Three Ways To Lose Money Writing And Publishing A Book

December 14, 2014 in Articles, eBook publishing

Writing and publishing a book

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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

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.

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

eBook Publishing

March 20, 2012 in

Are you considering writing or publishing an ebook? If so, we can guide you through all the stages.

We assist book writers to publish and sell ebooks online. And Amazon’s Kindle Store should be your priority.

If you have already published a book and would like an ebook version listed and selling on Amazon, in days, again we can help.

Your new ebook will be accurately described and displayed on the Amazon Kindle store, with a special cover photo, a description, and your name, as author, shown. Sales worldwide are possible the moment Amazon accept your files and publish the ebook on the Kindle Store. See the Writers Wanted page for further details about these services.

There is another way to approach ebook publishing however: handle everything yourself – self-publish (we list the things you must do below) and it will only cost you the time involved. Take a look and see if you think that is the approach you would prefer to take. There is little doubt the DIY route will save you money in the short term, but what you need to consider carefully is whether it will cost you money in the months that follow.

To get Amazon to accept a Kindle book for sale you need to:

1. register an account with Amazon on KDP, in your name, so that they pay you directly. You will then become the commercial publisher
2. prepare and send Amazon a computer file for the content (Amazon accept several different file formats), and a graphic image file for the ‘cover’. Amazon will attempt to convert the ebook files you send them to put them in their Kindle Store
3. write a description of the book (the selling copy). This needs to be punchy and literate to work. You enter this on the listing form.
4. choose two appropriate categories for listing on Amazon. This will guide buyers to your ebook’s page
5. set a price for your book that buyers will find competitive
6. choose seven keyword phrases. These should be ones that internet searchers frequently use to find books similar to yours
7. provide a profile about yourself, as the author, and add it to ‘Amazon Author Central’. This will interest potential buyers and is an additional means of promoting yourself and your book(s).
*8. create website pages dedicated to your book where you can, a), describe the book and its history and contents in greater detail, b), link directly to your Amazon listing to increase your chances of boosting sales and c), add further commentary about the book as reviews come in.
*9. prepare a PDF version of your book. This you can then email to interested journalists, friends and colleagues to gain publicity and sales. Use this to boost good reviews on Amazon’s Kindle store
*Items, 8 & 9. Website pages tailor-made for your book, and a PDF for emailing to journalists are essential marketing requirements
Amazon offers general advice on all of the above aspects, except items 8 & 9. Amazon do not charge for their advice so if you are computer-literate and have the time to read their documentation thoroughly you should, in time, be able to convert your existing files and then list your book, at minimum expense. We recommend you visit their website (click on the following link) and learn all about the things you will need to do, and not do. Amazon Self Publishing Help

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