Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Self-Publishing Options Part One

I started self-publishing in 2008, back when KDP was Booksurge. A lot has changed since then. Self-publishing has become more acceptable and there are more venues to publish through. Let's take a look at some of the top self-publishing platforms.

1. Amazon's KDP offers print-on-demand and ebooks. There is a Kindle e-reader and app for other devices. They have begun an experimental episodic fiction service called Vella. They have Children's Book creator software.They partner with ACX for audiobooks.

Cost: It is free to upload your files and covers. You can change the files at any time at no cost. There are delivery fees for ebooks, print costs for paperback, sales taxes in some cases, and you cannot make your book free unless enrolled in Kindle Select. You decide the price but there are minimums. Amazon may price match, so if you offer your book for a lower price elsewhere, they may adjust your list price. They might match Amazon's price for a physical edition of the book.

Rights: You retain all rights. They provide a free ISBN (exclusive to their platform) or you can use your own. Whether they provide the number or you do, it needs to be unique to the KDP platform. You cannot use it on another publishing platform too. No ISBN is needed for ebooks. Ebooks are assigned an ID number.

Distribution: With expanded distribution your book is available through hundreds of online retailers, bookstores, and distributors like IngramSpark and international stores. They have the widest distribution by far.

 Services: You can set up an Author Central page on most of the foreign sites and there are marketing, promotion, and ad options. Your book is suggested by their algorithm online and in promotional emails. They have marketing and promotional opportunities including pre-order and sets. They have software to help you create your product called Kindle Create. They have added a series tool that generates all of the books in a series when there is a search. Amazon has many advertising and marketing opportunities with a huge database of articles to assist you in all aspects of book formatting and cover design. You can enroll your book in the KDP Select program, which allows readers to read your book for free and you earn a percentage of the KDP Select "pot." Results may vary. 

Payment: The royalties run from 35% to 70% depending on the distribution option. The royalty rate for expanded distribution is 40% of the book's list price for the distribution channel at the time of purchase, minus printing costs, applicable taxes, and withholding. You are paid royalties by direct deposit monthly. Sales data is updated daily.


2. Apple Books offers ebooks only. They have a reading app for Apple products.

Cost: It is free to upload your cover and files and you can make changes. No delivery fees. You can make your book free. No price matching.

Rights: You maintain all rights. They will provide a free ISBN exclusive to their book versions or you can use your own. No ISBN is required for ebooks.

Distribution: Distribution is only on Apple Books. You can sell on Apple Books from aggregators like Draft2Digital for wider reach.

Services: They offer tips on writing your book, design, publishing, audiobooks, and marketing. They partner with a list of EPUB file conversion service providers. They have videos on how to launch and market your book.

Payment: Apple pays 70% royalties 32 days after the end of the month in which you sold books using direct deposit into a bank account set up on iTunes Connect. If you sell directly through Apple, you can monitor the performance of your titles with daily sales reports.


3. Barnes & Noble Press offers print-on-demand, hardcover, and ebook options. They have the Nook ereader and the Nook Reading App for iPhone, iPad, Android devices, and Windows 8 tablets.

Cost: It is free to upload your cover and interiors. No charge for changes.

Rights: You retain all rights. They will provide a free ISBN exclusive to their paperback book versions or you can use your own. No ISBN is required for ebooks.

Distribution: Distribution is through their online store. You can submit your book for consideration to be displayed in physical stores. That is not guaranteed. Print on demand books can be ordered at any of their physical stores.

Services: They have promotional opportunities and offer select B&N Press books in emails, online sales & promotions, and other exclusive marketing programs. They have partnered with Reedsy  to offer editorial assistance, BookTrib for publicity assistance, Incubate  for marketing assistance, and 99designs for cover and interior formatting. They have expanded their array of merchandising options, including curated ads on BN.com, better email placement, and social media and blog exposure on Barnes & Noble Press and NOOK channels.

Payment: As of March 2021, following the purchase of B&N by a hedge fund, authors will receive a flat 70% royalty rate for eBook sales, up from a range of 40% to 65%. Print cost and delivery fees will be deducted from the list price. The self-publishing platform will also accelerate payments to 30 days after purchase instead of the prior 60 days. You are paid for book royalties over $10 by direct deposit or will receive bi-annual royalty payments, regardless of how much you’ve earned. You can view sales reports at any time.


4. Book Baby offers a mix of service packages along with marketing offers and resources. They handle ebooks, print-on-demand, and hard cover. They are geared more toward selling services for writers who need help with design, editing, etc. though they do have a digital storefront.  

Cost: Prices for service packages currently run from $1000 to $2500. There are additional charges for any type of change even to fix a typo and that adds up. Any time you wish to update or change anything, it has to be done through them. They do not earn a percent of your royalties.

Rights: You retain all rights. They sell ISBN numbers for $39 or you can provide your own. 

Distribution: They upload your book to other services such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powell’s Books, as well as other third party sellers. They provide titles to wholesale bookstore catalogs like Ingram and Baker & Taylor.

Services: Book Baby offers everything from editing to cover and interior design to marketing package options. If you need help with those things and think your book has high earning potential, then Book Baby might be for you.

Payment: Payments are delayed since Book Baby distributes through other venues, usually 90 days. They will post your BookShop earnings in your account in the week following all invoiced transactions. Depending on the retail price of your title and the specs of the book, most titles will generate between 10% -30% royalties. Sometimes, sales will fall outside of these royalty targets depending on international currency conversion rates, the manufacturing costs associated with production of your titles, and the fluctuation in retailer distribution charges.


To be continued.

