Category Archives: Publishing Options
This time its Thrillerfest where Bob and I will be speaking together for the very first time, oh my. I’ve heard Bob present many, many times. I don’t think Bob has ever been in one of my workshops, though he did sit in on the panel I was at last year at Thrillerfest. I got a raised eyebrow when I made the entire room gasp when I admitted to what the darkest thing was that I ever wrote.
Anyway, this could prove to be very interesting with Mr. Dry-Sense-of-Humor and Mrs. Too-Serious-Sometimes-Over-The-Top. Hopefully Bob won’t poke to much fun at me and maybe I won’t give him a headache when I get all excited about ePub, HTML and go into long rants about geeky-techno-stuff. You should have seen the emails from him when I was explaining the new plans for his website. I think the last one was “please, just do whatever, okay?” Oh, and if you haven’t checked out Bob’s new digs, you should. Super cool, if I do say so myself.
Our workshop at Thrillerfest is ePub, POD and the Future of Publishing for the Writer. The workshop will start promptly at 7:30 in the Broadway room (for those of you attending Thrillerfest) and goes till 9pm. We’re going to cover a lot of ground in this workshop regarding what we have experienced, our plans for the future, and how writers can succeed in this constantly changing business. It’s a workshop not to be missed! Just saying.
On Saturday Bob will be the Panel Master for: Is Indie Publishing for You? On the panel is: Diane Capri, CJ Lyons, Leo J. Maloney, Aaron Patterson, Lewis Perdue and Jen Talty (that’s me!). Once again, we will be in Broadway and the panel will begin at 9:30. I’m excited to be on a panel with CJ. She was one of the first people I met at my very first Thrillerfest.
Bob and I also have meetings set up with a tech company, some agents, a few interviews, several conference calls, and meeting some other writers about various things. I just now got an email from Bob with another thing to add to our itinerary. We will be busy the entire time.
In the past, we both approached conferences very differently, and while Bob is under deadline with NightStalkers and he will have to be burning the midnight oil to get the book done, and I have to meet deadlines with about 6 different books and 3 different authors, we will also be spending a lot of time roaming the halls and networking with other writers and industry professionals. It’s very important to approach the conference as the business meeting that it is. Everyone there from the newbie writer to the seasoned professional is there to conduct business. Whether that business be pitching at Agentfest (oy, what an exhausting experience) or learning craft from some of the best in the business, or to network with other writers, it’s still a business.
Bob and I go to a lot of conferences and one of the things we’ll be doing at Thrillerfest is going over next years list of conferences. And I just got an email from Bob about a conference he wants me to attend in September.
Conferences play a key role in our success. What conferences are you attending this summer? What are your goals?
PS: Bob did a new post at Digital Book World titled: The Great Publishing Wars of 2012, which helps explain his lack of much blogging and social media activity lately, as well as being on deadline for the end of the month.
In my last post I mentioned that Bob and I decided to switch our POD (Print on Demand) needs from Lightning Source to CreateSpace. Many readers here at Write It Forward requested an explanation on why?
Warning: This blog post gave Bob a killer headache…
First, lets compare the finances:
- $75.00 Upload fee for Cover/Interior
- $12.00 US Distribution (a year)
- $12.00 UK Distribution (a year)
- $30.00 Proof
- Change your files it will cost $40.00 per Interior and $40.00 per Cover
- $1.50 Shipping and Handling charge per order
- must provide own ISBN
****No services provided on cover, editing, or anything else that goes into the making of a book
- FREE self-service (there are services you can pay for, but the basic upload is free)
- $25.00 Expanded Distribution (one time fee)
- A proof is the cost of printing plus shipping.
- Can use CreateSpace ISBN for free
****There are many services that CreateSpace offers from building your book, editing and cover design that are all at the author’s expense, but they are not required at all
The distribution is not getting your book in actual stores, but making them available so if someone wanted to order it from Barnes and Noble they could.
Another thing to consider is that Amazon’s free service gets you on Amazon and Amazon UK for free. The Expanded makes your book available other places. The only negative about the Expanded is because of wholesaling you might need to price your book a little higher to make a profit.
So, on the outside, it appears that because of costs that is why we are switching. But it’s not.
Now let’s take a look at some other differences between LSI and CreateSpace:
First, LSI (Lightning Source) and CreateSpace are really two different types of services. Lightning Source is geared more toward the small publisher and has two primary purposes. The first being the Print on Demand technology to create a book and distribution (of information) into the Ingram system.
When we first started with LSI they wanted only those who were gong to have a certain number of books a year, otherwise they suggested other self-service sites such as Author Solutions or LuLu. I just searched the website and I can’t find that statement anymore, but they are still geared toward the small publisher, not the self-published author.
CreateSpace is a self-publishing service.
