Business Cards and Bookmarks

Not too long after my most recent book Snake came out, I designed and ordered my first set of business cards, which arrived in the mail not too long afterwards. The pictures below show both the front and the back of the business cards. (I’m sorry if the photos are blurry; my camera’s old, so sometimes getting a close-up on something blurs the shot).

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business card 2

I received 250 cards, which I’ve been giving out to anyone I think might be interested. I like to think that they’ve helped boost sales a tiny bit, because I’ve had a few sales since I got them (though I doubt the download from the UK has much to do with the business cards). I thought that since my business cards were doing so well, I’d write an article about designing and ordering your own cards to promote your writing. I also plan to include bookmarks in this article, as the places that print business cards also usually print bookmarks if you ask them to.

This brings me to my first point:

1. Find out what your local options are. Some of you may have local print shops who can create your cards and bookmarks for you. It’s sometimes easier to do local anyway, because you can go and pick them up yourself and work with the people at the shop. However, if it’s an independent print shop, the prices might be a little more expensive, so make sure to compare prices before choosing a place to print your cards or bookmarks. Staples and Kinko’s also make some very good cards, and their prices are usually a little more competitive. And if there’s nothing in your area, you can always go online. I got my cards off of VistaPrint, and they did a very good job for a good price, if you ask me, and they make a whole bunch of other products besides business cards and bookmarks.

2. Choose a design that fits you. A business card or bookmark should have the same sort of feel as the work you write, rather than just being a plan white piece of paper or having a picture of a bunch of books on a shelf. Think of it as selecting a cover for your book: you want it to reflect the tone, atmosphere, and characters of the story. So let your bookmarks and business cards reflect what you write. If you are a sci-fi writer, maybe you should do something with aliens or machines. If you do romance, maybe something with hearts and different hues of red and pink. Whatever it is, make sure it works.

3. Make sure all relevant information is on your cards. Name, blog address, Facebook page, Twitter handle, YouTube channel, Reddit username. If you got it, make sure it’s on the card somewhere. If you have an email where fans can reach you, or even a phone number if you’re comfortable with it, include that too (if you have or have had or think you might have obsessed fans, I’d avoid the phone number though). And if there’s room, include the names of some or all of your books. If you have too many to fit on a single card, include maybe the most recent ones, or the most popular ones. And that brings me to my next point:

4. Update as soon as there’s something to update. Got a new book out? Or maybe you’ve started a new page on a new social media platform? Time to start a new card. Yes, it’s a little bit of a hassle, but in the end, it’s a little less annoying than having to say “Oh by the way, I also recently started a page on so-and-so website/published a new book called this-and-that.” And having it on the card helps to keep it in mind for the person you give said card to. Updating them regularly also gives you the chance to try different designs and configurations for your cards (when I update them, I want to customize mine to have one of my photos from the Paris Catacombs on them. I think that’ll be very fun to do, as well as give people an idea of what sort of stories I tend to write).

5. Include a quote or something about yourself as well. On my business cards, I have a short, two-sentence paragraph describing the sort of stories I write. Doing quotes on bookmarks are especially effective, especially if the bookmark is being used to promote a new book. However, should you pick a quote, make sure it is a particularly powerful one that will entice the reader to actually check out the rest of the book. Just putting any old quote on that bookmark just doesn’t do the trick like a quote that is full of mystery and only offers a small peek into the whole story.

6. Finally, be frugal and generous with your cards and bookmarks. What this means is that you should try to give them out to as many people as you can, but try to make sure to give them to people you think would really want to read your books. It’s not an easy thing to do at first–you want to let anyone and everyone know about your work, and you never know who might be a reader–but you get good at it after a while. I learned how to do it while trying to get people interested in my meditation group at the Asian Festival last year (though that’s a story for another time).

Do you have business cards for your writing? Have they been effective?

What advice do you have on making and designing business cards?

Taglines

“A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…”

“In space, nobody can hear you scream.”

“Who you gonna call?”

Hopefully not the grammar police. Especially not for that last one. That’s a class-A spelling felony.