Posted by Diana Hurwitz, author of Story Building Blocks: The Four Layers of Conflict, Story Building Blocks II: Crafting Believable Conflict, Story Building Blocks III: The Revision Layers, and the YA adventure series Mythikas Island. Her weekly blog, Game On: Crafting Believable Conflict explores how characters behave and misbehave. Visit DianaHurwitz.com for more information and free writing tools. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Why Do Some Readers Avoid Self-Published Books?

I read and post short reviews about a lot of books, so it’s not surprising I receive quite a few requests to review works by self-published authors. In the past, I’ve tried to accommodate those requests because I know how hard it is to get attention when there’s so much competition.

Sadly, that practice has put me in a tight spot from time to time when the already published book is so full of errors that it’s hard to focus on the story. Even after all the great advice provided by editors and by experienced writers who indie-publish, there are still people who think their works are perfect as-is, no editing or proofreading or professional advice needed. Their books don’t sell, and the quality drags on the sales of well-researched, well-edited, well-formatted indie published books.

Here are the five biggest reasons why readers avoid self-published books:

1. Writers who do not hire a content editor to meticulously read a manuscript for errors in timeline, character consistency, plot, and story structure. Trust me, no matter how sure you are that your writing, plotting, and editing skills are perfect, you’re wrong.

2. Writers who do not hire a copy editor to meticulously read a manuscript for grammar and punctuation errors and/or inconsistencies. We can see the errors made by other writers, but our eye/brain connection is very skilled at substituting what should be on our page for what is actually there in print.


3. Writers who do not use a proofreader for that fine-tuned read for typos and other errors introduced during the previous editorial corrections. It’s that eye/brain connection again, making corrections to fool us into believing our work is typo-free.

4. Writers who don’t use professional guidance in formatting books and ebooks for publication. Learning this process on the fly, just to get a book out there, is risky business. If I open an ebook and see messy margins, oddly placed spaces, and undefined paragraphs, I put away the book and find another.

5. Writers who don’t consult professionals in designing the cover art. I admit it. I often pick a book by its cover and start reading before I know more than the genre. Great covers sell books (at least to me).

There are so many beautifully written, edited, and formatted indie books available from authors who’ve done a great job. But their sales are impacted by authors who dismiss quality and publish anyway. Some readers check to see if a book is self-published, and if it is, perhaps put the book back on the shelf and continue browsing.

What can the professional indie author do to combat reader reluctance? Produce the best work possible and make sure reviewers get a quality copy of the book. Put the editor's name in the acknowledgements. Make sure marketing tools such as synopses, blog posts, newsletters, and articles are beautifully written and error-free. Write about the process of producing the best quality indie book possible that will serve both as advice to writers and reassurance to readers.


Pat (Patricia) Stoltey is the author of four novels published by Five Star/Cengage: two amateur sleuth, one thriller that was a finalist for a Colorado Book Award in 2015, and the historical mystery Wishing Caswell Dead (December 20, 2017), a finalist for the 2018 Colorado Book Awards. This novel is now available in a large print edition, ebook and trade paperback. Her short story, “Good Work for a Girl,” appeared in the Five Star Anthology, The Spoilt Quilt and Other Frontier Stories: Pioneering Women of the West, released in November 2019.

Pat lives in Northern Colorado with her husband Bill, Scottish Terrier Sassy, and brown tabby Katie Cat).

You can learn more about Pat at her website/blog, on Facebook, and Twitter. She was interviewed for the Colorado Sun’s SunLit feature that you can find at the Colorado Sun website.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Eloquence, Glorious Eloquence with author Camille Minichino

You might have noticed the *spoiler* in the Blood-Red Pencil blog post for May 27, so I might as well confess that my go-to book on writing is The Elements of Eloquence: Secrets of the Perfect Turn of Phrase, by Mark Forsyth.

You won’t see the book on my shelves in the photo in the May 27 post because it’s by my side at my computer, at the ready for a figure of speech or a smile.

Imagine 39 chapters, covering such abstruse turns of phrase as hendiadys, zeugma, catachresis, and scesis onomaton.

A favorite of mine is diacope, which gave us the 22nd greatest line in all of cinema (yes, Forsyth asks precisely how the American Film Institute can be so precise). The line: Bond, James Bond. Or, consider extended diacope, Free at last, Free at Last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last. Repetition in wording seems to do the trick, the trick it does.

It’s also fun to read Chapter 20, on enallage, a deliberate grammatical mistake (if a mistake can be deliberate, he wonders). Forsyth asks if we’d have been better off with correct Love me tenderly, love me truly. Or if Alexander Pope had given us Hope springs eternally in the human breast.

A related figure of speech, epizeuxis, is the repetition of a word, exactly. Shakespeare gave us Macbeth’s Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow and Hamlet’s Words, words, words. I wonder if my realtor knows the official name of her mantra when asked the three priorities in determining home values.

Hyperbaton is putting words in an odd order. Who knows why, but opinion and size come before color, so you can’t have a green jolly giant or a red little schoolhouse. There are other word order “rules” but if you know what you’re doing, and use hyperbaton, like Lovelace—stone walls do not a prison make—it will be memorable.

It’s deceptively easy to form a syllepsis, using a word in two incongruous ways in the same sentence, such as this lovely sentence attributed to Dorothy Parker, describing her small apartment: I’ve barely enough room to lay my hat and a few friends. Occasionally I try to come up with a memorable line. I realize it can’t happen just by dropping an -ly or scrambling the word order, but it is fun trying. Maybe I’ll buy another book or some time.

Mystery author Camille Minichino, has published 28 books under a number of pen names. Her newest book, MURPHY'S SLAW, under the name Elizabeth Logan, is the third in her Alaskan Diner Series. For more about Camille and her work, check out her website at Minichino.com.