Archive for category Self-publishing

Creating an EBook and Paperback Box Set – Part 3

In the first blog post of this mini series I talked about why indie authors should consider creating a box set of their works. In the second post I looked at the points to think about when obtaining a cover for a box set. This time I’m looking at creating the paperback using the new KDP paperback facility.

Differences between Amazon KDP Paperback Publishing and Createspace

• Createspace allows the author to purchase a proof copy of the book before it is published. KDP does not but it is possible to publish at a low price, order a ‘proof’ copy and then increase the price. There is a small chance that someone else will order at the low price and/or receive the book with as yet uncorrected mistakes.
• Createspace allows authors to buy in bulk at a reduced price per copy. This is useful for those who want to hold a stock of books to sell at author events and signings. The cost of doing this plus the cost of shipping from America (where these author copies are produced) has become higher since the UK Brexit vote in 2016. On KDP it is possible for an author to use my ‘proof copy’ price reduction method, mentioned above, to buy books for direct sales.
• A paperback published via Amazon KDP cannot be later re-published via Createspace.
• Publishing a paperback via Amazon KDP allows the author to view all the Amazon sales figures for that book on one dashboard instead of logging into a separate Createspace account.
• Createspace offers ‘expanded distribution’. According to the Createspace website this ‘offers you the opportunity to access a larger audience through more online retailers, bookstores, libraries, academic institutions, and distributors within the United States’.

This blog post from the Alliance of Independent Authors offers an overview of the current pros and cons of publishing a paperback through Amazon KDP rather than Createspace .

How to create a KDP paperback

Tips on Using Amazon KDP Paperback Publishing

• Download a KDP template of the correct trim size. I used the template with sample content.
• I copied and pasted my text into the template chapter by chapter, deleting the example text as I went along.
• Think about the font. I stuck with the Garamond of the template but increased it to 12 point – possibly a sign of bad eyesight!
• Headers – A Coffee Break Story Collection is a ‘box set’ of three books and I decided to have the book title at the top of every even numbered page and the individual story title at the top of every odd numbered page. It was necessary to split each story into a separate section within the Word document to do this.
• A Table of Contents is not usually needed for novels. If needed, a Table of Contents can be created using the TOC functionality within Word or it can be done using the Cross Reference facility within Word (detailed instructions for both of these methods in the different versions of Word can be found by searching the internet). I chose this second method because my box set required three separate Tables of Contents – one for each book.
• Check the formatting of the book, using the KDP Previewer, before obtaining a cover, to ensure that the number of pages is correct. In order to do this, it may be necessary to use the KDP cover creator to generate a temporary cover. You will be able to replace this cover with your own prior to publication.
• Product description – this can be copied from the book’s Kindle product description. However, on publication the line breaks may disappear. My description initially appeared as one mass of text. I queried this with Amazon and was advised to manually insert HTML coding to force the line breaks. To do this insert <br> where a line break is required.
• Linking of Kindle and paperback editions on the same product page. This should happen automatically after publication, but may take a few days. If it doesn’t happen, contact Amazon and they will very quickly make the link.

Formatting and publishing a paperback book takes patience and an eye for detail, whether done via Createspace or KDP but it is not rocket science. Good Luck!

A Coffee Break Story Collection contains a bumper 36 stories and is available for Kindle and in paperback via Amazon and also on Kobo.

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Creating an EBook and Paperback Box Set – Part 2

In my previous blog post I talked about why indie authors should consider creating a box set of their works. In this post I’m going to look at the points to think about when obtaining a cover for a box set. My next post will look at creating the paperback using the new KDP paperback facility.

The EBook Box Set Cover

There are two types of box set cover – a 3D or a 2D design.

The 2D design is the same as a ‘normal’ flat, e-book cover. It might feature images of the original covers of the books within the set or a design indicating the overall concept or theme of the collection.

The 3D version shows the spines of all the books included in the set and emphasises the number of books and therefore the great value for money it offers.

However, the 3D image does not always reproduce well as a thumb nail image on e-book retailers’ websites. A recent Kobo promotion of box sets advised authors that books with a 2D cover would have a greater chance of inclusion within the promotion than those with a 3D cover.
In addition, 3D images do not convert easily to paperback covers. If there is to be a paperback version of the box set, stick with a 2D image.

There is a very good article on the Kobo Writing Life blog about box set cover design. Read it before ordering a cover.

