Friday, December 30, 2011

Marketing Tip: Define Your Sub-Culture

Focus, focus, focus: Rookie authors have a tendency to think their books are for "everyone." This is a mistake. If your book is for everyone, you won't know who you are writing for or where to aim your limited marketing efforts. To counterbalance this, I teach my customers to define their "reader" as an individual (or a couple or a family) in great detail. This helps authors focus their books, which helps them in both the writing and marketing phases of the project. I use the example of Senator Charles E. Schumer, who (I learned somewhere) has defined a fictional family of four as his target constituent. He knows the names of each member of the family, their ages, their interests, their occupations, and their schools. He knows where they live, what their house looks like, and the family income. Thus, he always knows who he is working for. It's a great concept.

Robbyn D. Wood, a fellow artist at the Cottonwood Center for Arts in Colorado Springs, suggests a slight expansion of this concept, at least for the marketing stage. She suggests that authors define a "subculture" they are trying to reach, a concept than can help fiction authors as much as non-fiction authors. The idea is to reach out to this subculture--by getting members of the target subculture to preview the book, for example--in hopes of creating a buzz within the subculture. The buzz then has a chance to expand within the subculture--and to spiral out to related subcultures--and help the book. For example, one of our customers is working on a historical fantasy about the origins of the Celtic people. With this concept in mind, the author might start with a subculture of people who play or enjoy Celtic music, study Celtic culture, or feel drawn to Celtic culture. This could spiral out to a larger category of people drawn to Irish, Welsh, or Scottish culture. It's focused but expansive. I'm giving it more thought.--The Publishing Pro

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Why Successful Authors Need to Be Great Speakers

A Toastmasters Event: I'll be moderating a panel discussion called "Why Successful Authors Need to Be Great Speakers" on January 13, 12:05 to 1:05 PM, at Penrose Library, 20 N. Cascade, in Colorado Springs. It's the main feature of a regular (though offsite) meeting of Downtown Toastmasters and includes the following panelists:
  • Cynthia Nimerichter, motivational speaker and author of Related by Marriage: Delicious Domestic Days
  • Barry Thomsen, author of  many books, most recently The Smart Guide for Business Startups, and member of Currently Speaking Toastmasters Club
  • John Tubiolo, marketing consultant for Mother's House Publishing, sales trainer and performance coach, and author of three books, including Successful Selling Made Simple.

The public, especially current and wanna-be authors, are encouraged to attend.--The Publishing Pro.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

What I Learned from Publishing My Own Book

Part I: I wrote From Rome to Jerusalem: A Non-Jew on the Way because I had something to say, but I also wanted to use it as a laboratory of sorts. First of all, I wanted to learn if what I tell my clients makes sense, is useful, and works. Second, I wanted to use my book to test some services I had not experienced before. Here's what I have learned so far:

Build your Table of Contents before You Begin to Write: For years, I've advised authors to write from a coherent table of contents. It worked for me. I skipped around a bit, but a working table of contents enabled me to do that without getting confused. Having the structure in place before I began enabled me to know where I was and how far I had to go. The final table of contents was a bit different than the original, but 90 percent of it was what I started with.

Don't Get Hung up on Copy Editing your First Draft: I'm a notorious self editor, but I was able to drop my perfectionism and complete a credible if imperfect first draft fairly quickly.

Use a Blog to Get Early Feedback: I created a book blog to test the waters. The first thing I did was create a "Contents" page, which contained my (surprise) Table of Contents. Then I added the first draft of each chapter, one by one, to the main page and linked it to the Contents page. In this way, early readers could peruse the entire book. I didn't get as much feedback as I would have liked, but the structure worked great. I still like a blog, with pages added, as the starter website for many of my customers. A blog is free and it's easy for Do-It-Yourselfers. Once I published the book (on Smashwords), I unlinked the chapters (which were now two or three versions back) from the Contents page. The blog is still there, and I intend to use it for news and comment about the book.

Links on the Blog Version Were Counter-productive: The book needed a glossary. Because you can, I suppose, I linked the appropriate words on the text to the glossary. This seemed like a good idea at the time, but Smashwords advises not using too many links on ebooks, which meant I had to unlink the words from the glossary. My effort here was wasted. At least, I learned how to global de-link my files in Word. That was useful.