The statements above are recognizable to plenty of fans of science fiction and comedy-horror. They are the taglines for famous franchises: Star Wars, Alien, and Ghostbusters. And just saying them brings to mind billions of images, along with associations with and overwhelming emotions of heroism, friendship, screwball comedy, terror beyond imagination, and the possibility that anything is possible.

Based on all that, one could say that taglines are a great promotional tool. and if you aren’t lucky enough to have a publicist, coming up with the tagline for your novel or other creative work usually falls to the author. And it’s important to come up with a great, memorable tagline for your story. Doing so accomplishes two things.

  1. Before the book is even read, it intrigues the reader enough to find out more. Hopefully their investigation to find out more means they’ll ultimately read your book.
  2. After the book is read, the tagline (hopefully) evokes memories of flipping through the pages, wanting to know what happens next; of heroics and romance and terror and joy and characters so vivid, you’d swear they were real.

So with that goal in mind, here are some tips to creating a great tagline that will (hopefully) pull in more readers and create great associations with the book for the fans. And if nobody objects, I’ll use the tagline for my upcoming novel Snake: “How far will you go for love and revenge?”

Short, simple statements are the best. The tagline for Snake, as well as the ones I used at the beginning of the article, are all one sentence. This works to the advantage of the book, because it is easy to remember and easy to repeat. And if it’s easy to remember and easy to repeat, it’ll be more likely to be remembered and repeated. Look no further than “Who you gonna call?” for proof.

The statement evokes something in the mind of a reader. When I was writing the back cover blurb and the tagline for Snake, I wanted it to at least get potential readers interested. However, a novel where the serial killer is the main character can be…a little frightening. Somewhat off-putting. I wanted to emphasize that the main character had good intentions, even if his methods were reprehensible. So I asked myself what would I want to emphasize about the Snake in just a single statement? Well, he’s doing what he not out of any awful desires for murder. He’s doing it to save the love of his life, as well as get revenge on the ones who kidnapped her. How can I use that? Well…maybe I can phrase it as a question.

It worked. “How far will you go for love and revenge?” struck me as thought-provoking. It makes you think, “Well, I might go so far. Is the novel about someone who will go farther?” It’s why it’s the first sentence in the back cover blurb, the first image you see in the book trailer I created for it, and what I’ve been using in most of the advertising I’ve done for Snake. Hopefully it entices a few people to read it.

Get a feel for taglines. Most of all, one has to get a feel for taglines, see what works and what doesn’t work. What taglines make you excited, scared, weepy? What just make you feel disappointed? Ultimately, coming up with a tagline, just like creating a story and everything else in the business of writing and publishing, is taking in the work of those before us, and practicing and practicing until you get a feel for what works for you.

Now, you don’t need to have a tagline for your novel. As far as I’m aware, Harry Potter, anything by Stephen King, and the Bible never needed taglines. Their names and authors are enough to get their stories to millions and millions of people. But taglines are helpful. They’re great marketing tools and in some cases they can become a part of our culture and part of our fondest memories (ask any Trekkie about the phrase “Boldly go where no one’s gone before”). And the best part of being a self-published author is that you, as the author, get to create your very own tagline.

What is your favorite tagline? What are some you’ve created for your own stories?

Some Tips For WattPad Users

I’ve been using WattPad for the past couple of weeks, and I thought that an article about it would be fun to write. Also, I found out this blog doesn’t have an article on WattPad yet, so I thought I’d break the ground and do a piece on it.

Throughout this article, I will try to give some sound advice on using WattPad and possibly getting some success through it. If any WattPad users have any additional tips they would like to…well, add in, please let us know. I’ll do a follow-up article with your words of wisdom.

So, first things first: What is WattPad? WattPad is a website where writers can upload and share stories with the public. It’s been in operation since 2006 and it’s been nicknamed the YouTube of storytelling. Writers can upload stories, gain feedback, create covers, and enter contests with their short stories or novels.