I used cover designer, Debby Dale, on Fiverr for both the e-book and paperback covers of A Coffee Break Story Collection. I sent her the covers from the original three books and specifically asked they be used for a 2D design that could also be used on a paperback cover. She also supplied two 3D images (with and without reflection) in case I wanted to use them for publicity. All three covers are shown below so that you can see the difference and also how the design might impact the thumbnail image.

A Coffee Break Story collection box set

3D Image Without Reflection

3D Image With Reflection

2D Image

A Coffee Break Story Collection contains a bumper 36 stories and is available for Kindle and in paperback via Amazon and also on Kobo.

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Creating an EBook and Paperback Box Set – Part 1

One of the joys of self-publishing is the freedom to re-use published works to create a brand new product and attract a new readership.
Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been re-using my three short story collections to produce a ‘box set’ containing a total of 36 short stories. Most people are familiar with DVD box sets. A book box set is similar – it is two or more books, previously sold separately, combined together and sold as a bumper, single ebook and/or paperback. This single volume generally offers the reader great value for money when compared to the individual selling prices of each standalone book.

In this blog post I’m going to talk about why creating a box set is a good idea. In my next post I’ll talk about procuring a box set book cover and in the third post in this series I’ll talk about using the new KDP paperback facility to create a print copy.

Why Create a Box Set?

  • To maximise revenue from individual books by repackaging them as a new product.
  • Binge consumption has become the norm with viewers lapping up complete series of TV shows in one sitting on Netflix and similar providers. Book consumption is heading the same way and therefore it makes sense to offer readers what they want.
  • Box sets offer good value to the customer (the box set price offers a good discount on the individual book prices) and may therefore sell in higher numbers.
  • Maximise revenue per customer. The sale of a box set brings in money ‘up front’ without relying on a customer returning to buy each individual book.
  • If the individual books in the set are relatively slim, as with many short story collections, bringing several together in a box set makes the production of a paperback version worthwhile. I’d had several requests for paperback versions of my short stories but felt I needed more content in order to make a paperback value for money for the reader.
  • On a more personal note, I’m trying to get away from an over-dependence on Amazon and had read that box sets sell well on the Kobo ereader.

The super-successful indie publisher Joanna Penn offers more detail on why box sets are a good idea on her blog, The Creative Penn.

A Coffee Break Story Collection is available on Amazon and Kobo and is half the price of buying the three individual story collections.

 

 

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Self-Publishing for Charity

A client recently asked me to format an ebook that he intended to publish for charity. Then a writer friend of mine announced she’d published a short story anthology with the royalties going to a good cause. In turn, this reminded me of a book I’d bought in aid of charity at the beginning of last year.  It seems that writers are a generous breed and so I had a word with each these three writers to see what they personally had got out of the project and how their chosen charities had helped publicise the book.

Speak the English the English Speak is Colin Grey’s first venture in self-publishing and I think he’ll be the first to admit that it was a steep learning curve! Speak the English the English SpeakThe book contains the meaning and history behind 500 essential English idioms. The information will be useful for students and teachers of English as a foreign language as well as native English speakers who want to know more about phrases in everyday usage. For example, I didn’t know the origin of the expression, ‘Fill your boots‘, Colin’s book tells me that in the past, fighting forces’ alcohol was rationed and delivery was measured in long leather tubs that looked like riding boots.
Colin has chosen to give his royalties to the Maiastra charity, which helps young musicians. The charity has helped him publicise the book by mentioning it in their email newsletter which goes out to all supporters. I asked Colin what he, personally, got out of the project, “It’s fun! It gives me an interest and is a small achievement – something I never expected I would ever do.”

 

Paws for Thought

Sharon Boothroyd, of Ryecorn Digital Publishing, has produced a short story anthology, Paws for Thought, in aid of her local branch of the RSPCA. “Our project had to be passed by the RSPCA committee first, so it was an anxious wait for us, but they said yes and we were thrilled,” says Sharon. “Personal benefits to us are that it showcases our abilities and those of the terrific writers we’ve included in the ebook.”
The RSPCA gave the book a mention on their homepage and also allowed their logo to be used on the book cover. Sharon chose the RSPCA as their charity beneficiary because it was where her tabby cat, Buster, was adopted from. “The RSPCA are great to work with and if this book goes well, there might be a ‘Paws for Thought 2’ later.”