The second part of LSI is an ebook fulfillment service that allows publishers to push their ebooks into bookstores that Lightning Source is partnered with. This system works much like the print book. The publisher provides the eBook, metadata, cover, etc. and then Lightning Source pushes the information to the proper channels who then loads the information on their sites and makes your eBook available for sale. Since we have not used this service for a while now, I don’t have a complete listing, but I do know it pushes to Kobo, Disesel, All Romance and for a fee it can push the information to the iBookstore.
We stopped using this service with LSI because of pricing issues (same reason we stopped using Smashwords). When you make a change it takes weeks for it to show up. We removed our eBooks from LSI nearly a year ago and I’m still seeing them available on sites that I’ve loaded myself, causing confusion. The information is coming from Ingram and its old and incorrect information. I’ve requested, yet again, for the information to be removed from the system. This is in part a problem with LSI and with the Ingram system. Too many fingers in the pot.
The eBook issue was not why we stopped using LSI, but it was just one of many things that made us rethink our business plan.
CreateSpace does not provide any digital services or distribution. They simply send you over to KDP (Kindle Digital Publishing).
So far, I have not given you the real reason we switched. Well, here we go…
Business is made up of people and people like connections, even us introverts. We talked a few months ago about switching and decided that we were fine right where we were. Then we talked about just putting new books at CreateSpace and I started doing some research. Then we went to BEA and I meet three lovely women who work for CreateSpace.
I spoke with one, asking questions. What impressed me was the moment I asked a question she didn’t know the answer to, she went and found someone else. Who then introduced me to someone else. While Bob chatted it up with a few gentleman at KDP, I talked with the people at CreateSpace.
When I got home, I began the process of really comparing the services and writing out the pros and cons. The people at CreateSpace connected with two team members, Karen and John, and we began discussing what books we’d bring over and how we’d go about doing it. Karen even went as far as to explain the positives of us staying at LSI. She pointed out a few negatives I hadn’t thought about, like having to pull from Ingram, then push the titles back through CreateSpace could cause the books to disappear for a short time. However, since we’ve been making some adjustments to covers and interior and the way CreateSpace is willing to work with us, having a short lull will be okay.
Cost did come into play when we changed covers for the Atlantis Series and some other books like Chasing the Ghost. These would cost up to $80.00 per book to make the changes, but that really isn’t a large expense. The bigger issue then became ease and something that my father taught me a long time ago when it came to business:
Customer Relationships and Service.
The bottom line for us came down to customer service AND ease of the system. LSI is a bit clunky and if you don’t know what you are doing with formatting a book, cover, etc., you are bound to make a mistake. I made a few the first time around. CreateSpace gives you templates (for free) for both interior and exterior so your book looks professional. They also have a cover tool. I have not used it since I’m an InDesign junky, but I’ve played with it and for the novice user, its pretty good, but my big caveat is most of us are not cover artists and always best to hire a professional.
Between talking with my team to wargame the best course of action, the ease of their on-line system was the deal closer. They have this 360 digital proof that shows you the cover and how it wraps around the book, well that right there sold me. Their entire system is very easy to use and while I just created more work for myself as we are going to transfer ALL of our books, I highly recommend CreateSpace.
Bob and I have been very candid about our business model over the last 3 years. We are both very proud of what we have accomplished in what appears to be a very short time. Our humble beginnings began in October of 2009 when we decided to join forces and re-release the Atlantis Series along with some of Bob’s earlier thrillers like the Green Beret Series. We sold all of 3 eBooks in 2009. We are now averaging 50,000 eBooks a month just 3 short years later.
We have gone from 2 authors (myself and Bob) to 10 authors. We started with 6 books and now have 72 books and have 13 in production just for this year. We have added 4 original fiction works to our extensive backlist books. Just last month we were notified that we have received publisher recognition from ITW (International Thriller Writers). One of our authors, Amy Shojai just contracted with us to publisher her original fiction (first ever) and she has been inducted into the Debut Authors Program for ITW. This is a huge deal for Amy and we are proud to have her on our team.
Personally, I am asked two questions on a regular basis:
- What is it like to work with Bob Mayer?
- How did your company become so successful?
The first question is easy. Other than my husband and my 3 fabulous children, working with Bob has been the best thing that has ever happened to me. And he is very easy to work with (when he gets his way).
The second question is equally as easy, but not as easy to execute.
- A vision–know where you want to go, otherwise you will get lost.
- Hard work–persistence is key.
- Team work–Bob may have written awesome books, but he needed a little help getting them into digital and back out to his readers and all our authors play a roll in each others success.
- A never quit attitude–its not easy and it takes time. 95% of the authors self-publishing today will not be here in 2 years.
- An attitude–believe in yourself. No one else will.
- An ability to look back while seeing forward–we have been able to stay alive because we constantly look at history and project out 2 years.
- Knowledge of the industry–both traditional and digital.