What sort of work is published on WattPad? Just about anything is published on WattPad. Novels, novellas, short stories, poems, non-fiction pieces, of all types and genres. Science fiction, fantasy, and YA stories tend to be the most popular, with horror and romance in a close second. There’s also a sizable amount of erotic fiction on the site, though I haven’t personally browsed that in any great detail. And technically erotica isn’t allowed on the website, but I won’t tell if you won’t.

Is it possible to get success through WattPad? Depends on what you mean by success. It is possible to spread your work to other writers and readers, maybe get feedback, and learn something from other writers by both reading and being read. And it is also possible to get the success that every author only dreams about (there’s an example of that in a recent issue of TIME magazine), but like anything in fiction, that is very hard to achieve and what can cause it is very difficult to predict.

How do you spread your work through WattPad? Tags and categorizing your work is very important, because it allows people with similar interests to search out and find your stories (and on that note, make sure to also rate your short stories appropriately. At the very least, an R-rating might deter some nine-year-old from reading a wildly inappropriate story). Also, networking with other authors, commenting on their stories, and even recommending works to authors you make friends with can be very helpful.

What are some ways to keep your readers interested in your work? Besides having interesting work, there are a couple of ways. One is to post frequently new stories or updates. Another is to post a novel on the site, but to do it in serial form. Posting new chapters on a regular basis keeps our readership up and it keeps them wanting to know more (especially if you end every chapter on a cliffhanger).

Should one copyright their work before posting? Well, that depends. Copyrights cost money and take time to process, so if you don’t mind waiting and shelling out money for the fees, then by all means get copyrights. At the very least, you should get copyrights for novels or for works you plan to sell in the future, and do it before you post it on WattPad.

I should also mention that WattPad allows users to post whether a story is copyrighted or not, so take advantage of that when you post a story. It could be seriously helpful.

If you publish a story on WattPad, can you put it on your resume as a publication? Again, that depends. This is a website where anyone can upload a story, so whether or not you want to include uploading stories onto an author’s YouTube on your resume is up to you. Some authors are comfortable, some aren’t. I know a few of both. If you are comfortable with it though, then only do it for stories that you’ve never published before in any way, shape, or form. And if you’re shopping for a publisher, definitely don’t do it!

What are these contests through WattPad you mentioned earlier? Wattpad holds a number of contests throughout the year. Most are small, but there are some big ones, including the Wattys, which are held once a year, and the Attys, which are for poetry and were started by author Margaret Atwood (yeah, she’s on the site. How cool is that?). The contests are open to all users with a WattPad account and who follow the rules of those contests.

If you are a regular WattPad user and have any other tips you’d like to mention, then please let us know. If I get enough tips, I’ll do a follow-up article on the subject with your tips in it.

CreateSpace’s New Distribution Options: Pros and Cons

Recently, CreateSpace added several new free distribution options to their distribution channels. This includes distribution to bookstores like Barnes & Noble and your local bookshop, academic institutions and libraries, and to CreateSpace Direct. These options, once available only to authors who were able to afford them, are now available to self-published authors with all sorts of incomes, writing styles, and fan followings.

Now there are definite perks to doing this. Authors would love more readers, and if they are able to reach readers in places previously unavailable to them due to monetary concerns, this can only be good for them. And bookstores, which have been suffering with the rise of the e-book and online distributors, will probably benefit being able to cater to the fans of authors whose works were before only available on certain online retailers. In a way, it’s a symbiotic relationship, both for authors and booksellers.

Not only that, but the books of self-published authors are sometimes rejected by libraries and academic institutions because they are self-publsihed in the first place, or their self-published status means that the books don’t come from certain distributors. If authors are able to get their works into libraries, that means people who don’t own e-readers or who can’t afford to buy books online can now read the books of self-published authors through this new distribution system.

And, using the expanded distribution channels means a potentially higher royalty rate for every copy sold.

However, there are drawbacks to this. Amazon, which owns CreateSpace and it’s print-on-demand services, determines minimum prices for all works published through them. They calculate these minimum prices by determining the length of the book, how much it’ll cost to print, how much they get from the sale of the book, and how much they need to give the author. Recently when I published my novel Reborn City, I saw that the minimum price they gave me was a little less than nine dollars, much higher than I’d expected. I wasn’t happy about it, but I decided to go with it and make the best of it.

