Saturday, 30 May 2009


Lightning Source - How To Get An Account - Explained


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One of the most common questions I get asked when self-publishing authors are looking at their book publishing options is about Lightning Source. LSI are one of the major Print-on-Demand digital printers in the world with centers in the US and UK. They not only offer print services but also book fulfillment services for publishers. Though they don't scream it from the roof-tops, authors can also set up an account with them and utilize their services.

Selfpublishingreview.com have a very helpful article on how an author goes about setting up an account with them here.

If you want to self-publish your book by taking a hands on approach, have some design skills, your own small imprint and block of ISBN's, and your are prepared to take on all the marketing that comes with properly self-publishing a book, then you really cannot go wrong with LSI.

RATING: 8.5/10  

POD TV Program 5 - Poisoned Pen Press & The Future of Publishing


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This program, hosted by Ellen Crosby, features an extensive interview and discussion with Barbara Peters and Robert Rosenwald who are the owners of Poisoned Pen Books and Poisoned Pen Press in Scottsdale, Arizona. The program was recorded at the Library of Congress earlier this month and discussed the mystery genre of fiction and the state of publishing, traditional and Independent publishing in America.

Drawing on their longtime experience in bookselling, publishing and editing, Peters and Rosenwald ask, "How does the medium influence the message?" Their program takes a brief look at book and print technology past, present and future, and how electronic manuscript submissions, e-books, digital ink and wireless reading devices have affected the industry.

The publishers also talk about the potential of digital rights management. Other trends in the industry, such as the interplay of Web and print media, the use of video trailers for books, the popularity of the graphic novel and gaming based on books are a part of the program. Peters and Rosenwald founded the Poisoned Pen Bookstore in 1989. Peters also serves as editor and Rosenwald as publisher of Poisoned Pen Press, which has published more than 100 authors and has more than 600 titles in print.

Poisoned Pen Press

Friday, 29 May 2009


No Advance or Be Damned - Part 2


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“Jeeves. There’s a strange gentlemen at the door suggesting publishers should stop giving authors advances.”

“Wooster! How ridiculous. The idea is simply preposterous! Send him away and finish preparing my Eggs Benedict and ironing my morning newspaper.”

“Actually, Jeeves, I found the idea rather novel and somewhat intriguing. So much so—I’ve invited the gentleman into the parlour for tea and a light scone with warm butter. I do hope you don’t mind.”

“You invited him into the house of Jeeves Publishing & Sons & Illegitimate Sons!”

“Yes, Jeeves. You seemed wholly perturbed. Am I to be punished?”

“Punished, punished?”

“I’ll fetch the cat-o-nine-tails from the cupboard at once, sir.”

I do not suggest a ‘No advance’ term lightly to any publishing contract. The size of advance offered by a publisher can underline the publisher’s belief and commitment to an author, but more often it is borne out of an inflated market for established, best-selling authors and innate industry brand preservation. ‘We paid $x million for that book!’ Really...bully for you.

If author advances were to disappear overnight—I would suggest—the established, best-selling authors would be the least hard-pressed about their loss. In fact, it is our dear humble mid-listed who would toss and turn most during those first few ‘no advance’ nights. Any author who invests time, energy and talent into writing a book should be rewarded for what they have produced by a prospective publisher. But the thing is, they are—the reward is already called a royalty—the profit on each book as it is sold.

Consider Randal Radic, author of ‘A Priest in hell’ and ‘The Sound of Meat’ and his comments on the first part of this article:

"Advances should NOT go away. They are the element that keeps writers writing and dreaming. They’re part of the American Dream. Writers with a track-record of sales should be rewarded for their platform. It’s like a signing bonus in professional sports. You have talent so you get paid. Even the rookies have the opportunity of ‘big bucks’ if they’re talented enough or lucky enough (they can fill a niche). Removing advances is nothing but a blatant attempt at equalizing the playing field. And sadly, everybody ain’t equal. Some writers are definitely better than others, even if it’s just at promoting themselves. Why should they be punished for having talent or ability or promotional skills?

Super-models get the big bucks. Semi-goodlooking models get to be in the Sears catalogue. Super-writers get the big bucks. Semi-talented writers get to be mid-listers. If you want to be in the Victoria’s Secret catalogue, see a plastic surgeon or complain to your parents. If you want a bigger advance, write better. Or get a better agent."


If a financial advance is the reason why an author keeps ‘writing and dreaming’, then I would have taken the advice of many writers when I was a young slip of a lad, ‘If you want to make money, then there are far better ways than writing.’ —brutal honesty from writers themselves. And if advances are the elements which keep writers writing and dreaming and they are ‘part of the American Dream’, then God help us. It would appear once again the centre of the publishing universe is America, with its affluent New York offices of marble and stonework—the Vatican of the publishing world. But let us not entirely cast the American Dream aside, as Randal Radic suggests, it encapsulates an aspiration of success, beyond wealth, every author wishes for. I just do not believe getting an advance from a publisher is going to weaken or strengthen that desire. What will strengthen the author’s desire to write is the sale of bucket loads of books and the deserving kudos, not from the publisher, but from the readers of the author’s book. The question is—should the publisher offer an advance on those sales without the benefit of a crystal ball? I do not believe they should.

The reasoning for an author advance was borne of a time when fewer people were literate, newspapers were bought by those literate in the working classes, and books were bought by the educated and successful. And the educated and successful were both the authors and the publishers who moved often in the same social circles. It is a little like the self-publishing world now—those who self-publish are often in the same circle as those who review self-published books. It is the result of modern social networking. Networking which did not exist at the time of literary greats such as Hardy, Wilde, Dostoevsky, Dumas and Wolfe. A publisher’s advance was seen by the author as a form of support and sponsorship—not an upfront handout.

There is an argument that an author cannot write without knowing their endeavours can be financed so they can wholeheartedly write. If an author is writing a book on crime in South American and has the interest of a publisher, then, yes, of course, a publisher should finance the author’s expenses on travel or research on any such book project if a contract in principal exists. No payment by a publisher should ever be made based on ‘expected’ or ‘imagined’ sales of books.

Steve Webber of Webber Books asks what is the upside of a publisher who does not offer an advance;

"If there’s no advance, there will be very little upside to trade publishing anymore, in my opinion — especially for nonfiction authors who have a platform. If the author can “afford” to complete the book without an advance (and hire their own editor), why not self-publish? Then, instead of waiting for royalties, you take everything after costs.

If publishers can’t afford to pay advances, then they have to provide *some* other incentive for an author. What will that incentive be, when advances are no longer customary? The prestige of having a certain imprint on your book?"


The fact is, more often, authors are concluding there is no real upside beyond brick and mortar distribution clout, and decide that they can go it alone using an author solution services to self-publish their book and their own social network to reach their clients. The upside to traditional publishing is becoming less and less. Already, publishers use agents not just as their gatekeepers, but more, because publishers are unwilling to sift through piles of manuscripts to find that jem of a book. The modern professional agent feels it necessary to ensure a manuscript is ‘as near as published quality’ reducing the potential rejection, re-writes and heavy editing required, say twenty or more years ago. It is easy to forget that not so long ago we did not have word processors with grammar and spell checks and formatting at the push of a button. The job and pre publication requirements are far less now than they have been in the past and aging editors wearing wire-rimmed spectacles leaned awkwardly over hundreds of pages of hand written manuscripts.

For ‘no advance’ publishers—there simply is no excuse. You bought the book for nothing—you sell it and by all means mosts authors will willing help considerably with the marketing of their book. How well a publisher demonstrates their marketing ability remains to be seen? An astute author learning of a ‘no advance’ deal will test every fathomable depth of water and there is no reason why they should not.

The true publisher wants to sell books, so, I suspect in the future, without advances or at least sizable advances, they will trade first paperback rights as a one off deal; they will contract solely on one book, and the publisher will have to offer substantial royalty terms of up to 50% and many other inflated terms. Without providing an advance publishers, will have to offer support finance on non-fiction books and will have to outline more the financial plan they intend to invest in an author’s book and not just the fly-by-night 90 day hit or you're out the door for every published book.