 

 

In 2016, proofreader Helen Baggott, wrote about her personal experience of breast cancer in Swimming With the Tide. Breast cancer experienceAll royalties from the book go to the Macmillan charity.
Helen is the only one of our charity publishers to produce a paperback version of the book as well as an ebook.
“I did the paperback,” she said, “because there was no extra cost involved  and I have friends who don’t use Kindles. I felt it was important that they could buy the book. Also, I wanted to give some people copies and paperbacks seemed a better way of doing that. Although Macmillan didn’t help with the promotion they did send some items that I could include inside the paperback copies that I sent out. These could be used as bookmarks.”

 

All the above writers should be applauded for using their talents for the good of others. Each one has also derived personal satisfaction from their project and probably learned something that will help them on their future publishing journey. I wish them well in their fundraising efforts.
If you’ve published something for charity, please give it a shout-out in the comments section below.

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PLR for Ebooks

Public Lending Right (PLR) is on its way for ebooks. Until now only ebooks downloaded on library premises, to fixed terminals and then taken away on loan have qualified for PLR payments. Legislation was passed last month (April 2017), in the Digital Economy Bill, which extends the UK Public Lending Right legislation to include remote loans of ebooks. These new arrangements are expected to apply to loans from July 1st 2018, with the first payments being made in arrears in February 2020.

I have written previously about how to get self-published ebooks into public libraries via the distributor Overdrive but there are a couple of things to bear in mind before rushing off to do so:

  • It is not possible to keep an ebook in KDP Select and make it available through other channels e.g. public library loans
  • Under PLR legislation, loans are collected using ISBNs. Many of the ebooks published through Kindle Direct Publishing have only the Amazon assigned ASIN.

So, this is good news for a lot of authors, who will, in the future, get recompensed for ebook loans. Others will have to take decisions about whether it’s better to stay exclusive to Amazon in KDP Select with its marketing/Kindle Unlimited benefits or go wide to other ebook distributors and obtain an ISBN.

Any traditionally-published/self-published authors have an opinion on this new legislation?

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Bedsit Three Sells 1000 Copies

Last month total sales of the psychological thriller, Bedsit Three, passed the 1,000 mark.

Bedsit Three by Sally Jenkins

At this point it’s worth reflecting on the breakdown of sales across retailers. It’s not what I was expecting 18 months ago when the novel was first published.

Kobo                                                                                       764
Paperbacks direct from me                                                119
Kindle                                                                                       91
Createspace (i.e. paperbacks from Amazon)                   34
Overdrive (via Smashwords)                                                 2
Apple (via Smashwords)                                                         1

I expected Kindle to generate the largest number of sales because it is still, by far, the largest ebook sales platform. However, Bedsit Three was shortlisted for a competition organised by Kobo and Silverwood Books. On the back of this, I contacted Kobo and was able to get the book included in some promotions, which obviously paid off.

The lesson going forward? Don’t get obsessed by the benefits of KDP Select (which requires authors to keep their books exclusive to Amazon). Dip your toe in the water and try other ebook retailers as well.

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Smashwords Adds New Distribution Channel

Regular readers of this blog will know that one of the reasons I chose to distribute Bedsit Three via Smashwords is the access it gives to Overdrive, a platform which supplies e-books to public libraries. My original blog post can be read here.

Recently Smashwords announced the addition of a new library distribution channel via Bibliotheca. Bibliotheca is the operator of the cloudLibrary™ digital lending platform which is used by over 3,000 public libraries in America, Canada, U.K. and Australia. So the Smashwords distribution network now includes almost all major library e-book platforms including OverDrive, Baker & Taylor Axis 360, Gardners UK (Askews & Holts and VLeBooks) and Odilo. Those of us indie authors choosing to distribute our e-books via Smashwords can now reach 30,000 public and academic libraries across the globe.

Many libraries today lack the funds to buy print books. E-books are a cheaper option and can offer a way into the library system for indie authors. Unfortunately e-books do not qualify for PLR payments so writers only receive their standard royalty on the e-book sale. But being in the library catalogue generates exposure that may lead a reader to purchase other books (print or digital) by the same author.

The biggest factor in the indie author’s decision about whether to take advantage of Smashwords wide distribution channels is the abandonment of Amazon KDP exclusivity and the potential benefits that scheme can bring.

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