Thursday, October 2, 2014

CreateSpace and IngramSpark


I am moving forward with an experiment this coming week. I’m going to list my published books at IngramSpark. This is my attempt at overcoming the bookstore battlements that resist the efforts of ordering my books from Amazon/CreateSpace. A wise author and serious friend to the independent publishing industry said that we must get our work into as many places as possible – and that means bookstores. Some may argue that the ebook is the future. It may be but for know it’s good to cover all the bases and that means bookstores as well.

The primary difference between the two, CreateSpace and IngramSpark may be perception and philosophy. Amazon is the evil empire – that is a given. See what they are doing to poor old Hachette and other big name traditional publishers (many who seem to put themselves first over their authors). As such bookstores see Amazon as serious competition (and with their huge chunk of both the ebook and paper book market, they are). So the bookstores simply say, “Nope, can’t order from them. Too difficult – we only deal with reputable distributors.”

Pressure from both independent authors and bookstores is helping to change the marketplace. Ingram, one of the world’s largest book distributors, saw an opportunity. With the help of many leaders in the bookstore business they put together a reasonable program that allows a small publisher to place their books into Ingram’s distribution system using print on demand (POD). And once in Ingram’s system and catalog, the books are available to every bookstore in the country. There is no cost to setup your account, there’s a small title set-up fee (which is returned if initial sales are good), the cost of production and distribution is paid for by the person placing the book order, and compensations to the publisher/author are within the norms of the traditional printing/publishing industry. Everything you need to know is HERE.

When it comes to these two POD distributors, I’m ambivalent. They both do an excellent job considering the product is from a humongous copy machine. The set-up and files (all PDF, cover and text) are under my control, they both quickly send galley proofs for review, and are very easy to work and communicate with. Their pricing is based on book size and page count. They give volume discounts. I am not sure about remainder practices – though I believe that Amazon does not have a system for returning unsold copies.

So this is not only an experiment but a big opportunity. I will keep you posted as to the results.


More Later . . . . . . . . . .

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

It's Update Time

It has been a long time since my last update on the status of my various projects, books, publications, and appearances. So sit back and enjoy—lots to talk about.

Books:
I have three books in production right now. Diamonds for Death is set to publish in December as both an e-book and a CreateSpace trade paperback. It will be published exclusively by Amazon through their KDP system for at least the first three months and then longer if sales are good (fingers crossed). Here is the blurb on the book:

Sharon O’Mara’s newest client doesn’t need her help for what he’s done, but rather for what he left behind. When baseball great, Toro Rodriquez, defected he had to leave his wife and child in Cuba. Now a ruthless government agent whose allegiance isn’t to Castro, but only to herself, holds them prisoner.

Since O’Mara’s friend, Kevin Bryan, is off on a security gig in London to prevent the theft of diamonds worth a quarter of billion euros, she turns to old friends and comrade-in-arms to help rescue Toto’s family. Her team’s failure may mean vanishing into a Cuban prison or . . . worse.

O’Mara and Bryan have no idea their client’s paths will not only merge but crash bloodily into each other on the night of baseball’s All-Star Game in San Francisco.

It is a great story in the O’Mara tradition. I’ll let you know when pre-orders are available. If you sign up for my newsletter you will be some of the first to know—see upper right column.

We are also looking for a mid-winter release of the first Detective Tony Alfano thriller, Chicago Swing. It too will be an e-book and CreateSpace trade paperback. Editing is done, InDesign production underway, and e-book is ready to send, and it may be under a pen name, Rex Baird. Here’s the blurb:

Chicago- 1933 For Chicago police detective Tony Alfano’s it was like most mornings - five bombings of businesses throughout the Loop, 200 pounds of missing dynamite, and one dead man in an alley off Washington Street. In the dark speakeasys and nightclubs of Chicago’s underworld, Alfano treads the sharp edge of sanity and delusion, praying that it’s mob vengeance and not just Chicago politics.

For the long awaited World War II spy novel This Face of Evil, you will just have to wait a little longer. Still in editing and final read, much to do. Be patient—you will not be disappointed.
For both forthcoming books there will be contests and prizes, I will let you know as we get closer to final publication dates.

