Posts Tagged Overdrive

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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Catching Up

Over the past couple of months I’ve mentioned a few of my writing-related activities and I thought it was time to give an update.

At the beginning of April, I announced that I was going to use April as a ‘private’ NaNoWriMo and try to write a rough first draft of my next novel.  This actually took longer than planned. Partway through I realised that one of my minor characters had much more potential than one of my main protagonists. So I had to re-work much of what I’d done. I killed off the boring main protagonist (when he was only a baby!) and brought the minor character to the fore. I now have 58,000 words and a LOT of work to do.

At the beginning of June, I wrote that I’d uploaded Bedsit Three to Smashwords in order to get it into the Overdrive store, from which many public libraries purchase e-books. Once I could see it available in Overdrive, I went to my local library to ask for the contact details of Birmingham’s e-book buyer so that I could make myself known as a local author. Unfortunately, I was told that there was no budget at all for new books – not even e-books. On the plus side, they were receptive to the idea of an author event and (fingers crossed) will be contacting me in September when all the school holiday activities are over.

A couple of weeks ago, I launched a price promotion on Kindle for Bedsit Three. I reduced it from £2.25 to 99p for 2 weeks. I calculated that I needed to sell 4.5 times as many books at 99p as at £2.25 to make it a viable long-term price point. That number of sales hasn’t materialised so, barring a sudden surge today (30th June 2016) the price will rise again tomorrow.

And finally, I was pleased to receive a gift from Iain Pattison this week – a paperback copy of That’s Why The Lady is a Vamp. It’s a collection of off-beat comedy tales, full of unexpected twists and lots of humour. Plus, the high spot is a guest appearance by yours truly! If you’d like a free e-copy of one of Iain’s books pop along to his website now.

So that’s me. Anyone else got any news?

That's Why The Lady Is A Vamp

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Publishing on Smashwords

This week I spent a few hours uploading the psychological thriller Bedsit Three to Smashwords.

Smashwords is the world’s largest distributor of independently-published e-books. It also sells directly to the public in a variety of e-book formats. I decided to use Smashwords in order to make Bedsit Three available for libraries to add to their e-book collections. Many libraries worldwide use Overdrive to source their e-books and the only way for an indie author to make a book available on Overdrive is to go through Smashwords (as I mentioned before in my post about the 2016 Self-publishing Conference).

Smashwords accepts a Word document which it then puts through its ‘meatgrinder’ to change into .epub format – so no great technical knowledge is needed on the author’s part. However, I hit a couple of snags during the uploading process.
Firstly I tried uploading a .docx document, this was rejected because Smashwords only accepts .doc documents i.e. those created by older editions of Word. So I had to use the ‘Save As’ function to save my document and change it from .docx to .doc.
Secondly, when I previewed the .epub produced via the ‘meatgrinder’ there was a blank page between every chapter. It took me a bit of fiddling and Googling to solve this one. I had to remove the page breaks between chapters (which Amazon and Kobo had seemed quite happy with) and replace with a few carriage returns. I think this is because Smashwords automatically inserts its own page break when it comes to a chapter heading.

The Overdrive catalogue is updated from Smashwords each Tuesday, so Bedsit Three should appear there by the middle of next week. If you’d like to read Bedsit Three for free please ask your library to add it to their e-book collection.

Incidentally, authors don’t receive PLR on borrowed e-books, they only get the one-off royalty for a single sale.

Bedsit Three by Sally Jenkins

Click to preview

A girl has been buried in a shallow grave. Rain starts to wash away the earth covering her.
A used pregnancy test and a scrap book about a suicide are abandoned in a bedsit.
Every mother tries to do her best for her child. But sometimes that ‘best’ creates a monster. 
Bedsit Three is a tale of murder, mystery and love. It won the inaugural Wordplay Publishing/Ian Govan Award and was shortlisted for both the Silverwood-Kobo-Berforts Open Day Competition and the Writing Magazine/McCrit Competition.

Available on Amazon, Kobo and Smashwords.

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2016 Self-Publishing Conference

Last Saturday I went the Self-Publishing Conference at the University of Leicester.2016 Self-Publishing Conference

I took two key messages away from the conference (as well as a bag of leaflets and promos!):

  • Self-publishing is no longer an inferior, second best alternative to traditional publishing. Well-written self-published books that are put through similar editorial and design processes to their traditional counterparts are indistinguishable from ‘normal’ books. Readers choosing a book online, in a bookshop or in the library seldom check the publisher before deciding whether or not to have the book.
  • Quality is key when self-publishing. We all know that some get-rich-quick merchants push anything out on Kindle and, unfortunately, give the rest of us a bad name. However the rules are being tightened with Amazon cracking down on books containing errors. The successful self-publisher always puts his book through quality control procedures such as copy-editing and/or proofreading.

Throughout the day I absorbed other information such as:

  • How to get e-books into the digital catalogues of libraries through Overdrive (loans of self-published material are growing). There is no PLR but it is a sale which may get you known more widely.
  • It’s free to generate a QR Code which can be added to bookmarks and other promotional materials. The code will take readers direct to your website via a smartphone.
  • Bookshops and libraries will not readily order/stock Createspace books. If it’s important to you to have copies of your books available in this way then consider a different method of self-publishing, such as through a provider like Matador.
  • How ISBNs and metadata work. This was complex and generated a lot of questions! ISBNs can now be bought singly as well as in blocks of ten.

If you’re serious about your self-publishing activities and ambitions, this is a conference well worth attending. I’ll be looking out for the announcement of next year’s date.

P.S. There was also a very good lunch plus chocolate brownies in the afternoon!

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