- Ability to adapt and change–our business model changed a year in and we are completely revamping again (wait till you see what we do with Cool Gus).
- An open mind–don’t discount anything without examining. Try everything, then toss what doesn’t work and keep what does.
- A deep seated desire to see others succeed as well…
It is this deep seated desire that drove us to develop our on-line workshops and to produce our Write It Forward titles, including The Shelfless Book: The Complete Digital Author.
Look to your right>>>>>over there>>>>>>click on Bob’s face and watch the video titled Write It Forward: Bob Mayer–Author Advocate. Do it now. I’ll wait.
Next month we are teaching a workshop we titled The Complete Digital Author. It is based on The Shelfless Book. The beauty of the workshop is you get both of us (and our different areas of expertise in the world of publishing and marketing). The workshop is held on a Yahoo Group (email system) and is as interactive as you want it to be and done at your own schedule. We post lessons, some with exercises, others with tips on how to effectively use your time on social media. We encourage you to ask us questions and participate. We cover everything from your author branding plan, your marketing plan and even thoughts on covers and file uploads. We do this (for only $40.00) for a 6-week course because we want all authors to succeed. There is no author training program. There are many workshops and classes on writing, but no one (except Bob) has a training program that is designed to help authors succeed past the first book and achieve sustainability.
Remember; content is king. So no matter how much you promote and put into building a readership for yourself, it all starts with writing the best possible book…then another book…and then still another one. Content is your foundation. That is in part how we grew so quickly. We had a lot of good books (Bob’s backlist) to start with. We had a vision and a plan. We never gave up. We believed. We worked together and with our other authors, using their expertise. Most importantly, we kept an open mind.
This workshop is for both indie authors and traditionally published authors. We are all digital authors today and no matter how we publish, the only way to achieve sustainability is start with discoverability. This workshop will give you the tools you need to take charge of your writing career.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask. We want to help you achieve your goals.
Write It Forward
- The Write It Forward Author Branding Plan (writeitforward.wordpress.com)
- Writers create content, readers consume content, where does everyone else fit? (writeitforward.wordpress.com)
- THE Secret Handshake of Successful Digital Publishing (writeitforward.wordpress.com)
- The Write It Forward Author Marketing Plan (writeitforward.wordpress.com)
Yesterday Bob forwarded me an email from Amazon about new Kindle Publisher Tools with the Kindle Format 8 (KF8) support, which is Amazon’s next generation file format. This new format offers new features and enhancements.
I’m drooling. And as Bob is reading this, his eyes are rolling to the back of his head. Not because he’s not excited about it, but when I get talking about techie stuff, Bob starts to twitch.
Amazon also has a beta tester for a Kindle Adobe InDesign Plugin, but it doesn’t yet have the ability to support the KF8, so its kind of useless to me, but when they do figure that out (and they will) I won’t be drooling, I’ll be foaming at the mouth.
So what does all this mean?
That is what Bob said in his email. When I translated what it meant…I haven’t heard from him since. I think he’s avoiding me…
Seriously, this is very exciting stuff. But it’s only the beginning of what is going to happen as eBooks take over the world. As we discussed before, using a Word document or using a web page .htm Word generated document isn’t a very good idea when creating an eBook. See this blog post. I prefer to use InDesign or Pages, which allows me to create a quality ePub file. The KindleGen is a free download from Amazon that accepts HTML, XHTML or an ePub file as a source file. What is most exciting to me is that I can use a single ePub file that I created that works fabulously with iBooks, B&N and Kobo (video and all) to create the new files for Kindle that can be used on both KindleFire and Kindle eReaders.
Even better, there is a Kindle Previewer Software. I don’t have to be in KDP to “preview” my eBook. (A little piece of advice: if you can, preview your book on all devices and apps).
But here is the problem. This isn’t perfect yet. Certain things that are supported by Kindle Fire Table (such as nested tables and merged cells and scalable vector graphics) are not supported by Kindle eInk based devices or Apps for PC, Mac and Smartphones.
The Vook is another new great tool for authors. I’ve tested it, and while it’s not for me, it’s a really excellent option for authors for formatting both ePub and Kindle eBooks. I do recommend it over some other options out there for authors because it does create high quality and the author does control the end result more so than other services out there, whether it be free or paid. If I didn’t have InDesign, I’d probably use Vook regularly. They’ve done a really good job of working out some of the kinks and for those authors who don’t have a nerd who lives to “figure things out” as their business partner like Bob has with me, then it’s an excellent option.
Also, Apple is going to make some big announcement soon and it will most likely have something to do with eBooks either directly or indirectly.
As eBooks gain popularity, this technology is going to get better and better. We are going to undergo some major changes and with it will come some frustration since we will have to learn new things. But at the same time these changes are very exciting and will help authors connect with their readers and that is a beautiful thing.
Write It Forward!