Smashwords Has a Good System: Smashwords seems to have its act together. The two books, the Smashwords Style Guide and The Smashwords Book Marketing Guide are invaluable. The latter is useful, even if you're not publishing with them. The downloads are free. I like their business model. They charge nothing for setup, taking a distribution instead. Some authors might prefer competitors who do the reverse, charging for setup but taking no distribution, but the Smashwords approach means they have a stake in helping authors sell their books. I like that.

Setup Takes Some Doing: Some people claim that setting up an ebook, especially in the ePub format, takes just a click. Not from what I've seen. It takes a bit of work, though the work is more in the nature of simplifying a file rather than making it more sophisticated. With that said, a DIYer can prepare files for Smashwords with the help of  the Smashwords Style Guide.

Planning Helps: With my current equipment, it appears that preparing a book for Smashwords first may be more efficient from an editing/production point of view than preparing a book for print first. This depends some on the book; books with complicated formatting may not be eligible for Smashwords at all. And it depends upon software. More recent versions of InDesign have a "export to digital editions" feature that makes it relatively easy, though not seamless, to move a book from print formatting to ePub formatting.

And that's what I know so far. More later. The Publishing Pro.

Monday, November 28, 2011

You're an Author? You're an Expert.

So do something about it: Join HARO (help-a-reporter-online), a free service that emails you summaries of what reporters are working on and what experts they want to interview.  They email a long list of summaries three times a day, so be prepared to clean your inbox. Also, make sure your service isn't treating the dispatches as Spam, as Gmail did for me. Thanks to The Smashwords Book Marketing Guide for the tip. Even if that's all that were the only tip in it, it would qualify as a "best buy." (It's a free download.)--The Publishing Pro..

Friday, November 04, 2011

Our Smashwords Experiment Continues.

From Rome to Jerusalem now available: Our test of Smashwords is moving right along. My memoir, From Rome to Jerusalem: A Non-Jew on the Way is now available from Smashwords for $9.95. You can also sample 20% of the book before buying (or not buying).

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Book Publishing Faced a Fork in the Road ...

... and went both ways: It is interesting to watch how eBooks are evolving. On one hand, eBooks are turning into multimedia items that soon will not resemble books at all. In fact, they won't be. Amazon's latest Kindle (Fire) has become more than a book reader. It is in fact a cheap competitor to the iPad with the ability to process a variety of entertainment and educational formats. Books now have a tendency to become, well, movies. On the other hand, the very complexity of migrating material into various eBook formats has led to entrepeneurial businesses like Smashwords and Bookbaby, which are making text-heavy files (read: books) almost stupidly easy to produce and distribute. Thus, there could be more text-heavy books--such as novels and non-fiction works with simple format--than there have ever been before. This is a continuing irony. Even as the traditional book business--with its traditional publishers, traditional printers, and traditional bookstore distribution--seems to be collapsing, more titles than ever are being published. That's all thanks to technology, both the tools that make professional preparation easier and the ones that make delivery of the content more efficient and less risky. If you've got a lot of nerve, this is a great time to be in publishing. The Publishing Pro, LLC

Monday, October 31, 2011

New Service Coming from The Publishing Pro

eBook Preparation for Publishing Pro will soon be helping authors prepare their books for, a publishing and distribution platform for eBooks. We have chosen to work with Smashwords, at least for the time being, because they have been in business since May 2008 (an eternity in this business) and because their publishing model allows you to build one file, a somewhat simplified Word file, that their software converts to usable files for the various eBook devices and platforms (iPhone, iPod Touch, Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble Nook, Sony Reader, among others). Having to format individual files for all of these outfits is a burden that only large publishers can tolerate.

The downside of Smashwords, and similar providers, is that the process works best for books with simple formats: novels or non-fiction books without graphics or complicated typography. Still, this covers quite a bit of territory.

In general, authors need to get used to the idea that they do not control how their eBooks appear to customers. That's because eBooks, with the exception of those in the PDF format, are more like websites than books in that appearances are determined more by the device and the user than by the author, publisher, or printer. (This is why printed books will still have their place.)