When today I decided to try these expanded distribution options on RC, I found out that in order to use these expanded distribution channels, the list price would go up to at least thirteen dollars. In other words, the increase didn’t cost anything for the author, but it did cost extra for the reader.

I decided not to take these extra distribution channels because of the price hike it’d require. Some of my friends and family would not be able to afford a paperback copy because of a list price, or they’d be much more reluctant to buy it because is it not  their genre in addition to being over thirteen dollars. Plus, I’m the kind of guy who doesn’t want to make people pay too much for his work more than he wants them to actually read his work. Terrible character flaw, I know, but I live with it.

However that’s my own personal choice. If you wish to, go right ahead and sign up for these new channels. It’s your choice, which as I’ve said before is one of the best perks of self-pbulishing.

And who knows? You could see your sales go up dramatically, and your fanbase expand like a hot-air balloon. Not to mention the joy of telling friends and family that your work is now available in bookstores and libraries.  That’s always something to make you feel good. And for some books, the increase in the list price might not be too high, so if you have my problem with pricing books too high, it may not be so bad after all. I might still use these channels for my collection of short stories, which is already very low-priced.

What do you think of these new distribution options? Are you planning on use them? If so, why or why not?

*Note: Since this post’s publication, I’ve had a change of heart and I’ve decided to try distributing my books through these new channels in the hope of reaching more readers. Whether or not I’m successful, we shall see. Wish me luck, as well as everyone else using these options for the first time.

An Interview With Matthew Williams: A Science Fiction Writer’s Perspective on Self-Publishing

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Matthew Williams is the author of several science fiction novels, including Source, Data Miners, and the riveting zombie thriller Whiskey Delta, all of which are self-published. I recently had an email exchange with Matt to discuss his views on self-publishing and his own experiences with this radical new form of publishing.

Rami Ungar: Matt, why did you decide to go into self-publishing?

Matthew Williams: It was a mentor of mine, Mr. Fraser Cain – creator and publisher of Universe Today – who first got me interested. For years, I had been writing and seeking a book deal, but all in vain. It seemed that publishing houses were taking less and less chances on new manuscripts and would always respond (when they responded at all) with form letters saying what my writing was “not what they were looking for.”

Mr. Cain was the one who told me that this was to be expected in this day and age, where new media and indie writing was making the traditional publishing route a thing of the past. It was a paradox, to be sure, and I understood what he meant. On the one hand, it was harder to get published because of self-publishing and new media. On the other hand, these same phenomena were offering opportunities for authors that were never before available.

After speaking about it a few times, I came to see the wisdom in what he was saying. By becoming an indie and using all the tools that were at my disposal, I could bring my message directly to an audience without the approval of the “gatekeepers” – i.e. a publishing house. This meant I would have to do all the legwork, but it would also mean I would reap all the rewards. On top of that, it would get me out of the slump I found myself in, waiting for others to recognize me and give my work its big break. This way, I could make that break happen for myself.

RU: What was your first step when you decided to self-publish?

MW: Well, the first step was finding a press where I could get my books into a readable, buyable format. I already had some experience with Print-On-Demand and did not want to repeat that, seeing as how that route requires you to shell out a chunk of money in return for basic services that do not guarantee any sales. What’s more, there are renewal fees and the price for an individual book can be prohibitively high. But after talking it over with Fraser and a few other people who are experienced on the subject, I learned of Kindle Direct Publishing, Smashwords, Lulu, Createspace and a host of other services where you can do publish your books independently and have a far greater degree of control over the process. I shopped around and experimented for a bit, but finally found a combination I liked that allowed me to publish ebooks and paperbacks and get them to a wide audience.

RU: You have several titles out now, including the widely reviewed Whiskey Delta. After so many books, do you feel like a pro at putting together your own books and publishing them?

MW: To be honest, no. Sure, I sometimes feel like I have a lot to share whenever I’m giving advice to people who are completely new to the indie writing game. But there is always someone more experienced, as well as new and humbling experiences that make you realize you’ve still got a lot to learn. I imagine that at some point, I’ll feel like I’ve got things down pat. Perhaps when I’m moving enough books that I can dedicate myself to writing full time, or have several titles that are all making an impression. But for now, I still feel like I’m relatively new to this business and toiling in relative anonymity.

