Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Traditional Publishing Shoots Itself in the Foot and Harms Authors in the Process!

Traditional publishers are desperately trying to maintain their high margins. Not only does that mean they will allow books to go out of print rather than convert them to print-on-demand (how is that good for authors?), but it also means they will price ebooks ridiculously high relative to their costs so as to not damage their margins in dead-tree versions. For authors: bad all around!
“Publishers probably need to sharpen their pencils and re-do their math. Although it is true that delivering a POD book is a great sacrifice of margin for a publisher compared to one from their own warehouse, it is both not as great a sacrifice as they think and, really, no sacrifice at all if a sale that would otherwise be lost is captured. Lower print unit costs for pressruns can be misleading if the publisher doesn’t consider the costs of multiple handlings, delivery, returns, and books printed but never used.”
Read the entire article.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Writing Short

I read this article about writing short stories.

Once upon a time I was involved with fewerthan500.com. I even have a couple of stories on the site. I found it quite a challenge to get down to 500 words! When I was a kid I always thought shorter was easier (“she wants how many pages?”). but now I know better. I doubt I could ever write a novel; short comes more natural to me, but micro-fiction, flash-fiction, whatever you care to call it – that’s another story!
“In reality, short stories are a wonderful expression of creativity and skill. Often, being forced to cram an entire world inside a thousand words, I would inadvertently create a rich and detailed narrative, forced to abandon useless adjectives and run on sentences.”

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Book Formatting Demystified Now on Kindle

Do you want to learn how to format your book yourself? Or, do you want to know how to use Word to make your formatter's job easier - thus saving you some money? If so, Book Formatting Demystified will help. It's now available on Kindle in addition to print!

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Someone Stole My Ebook!

Someday you may discover your ebook on some site you never sent it to. It's already happened to a couple of my clients. As I reported in an earlier post, many of these sites are just scams. They aren't really selling your ebook; they are just harvesting credit card numbers from people trying to get your book for next to nothing.

What should you do if you find your book is really for sale and someone has stolen it? You may have some options. This article offers some solid suggestions. Hopefully, you never need it, but it's good to know there are some things you can try.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Promote Your Book Locally!

I've seen success with local promotions. If your book is set in a particular real location, milk that for all its worth! Contact the local newspapers, the local radio station, and the local libraries. Most important: become a regular, a pest even, at the local bookstores. Get to know the owner and the people working there. Buy books; buy their coffee; hang out and bring some friends. Develop a relationship and don't expect results quickly; don't just go a couple times and think you have done the job.

I thought about this because I read this article about press releases. If you have some extra funds, consider a publicist. A good publicist will have the connections to make things happen in a local market.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

We Need Curators

The indie-publishing world needs curators. We need to have sources we can trust to help us wade through the 3,000 books published each and every day on Amazon alone. There are good books written by indie-published authors and, as a reader, it is so difficult to find them. I've been burned, as I imagine everyone reading this has, when buying a book (usually an ebook because I'm too cheap to spend extra on an unknown author just to have a dead-tree version) from a new, probably indie-published, author.

The Guardian had an interesting article recently about how independent bookstores are using some pretty potent weapons in their battle with the big-box stores and Amazon. First, they can hold interesting events: readings, signings, and hosting book clubs. Second, they can offer suggestions; they can act as your curators! Like a good librarian you've known for years, a local bookstore owner can fill up your to-read list on Goodreads! Amazon's algorithms try, but just don't quite get there.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Indie-Publishers: Pay Attention to Your Ebooks!

"According to Amazon's 2019 review of its Kindle sales, there are now thousands of self-published authors taking home royalties of over $50,000, while more than a thousand hit six-figure salaries from their book sales last year."
I ran across a number of articles yesterday and today and they all shared a common theme: indie-published authors spend too much time, effort and money on the print version of their books. At least that's the way I read it!

The first article I read was a list of scams that are proliferating online now targeting indie-published authors. Some I have highlighted in previous posts, but a few were new to me: how scammers try to appear legitimate, boxed set scams, book fair placement scams. The blogger, Anne Allen, pointed out that virtually all the scams are aimed at print opportunities. She linked to another article where she highlighted that issue. From that post:
"It might help to forget paper books altogether. I often see newbies obsessing about choosing a POD company and getting bookstore distribution. But they’re worrying needlessly. 
That’s because 90% of the successful indie’s profits usually come from ebooks."
Two more articles caught my eye. First was an article about indie-published authors that are doing quite well, and how they are accomplishing that. And another was about how ebooks are saving indie-published authors (the quote at the top of this post is from that article).

I think many in my small client base have more ebook sales than print, yet everyone seems obsessed with print versions. I know that in some genres it is popular to put the book out in ebook format first, and only if sales justify it, spend the additional money for a print version later. I think that is becoming a more viable strategy for almost all indie-published genres. The format and cover cost of an ebook is far less than print. And, people will take a chance on an unknown indie-published author for $2.99, $3.99, or $4.99 where they won’t for $12, $15 or more for a printed book. Don’t overlook your ebook versions – it might be that they are your bread and butter!

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Illinois Property Taxes & Schools

I often bemoan the property tax situation here in Illinois. Sometimes when I mention it one of my friends reminds me that our schools are really good here and you get what you pay for. (Approximately 70% of our property tax goes to the school district.) I've always acknowledged he had a point.

But no more.

I ran across the US News & World Report ranking of US High Schools. They rank the schools on multiple factors, but two of the most important are graduation rate and what they call their college readiness score. That is based on how many students attend AP and IB (International Baccalaureate) classes, with a factor of 3 for each student who not only took the class, but passed it. Standardized test scores are also included in their methodology.  Not a single one of the schools in our area (or any of the Chicago suburbs – a couple of Chicago city schools were on the list) was in the top 120! You would think, with the second highest property taxes in the nation (only behind New Jersey, which had 8 high schools in the top 120!) at least one of our schools would be in the top 120. Ordered by state, Illinois’ high schools as a group ranked 26th in the nation. Interestingly, Illinois comes in 13th in the nation in per pupil spending.

Obviously we’re not getting our money’s worth. We pay more tax than all but one, but score right in the middle of the pack when it comes to school performance. This is not good. This has to be fixed. We need to pay less property tax to retain and attract people to Illinois and still our schools have to do better – either with less money, or they have to be funded a different way, not via the property tax.