"The only thing a conventional publisher brings to a deal is access to brick and mortar channels of bookselling, brute force distribution and heavy promotion. This is how “best sellers ” are made."

The above is attributed to Francis Hamit of BrassCannonBooks.net, understanding how it should be.

How things will shape in the future remains to be seen. But things must change if publishers are to warrant their own existence. The path of fast-tracking a book to publication using an author solutions service and selling directly to the reading client is becoming a greater and often more lucrative option.

Thank you all for your comments on the previous article.

Thursday, 28 May 2009


Baker & Taylor Set For POD Distribution by September 2009


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Baker & Taylor Inc, the US book distributor has joined forces with R.R.Donnelley, a print solutions provider to establish and run a print-on-demand digital book production center at Baker & Taylor’s distribution plant in Illinois. This looks to be the last commercial deal to be put in place before the POD distribution plant opens in September this year.

This will place Baker & Taylor in a strong position in the POD book production market and pitches them against the Ingram Group, who own Lightning Source, and Amazon who own Booksurge.

TheNation.com - The Long Goodbye?


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Here is a pretty meaty and worthwhile article entitled, The Long Goodbye? The Book Business and its Woes by Elisabeth Sifton, writing for theNation.com last week.

"Humanity has read, hoarded, discarded and demanded books for centuries; for centuries books have been intimately woven into our sense of ourselves, into the means by which we find out who we are and who we want to be. They have never been mere physical objects--paper pages of a certain size and weight printed with text and sometimes images, bound together on the left--never just cherished or reviled reminders of school-day torments, or mementos treasured as expressions of bourgeois achievement, or icons of aristocratic culture. They have been all these things and more. They have been instruments of enlightenment."

You can read Elisabeth's article in full at the link provided above.

Bill Warrington Wins Amazon Breakthrough Novel 2009


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The Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award has been won by Bill Warrington for his novel, Last Chance.

“Long estranged from his children and now faced with Alzheimer's, Bill Warrington decides that kidnapping April—his belligerent and beguiling 15-year-old granddaughter—is the only way to mend his family (if not his mind). So begins the journey of, James King's remarkable fiction debut and winner of the 2009 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award.”

Amazon Blurb

The Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards is an opportunity for emerging fiction writers to join a community of authors on Amazon.com to showcase their work and compete for a chance to get published. The award is sponsored by publishers, Penguin Group USA, and author solutions company, Createspace. The first award was launched in 2007, with over 5000 enteries reduced to 800, which were read and reviewed by Amazon customers. The resulting 100 semi-finalists were then reduced to the final ten by editors at Penguin and following further reviews, Bill Loehfelm’s Fresh Kills emerged as the 2008 winner.

Bill Warrington will receive a full publishing contract with Penguin to market and distribute Last Chance as a published book as well as a $25,000 advance.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009


Lulu - Acting The Teapot with Amazon's Marketplace?


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This email was sent to many Lulu authors today and seems to be creating a little bit of a stir at the moment for all the wrong reasons.

*****************************

"Dear Lulu Author,

Congratulations, your book has been selected for listing on Amazon.com's Marketplace! As a result, your book will now be easily found on the world's largest online bookseller.

There will be some differences between your listing on Lulu and your listing on Amazon. Amazon charges a fee to list your book, and in order to cover that cost your book will be listed with a 30% markup; however your royalty will remain the same, and your book's price on Lulu will not change. Furthermore, your book sales on Amazon will reflect in your Lulu account immediately.

Lulu is committed to helping you increase your book's sales and we hope you enjoy the benefits of listing your book on Amazon.com.
Kind regards,

Lulu"


****************************

Over on Snowbooks Blog, Emma Barnes says;

"...throughout the day I have received no fewer than five emails from excited authors who write to tell me that their self published book, which they have currently got on submission to us, has been selected by Amazon."

Over on LLBookreview, Shannon Yarbrough goes at little more to the heart of what Lulu's reasoning is...

"Now, I have a few problems with this email. First, they don’t even tell me which of my three books was chosen for Marketplace. Second, they don’t even tell you what Marketplace is or how it works or what its advantages are. Third, their going to mark the book up 30% but still only give me my same commission.

My only guess about Lulu joining in this venture is that it is a sure fire way for them to go around the Booksurge umbrella Amazon put over them last year. They stand to make better money doing it because Marketplace stock is printed from Lulu’s suppliers which means no Booksurge printing and shipping fees for Lulu."


Amazon Marketplace is Amazon's fixed-price online marketplace allowing sellers to offer their goods alongside Amazon's own stock listings. New and used items can be bought directly from a third party through Amazon using the sellers store hosted on Amazon Marketplace.

This Marketplace program has been very profitable for Amazon and they charge a commission based on the sale price, a transaction fee, and a variable closing fee.

Users can also leave feedback on transactions using a rating system. Any feedback less than four stars will negatively affect the seller's rating.


The email sent by Lulu is clearly misleading and somehow suggests to an author that their Lulu books have been selected on merit of content or sales numbers. The reality is that Lulu are attempting to optomise their own business interests and it marks another movement by Lulu in the wrong direction when it comes to their paying authors.

Man Booker International Winner 2009 - Alice Munro


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The 2009 Man Booker International prize has been awarded to Canadian author Alice Munro. Munro is predominantly known as a short story writer and has been publishing books since the 1960's.

"Since her first collection of stories was published in 1968, Alice Munro has been highly acclaimed as the contemporary master of the short fiction genre. We are delighted to honour her as the recipient of the third Man Booker International Prize."

Peter Clarke, CEO of the Man Group

The Man Booker International award is worth £60,000 to Munro who will officially be awarded the prize at a ceremony in Dublin's Trinity College, on the 25th June.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009


No Advance or Be Damned - Part 1


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I am going to say something which may ruffle a few feathers, both from traditionally published authors and authors who have self-published but are looking to break into mainstream publishing through their own endeavours.

Your perspective publisher declares ‘NO ADVANCE OR BE DAMNED’.

Would you politely decline the publisher’s contract offer without any advance and show yourself to the door? Perhaps you would if the offer came from ACME Publishing or some other publishing shack up the road. Let’s say the offer came from an imprint of Pan Macmillan or HarperCollins. Would you then stop and think twice?

I believe it is time we dispensed entirely with financial advances from publishers, or to place the term more accurately, an advance against projected royalties. Those projected royalties come directly from the publisher’s marketing and sales department’s Profit & Loss sheets—drawn up when a publisher is about to make an offer of publication to an author or agent representing an author. We can dream about advances as authors when we lie in bed at night just after we have typed ‘The End’ on our latest magnum opus, but the fact is that most publishers advances to 90% of authors in the UK are less than £10,000, sometimes considerably less. There are several factors which influence the amount of advance paid to the author. It will be dependent on the author’s experience and success with previous books, the business acumen of the author and their agent to negotiate the best advance, potential interest from other publishers, the costs of the print run and a single or multiple format editions, and also the financial investment the publisher is prepared to expend on the marketing and promotion of the book both in pre and post production.

An advance for an author signifies the faith and belief their publisher has in them and their book’s marketability, the greater the advance the more the author will feel the publisher will push his book; it is an advance payment to ensure the author delivers the best possible manuscript they can; it is an advance payment against any expenses whether living expenses or incurred directly from researching and working on the book; it is a symbolic first down payment, whether the amount is a dollar or a diamond, for the production of the manuscript over six months or six years.

For the publisher, the advance acts as a contractual retainer for the next book; it wards off other preying publishers; it keeps the damn fool alive and hopefully writing.

It is easy to see that the risks are stacked entirely on the shoulders of the publishers. The author may argue a creative risk but it is hard to wager that against the risks the publisher takes on, after all the publisher is in business to sell books and not just print them. So why do they continue to do it?

Of course the publisher wants the best authors on their lists and that will always come at some price or at least concessional in deference to the author’s wishes on how they see their book.

According to Bob Miller, president of HarperStudio;

"The gamble has gotten very high. ... Out of every 20 of those that you make[book acquisitions], you hope that one of them you'll be so right about that you will make up for the 19 you weren't right about."

