ways To Lose Money Writing And Publishing A Book

December 14, 2014 in Articles, eBook publishing

Writing and publishing a book

Image courtesy of photoXpress.com

Writing a Book

Shocking fact: for those thinking of  writing and publishing a book, it’s never been easier, or cheaper. Word-processors have removed the tedium, printers have moved from molten lead to instant computerised copy, and even publishers (now ruled by accountants) can be by-passed, thanks to the Internet. All you have to do is write the book.

And more shocks: you can do it. Don’t believe those who say it requires years of effort, a degree in English Literature, and hours of bought-in expertise from professionals. A commercial novel of 80,000 words may strike you as daunting before you’ve even written the title down, but at the rate of a thousand words a day – little more than snail’s pace even for a two-finger typist – you are ‘round the world in eighty days’. And take it from me, once you are well into your book, on a good day, you will find the words flowing like there’s no tomorrow as your muse becomes excited by your progress.

Publishing a Book, The Pitfalls and Ways to Lose Money

Now for the bad news. What I’ve summarised above has been written with my optimist’s hat on – a well-worn item that will outlive me, I hope. I don’t have a pessimist’s hat, but through my work offering book editing and publishing advice, I am appalled at the number of individuals and companies who regard the aspiring writer as juicy game to be corralled, groomed, flattered, . . . and then mercilessly bled dry of every penny they own. We writers are often romantics who think the best of people. And when praise is lavished on our work – work that we ourselves are too involved with to be objective about – we tend to weep with relief. And pay, and pay, and pay.

An example: it happened quite a while ago now. A client of mine won first prize in a popular competition for new authors’ work. I’d edited the book. Very little to do; the guy could write. The book is now in print, self-published, and successful (paying its way). Always keen to boast about success indirectly, much subtler than trumpet blowing for oneself, I contacted a London book editing service who claim to help aspiring writers and introduce likely candidates to literary agents and publishers. The owner thanked me profusely for thinking of them. I introduced my author. Four days later they emailed my client offering a range of services, the cheapest of which was more than enough for him to print another 250 copies of his book.

A professional book editor, literary agent or publisher can spot in minutes whether a writer’s work has promise. Within an hour they can spot major failings or indications of commercial appeal.

Trap One. Don’t be fooled by organisations who seek hundreds of pounds from you to evaluate your work. Such evaluations are invariably bloated exercises designed to baffle and bemuse, and relieve you of money. If you need this much help you would be better advised to invest in a writing school course. Good ones can teach you a lot, at competitive rates . . . and advance your writing prospects. Asking a book editor to teach you to write is folly, and expensive.

Trap Two. Beware of any literary agent who either charges you directly or suggests that have your work edited by any specific agency. Reputable literary agents don’t charge, even to read your work.

Trap Three. Avoid all dealings with companies who promote their services offering to help you get published. The majority are bandits; the few who offer a genuine service are branded by the majority and your book will be shunned by the trade. Self-publishing is a prudent course for some writers, but remember, if traditional publishers don’t regard your work as commercially viable they are telling you something: if they can’t work out how to make it pay by attracting enough buyers, you’re highly unlikely to do better alone. Having said that, with the right professional advice, it is possible to order a limited number of copies of your book, at a modest cost, if you are introduced to the right people. You will retain all rights to your work, and reap the net income on all sales.

My advice: contact a few book editing services and ask them how much they charge to help new writers. Professional ones, with ethical standards, will ask for samples of your writing and in many cases undertake some preliminary work at their own expense. If they like what they see, they will then quote, by the hour or page to edit your draft.  General advice and expertise on publishing should not be expensive, if charged for at all.

Book Publishing Resources

  • eBook Publishing Service For Amazon Kindle
    Convert eBooks for Kindle and upload to Amazon in a file format that will be accepted and will work on the Amazon Kindle and in Kindle applications.
  • Ghost Publisher
    The technical aspects of preparing a book for print and getting it published.

This is a guest article from Jonathan Veale writer and author of How to Write a Book or Novel – An Insider’s Guide to Getting Published

If you enjoyed this article you are sure to enjoy the detailed information that Jonathan shares in his book which you can purchase using the link above.

Book Publishing Options for Independent Authors

August 3, 2014 in Articles, eBook publishing

Author Publishing OptionsIn this world of ever changing technology the mainstay of publishing and the written word, printed books, are under threat. The common, new usurper is the eBook, rapidly becoming the media choice of multitudes of avid readers.