RU: What are some techniques you use to spread the word about your books?

MW: Well, there are plenty of ways. Social media presents plenty of opportunities for new authors to get the word out and online writing groups are also effective at times. These include groups like Authonomy, Wattpad, and services like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. And of course, it’s crucial to have a website that presents followers with updates and insight into your ideas, process, and inspirations. And the most important thing is to make sure that they are all linked, so that any and all updates can be shared across multiple forums, and potential fans are given every opportunity to see where your books can be bought.

RU: Potential fans? So that means you have some sort of fanbase. What’s that like?

MW: Ha, yeah it’s nice. It’s a modest following, but from what I can tell, some people seem to enjoy what I have to offer. It does bolster your efforts, I’ve noticed. Hearing that people like your work and are willing to pay you regular compliments really does make you feel good and spurs on your creative efforts. But it also makes you aware of the fact that now there are people out there whose approval you want to keep. When you’re starting out, the only person you want to please is yourself. So in a way, having a fan base can take away some of your creative freedom. But no artist wants to toil away in anonymity forever!

RU: Yeah, that’s true. Now here’s a question that burns in every self-published author’s mind: if a traditional publishing company offered you a contract, what would be your reaction?

MW: That is a good question, and one I’ve struggled with of late. On the one hand, I would be losing some of the freedom I have right now if I signed a deal. On the other, a publisher could offer me promotional and editorial services I don’t currently enjoy. And in the end, any indie writer has to consider whether or not they would be willing to compromise on their independence for the sake of a comfy contract. I guess it would all depend on what they could offer and if the price was right.

RU: How do you see the publishing industry as it stands today?

MW: I guess the best way to look at it would be as a shrinking community. The gatekeeper gets to decide who comes in, and membership has its privileges. But the community is shrinking and its resources are diminishing. So they’re naturally letting fewer and fewer people in and, if I may say so, lowering their standards. At some point, the community is likely to be gone altogether, though I imagine that will take some time.

RU: That sounds rather apocalyptic, in a way. My final question is what would you say to someone who is considering self-publishing and you wanted to encourage them to try it?

MW: I’d most likely say, “Good for you, because that’s the way to go these days. Most people want to be discovered, to be given a big break, but that’s rarely the case anymore. This way, you can make a name for yourself and make your own breaks happen. It might take longer, and it will all be on you – so prepare to work hard – but the rewards will be yours as well. And if it’s what you love, it will well be worth it. Nothing compares to the feeling of seeing your writing in print and knowing that people are reading and enjoying it.”

Matthew Williams books are available in both digital and print formats on Amazon, Lulu, and other distributors. You can also read his work and receive the latest updates in science, science fiction, and geekdom from his blog, Stories by Williams.

Guest Post: Why I went Indie by Lenore Skomal

I am Indie. And I say it proudly and with gusto because I chose it. Perhaps that makes me different from other Indie authors who find themselves pushed into the Indie way because of a general lack of response from the profit-driven, long-suffering commercial publishing industry, which has been reduced to a passel of lost sheepherders trying lead their readers without direction or vision. But that’s another blog post.

A little back story: I started writing books in 2001, following a long career as a broadcast reporter and a burgeoning career in print journalism. It is a career that took me four decades to finally get to. That first book (Keeper of Lime Rock, Running Press, 2001) spawned 16 other book deals with four separate publishing houses. I have hired and parted ways with two literary agents during the course of that time. And learned a lot about the industry in the process, much of which is not pretty or glamorous. Not counting advances, the conventional route of being published through a commercial publisher has, to date, netted me exactly zero dollars in royalties.