HarperStudio’s publishing model is an experiment in reducing the risks for a publisher. They publish two books a month and will not pay an advance any higher than $100,000. The sweetener for the author is the 50/50-royalty share on book profits offered by HarperStudio. HarperStudio also buck the publishing tradition by not allowing stores to return unsold books. Whatever the reception and future for HarperStudio, the industry is starting to sit up and take notice in a time of economic uncertainty.

Four years ago Pan Macmillan began a ‘New Writing’ project which was dubbed ‘the Ryan Air of publishing’. Pan Macmillan’s New Writing project is for previously unpublished authors with no advance payment, a 20% royalty of net sales (after print and retail discounts). Macmillan claim that authors publishing through this imprint get the same effort and attention from screening through to marketing and promotions, though clearly authors are more involved than perhaps other Macmillan imprints regarding the marketing and promotion.

Glen Yeffeth is the owner of BenBella Books and he wrote on his blogsite;

“We pay advances, generally $5000 to $10,000, but occasionally much higher, with the highest we’ve ever paid being $100,000. When the advance exceeds $10,000, there is always some aspect of the deal that reduces or eliminates the risk of the higher advance (i.e. a guaranteed buy). We often do deals with no advance, and higher (sometimes much higher) than standard royalties. The higher royalties are not justified by the absence of an advance (this actually doesn’t change the economics that much) but by the fact that the author is bringing to the table substantial marketing resources.”

Pan Macmillan and HarperStudio are examples of publishers re-evaluating the publishing model. Many more medium to small publishers are also offering limited author advances or none at all. Add to that ‘no advance/little advance’ list, Vanguard, Snowbooks, Berrett-Kohler, Troubador and many others. It is also the exception rather than the rule for an author to receive an advance from an epublisher. It seems the old model of publisher advances gave both author and publisher little long-term solace. Someone always seemed to bemoan coming off the lesser party when the dust settled. Get paid a million for your first book, sell 20,000 to 30,000 copies and chances are you can kiss goodbye to that second book option with your publishers. It is an outstanding amount for a first time book, certainly on the UK market, but it isn’t in the neighbourhood of millionaire’s row.

The fact remains publishers paid author advances in the five and six figure bracket as far back as the 1970’s. Just like the high-rolling bankers who happily handed out sub-prime mortgages over the past ten years to young couples buying their first property—publishers happily handed out advances with rarely any absolute assurance or belief that they could claw it back if things went belly up. Publishing is perhaps even more of a risk than banking—money begets money—but things have gone belly up and one wonders how many large publishing houses have arrived in last chance saloon with their last five bucks tucked away at the bottom of their worn jeans pocket, ready to spin on the publishing casino wheel. Like any gambler, no matter how many wins in a row you strike, your luck will surely run out.

According to Michael Meyer writing in a New York Times essay entitled, ‘About That Book Advance’, written in April of this year;

“…the fact that 7 out of 10 titles do not earn back their advance, the system doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. In recent interviews, a dozen New York-based publishers and agents told me, more or less, ‘Publishers have to keep buying books,’ and ‘They have to bid for the best books’ — which in large part means those that will sell.”

Nothing is a banker, and the endemic problem in the above publishing philosophy of ‘well, we’ll just have to bid for it’ is akin to sending ‘a crazy’ into an auction hall with a nervous twitch. The philosophy is heavy sales quantities against a few titles, rather than the more sound approach of multiple titles and reasonable sales across the board. True, not an easy call all the time, but when you are bank rolling Sarah Palin and Katie Price (Jordan, the model), the budget gets used up pretty quickly, and rest assured Sarah and Katie get their million dollar advance, but it’s their books which get mass remaindered and pulped after six months. Some smuck paid to have those extra 100,000 books printed and marketed!

Let us not forget, the greatest expenditure for a publisher is the marketing and promotion of a book, not the print bill. Big or small publisher, they’re all certain to eventually land a ‘banker’ like the gambler who is always just one loss away from his next big win. You can argue the toss as to how much the marketing budget transfers to actual book sales, or whether a good book with moderate exposure will always sell well. Either way, small and medium sized publishers as well as author solution companies like iUniverse, AuthorHouse and Lulu worked the ‘mass titles’ equation out a long time ago and that’s with an no advance and the author paying all the costs to boot! Public taste is far too fickle to bankroll your company’s annual budget on a handful of fashionable titles.

So, our opening poser again, ‘NO ADVANCE OR BE DAMNED’.

Certainly, we all believe our work warrants an advance from our publishers. But at what price...yours or theirs?

In part two, I will explain my reasoning for ditching the publisher advance. Your thoughts are welcome...

Monday, 25 May 2009


The Publetariat Vault - Launching Summer 2009


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From the Publetariat website comes the following;

"In an effort to attract publisher attention, you’ve got a fine-looking, well-reviewed, respectably-selling book in print, and you’ve put a lot of time, money and effort into your author platform as well. Unfortunately, publishers haven’t noticed.

If there were a service designed to facilitate publisher searches of indie books, making it easy for them to find books that meet their specific needs, are well-reviewed and selling in respectable numbers, would you want your book to be listed with that service?"


Well, Publetariat intend launching the Publetariat Vault, a service for publishers on the lookout for independently published books which have proved a success this summer. The concept has been tried with such sites as Authonomy in conjunction with HarperCollins. However, this project will have no affiliations with any specific traditional publishers.

"Any contact or publication offers resulting from your Publetariat Vault listing would be strictly between you and the publisher. It would be up to you to retain a literary agent or attorney for contract negotiations and future services related to your book, Publetariat would have no rights to your material and no stake in the deal. The Vault’s only function would be to bring commercially viable indie books to the attention of publishers who want them."

You can read the full announcement here.

Friday, 22 May 2009


POD TV - Program 4 - To Self Publish Your Book, or Not to Self Publish Your Book


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For program four on POD TV we return to Stacey Cochran's excellent series of discussions on http://www.howtopublishabook.org/ this weeks program is entitled "To Self Publish Your Book, or Not to Self Publish Your Book" with guests Adam Shepard and Elisa Lorello.

Thursday, 21 May 2009


Partnership Publishing - New Site From SciFi Author Clive Osborne Rapley


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I came across sci-fi author, Clive Osborne Rapley's new site which takes a particular focus on Partnership Publishing. Clive discusses his experiences using Pen Press in the UK and is currently looking to hear from other authors who have used Partnership Publishers and Subsidy Publishers.

"Are you thinking of writing a book?
Have you written a book?
Want to know how to publish your book?

Then please read on. Hopefully the experience of others will help you. Have you used a Partnership or Subsidy Publishing Company?

Please share your publishing experience good or bad. You will get a link to your website as well as the satisfaction of helping others.

This is the website where you won’t find the superior or condescending attitude. It is designed to help you make a decision regarding your book. It offers information on an alternative middle way to get your book published.

If you have used a partnership or subsidy publishing company then please share your experience good or bad to help others who have yet to make the decision. Please go here if you have a story to tell.

I have used my first book Guardian to illustrate the process and decisions I have taken to get my book published."


You can find Clive's website at the link below,
http://www.partnership-publishing.com/

The LL Book Review - Re-launched


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The Lulu Book Review has re-launched from today as The LL Book Review and will now accept submissions from Createspace and Wordclay self-published authors.

from The LL Book Review Team

Welcome to the new and improved LL Book Review, now featuring reviews of books published not just with Lulu, but also Wordclay and Createspace. As you can see, we’ve made a few changes to the blog layout and how it is organized. So look around and get acquainted, then let us know what you think.

The LL Book Review

Atom's Spoof Kindle 9XXXD Promotional Trailer


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Atom is an internet funny video site. They have taken a pop at Amazon and their efforts to promote the Kindle DX with its larger size by looking into the future of the spoof Kindle 9XXXD! Take a look for yourselves.