Boucheron, Long Beach, California
In November, I’ll be attending my first Boucheron in Long Beach, Ca. This is like the gathering of the clans (including camp followers and agents), where for three days nothing but murder, suspense, weapons, poisons, and of course, characters of all kinds (writers and their own fictitious characters) are discussed and argued. I have garnered one of the coveted author spots to discuss my books, writing, and whatever else people want to know. There will be door prizes and giftees. I’m on Friday afternoon, at 5:00, November 14, again more on this in later posts.

Works in Progress:
Three manuscripts are in early stages of development. A new Sharon O’Mara that may take her to Istanbul and other exotic locations in Eastern Europe. The next Tony Alfano thriller is jelling—think of our detective meets the scourge of Europe in his own backyard. And the long awaited follow up to the Cherryland Trilogy, Cherry Summer. It’s ten years after Elk River and the Smith’s are caught in 1966 with the Vietnam War, the SDS, race riots, and trying desperately to save one of their own.

Never a dull moment under the key board and finger tips of yours truly, all the books are available through Amazon, just click on the book cover. And thanks.


More Later . . . . . . . .

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Self-Publishing Avenues


VS.


There is a distinct freedom to be being a self-published author—and there are responsibilities as well. You have the freedom to write what you want, pick the cover you like, and puff up with pride over the work that you have done. But you also have the responsibility to your craft and art form to present the best work possible. That means quality editing, formatting, cover design, and outreach to your readers. Never treat the reader with a lack of respect. Remember that you have asked them to take hours of their precious time and spend it with you and your story. That being said, at this moment we self-published Indie writers have a plethora of choices on how to bring our stories to potential readers.

Currently there are two major avenues open to the self-publisher, Smashwords and Amazon’s KDP. It is through these gateways, for most writers, that the greatest number of potential readers will be reached. Here is a brief rundown on what they offer. Keep in mind though that they continually change and morph—and that’s a good thing for us. There are others trying to muscle in but for now these are the two most important.

Smashwords, and their sadly/aptly named “Meat Grinder,” takes your Word doc and converts it into a number of formats used in the e-book industry. For free. You can host your books and even an author site on their site as well as buy e-books directly from them. Mark Coker, the founder and brains behind the operation, has single handedly changed how e-books are processed and delivered. This site also distributes directly to Barnes & Noble, iBooks (iTunes), Kobo, and a few other retail sites (you can also directly submit to these sites as well, but why bother if Smashwords will do it all). Percentages and royalties vary; they are spelled out on the site. There is an excellent PDF manual on how to submit. Study it; your life will be easier. There is much to improve though, but it is a great resource.

The gorilla and elephant in the room is Amazon. They control well over half of the ebook downloads and, it’s my guess, a lot more than that. While there are some out there who won’t deal with the evil empire, I know for a fact they go to Amazon’s  amazing and intuitive search engine, find what they want, then go to iBook, B&N or Kobo to buy the e-book—sad but true. There was a time that the size of the book’s file made a big difference (lots of images) using Smashwords; Amazon’s site didn’t have that problem. I hope that has changed. Amazon’s Author Central page, and resources for self-published authors on following your sales, is far better than anyone else’s. And like Smashwords, for free. You can adjust the book’s categories (a future blog in and of itself), price, cover art, and even updates in the manuscript everyday if you want. And they pay on timely basis. There are numerous permutations on sale price and royalties, lending, exclusive access, and connections to paper books through their Createspace print-on-demand (POD) operation. All very clean and incredibly helpful to authors and publishers. And there are dozens of books out there that help guide the author on how to best use their services.

I have been told at conferences to get your e-book out there to as many venues and sites as you can. This is all well and good, but your time is valuable. If you have to manage six or even four places where your book is placed the time sink is amazing—time better spent writing. Every time you change the cover or the update the manuscript means five or six changes.

With three new books coming out in the next six months, I am reevaluating the “all formats is best” option. Right now I’m leaning toward Amazon and structuring all my efforts around their ability to reach more customers, and make my books more visible to greater and greater numbers of readers. And remember that paper books bring in a whole new world of self-publishing options and opportunities. I will continue to keep you up to date on how it’s all working.

More later . . . . . . . . . .