Smashwords does take a percentage of any sales, though a reasonable one., for example--take no percentage but make their money by charging authors for file preparation, corrections and changes, and other services. Both approaches have their advantages. For now, we prefer the Smashwords model because it gives authors more control, especially over the minor (and sometimes not so minor) fixes that they are prone to. It also forces Smashwords to care about your book sales; otherwise, they do not make any money. We rather like that.

At this point, we are completing two test projects: One is my memoir, From Rome to Jerusalem, and the other is Pathway to Freedom: Applying the Teachings of the Buddha by Lucinda Green, Ph.D. We expect to have those up and running this month. After that, we will begin guiding other authors through the initial account setup with Smashwords, much as we do with Createspace, and (when asked) handle the initial file preparation. Goal is to have most customers able to handle their own accounts. File preparation costs will be small, probably $75.00 for books with simple formats. The Publishing Pro.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

What Goes on the Back Cover?

Don't be shy: The first thing I like on a back cover is the author's bio and photo. Many authors resist this, I suppose for the same reason that many people resist having their picture taken at all. However, if you are writing a book, you need to ready to promote your brand. And guess what? You are the brand. What kind of photo? Well, it needs to be something that suits your brand. If your brand is formal, then your photo should be formal. If your brand is casual, then your photo should be casual. By the way, while some authors are resistant to the whole concept, some authors get it so well they put a photo of themselves on the front cover--and it works!

The second thing I like on the back cover is a selection of testimonials. These can be difficult to get before you even publish a book, but it is not impossible. You just need to start early and locate appropriate individuals who are willing to do this for you. A few rules of thumb.

  • Get as many as you can: You will only be able to use three to five on the back cover, but you can use additional testimonials inside the book, on your website, and in your promotional literature.
  • Professional diversity helps: Combine credentialed endorsers (PhDs, for example) with those who might represent your readers.
  • Geographical diversity helps: If you plan to identify endorsers by place, make sure they are not all from your hometown.
  • Get their comments in a letter or email: The Whole Earth Catalog, I believe it was, used to tell its readers not to think about "writing a review" but to just write down some comments in a letter. They got great reviews this way. Go and do likewise.
  • Get their permission: Send them the edited version of the testimonial you plan to use and get their permission to use it, even in email. Confirm the spelling of their names, title, and location.
  • Use names, if possible: Of course, this is preferable to anonymous testimonials. However, in the case of testimonials from children, it's common to identify them only by age or grade. The Publishing Pro.

What's Most Important about Your Cover?

It may not be the image: Many rookie authors, not to mention graphic designers, think the most important element of a cover design is the image. The more clever and complicated the better. (And, not coincidentally, the more expensive.) A cover photo or illustration is important, even essential, to some covers. In this category, I think of Romance novels that rely on bodice-ripping illustrations to get the buyer's adrenalin going.

Nevertheless, in my world, an illustration is rarely required and almost never the most important element on the cover. What is? It could be the title, the subtitle, or the byline.

  • The byline: If you're a famous author, the smart publisher will make your name the biggest, brightest, and easiest-to-read element on the cover. If you're not, skip to the next item.
  • The title and byline: These two items dance together. If your title is sufficiently descriptive, it should dwarf anything else on the page. If your title needs help from a subtitle to describe who the book is for and what it will do for them, the title should remain the largest element (otherwise, booksellers and buyers may become confused about the actual title), but the subtitle should gain more prominence and perhaps pride of place at the top of the cover. If your title and subtitle are particularly strong, and they should be, your publisher may opt for a "type solution"; that is, no image at all. Before you write off this approach as boring, go into a bookstore (if you can find one these days) and check out all the mass market paperbacks and note the simplicity of the cover designs. They are mostly type solutions; most of the type is big and blocky and all caps. And then remind yourself that these are the books that sell the most.
Whether you use and image or not, your title and subtitle (or byline, if that is the most important) needs to be easy to read from ten feet away or as a thumbnail on a computer screen. Over-illustrated covers can be impossible to decipher from a distance or in miniature.