Atom Films

Wednesday, 20 May 2009


Unibooks, Adbrite and The Mysterious Slinky girl


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Let me start by prefacing my motivations for this article. This is not a review or critique of Unibook. Let’s leave that for at least a year. I came across them for the first time this evening because the name popped up in the site’s Adbrite adverts. For the record, I have introduced this simply to generate a little income to pay the costs of hosting and running the website. After three weeks, I think my earning total is $4 against a monthly hosting fee of about $25, so don’t panic, I’m not buying a yacht to sail to Cyprus and retire next month.

I had intended using Google’s Adsense but my patience and time was tried far too much over the past six weeks trying to sign up and load it to the website. I finally gave up on it. Any company who use their own customers as the content base for their help support forum and make themselves virtually the ‘living dead’ is an absolute no-no for me. Hence, the more genial Adbrite introduction to the website over the past few weeks. I did specify ‘self-publishing’ and all the relevant hokum keywords in my sign up application, but nevertheless, Adbrite have assumed that Poker, Business Cards, Holidays, and the latest, TV on Your PC is quintessential fare for the self-publishing author. Quite frankly, why anyone would want to sign up to having 3000+ channels of shit on your PC when most of us fight a daily battle to rid our humble PC of any impending virus and spam goes completely beyond me. I’m content enough to see that nice girl every six hours or so who insists I ‘ms’ her at the prescribed number as she drapes herself down the right side of my website in a slinky blue or red number. ‘You can stay gorgeous girl, but tell your poker-playing buddies, beachboys and TV mates, the slumber party has been cancelled - they’re out at midnight!’

So, amid the card decks, sand, sunshine, and every TV deal being ‘a crazy giveaway’, I came across Unibook's advert for their author services.

http://www.unibook.com/unibook/site/home/


“About Us
UniBook, short for “your own unique book”, is a revolutionary online service that opens the print-on-demand (POD) market to publishers and every one who wants to self publish their own high-quality books and print them on demand -- no long-term commitments, sign-up fees, or service contracts are required.

Created by Peleman Industries, the award-winning company with a 69-year history of binding high-quality books, UniBook gives everyone, including publishers, fiction and non-fiction writers, speakers, schools, corporations, and government groups, the opportunity to print on demand and self publish editions of their own titles, books, manuals or catalogs on an “as needed” basis.

For publishers,UniBook can keep your out of print titles in circulation and your authors happy. The POD model literally eliminates all inventory and warehousing costs since we only print books after they have been ordered. We also specialize in “short runs” of books.

Key Features of UniBook.com:
Priced starting at $79 vs. competitors at $499. Competitors also often require the purchase of marketing, graphics, and editing services.
The price of a hard cover book is about the same as a soft cover (only about $2 more) because we manufacturer our own patented book covers.
Peleman has been in business for 69 years – superior quality of printing and binding.

Books, catalogues, and manuals can be updated online and newer versions are available within minutes.

We work directly with publishers to get out of print and short run books available to the public.

About Peleman Industries, Inc.
Peleman Industries Inc, a privately held manufacturer of binding, laminating and presentation products was founded in 1939 and is currently headquartered in Puurs, Belgium. In 1999, the company opened its U.S. corporate office in Alpharetta, Georgia. With its brand UniBook.com, Peleman Industries offers an “on demand” book printing, binding and fulfillment service for the broad business and consumer market. Through a network of printing partners in Europe, the US, and Japan, books and publications become available online around the world. Self-published, short run or out-of-print books are brought to the reader in a highly professional manner.”


Their website is very visual, community orientated, but I suspect we are dealing with another ‘Display/Publishing’ site which has some of the versatility of Lulu/Createspace/Cafepress, but very little of their on line publishing acument.

I don’t believe in reviewing new start-ups until a year or two passes, and I wonder where Unibook will be with retail prices for paperbacks advertised on their main website page at anything from $14 to $20. Unibooks may aspire to being more of an author bookstore and publisher's 'out of print' short print-run solution than an actual author solutions company.

“Welcome to UniBook, where every book is unique. You may have previously known us as WWAOW but due to innovation and expansion we have been given a new name. UniBook is the place for writers, publishers and businesses to publish and sell books. With the UniBook services anyone can self publish a manuscript and have it listed in our online bookstore. UniBook will print, bind, and pack your book on-demand and ship it anywhere in the world. No need to carry stock and no set-up fees or fixed costs. Discover the world of self publishing and create your own unique book with UniBook.”

Unibook’s FAQ can be found here.

http://www.unibook.com/unibook/site/faq/faq

Have a browse of Unibooks and let me know what you think. Another glorified author display site mixing some on line styled Lulu/Createspace software, or is my instinct correct that there is something a little more stimulating and new going on here??

Your Comments.....

Tuesday, 19 May 2009


Print On Demand Titles Outstrip Traditionally Produced Titles For 2008


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The preliminary US production figures for books have been released by RR Bowkers today compiled from its Books In Print® database. For the first time ever books produced by print on demand digital methods exceeded books produced by traditional production methods.

New books produced by traditional production methods fell by 3% in 2008 but the number of print on demand and short run titles rose by an astounding 132%. Combined, the total production output was up by 38% to 560,626 new and revised titles.

And if you think the 2008 percentage figure is astounding, the rise in print on demand titles was actually not as large an increase in output as that of 2007 when output was recorder as 462%. While traditional publishers do utilise POD methods, in particular academic publishing presses, the rise can be significantly attributed to the success of companies offering author solution services to self-publishing authors. But, no doubt, the economic downturn and publishers winding back on titles in the latter months of 2008 had also played its part in these figures.

New title book production for 2008 (Titles by genres)

1. Fiction - (47,541)
2. Juveniles - (29,438)
3. Sociology/Economics - (24,423)
4. Religion - (16,847)
5. Science - (13,555)


You can download the Bowker Report from their website at the link below.

Bowker Book Production Report for 2008 (PDF file)

http://www.bowker.com/

Bookbrunch Interview With Lightning Source President David Taylor


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Last week on Bookbrunch.co.ok, Liz Thomson talked to David Taylor, President of Lightning Source and sponsor of the Independent Publisher of the Year Awards. You can find the full interview here.

Lulu - Your Hem Is Showing (Blush or be Damned)


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I get a lot of correspondence from authors week to week and one of the most common themes seems to be the amount of authors who are finding better resources outside of Lulu. This includes using author solution services offered by Createspace and Lightning Source as well as working directly with Amazon's own publishing programs.

While I still hold Lulu in high regard as a DIY self-publishing service, the mask does seemed to have slipped a little. What is discouraging in the past few months is the increased shipping costs; changes in trim sizes which have affected some authors cover files and led to them having to go back to Lulu and do a redesign with Lulu's new design Studio; the loss of their live on line Chat Support Help service, and in general, a subtle but distinct move away from DIY publishing (the 'Publish by Lulu' is no longer free as it was for quite a number of months) towards those more rigid orientated publishing packages. You know the ones, you go in looking for a camel and come out of the shop with an elephant, and even Dumbo ends up having a limp!

I was shocked to learn this month when I went to order copies of my own books from Lulu ('Academy' and 'Filigree & Shadow') that they were actually cheaper to order from Amazon in the UK. In fact, much of this comes from the fact that Lulu paperbacks ordered from Amazon UK are printed and shipped far quicker now from Amazon's own print operation.

Here is a scary comparison. I can order a copy of my latest book 'Thais' through Blurb in paperback from Blurb's own printers in the Netherlands, have it shipped to Aquarius Communications Publishing in Dublin, then, re-ship it to Amazon UK for sale and inventory holding, cheaper than if I set up the same title (Published By Lulu or Publish By You') and worked with Lulu using LSI from the UK. In short, I'd be far better using Lulu's site to design the book files, but instead, set the title up with Lightning Source UK.

This is crazy.

Clearly, in recent weeks, Lulu are getting rattled. Here is the latest fire-fighting solutions they make on their blog in relation to international business as well as US business.

(According to Lulu)

We have already rolled out the following solutions, and we will continue to improve our offerings across the world.

We have:

Expanded our capabilities in Europe. This should greatly reduce the shipping costs anywhere in Europe.