The reason why is pretty clear, the parallel and exponential rise of mobile technology that provides a means of downloading and reading eBooks from the Internet. And we are not just talking about Kindle, Nook or Kobo dedicated ereaders, there are now apps available for any number of tablet devices or smartphones in addition to dedicated ereaders.

Highly powerful miniature computers that can literally be carried in a pocket or bag and that offer virtually all the functionality of a notebook or desktop computer with the advantages that they are small, lightweight and can be taken with you everywhere you go.

You probably only need to observe your kids, or in some cases grand-kids, to find out how they prefer to read a book these days and it is becoming obvious that a paperback version of their favorite book or novel is now much more rarely seen. So whether they are relaxing in an armchair or lounging by a pool, it is usually with their preferred mobile device in their hands. Sometimes they will be reading the latest trend on Twitter, playing games, catching up with friends on Facebook or of course reading the latest novel.

So now we come to why this presents a new and exciting opportunity for wannabe and existing authors. For a start the traditional method for publishing a book was to approach an established publisher, usually through a literary agent, to present a manuscript and then sit back and wait for months to get a decision, usually a rejection.

Then there was the cost barrier, getting a book laid out ready for printing and then actually printed can be very expensive. Even print on demand can be a bit tricky and prices need to be carefully worked out to ensure production costs are met, the books are competitive and you can actually make a little bit of profit.

But all these problems go away with eBooks, they offer a real alternative for new and existing authors. 

Formatting for publication is much more straightforward, especially for a novel devoid of graphics, and even if you don’t have the technical skills yourself there are eBook formatting services available at a much better rate than the equivalent for printed books.

Then there are the online distributors that welcome independent authors with open arms, Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords and even Google. They are all desperate for new books and new authors, there is no waiting time. Format your book properly and you can be published in hours.

Just one word of caution however, don’t let standards drop. You may not be being judged by a publisher taking this route, but you will certainly be judged by a paying public and reviews never come faster than when you have got it wrong. Spelling mistakes, punctuation errors and bad grammar will be homed in on and your book rubbished if you get it wrong. So don’t take shortcuts, make sure your book is properly edited and proofread.

Marketing is a big part of independent publishing and it is much harder to market a book full of errors than one that is well written, clear of spelling mistakes and with a story that flows naturally from beginning to end.

Photo – courtesy of PhotoXpress.com

Where Indie Authors Can Publish Their Books

December 12, 2013 in Articles, eBook publishing

Independent PublishingEvery Indie author will either know or strongly suspect that the best place to publish their books is on Amazon. There is a lot of information on this site on how to go about doing that and plenty of other online resources have discussed and advised how to publish books via Amazon.

Using KDP for ebooks or Createspace for paperbacks are two very good options and should be a strong consideration for any indie author.

But are there other options?

The quick answer is of course ‘YES’…. there are bound to be other options besides Amazon for publishing books. But then you need to know what they are and why.

With ebook readers growing ever more popular, what many independent authors do is to publish their books on Amazon and or Createspace first and then to use a third party distributor like Smashwords to get their ebooks published with other online distributors.

There is a good reason for this and quite simply put…. it is down to administration. Smashwords, for example, has positioned itself in the ebook distribution market place as a provider of services to independent authors. What they have done is to provide comprehensive help and advice that will help most reasonably computer-competent authors format their books ready for publication and, if required, provide an ISBN for the book. Then they convert the books to multiple formats that can be used on virtually all the ereaders currently available in the market place. Also, if the book achieves premium status, they will distribute it to multiple online distributors.

Achieving premium status depends on the formatting of the book prior to submission.  In other words – all relevant formatting requirements detailed in their style guide must be met.

They collect all royalty payments from the various distributors and once they have taken their cut, which is quite modest actually, they reimburse the authors with their net royalties.

At the time of writing, Smashwords can arrange for the distribution of an ebook (that has achieved premium status) to the following list of online distributors:

  • Sony
  • Barnes & Noble
  • Kobo
  • Amazon
  • Apple
  • Page Foundry
  • Baker & Taylor Blio
  • Library Direct
  • Baker-Taylor Axis360
  • Flipkart
  • Oyster

There is an opt out function for any distributors you prefer not to distribute through, either because you have already distributed through them independently or perhaps you just prefer not to distribute through a particular channel. This list continues to grow as Smashwords make agreements with new distributors.

You can of course go to most of these sites independently to try and set up accounts so that you can publish your book with them. But there will be stringent requirements that have to be met in order to get your book accepted, particularly with respect to formatting and you will then of course have to deal with the administration yourself on a distributor by distributor basis.