Cover images, along with backgrounds and color schemes, are secondary elements that essentially create the right environment for the most important elements: your title, subtitle, or byline.--The Publishing Pro.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Does Your Book Proposal Have Curb Appeal?

It better have: I just read a post on that suggested prospective home buyers form an opinion on a home in 15 seconds--before they even go inside. That's the power of curb appeal. Your book proposal needs "curb appeal" as well. That's why I recommend concise on-the-point proposals. You have 15 seconds to impress an editor. Think you have more? Think again. The Publishing Pro.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Before You Write Your Memoir ...

... think twice: Memoirs are wonderful. They aren't the easiest books in the world to sell, but everyone should write one. Okay, almost everyone, but mostly everyone, sometime. If you have been thinking about writing a memoir, here are some questions to ask yourself.
  • Is it the right time? There is a right time. If you're too old or frail to put pen to paper or to promote your finished book, it may be too late. If the subject matter is too fresh in your mind--if you have too many resentments, too many scores to settle--it may be time to put your memories in a journal but too early to put them in a book meant for the public. Memoirs are not for the young, the young being those who haven't live long enough to make peace with themselves and the others in their lives. I recall a workshop in which a psychologist--I can't remember his name--pointing out that people do not fully mature until they work out their "parent stuff." Everyone has parent stuff, no matter how good their parents were, and it doesn't usually get worked out until the thirties (and then only if you're particularly precocious). Until it happens, you're probably not ready to write your memoir.
  • Is it too much? It doesn't have to be. One of the mistakes people make is trying to do too much in a memoir. When you're 85 and set off to tell the story of you're entire life, you could easily wind up with a 1,000 page book, which may be too expensive to put together and too intimidating for anybody to read. Good memoirs have a focus--something besides "my entire life." Mine, From Rome to Jerusalem, is about a religious transition that took a lifetime. Someone else could write a memoir about a specific time in their lives: their war experiences, their career, their struggle with breast cancer, and so on. Another format that works well for families is a compendium of stories. A bonus is that the order of the stories is not critical.  They don't even need to be chronological, which tends to make the project easier to write and complete. Another terrific memoir, especially to pass on to your descendants, is the equivalent of an "ethical will." Such a memoir would be organized around specific traits or values you find important instead of a chronological walk through your life. The other decision you could--and should, I would argue--make is to write a memoir of a specific length. I like 50,000 words because it produces a book of around 160 pages, which is long enough to be taken seriously and short enough to be inviting.
  • How do I treat the people in my life? Good question, one you'll have to resolve. When I wrote my memoir, I kept going back to the idea that this was my story. This helped me keep the focus on my feelings, my thoughts, and my behavior rather than that of my family, friends, and colleagues. Realizing I could damage someone's reputation by writing the truth as well as an untruth, I watched what I wrote (keeping in mind that this was, again, my story) and then shielded the identity of most characters as an added protection.  The Publishing Pro.

Marketing Tip: Write Articles

It will build your brand: One of the things you can do to promote your book is to write articles for blogs, newsletters, and magazines. Here are my suggestions for making this strategy work for you:
  • Focus on  your core market first. Let's say you have written a book about your hobby, building model railroads. Instead of contacting general interest magazines, or large circulation magazines, or good paying magazines, you should contact organizations, groups, and publications with a specific interest in model railroads. The size of their circulation and the absence of any payment are less important than their focus on your market.
  • Send proposals, not articles. Don't send completed articles. In most cases, you'll be wasting your time. Instead, send short proposals that include a working title, a brief summary of what you want to write and what it will do for their readers, and some information about yourself (including, of course, the fact that you are the author of a related book.) If you are corresponding by snail mail, include a self-addressed stamped envelope. If the editor is interested, she will tell you how long to make the article and how to adapt it for her audience.
  • Build your brand. When you write these articles, you're not promoting your book so much as building your brand. In fact, talking too much or too directly about your book probably won't work, even if it is possible. The editor might decide to work with you because you have written a book on a related subject, but probably the most you'll get is a mention of the book in your bio. However, writing this article will build your credibility, which will help you get more assignments and help your book sales down the road.
  • Propose articles related to your book subject. To gain any benefit for your book, you must propose articles related to the subject of your book. However, they do not need to be excerpts from your book or even closely related. They could be variations from a related workshop you are doing--or would like to do.
  • Put it on your blog. If you must write articles before you get an assignment, put them on your own blog. If you land an assignment based on one of your blog articles, make sure you inform your editor before pursuing the assignment. The Publishing Pro

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Make Sure the Price Is Right.