The lack of financial success isn’t the real reason I went Indie. That goes much deeper, and it’s multifold. Indie appeals to me. I chose the Indie way of life because it speaks to me and how I have come to approach my life in the broadest of terms, and my art in specific. While working within the traditional publishing hierarchy and producing mostly contracted books, I found myself in a lesser place, wrangling with base emotions. Rather than feeling exalted and amped up like I do when I am dancing with my muse and creating tapestries with my words, I was ugly. That lack of beauty was obvious through my moods and rash feelings of disgruntlement, frustration, shock, sadness, disheartenment and yearning. Always yearning.

My mind shifted from the creative to the competitive. And with that, my higher path dropped to the lowest of roads. I found myself bitter about other’s successes, jealous of those I considered lesser writers who had moved ahead, and greedy for my piece of the pie. This is not what being in the flow is about. I began to look at success in terms of dollars and more dollars. And I continued to plummet.

Dark days indeed, especially because I was continuing to write all that I didn’t want to write. My two novels and two other very important books that I had completed stay buried in my computer, waiting to be discovered by this same industry that had never proved fertile ground for my craft.

The independent book revolution, though I discovered it rather than it finding me, saved my soul. I am a newbie, with only one plus years under my belt with my own imprint. But have found myself again. Through forging my own path to understand all the specifics of getting my work in print, my courage was steeled, my voice sharpened, confidence cranked up, and my imagination humming. This is no exaggeration.

Long ago I isolated the reason why I write. As one of seven kids, raised in a dysfunctional Catholic family during the tail end of the Hippie era, I discovered writing at a young age and found that it did something for me that nothing else could. It helped me make sense of my life. It also allowed me to be heard, which didn’t happen often in the chaos that was my childhood. And that is the primary reason that I write. Being schooled in that tradition for 12 years, I got very used to being told what to do, how to do it, and what to wear while doing it. I was primed for the publishing industry because I was such a good soldier. The problem was, I wasn’t happy and somewhere along the way, they wanted me to sell my soul. And I’m ashamed to say, for the right advance, I might just have done it. Thankfully, no one wanted my novels as they are written, so I remain with my spirituality intact.

I say all of this because it ultimately explains why I love the Indie book revolution. No one is telling me what to do. And that is very freeing. In this ever-evolving movement where boundaries are still being defined and we are all pretty much making things up as we go along, there is plenty of room for all of us. And no one has to change plots or switch voices or add werewolves to their novels or make endings more politically correct, just because an editor or publisher tells us to. Experimental genres are just as legit as literary fiction, and we can all wear unmatched socks and go shirtless to fancy restaurants if we want. And make money at the same time.

You know why? Because we are now free to leave ourselves bare, just as we are, take us or leave us, for the only person that matters to decide: The reader. We cut out the fat middleman, the hierarchy, the chain of command—call it what you will. We go direct to the reader and let that person decide.

Whether you come to independent publishing by choice, like me, or by chance, it really doesn’t matter in the long run. You’re here. And because of that, you’re part of the future, whether you realize it or not. We’re not outside the industry.

We are the industry, redefined.

Author Bio:

Lenore Skomal wants you to eat her books. She wants you to chew them in your teeth, savor them on your tongue, breathe them in, and feel her words in your skin. Her passionate desire is to touch your heart, inspire you, and luxuriate in the world of the written word. She finds ecstasy in constructing a perfect sentence and responds willingly to the nagging ache in her heart to create an authentic experience for the reader. Lenore is an award-winning author with the single goal of being heard.

In addition to writing, Lenore is an engaging public speaker with over 1000 public engagements, book tours and writing seminars. She has taught college journalism, has one son, and when not off gallivanting from Egypt to Mongolia she resides with her husband in Erie, Pa.

To contact Lenore check out her Website or Facebook Page

eBooks Color?

Since I do book covers and formatting for other authors, in addition to my own, I get a lot of questions about whether or not to include images in ebooks, and whether those images need to be black and white.

The short answer is: Yes, put in as many pictures as you want (so long as you can compress them to the file size limit for your publisher of choice) and leave them in color.

Barns & Noble have the color Nook. Though Kindle may be in black and white, the kindle applications for PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, and Android are in color. Not to mention that there are plenty of other brands of eReaders with color displays.