Extended flat rate pricing in Europe on orders for one, two, and three books.
Introduced flat rate pricing on international mail shipments on orders of one, two and three hardcover books from the US

Additionally, we are implementing the following changes that we hope to make available to you by the end of this summer:

Expand our capabilities in Europe to produce more hardcover trim sizes to lower shipping rates on that product line.

Analyze our pricing for Australian customers, and explore areas we could lower our shipping rates.

Change U.S. and Canada domestic mail and ground shipments to competitive flat rates
Expand our West Coast capabilities to lower shipping rates to West Coast customers.



http://lulublog.com/2009/05/18/international-shipping-solutions/

Monday, 18 May 2009


Eason End UK Bookshop Interests


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Eason, one of Ireland's premier book and magazine retailers has sold off its interest in UK book retailer, British Bookshops to The Works, owned by equity firm, Endless. Eason bought British Bookshops in 2004. The sell-off suggests that Eason has given up its strategic development of uk bookstores entirely and a recognition that the company need to devote all its efforts into the Irish book retail market.

Does Your Ebook Reader Dream In Colour?


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Paul Marks and Michael Fitzpatrick write about the up and coming advances in Ereaders in yestersday's 'Tech' articles of Publishersweekly.com, including the advances in A4 sized Ereaders and colour screens. You can read their article here.

Exploding The Modern Literary Myths


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There is a very interesting article on line today by the Guardian's Robert McCrum about the modern myths that have occured in the recent few years about books and publishing in general.

You can find the article here.

Saturday, 16 May 2009


POD TV - Program 3, Inside Infinity Publishing


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For our third program in POD TV, I thought we would take a look at an author solutions company, Infinity Publishing, who are a little unique for a POD publisher by housing their own inhouse print production facility. Today we follow the process Infinity follow when an author submits a book to them, with interviews and input from their key staff members.

http://www.infinitypublishing.com/





And the author who has just received Infinity Publishing's Guide......



Hey, don't laugh, we were all that disjointed once when we knew little about self-publishing...To Infinity and beyond.........

Oscars At The IPPY Awards


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The IPPY Awards are considered by some to be the Oscars of POD, Independent and Self-Publishing books. I’m not entirely sure I agree with this view considering there is a small fee for entry and many of the small presses are often born out of an author’s own self-publishing imprint (not a bad thing mind), but what I do like about the IPPY’s is the wide amount of categories. Each category awards Gold, Silver and Bronze medals and there is reasonable opportunities for authors to get some modest acclaim and satisfaction. The awards program is open to all members of the independent publishing industry - authors and publishers alike worldwide - who produce books written in the English language and published for the North American market.

The full list of all categories and medal winners is available here.

So, without further ado, I thought I would highlight the authors and the author solution companies who featured this year. Top of the pile in Popular Fiction were authors James Doulgeris and V. Michael Santoro, Bradley Huff and Melissa Strangeway in Young adult Fiction, Jarel Gibson in SciFi, Mary Wagner in Humour, and Kat Tansey in Visionary Fiction. My own honorary mention this year goes to Mark Levine for his excellent ‘The Fine Print of Self-Publishing’ from Independent publisher Bascom Hill reviewed earlier in the year on this site, here.

Top featured author solution companies were iUniverse, Booksurge, and Authorhouse, with my own honorary mentions for Raider International Publishing, Synergy Books, Createspace and Wingspan.

5. Popular Fiction
Gold: The Dyodyne Experiment, by James Doulgeris and V. Michael Santoro (Synergy Books)
Silver Do The Math: A Novel of the Inevitable, by Philip B. Persinger (iUniverse)

9. Juvenile/Young Adult Fiction
Silver: Alone Boy, by Bradley Huff (Booksurge)
Bronze: 56 Water Street, by Melissa Strangeway (iUniverse Star)

10. Fantasy/Science Fiction
Bronze: Quondam, by Jayel Gibson (Synergy Books)

11. Historical/Military Fiction
Bronze: As the Eagle, Flies the King: Redemption Coming, Book 1, by Wendy M. McNeice (Tate Publishing and Enterprises)

14. Multicultural Fiction – Children’s
Bronze: The Forbidden Well, by Angela Lee (Booksurge)

16. Religious Fiction
Gold: The 6th Seal, by J.M. Emanuel (Booksurge)
Silver: (tie) The Happy Soul Industry, by Steffan Postaer (Inkwater Press) and Babylon’s Tablet of Destiny, by Jack Dun with Fletcher Poret (Raider Publishing International)
Bronze: One Fine Season, by Michael Sheehan (Authorhouse)

18. True Crime
Gold: The Predator Next Door, by Darlene Ellison (hta Books)
Silver: Luggage by Kroger, by Gary Taylor (iUniverse)

19. Visionary Fiction
Bronze: Lessons in Living from a Feline Zen Master, by Kat Tansey (iUniverse Star)

25. Multicultural Non-Fiction Adult
Bronze: The Fragile Mind: How It Has Produced and Unwittingly Perpetuates America’s Tragic Disparities, by Dr. Jarik E. Conrad (AuthorHouse)

45. Home & Garden
Silver: Scott Cohen’s Outdoor Kitchen Design Workbook, by Scott Cohen and Elizabeth Lexau (Booksurge)

47. Humor
Silver: Running with Stilettos: Living a Balanced Life in Dangerous Shoes, by Mary Wagner (iUniverse)
Bronze (tie): "Our Pal God" and Other Presumptions: A Book of Jewish Humor, by Jeffry V. Mallow (iUniverse)

56. Religion
Silver: The Third Basic Instinct: How Religion Doesn't Get You, by Alex S. Key (BookSurge)

57. Science

Gold: Green Algae Strategy: End Oil Imports and Engineer Sustainable Food and Fuel, by Mark Edwards (CreateSpace)
Bronze (tie): The Thinking Person's UFO Book, by Gordon Chism (BookSurge) and The Final Paradigm: Tragedy, Religion, Knowledge and Folly in our Neuro-Mechanical Life, by Prof Nikolai Eberhardt (BookSurge)

59. Sexuality/Relationships
Bronze (tie): Frog or Prince? The Smart Girl’s Guide to Boyfriends, by Kaycee Jane (Trafford Publishing)

64. Writing/Publishing
Gold: The Fine Print of Self Publishing: The Contracts & Services of 45 Self-Publishing Companies Analyzed Ranked & Exposed, by Mark Levine (Bascom Hill Publishing - not self-published but self-publishing help book)

U.S. North-East - Best Regional Non-Fiction
Bronze: Tiggie: The Lure and Lore of Commercial Fishing in New England, by Charles “Tiggie” Peluso and Sandy Macfarlane (iUniverse)

Mid-Atlantic – Best Regional Fiction
Bronze: The Elephant Hotel: Hedwig and the Tagebuch, by Marie Kobres Bone (AuthorHouse)

South-East – Best Regional Fiction
Bronze: Child of the Mountain, by Marjorie E. Dufault (iUniverse)

South-East – Best Regional Non-Fiction
Silver (tie): Sweetgum Slough: A 1930s Memoir, by Claire Karssiens (iUniverse) and It Was Never About a Hot Dog and a Coke, by Rodney L. Hurst, Sr. (WingSpan Press)

South – Best Regional Fiction
Bronze: The Power: A Novel of Voodoo, by Jim Duggins (BookSurge)

Mid-West – Best Regional Fiction
Gold: The Confederate War Bonnet: A Novel of Civil War in Indian Territory, by Jack Shakely (iUniverse)
Bronze: Beginnings, by Lorraine Theall (BookSurge)

West-Mountain – Best Regional Fiction
Gold: Vendetta Canyon, by Stan Lynde (iUniverse)

Canada–East – Best Regional Non-Fiction
Bronze: Marlowe’s Ghost, by Daryl Pinksen (iUniverse)

Canada-West – Best Regional Fiction
Gold: Altar and Throne, by Ed Zaruk (AuthorHouse)

Friday, 15 May 2009


Amazon As Publisher


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Self-publishing through Amazon has just stepped up another notch with news that teenage author,Cayla Kluver, from Wisconsin, USA, has sold the rights of her debut self-published book ‘Legacy’. The book will become the first to fully launch AmazonEncore, a new publishing program set to focus on self published books as well as traditional out of print books. This is very much the predicted rise of Amazon As Publisher.