Most authors guess too low: This scenario is all too common. I have a fair amount of success getting authors to hit what I call the optimum book size, at least when I meet with them early in the process. As I said in an earlier post, one template is the 160-page small format book. Not only is it a Goldilocks size for most readers ("not too big, not too small ... just right"), the numbers work. You can set a retail price at $20.00 and make money, even if you do a little discounting.

But now the trouble comes. As we near publication, my author goes into Barnes and Noble, sees the same size book selling for much less, and announces "I've decided to set my retail price at $12.95."

Sigh. So I go through the drill.

You are not competing with bookstore books: The books in those stores are printed in mass quantities, thousands at a time. Your book is printed maybe 25 copies at a time. You cannot compete with them on price. If you listened to what I told you, you are not in Barnes and Noble. You know it is dangerous. You know it is unlikely you will sell any books there--and if you do, you will lose money.

You do not price books by weight: I know your book looks like it is less valuable than that 600-page tome you saw selling on the Barnes and Noble remainder table for $5.95. That book is on the remainder table because nobody wanted to read it, never mind that Random House published it. You do not price books by weight. If Intel priced computer chips by weight, they would sell a million of them for the price of a bag of sugar.

You price books based on what you can do for your reader. Sure, there will be price resistance at some level for you book, but yours will save your readers thousands when they buy a used car. Are you telling me it is not worth $20.00?

Your retail price reveals what you think your book is worth: If you set your retail price at $13.95, your buyers will think they got a $13.95 value. If you set your retail price at $20.00, your buyers will think they got a $20.00 value.

You discount from your retail price, but set your retail price at the right value: Your retail price allows you to give wholesale discounts that work financially. (If you set your retail price too low, you might well lose money selling to booksellers.) Your retail price also allows you to set retail discounts that work psychologically. Consider: If you set your retail price so low that you cannot discount it anymore and your customer buys the book for $13.95, she will think she got a $13.95 value. If you set your retail price at a comfortable $20.00 and the customer buys the book at a discounted $13.95, she will think she bought a $20.00 book and saved $6.05. 

The mathematics are obvious. The psychology of authoring is a harder nut to crack. The Publishing Pro. 


Plan for the Right Trim Size and Book Length.

Size Matters: I like to meet with (potential) customers before they sit down to write. When I don't, they often show up with a manuscript that is the wrong size. Yes, there is a wrong size. While it is true that sometimes a book needs to be as long as it needs to be, as some might say, more often authors deliver the wrong size manuscript because they failed to plan.

What is the wrong size? It's a size that is not right for your readers, your purpose, or your budget. (For simplicity sake, I'm your project does not involve a color interior. That's an added complication.)

Your readers: There is an optimum size for your readers, whether they are children, teens, or adults. If there are too many words, they might not pick up your book at all. If they do, they might not finish it. If there are not enough words, your readers might not take your work seriously.

Your purpose:  Here's where trim size gets important. If your book consists entirely of words, you can plan for a smaller trim size than you would want if your work was heavily dependent upon images.

Your budget: I put this third, but it's essential for everyone who is not independently wealthy.The optimum size is the one that enables you to make money on every sale. Your unit printing cost, which in the print-on-demand world is determined by trim size and number of pages, must be such that you can comfortably set your retail price at five times your unit printing cost. If your book is too long, your unit printing cost will be too high and you won't be able to set a high enough retail price to do business.

For a ballpark idea of what I'm talking about, let's say you are planning a non-fiction words-only book for adults. Therefore, all things being equal, I would advise you to produce a manuscript of approximately 50,000 words, which will fit into a 160-page book in a small format (5.5"x8.5", typically). This book will cost you less than $4.00, including shipping at CreateSpace, a unit cost that will enable you to set a retail price of $20.00.