There is one thing to keep in mind, though, especially for technical diagrams. If readers use a gray scale device, such as kindle, the color image will be displayed in black and white. If you use images for tables, charts, etc you need to make sure that the colors have a good contrast so that readers can still distinguish the segments, or arrows, from one another.  As for general illustrations, you’re probably fine.

Personally, I think it’s only a matter of time until all the ereaders are in color, and the black and white issue becomes a moot point. In the meantime, if you’re worried about how your images will appear in black and white, then try this “converter” – http://tjshome.com/imageconverter.php. Choose the black and white option (It’s the first one) then choose your image and hit the submit button.  If you want you can right click on the results and save the converted image to your computer.

 

 

 

The Mystifying Press Release

When you publish a new book, do you “bother with” a press release? I looked into it for my last book, via links from Smashwords, but even after reading the one example post, I didn’t know what to write, so I kept putting it off until it was no longer relevant.

Has that happened to you? Or have you tried your hand at a press release only to have no one show any interest?  If either of those apply to you, you may find this article by Alexis Grant helpful:

How to Write a Press Release for Your Book

Just wanted to share!

 

 

Author Interview

Join me at Sinister Echoes.com for my first ever author interview where Alannah Murphy and I discuss publishing, indie Authorship, vampires, and desert islands. A good time was had by all, so I hope to see you there!

 

Google E-Books Explained

In an effort to rival Amazon, Google has started their own ebook store. The new endeavor launched December 6th with more than three million titles available, though many of those are public domain books. Not that that’s a bad thing. I’m all for the classics moving into the digital age. eBook formats include Android, Sony, Nook, iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and web viewing, and they have a selection of free reads, as well. Of note, they are not compatible with the Kindle.

The question that’s floated around is whether or not this new site is indy author friendly, and the answer is yes, yes they are. In fact, here is the direct quote (which can be found here)

“If you’re self-published, or the rights to your book have reverted back to you, you can join the program yourself by sending us your books or uploading them in PDF format. Check out our Author Resources page to learn more.”

This is where things might get confusing.

To join you can create an account with an existing google account, or create a new one. But, first have to sign up with Google books. Google books is an oft debated search-able database of books that google has scanned into their system. (more on that later). Once you’ve joined and agreed to allow your books to be listed, that’s when you get the option to join the ebook store.  In fact there are separate ToS for each. This one is for the Google Books program, while this is the addendum for the eBook store.

As I mentioned about the Google Books project, there were a lot of authors who felt that their copyrights were violated when Google started archiving portions of their books in the original Google Books program. To remedy this, Google is paying out to authors who had books in print prior to January 5, 2009 that they archived without permission, and they now offer the option for you to claim your book (do so here) and add a “Buy here” link to their directory listings. (I assume you can also have the book removed, but I haven’t looked into that) However, right now those links can only go to your website (if you’re selling books on it)not to Amazon, Smashwords, or any other third-party site.

This is where the eBook store comes in. When you submit your books to Google’s ebook store, they will then link the “buy book here” button on your google book to your Google eBook listing.

But before you worry about how much of your book is being shared, know that you can change the amount. Default is 20%, but you can choose to share more or less.

One down side to their process, in my opinion, is that to submit, books must be in a PDF format, and must be named very specifically by their ISBN numbers.  Here are the details on how to do that. Of course, you can also send them a print version and they will manually enter it for you, but by the time you buy your print version and mail it, you’ve spent more than the time it would have taken to PDF is worth.

So, should you bother? If you have a book published before January 5th, I’d at least go check to see if they have it listed because they may owe you money from advertisement clicks. To sign up for the one is not to sign up for the other, so don;t have to commit to the eStore if you don’t want to. Personally, I’ve signed up for the Google Books program, and will also agree to the eStore, though I haven’t uploaded anything because I’ve been busy. As an android phone owner, I may also look into purchasing from them in the future. I’ve tried the Kindle for android and didn’t like it very much, but this may be better – or it may not. as with any new endeavor, it’s a gamble. but, the way I look at it is since you’re not signing any book rights away, what do you have to lose?

For more information, here is a link to the help section, which s actually pretty useful for a change.