First, the good news for Cayla Kluver. It is understood Kluver is planning ‘Legacy’ to be the first in a fantasy trilogy of books, but like much of this publishing deal with Amazon, vagueness is the order of the day. Advances or terms were not disclosed by Amazon’s Vice President of Books, Jeff Belle, and it remains to be seen if it will include the subsequent two books in the trilogy. A brief snippet of Kluver’s blurb for ‘Legacy’.

“Across the land of Hytanica, under the shadow of the crimson moon, infant boys continued to vanish. Not until the blood had faded from the sky did the disappearances stop and the bodies of the murdered infants were found outside the gates of the city, a final word from the greatest enemy Hytanica had ever known. For the next sixteen years, peace reigned, but one mystery remained unsolved. The Cokyrians had abducted forty-nine newborns, but returned only forty-eight bodies.”

• Reading level: Young Adult
• Paperback: 464 pages
• Publisher: Forsooth Publishing; Original edition (April 15, 2008)

The hardback AmazonEncore edition will be released in august this year with a downloadable Kindle version and audiobook through Amazon’s Audible as well. The book was originally self-published last year with the support and financial backing of Cayla’s mother. They decided on Forsooth Publishing as an imprint name to publish under last year and since then, its success has brough it under the radar of Amazon’s Jeff Belle as an ideal launch for their AmazonEncore publishing program.

Interestingly, ‘Legacy’ will be printed using offset traditional print methods, though this does not discount the possibility of Amazon using their own in-house print on demand company, Booksurge for future AmazonEncore released titles.

"I wouldn't say this is a new model; there are other examples in the marketplace of retailers who've done similar things...publishers want to see how we could work together on this model"

Jeff Belle, VP, Amazon Books

For me, the jury’s out on this one. I am cautious as to how much of a boon this is going to be for self-published authors. At the very least it adds further to the significant foothold self-publishing it now getting in the wider scheme of publishing. Amazon are not in this for the betterment of self-publishing, but rather as a means to administer and control the book publishing world as retailer, distributor, and as it now seems, publisher.

Overall, I am a little more intrigued about the original version of 'Legacy' which Kluver published through Forsooth Publishing and exactly how well it has really been doing since its release April, 2008. I have to say the current Amazon ranking is less than spectacular and one wonders what hard and fast criteria Amazon are really going to use to decide on publishable titles. Are they going to allow authors to submit to them like a real traditional publisher? Me thinks not. This is an Amazon gig after all!

The Jeff Belle quotes were taken from Publishers Weekly’s article of today by Rachel Deahl which you can read in full at the link below.

http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6658267.html?desc=topstory

To Self-Publish or Not To Self-Publish - Part 2


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There are several key questions an author must ask themselves before embarking on their journey through self-publishing, whether they are prepared to go it alone or utilise an author solutions company to do the job for them.

1. Have you exhausted all the traditional channels to have your book published?

This may include finding an agent to represent you and your work or you may have chosen to approach publishers who are prepared to look at manuscripts directly submitted by authors. Pursuing this path for a period of time can actually prove highly rewarding for an author. It may take one, two or more years, but the outcome at best could be a publishing contract for one or more books, or at the very worse, some editorial feedback and direction from an authoritative and expert voice which can help an author improve their book manuscript and hone their own literary skills.

2. Have you implemented the advice and suggestions from agents or publishers to improve you and your book?

In reality when an author types ‘The End’ on the book manuscript, it rarely proves to be the final published version which will go to print. Skilled literary agents and editors can often provide an objective perspective and offer suggestions on improvements. Ultimately, a healthy working relationship between editor and author is paramount and he/she after all is the person who is going to have to ‘sell’ the manuscript to the publishing house he/she works for. If you are fortunate as an author to reach this stage and decline many changes suggested to you, your agent may stop working so hard for you and simply ‘run down the clock’ on your contract with them. Publishers too can be fussy and they like their books to ‘fit’ easily into their genres and catalogue listings.

3. What is your own personnel measure of success for your book?

The range, scale and expectations for a book differ greatly depending on how serious an author is about their craft of writing and how they perceive their own books. Some writer’s long term intentions may be to earn at least a living income from writing books and articles. Other writers may have 'fallen' into the craft and do not see beyond the printing and publication of their first book. Hence, the wishes, aspirations and needs of writers differ greatly. There was a time when an author handed over their book to a publisher and the two in tandem floated off down the river leaving the author almost stranded on the river bank as if they were saying goodbye to a teenager leaving the family household for good. Now, publishers expect an author to work actively on promoting their book and raising as much as possible their public profile as an author.

4. Have you carefully studied the market for your book?

A good idea for a book may be the perfect way to start writing a book, but when finished, you may find the market flooded with a thousand and one other similar books. Knowing the market for your book will also greatly influence what publishers to approach with your manuscript and it will help you target your readership and the mediums you will use to reach them, particularly if you are considering self-publishing.

5. Have you researched and studied the requirements of self-publishing? How much do you know about author solution companies and how to identify a reputable one?

If this is the stage you are at and the reasons why you are reading self-publishing articles and browsing on line resources, then it is time to seriously and carefully consider the following question and which area you as a writer fall into. This will determine what path you should take, and crucially, if self-publishing is really right for you at your present stage.

6. Has the feedback from fellow writers, submissions to literary agents and publishers resulted in one or more of the following?

(A) They have told you that your work could be written better and is not of a publishing standard.
(B) Your work falls into niche markets which would not generate much revenue for publisher or author.
(C) Your work is interesting/good but why did you send it to our publishing house?
(D) You have previously published with traditional publishers but did not enjoy the experience or have a great amount of success.
(E) You do not get any feedback from agents or publishers when you submit to them.

(If ‘A’) Take constructive criticism on the chin. You are a long way off honing your writing craft and achieving publication. Every writer can always improve with time, effort and proper guidance. Join a local writing workshop run by an established writer and teacher. Join a book club and widen your own reading taste. Then, start an entirely new writing project and begin submitting your work again to agents and publishers.

(If ‘B’) Clearly you have writing ability. It may be that book publishing does not suit your niche. Try submitting your work as articles to magazines, physical as well as on line magazines. Try small niche publishing presses or ebook publishers. If you do not have a blogsite, create one and write about general subjects in the news. This may also help to build your own public profile. Consider taking your writing to a different medium – local radio/TV or a local community newspaper for your niche interest/subject. Raise your profile and try expanding from there.

(If ‘C’) You might be the next Stephen King, but however good you are, you must have at least some understanding of the publishing business and the kinds of publishers there are. Make sure the agent/publisher you are submitting to actually publish the kinds of books you write. Study the Writers Handbook as well as the Writers & Artists Yearbook for publisher and agent listings. Submit query letters first and always ascertain an editor’s/agent name when you are submitting your work. Not every book is published by Penguin, Random House, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster. There are thousands of publishers in the English speaking world. Find books of a similar genre or theme as your books in your local bookshop and find out who the publisher is. Read the boring acknowledgements you usually skip over and find out the name of the author's agent he/she is thanking there.

(If ‘D’) You have done the publishing gig the traditional way and learned that the majority of published authors do not earn a living from book publishing alone. You know the book publishing business pretty well, have your own dedicated following of readers and public profile, but you find the tradition book publishing business to be controlling and restrictive. Self-Publishing is a very serious option for you to consider. Form your own imprint and investigate the distribution and marketing methods you can use for your next published book. You may find that through self-publishing you may get a better profit on royalties, more control on editorial and design decisions and you may finally be able to resurrect books which your last publisher rejected. Finally, talk to self-published authors about their experiences.

(If ‘E’) It sounds like you are not presenting your work very professionally to either agents or publishers. This may also be a symptom which goes deeper into your writing in general. Somehow, you just aren’t putting your best foot forward. Consider all the advice in A, B and C.

Whatever conclusions you reach about where you are and what your options are, self-publishing should never be seen as a way to publish your book through the adoption of a lower standard. Self-publishing is not, and should never be seen as some form of ‘watered’ down publishing. A good self-published book should be unrecognisable from a traditionally published book in quality of print and content.