As I said, this is ballpark. The small format 160-page model is not right for every book, but the principle is. There is an optimum size for your book. With a little planning, you can come in right on the money. The Publishing Pro.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Work for Hire: Use a Legal Template?

It depends: After I advised an author to put her arrangement with her illustrator in writing, she asked me if she should pay for a legal firm's work-for-hire contract template. If you asked me this question, my answer would be the same as the one I gave her: "It depends."

If you're looking for maximum legal protection, pay for and use the template. The downside is that resulting document could be offputting and confusing to your illustrator. It is, after all, written in legalese. So ...

If you're just looking to clarify your arrangement with your illustrator, you might want to write a "memorandum of agreement" in plain English. This won't provide you as much legal protection as the legal template, but it is a written agreement that a court would consider, and it might be a friendlier way of dealing with your illustrator.

What you do want to do is cover the bases, specifying that you are commissioning such-and-such a work product from your illustrator for such-and-such a compensation, in return for which the illustrator will surrender all rights to the created work.

What you don't want to do is nothing (and a verbal agreement with a handshake isn't much better than nothing), even and especially if your illustrator is a relative (as is the case for the person who asked me this question,).--The Publishing Pro.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Questions Could Be Your Marketing Answer.

Why Not? James Schneiter, author of The Last Quarter: A Middle School Story, has posted a list of interesting questions about his book on his website. He did them as what I would call "teaser questions," intended to intrigue the website visitor enough to buy or at least sample the book. This is a smart technique and reminded me that there are at least two other ways to use questions to promote your book.

  • Discussion Questions: If you expect your book to get picked up by neighborhood book clubs or classroom teachers, you better have a set of discussion questions available. Put them on your website. Point to them in the back of your book. Note in your publicity that "discussion questions are available."
  • Interview Questions: If you want to get interviewed, prepare a set of interview questions. Talk show hosts, especially on the radio, need good interview subjects but they rarely have time to read books. If you get them a set of twenty questions, you'll have a much better chance of getting that interview (not to mention being prepared to answer the questions).

Teaser questions. Discussion questions. Interview questions. Why not do all three?--The Publishing Pro.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Use a Blog to Beta Test Your Book.

It's easy: I've been trying to sell would-be and existing book authors on using blogs for years. You can use a blog in a variety of ways as an author. 
  • You can build an audience on your chosen topic before you officially publish. 
  • You can test out characters, concepts, approaches, and ideas before committing them between book covers. 
  • You can share chapter drafts with your friends, family, and fans--and get the bugs out.
I'm trying the last approach with my new memoir. Using my blogging tool's ability to create pages, I've set up a "Contents" page that will allow visitors to step through the book chapter by chapter if they want and make whatever comments they'd like. Within reason. If they're inappropriate--perhaps selling real estate instead of saying anything relevant to the topic--they'll get bounced. Other than that, I'm expecting a little help in eliminating typos, booboos, memory errors and the like. Check out From Rome to Jerusalem. See you there. The Publishing Pro.

How Do You Price Your Ebook?

Nobody knows ... yet: With printed books, publishers generally used a multiple of either printing costs or preparation/printing costs. The multiple varied--and some books could naturally carry a higher price than others--but the idea was to have a price that took into consideration the preparation/manufacturing costs and provided a cushion for necessary discounting.

Ebooks have thrown the industry into a tizzy. Because there is no manufacturing cost, the idea of a multiple based on that is out the window. And what is the per book cost anyway? Nothing? Or next to nothing? So do you sell the books for free?

Apparently, some authors think so. Especially, new fiction authors. It's common for them to sell their "books" for 99 cents. Does this work? It doesn't make sense to me, but some authors swear by it.

Let's step back and think about this for a minute.

First, is an Ebook worth less than a printed book? On the face of it, why should it be? If the content is the same, shouldn't it have the same value? Well, the answer is a little more complicated than it appears to be. For example, some Ebooks have a poorer content, thanks to the inability in some cases to carry images the way a book can or to carry any images at all. On the other hand, some Ebooks have a richer content, thanks to the ability in some cases to carry sound, video, widgets, and links between words, phrases, and images. In this case, the searchable and more entertaining Ebook ought to be worth more. So why should an Ebook cost less than a printed book--just because it's an Ebook.