For authors outside of the USA you may well find that the distributors are also forced to withhold up to 30% of your royalty payments for the tax department (IRS). The only way around this is to apply for an international tax identification number (ITIN) and send a letter to each distributor advising them that you are exempt from withholding tax (provided you are of course). If, on the other hand, you are only dealing with Amazon and Smashwords you should really only need to advise them. I should mention here that I am not a tax adviser, so please ensure you verify what you need to do with someone qualified to do so based on your own personal circumstances.

This thread on Goodreads may help for anyone trying to get an ITIN http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/756351-dealing-with-amazon-com-and-the-irs—authors

What Are the Disadvantages of Using Smashwords?

There are definitely some disadvantages to using Smashwords, here is a quick summary:

  • They take a cut of your royalties
  • Even with their comprehensive style guide, some people still struggle to get their books formatted to a standard that will get them into the premium status category. The consequence being your book will only then be distributed by Smashwords and will not go out to the other distributors listed
  • Smashwords only sell a small percentage of books directly, mostly I suspect because it is more complicated to download a file and transfer it onto an ereader (even with detailed instructions being available)
  • There are file size limitations (10MB) and graphics, where used, need to be relatively simple and straightforward in nature
  • They only publish eBooks
  • You cannot upload books with DRM (digital rights management ) protection

A Quick Summary of the Advantages of Using Smashwords

Just a quick list of what the advantages are for an independent author publishing through Smashwords:

  • The potential to get your books listed with multiple distributors and with only one account to administer
  • Your books can be converted to multiple formats to suit most ereaders using an automated process
  • You can get free ISBN’s for your book
  • Publishers and agents can also use Smashwords for their clients
  • Growing in popularity with established social media presence that can be used for book marketing
  • A range of different tools and options available for promotion campaigns
  • Free link to printed books
  • Video facility for book trailers
  • A range of author profile tools including, interviews, social media links and blog feed.
  • Books are free of DRM constraints (likely to be appreciated by potential customers)

Who else provides Similar Facilities to Smashwords?

Of course you may not like the look of Smashwords or decide their formatting style guide is just too complicated, so here are a few other successful distributors that independent authors can use:

And just in case you haven’t explored the Amazon route for publishing eBooks, then take a look here http://kdp.amazon.com/  The most popular publishing platform for independent authors and where you are most likely to make reasonable sales. You can ask Smashwords to list you with them if you want to, but to be honest this is one option you are probably better taking care of yourself.

If you need help with any aspect of getting your book published and promoted then you are free to leave a comment or get in touch via the contact-us page.

photo credit: Enokson via photopin cc

Publishing Books That Sell

October 4, 2013 in Articles, Book Marketing, eBook publishing, Writing & Publishing

Why Amazon are offering advice on getting a book Published? 

Amazon Breakthrough NovelsClearly Amazon are more than happy to publish your book as an independent author, but they are also interested in high quality writing that will be taken up by the public and sell in the millions. Selling books after all is one of Amazon’s primary objectives.

Recently I watched a video on Createspace that described the critical factors for ensuring that a novel would be accepted into and potentially win the ‘Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award’. While I was watching the video it became very clear that this was not only great advice for submitting a book to a publisher, but also for anyone wanting to write and publish a book as an independent author or publisher.

What Publishers Want

Publishers will look for different things dependent on the type of imprint they are reading. For example if the book is a fictional ‘literary imprint’, they will be looking at the quality of the writing, the way the paragraphs are structured and the style of the writer.

On the other hand if the book is a ‘mystery imprint’ they will be more concerned with the strength of the plot, whether it stands up to scrutiny and if it reaches a satisfactory conclusion.

Understanding this means that you can focus more on the most important aspects of the type of imprint you are presenting and make sure that you deliver on those aspects. That does make sense actually, because someone reading a mystery will be very disappointed if they guess the outcome too early or feel that there is not a satisfactory conclusion to the story, but may be more forgiving of the odd misspelling or typo provided the book delivers on its main promise i.e. it’s a cracking good mystery. That said getting all aspects right will do no harm :-)

Writing Fiction Novels with Strength

What does writing with strength mean, basically it means ensuring that your book has considered the 4 main publishing criteria and delivered them to a high standard:

  • Plot Development
  • Character Development
  • Originality
  • Writing style

In addition to considering these 4 main criteria  your writing also needs to be of a high quality with properly constructed paragraphs, correct spelling, good sentence structure and accurate punctuation.

You also need to understand the market you are writing for and where your book fits into that market. This understanding should be illustrated in your synopsis i.e. tell the publisher who the book will appeal to,  why you are qualified to write on the subject and why the book will appeal.