Thursday, 14 May 2009


To Self-Publish or Not To Self-Publish - Part 1


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The question of choosing to self-publish for an author is better understood if the question is turned on its head. An author should always ask themselves the question rhetorically.

‘Why do I want to self publish?’

I mean have you not heard all the bad press self publishing gets? That it is just pure vanity and any author solution service you choose will just take your cash, as much as they can wean out of you, then take you for a very short ride down the self-publishing boulevard of broken dreams. I have been researching author solution companies for my website and for my own book publishing projects for some time now and I have yet to meet a self-published author who was anything but thankfully drained, but very much grateful for the experience – even when that experience was less than what they expected, whether through using a poor author service company or simply finding out that they were less prepared than they should have been. I have met many traditionally published authors who were as equally modest as their self-published counterparts. But the only vanity I have experienced was from a few traditionally published authors who gushed hopelessly and shamelessly about their books at every moment I encountered them. They were usually the ones who spoke about self-publishing as if it were a modern viral ailment in the industry and any afflicted author should be pitied, but of course from a safe distance.

You see, our perception of something comes from what we hear about something and not necessarily what we have experienced of it firsthand. Commercial publishing houses do not feel threatened by the explosion in self-publishing if they themselves do their job well and execute an excellent service for their listed authors. The idea that publishing companies might be threatened by self-publishing is a complete myth. However, authors are a different story. Put the business aside and true human emotions and ego kicks in. Authors who have followed the traditional methods to publishing their work, honing their craft, getting a literary agent and finally landing that contract feel a deserved sense of fulfilment and achievement, and they should. But every so often a Jeremy Robinson or G. P. Taylor comes along and spoils it. It is a reminder to the traditional fraternity that perhaps there is actually another way of doing this ‘elite’ book publishing gig. And for a few traditionally published authors it is once again the story of the emperor’s new clothes. They are stripped naked and all they worked so hard for is dashed in a moment. It’s like Edmund Hillary getting to the top of Everest and finding the fat kid he knew at school sitting on a picnic rug and saying to him, ‘Hey, Ed, what took you so long to get up here?’.

The perception of self-published books is that none of them would have ordinarily seen the light of day had the author stuck to the tried and trusted methods of publish a book. The inference is that all self-published work is of poor quality, badly written, badly printed, or at best appealing to a quirky niche readership. This is simply not true. What is true is that the landscape of publishing has changed considerably over the past few years. Many strong independent publishing companies have fallen by the wayside and the means books are marketed, sold and read is also changing by way of the Internet and electronic reading devices.

The fact is that a good book is a good book whatever means it reaches its reader. We have all read deplorable traditionally published books, just as there are deplorable self-published books. The amount of traditionally published books vastly outnumbers self-published books. So look at this way – there are more poor quality traditional books in our world than self-published books. Bear in mind as well that traditionally published books get better distribution, promotion and prominence in the world. Without doubt it is the commercial publishing industry which sets books apart from their self-published counterparts. They get rigorous and professional editing and marketing even before their release to the world. A self-published book gets what its author can afford. Professional editing and marketing are the cornerstones of the book publishing industry and I believe this is the most critical difference between the two, and indeed, where self-published authors fall most dramatically short on.

The greatest expense for book publishing is not the 5000, 10,000, 50,000 or 500,000 copies printed, but the design, editing and marketing of a book. Traditional publishers for the most part still use offset print methods for their books allowing a -£2 cost per unit, whereas a self-publishing author is more often contracting an author solutions company using digital print on demand methods which result in a +£3 unit cost. The more offset printed books on a single print run the less the unit price. Whether you print 1 or 1000 on a digital print on demand machine, the unit cost will still be +£3 per unit. The advantage of the offset method is clearly an ever reducing unit cost dependant on print run quantity. The advantage of the digital print on demand method is that no print run commitment needs to be made and there need only be the required physical quantity and it also removes warehouse inventory storage costs. Consequently, POD books are often sold at a higher retail price, making them uncompetitive and the margin and scope for wholesaler discounts and author royalty can be limited. Few wholesalers will list POD produced books for return which is a core contractual agreement with many large high street retail outlets. These are some of the reasons why authors choosing self-publishing methods can be up against it in attaining real physical bookstore shelf space.

Let us return to the perception of self-publishing and try not to rest the blame with disgruntled traditionally published authors. I think some of the above comparisons are the reasons why so many self-publishing authors try to skimp on professional editing and marketing. Yet, these are necessary tools in the writing and pre-production of a book which can help to give it the best possible chance of success and welcome reception on its release.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009


Self-Publishing Reasons To Be Cheerful - Part 3 or (Sheila, Take A Bow)


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A comment from Sheila851 was left on yesterdays Self-Publishing Reasons To Be Cheerful - Part 2 and it was extremely thought provoking and I think very much encapsulates how self published authors feel about 'standard' publishing and why so many are more than cheerful to pursue self-publishing despite its stigmas and challenges for authors.

Here is Sheila's comment and my own response to it.

************************************************
(post comment content)

I published a middle-grade mystery with Infinity Publishing. I was very pleased with the end result. They were very helpful and responded to questions within 24 hrs and I liked the finished product, which they print on their own equipment. I would use them again.

I sold close to 300 books by selling in my town, and heard very positive responses especially from the children 9-12 years old.

I was under the impression that even authors published by standard companies had to do much of the legwork.

It seems obvious that if you are a new, older author, if you want to see your book in print, you must do it yourself. How many rejection slips can you stand, especially if it takes 6-12 months for a reply? The system is a monopoly geared to youth and repeat authors of best sellers. I gave up!!Thanks for posting your experiences. I would agree that Infinity are know to be a strong and reputable POD publisher. The are also unusual in that as you point out they do the printing in-house.


**************************************************

Sheila,

I don't entirely agree with you when you say that 'standard' publishers are not really for 'new, older' authors who submit manuscripts. A writer can start writing, and writing well at any age, young or old. J K Rowling is a case in point. And remember, every commercially published author was once a 'new' author.

Though I do take your point. The period of time taken for consideration of a book by a publisher is outlandish, not to mention that most published books can take anything from 6 to 18 months before they hit the high street bookstores. From the time of an author submitting a manuscript to a publisher, even when it is accepted, it can take more than 18 months to 2 years before it sees the light of day.

Nevertheless, following the normal commercial path to publishing can help to teach an author valuable lessons in patience, dedication, and the feedback to hone their writing talents. Too often, I find that an author considering self-publishing is more influenced by an impatience to 'see their book in print' than the countless rejection slips collected along the road.

The system of publishing certainly does have to change. In particular, the long held elitist rules of submission ie, the practice of publishers frowning on authors who submit to more than one publisher at a time. Why not, I say, don't literary agents court multiple publishers with an MS all the time?

One of the most common things I hear editors at publishing houses bemoan is the slush piles they have to wade through, week in, week out, yet, the same editors claim to know within a handful of pages if a manuscript is really going to be suitable for their publishing list and of a good enough standard to publish and market within a few pages. So, if this is the case, why does it take so long?

Publishing is no different to many other facets of business. Every company wants to shift as much of the 'dog work' off somewhere else if they can. Hence, 90% of medium to large publishing houses use a literary agent as their 'screen' and will not entertain an unsolicited MS. They know a reputable literary agent will not submit a manuscript unless it is professionally edited and as near as possible to publishing standard. This is now the norm, but it was not always the case. The youth of today have far greater literacy skills than say the youth of 30 years ago. And I bet many are more savvy about skills like selling, promotion and the publishing industry in general.

Regarding publisher's monopoly being geared toward repeat authors of best sellers - well, I think it is not so much a publisher looking at repeat best selling authors, but rather their doggedness in trying to repeat best selling formulas of novel and non-fiction theme. Again, this is something which has changed about modern publishers. They seem to want the ready-made formula to drop through their letterbox. There was a time when publishers were far more independent in editorial thinking - cared more about creating trends, genres and literary movements, than benignly following whatever sells well.