Second, what is your book worth? Is it really worth only 99 cents? If someone buys your book for 99 cents, what are they going to think it's worth--besides 99 cents?

Third, what are other people charging for their books? I'm just going to ignore this one, because other people don't know what they are doing, at least the ones charging 99 cents for their books. They might as well be selling pencils on a street corner.

Here's what I suggest.

If you have a printed version of your book, charge no less than 50% for your Ebook version than for your printed version. You don't have to cover printing costs, but you need to be wary of underpricing your work. If you have the courage, charge only 25% less. If your Ebook has much more to it than the printed book--additional media and features to the point where it's not really a book any more--all bets are off. You could charge more for it, but you probably won't. I'd just like to see you try. The Publishing Pro, LLC.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Now You Can Get Reasonable Book Fulfillment ...

... with one downside: Many of our customers are not in a place where they can fulfill their own book orders. They don't have the time, the desire, or the physical capacity to run back and forth to the post office. We've wanted an inexpensive solution for them for a long time--and we didn't have one. Until now., which we have begun to use for customers, has an "eStore" option. Their eStore option is not to be confused with the "bookstore" common to most print-on-demand vendors. This one allows you to sell your book from your own website but have the order fulfilled by CreateSpace. They collect the money, print the book, ship it out and return about two thirds of your selling price to you. (Considering that they print the book, this is a good deal and much more attractive financially than what you can get from a traditional fulfillment house.)

The downside? You don't get the customer contact data. If this is important, and it should be if you're looking at your book customer as a potential repeat customer, you're better off taking orders on your website with the help of a PayPal account and somebody's footwork to the post office. The Publishing Pro.

Printing Prep: It's Complicated ...

... Sometimes: Maybe even usually. Printing has always been a field of landmines, especially for those unfamiliar with the territory. In the "old days"--maybe fifty years ago--the industry was fairly stable but staffed, by and large, by journeyman typographers and pressmen who needed significant training to do their jobs. On the other end, publishers and editors were professional middlemen between the printers and authors. Beginning in the fifties, things began to change, slowly at first.

Printing technology began to change from the centuries old "hot type" systems (so named for the way in which type was created out of molten lead) to "cold type" systems that created type on paper and film. The upshot was that you didn't need a four-year apprenticeship to engage in sophisticated in printing. You still needed talent and training, but parts of the process began to be handed over to publishers and editors.

With the advent of computers and phototypesetters, editors (or production staff within publishing houses) could create their own pages of type, paste them up the way they wanted them, correct them as needed and send them off to the printer, where the pages would be turned into negatives, set into forms, and installed on offset presses.

Adobe's development of the Portable Document Format (PDF) has enabled editors and publishers to bypass the pasteup process entirely, giving them more control of the process. Even amateurs, using common programs like Microsoft Word and PDF creators less expensive than Adobe Acrobat, can create printable documents, albeit with less precision and more difficulties.

Digital printing, basically copyprinting, has made short-run and on-demand printing both possible and economical for many publishing applications, including authors publishing their own books. (Traditional printing methods require much waste in the "makeready" phase of the process, which makes printing of 100 books, never mind a single copy, uneconomical.)

Add to that, the reality of people now doing much of their reading--of websites, books, or magazine--on electronic devises and we have seen a revolution in printing and publishing in our own lifetimes.

However, I have seen something like a circling back to "expertise" in the very recent future. Digital printers, a key instrument of publishing access to DIYers, are becoming more demanding in what they expect from publishers (be they "traditional" or "self"). The interface between author/publisher and printer, which had been becoming easier, is showing signs of becoming more difficult. The process increasing requires upgrades in hardware (to the latest operating system), software (to the latest publishing and PDF creation software, which will run on new operating systems and meet printer's and/or electronic distribution standards), and the ability to keep up with accelerating developments in both printing and electronic publishing technology.

This may or may not be a conspiracy of sorts between the makers of operating systems, the makers of publishing software, and printers and distributors.

But it does seem to be a fact. --The Publishing Pro