Many successful writers authors have learned their craft through studying the books of the best authors in their genre. Never assume that there is noting to learn from others, especially the best sellers. Look for the strengths to emulate them and look for the weaknesses to avoid them.

The Pitch

The pitch can be several things, it can literally be a pitch you have written for a publisher in the form of a synopsis or it can be a pitch to your intended reader in the form of a description on the product page of your book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Apple etc. This is what your pitch should do:

  • Describe what your book is about and why you are qualified to write on the subject
  • It should be framed and written in a language that the intended market emphasises with and understands
  • It should convey what the book offers, its strengths, why people will want to read it and what it will deliver
  • It should not promote itself as the next best thing in an established franchise i.e. don’t compare the book to Harry Potter or Shades of Grey. It should be standalone, new, original, with its own identity and appeal

Again it is always worth looking at the best in genre and what they have written as a description for their books to see what does and doesn’t work.

The Importance of Starting Strong

You only have to consider that a paying public, when considering if they are going to buy a book, will nearly always take the time to have a little sample read of a potential book before buying. Amazon offers a ‘look inside’ feature and many of the other big distributors have an equivalent feature.  It makes sense then that your first 10 pages (or 5000 words for a publisher) should be where your best writing should sit.

Once you have caught the attention of a potential buyer, to the extent that they actually start to read a sample portion of your book, the last thing you then want to do is lose them. Now is the time to hit them between the eyes, so how do you do that exactly:

  • Provide a strong compelling opening that will make your reader want more. Use a quirky dialogue that intrigues, start with a strong plot or write in a rich engaging way that immerses the reader in your writing so they don’t want to put the book down
  • End chapters with a suggestion that there is even more and better writing to come
  • A little snippet from me:
    •  Get straight to the point, leave your accolades and thank you’s etc. until the end of the book. A reader is less likely to be interested in those than the real story or content and if the people you are thanking are worthy they will understand why and those that are interested will still find them

These are some of the books that have been recommended by Amazon for their strong starts and have been highly rated in the ‘Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award’ as a result.

Why You Need a Biography

What many authors forget is that they are not only trying to sell a book they are also trying to sell themselves. The public will be more inclined to buy a book if they can trust the provider of that book, understand a little about them and what qualifies them to write for a specific genre or market.

A biography is the best way to communicate to a potential audience exactly what you are about, why you are passionate about what you write and how you know what you know.

Writing about the places, things and events you are knowledgeable about and are genuinely interested in will ensure your passion for the subject translates into your words and will be communicated to your reader. Writing for a market or in a niche you have no real interest in will lead to a transparency that allows your audience to see that is exactly the case. And guess what, they won’t buy your books.

Writing and publishing is a tough world, there will be countless rejections and a lack of sales, so patience and determination are the traits that any writer needs in order to succeed. There is help and support out there, you can join writer communities and engage on forums to find answers, share solutions and get general support. So if you are a writer why would you not use these valuable resources?

Always remember that there is something to learn and the right people to learn from are the best in the business. Also if you write well and don’t give up, you will eventually succeed. Especially with so many new resources now available. But at the end of the day if you write a good book and no-one finds it other than you, remember that you still did it and that in itself is a worthy accomplishment.

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photo credit: cindiann via photopin cc

Samantha Ford Is Getting Ready to Publish Her Second Novel

August 21, 2013 in Articles, Author Spotlight, eBook publishing

Author of the 5 star rated The Zanzibar Affair – Samantha Ford – has her second, long awaited, novel rapidly approaching its publication date. But she needs some help deciding which cover image has the most appeal. You are invited to participate in a poll to help her decide which cover image she should use for her next book.

The Samantha Ford Cover Image Poll

Voting is now closed and the public have made their choice!

Come back soon to see the winner

 

Setting the Scene to Help You Decide

The book is set in both London and Kenya.  One of the scenes involves a very attractive man standing at the end of a wooden pier overlooking a lake in Africa with his back to a lodge. This is a recurring dream of the heroine and is the reason why there is a lakeside image versus a tented game lodge set amongst dark trees and lit by lamps as the sun is setting.

Question is which provides the most impact visually and which sets the scene in the best way for the book?

You can vote in the poll above by selecting proposal 1 or proposal 2. Then if you want to leave your comments to explain which way you voted and why, you can do that here on this post, on your favourite social media site or both. The choice is yours. Just make sure you join the debate and have some fun in the process.

You can find the Zanzibar Affair here on Amazon

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