Self-Publishing Reasons To Be Cheerful - Part 2


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There are many variables and choices along the self-publishing road, whether an author decides to use author solutions companies like AuthorHouse, iUniverse, Infinity, Xlibris, Mill City Press or the many others using POD (print on demand) technology. Some publishing overlords will snipe from the hedgerow on our road and argue and catcall to us that these companies are simply the modern version of the vanity presses so prevalent from the 1970’s through to the late 1990’s. For the worst of them – take away the POD print technology and Internet and it is hard not to disagree with that argument; empty vessels with loud and powerful marketing departments hell-bent on one sole objective – the prosecution of their services rather than the sales of an author’s books. Perhaps the strong sun beating down on us on this long road is getting to us already and we are being a little too demonstrative. After all, these companies are there by definition to sell services not books. We must never confuse them in the blistering sunlight with book publishers. Real book publishers exist to produce and propagate the sales of books. And unless an author solutions company financed by their authors can hand on heart claim to have the sales of books as its primary commercial focus, then they can never claim the precious garland that reads ‘Publisher’.

But let us not cast the hand of generality too easily because along our road to self-publishing we will pass dwellings of many kinds to the left and right. The grand gardens which surround the traditional publishers are all too familiar. How we tried so many times when we first started out on our journey and dreamed of publishing a book. We just wanted to push open those large gates of stately publishing houses and rap upon their heavy doors. With Heaney’s stubby finger prodding and digging into our backs, pushing us closer to the door; with Platt’s rasping pen clutched tightly in our hands, we tapped gingerly on the timbers; with Wilde’s Bravado we brought an ear up close and heard the rustle of a thousand pages of literature flicked through by eager fingers inside. We wondered if those eager fingers might actually be flicking through the pages of that manuscript we pushed through the letterbox so many months ago. Perhaps, perhaps, but no... We knew we could have made it better, kept at it and written it beautifully until our own fingers were blood-cracked from the weariness of pen and thoughts humming in our heads. ‘Nietzsche and Thelma Go to Louisville’ was a shit title anyhow...should have called it ‘Nietzsche and Oscar Go to Paris’.

If we look hard enough along the road we will also see some detours. Old wooden signs both mock and cajole us at the same time. Signs that say ‘Vanity’, ‘Love thy Self’, ‘Walk This Way’, POD For Hire – No Job Too small’, ‘Publisher For Hire’, ‘Printer For Hire’, ‘Come In, We’re Open’ and finally, ‘YES WE CAN’. I wonder why Barack Obama is stretched out on a deck chair at the side of the road. “You never answered the kid. How much does self-publishing cost an author?” he asks.

In truth, much depends on the amount of work an author is willing to take on. There is plenty of work to choose from. The road to self-publishing is paved with as many opportunities as obstacles. One option available to an author is to use services like Lulu, Createspace, Blurb or work directly with a fulfilment printers like Lightning Source, Booksurge, RJ Communications (SelfPublishing.com) or Bookmasters. If an author has learned some design skills and has an eye for good layout, then on line publishing software offered by Lulu and Createspace can be ideal and not only does an author have the choice in deciding how much of the design and book production work to take on, they can do it themselves or utilise the individual bespoke services provided. An author can choose to go a step further along the road and register their own publishing imprint, obtain a block of ISBN’s and use one of the available fulfilment printers like the above mentioned Lightning Source.

To answer Barack Obama’s question, yes, it can be done, but to do it properly, I do not see how it can be done well for anything less than £500 ($800), and that would include ISBN’s, LCN, legal deposit, on line distribution and print set up with whatever service is chosen.

That of course takes us along the road of self- publishing to the point of having a print on demand book available to purchase. It assumes the book is already well edited, and does not include any promotion or marketing; the area a commercial publisher will actually spend the highest amount on when a book is published. The promotion and marketing of a book is still a long way down the self-publishing road. Critically, an author needs to get the first crucial steps right in preparing and producing their book. If not, then the self-publishing road ahead is going to become increasingly covered with oil and glass, and ultimately, we may never stir Barack from his deck chair.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009


Copyright Registration and Library Catalogue Number - The Real Deals


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At certain times of the financial year, usually Jan/Feb, publishers like all companies take a close look at their budgets. Many will be taking a look and revising them more than once this year. So it came as no surprise to get the following email from Gail Warren of AuthorHouse UK informing me of a not to be missed opportunity.

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Dear Mick,

Our prices have remained unchanged for two years.
In just a few weeks, we're going to introduce new pricing. So if you want to get published in 2009 with our current prices, you must act now!


I think this is the nice advertising way to say ‘we’re putting our prices up’. So best to turn potential adversity into opportunity.

On June 1st, we will be revising the price of our publishing packages, for example the price of our standard package will increase from £645 to £795.

Yikes! That is an increase of £150, or about 22%. And take note – we are talking British sterling, not dollars!

Of course from June 1st, £795 will still be fantastic value for getting your book published but if you sign up to start your publishing journey in May, you can save money by taking advantage of our current prices.

Yes, of course, but I’m not sure who AuthorHouse is trying to convince the most about their fantastic value package – themselves or us!

For May only, for £645 AuthorHouse will:
Prepare your book for distribution as a black-and-white quality trade paperback.
Design a full-colour cover for your book.
Assign an International Standard Book Number (ISBN) for your book.
Register UK copyright for your book.
Register your book with distributors, making it available for sale via "print-on-demand" technology through 25,000 retailers in the UK and US.
Offer you a choice of royalties.
Enable you to purchase copies of your book at a heavily discounted price.


Don't put off publishing any longer. Take advantage of these limited-time prices now and make this a month to remember! Call me now to save money publishing your work.

Gail Warren, AuthorHouse UK.

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And speaking of cost savings and keeping as much of your money as you can firmly in your pocket, here is another email I got from AuthorHouse's sister company, iUniverse via their publishing consultant Ryan Hopkinson.

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Now that you've devoted a lot of time and serious thought to writing a book, what is keeping you from getting it published? At iUniverse, we would like to offer you a very special incentive to hurdle past whatever is keeping you from becoming a published author.

For this week only, publish your book with our team of industry professionals and we'll include a bonus gift along with up to your age in free books! Call us today, and get one of the following bookselling services absolutely FREE with your publishing package:


Library of Congress Control Number - $75

U.S. Copyright Registration - $170 (two copies of your book sent)“


Ryan Hopkinson
Your iUniverse Publishing Consultant


(Now the free books is pretty good, so fair play iUniverse. But I wonder if they'll believe I'm eighty years of age!)

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Along with my eighty books, it is nice to get a ‘free gift’ with any purchase, but you might be interested to know about the true cost behind the Library Control Number and library database listing as well as the Copyright Registration of books in the USA. Here the official line on them from the respective government sites.

http://pcn.loc.gov/pcnfaq.html

How much does it cost to obtain a Preassigned Control Number (PCN)?
There is no charge for a Preassigned Control Number (PCN). However, participating publishers are obligated to send a complimentary copy of all books for which a Preassigned Control Number (PCN) was provided immediately upon publication. Publishers failing to meet this obligation may be suspended from the program. Please note that all books submitted to the Library of Congress in compliance with the PCN Program are property of the Library of Congress and therefore are not returnable.


Even with the cost of sending them the required copy of your book, it beats the $75 iUniverse want to charge for what is already free.

And check out the iUniverse mark up on the copyright.

http://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-register.html#fee

How do I register my copyright?
To register a work, submit a completed application form, a nonrefundable filing fee, which is $35 if you register online or $45 if you register using a paper application; and a nonreturnable copy or copies of the work to be registered. See Circular 1, Copyright Basics, section “Registration Procedures.”


IUniverse include two copies sent for copyright registration, but normally charge $170!!

Author solution companies sometimes offer these as ‘additional services’ and the true self-publisher knows well to forgo them and carry out these necessary requirements themselves without paying a solution company through the nose. This is often why companies offer ‘publishing packages’ that can more easily conceal the real hidden cost the author is paying for free or cheaper services elsewhere .
http://www.theindependentpublishingmagazine.com/p/t.html/

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