What Publishing Services I Use and Why

eBook Readers GaloreMichael Porter via Compfight

Ebook Book Publishing Platforms

Kindle: Because they are the number one ebook market right now, and they understand my needs as an indie publisher. When it comes to letting authors do their own thing, Amazon is still the leader. Like it or lump it. I continue to dislike their proprietary formatting.

Nook: Because epub, and a monopoly is not a good thing. I’ve seen sales gradually improving for my books on the Nook. Their PubIt! service for indie publishers is second only to Amazon’s KDP.

Kobo: Because as an indie author, I like to support my local indie bookstores. Also – epub. I have just started to use Kobo and my books as of this post are not live there yet. But as soon as they are, I will link to my local indie bookstore – Rediscovered Books, so they get credit for as many ebook sales as possible.

Smashwords: I have some of my books available on Smashwords. I use them primarily to get my work into smaller markets that don’t have decent, author friendly services like the above three publishers. Please let me upload epubs!

I don’t own or use Apple operating systems so I can’t use iBookstore, and Google Books has no good plan for indie publishers to use their service. I tried using Gumroad and selling directly off this site with them, but only one person used the service in over six months. I still use Gumroad, but the links are now on the individual book pages on this site.

Paper Book Publishing Platforms

Lulu: I use Lulu, a North Carolina based company to print my ARCs. I usually print two copies of my unedited final draft for use by beta readers and myself. They are not for sale to the public. They have simple, white covers and are marked as ARC NOT FOR SALE.

Createspace:  I use Createspace to print the paper versions of my novels. I don’t have a large paper footprint right now, but in 2013 I will be making at least three if not four of my novels available in paperback. I use Createspace because they are easy to use and offer the formats and control that I need as an indie publisher.

Blender

One of the last frontiers in computer use for me is becoming proficient in using Blender. Blender is a program that lets you do 3D rendering and animations. I’ve always wanted to learn how to make computer models, especially useful as I really enjoy modeling in traditional mediums like plastic.

The problem has always been the complexity of the Blender program itself. Staring at all those controls you quickly feel intimidated and realize that you’re never going to be able to just feel your way around and actually create anything useful. You have to commit to learning it. Kind of like what you had to do with Photoshop and or The Gimp. Learning a program by following tutorials always takes time and effort that in this busy world is hard to justify for what arguably is just a hobby.

But now I’ve developed a business need for knowing how to render my starship designs. It will be much easier for my cover designer to incorperate 3D images into the back cover designs of my novels than for him to use images that I’ve taken of real world plastic models. So then I have to wiegh the time spent making those models in plastic versus making them in Blender.

I’m pretty sure that making them in Blender will take more time, until I become proficiant at rendering them. So I’ll probably do a bit of both. Learn the program by making some simple models and building more complex models in the real world with plastic and glue.

I have to say, I’ve always enjoyed using my hands and you know, sniffing the glue and breathing in the dust from sanding that traditional modeling has involved. It gets me off the computer and into the real world for a while. So making the transition from old school modeler to computer modeler will not be easy for me.

On the other hand, I love learning new things and as any Self Published author will tell you, that’s part of the challenge of doing things yourself. You get to learn new tools and new processes. Blender is just the latest tool in my vast tool box as a published author.

Selling Your Own Ebooks

iRiver Story eBook Reader ReviewCreative Commons License Andrew Mason via Compfight

The one area I have not testing in this whole do-it-yourself aspect of self-publishing is selling ebooks myself. Cutting out the middle man and selling them directly to the reader. This is the ideal way to go, because it results in a higher profit margin for the seller.

Up until now, I have not dabbled in this area for two reasons. First, it has always been cost prohibitive to set up transaction tendering on the web and second, I have not had enough traffic on my website to justify the effort. But both of those reasons are now starting to become mute. Setting up a digital shop has become super easy and traffic to my site has picked up enough to where some folks might want to buy direct and get more options for the same cost.

I’ve started testing a new service called Gumroad which lets you sell just about any ditigal file you can upload to their servers. They take a small processing fee per sale and you get spared the hassle of setting up a digital store front. All you need is a Paypal account to get set up.

This weekend I have just one .epub of my novel Starforgers for sale. As I get more familiar with the store and the process, I will have all my books for sale this way and offer many more formats. From Kindle’s .mobi to plain old PDF. You can find the link to the right in the side bar. If you have an ereader that uses epub, give it a try and let me know how the process went. I’d really appreciate both the business and the report.

I’ll come back and tell you more about the setup in a week or so, when I get it all figured out and set up. In the mean time, anyone else have any experience using Gumroad or similar services?

 

My Position on Publishing Options

Oldies are Goldies :D Marwa Morgan via Compfight

I’ve been doing the self-publishing thing now for about five years. I got into it purely from a Do-It-Yourself angle and just kind of stayed around. I’m not one of those hot-headed one way or the highway kinds of people for either traditional publishing or self-publishing. I have done and will continue to do both.

I’ve been traditionally published in an anthology and I sometimes send out novel  manuscripts to agents. But I focus mostly on doing things myself right now because it allows me to write what I want to write and find my own way. Not because I hate the gatekeepers or what not. If by chance an agent or publisher ever considers my work then I’ll go that route and do things “traditionally”. That would be awesome too.

But for now, plenty of paying customers have enjoyed my stories and I continue to build an audience with each novel I release. I expect that as my novels get better and as my audience grows, eventually someone will pick me up traditionally. If that does not happen, I won’t be upset because I’m still in the market place and earning enough to continue doing it myself.

I read all the blog posts and Twitter fires that flare up about publishing just to stay in the know. I follow just about everyone under the publishing sun as a result. But I don’t write scathing posts about the business. It’s not a battle I want to fight. I’m just writing, trying to get better and trying to get readers to come along and listen to my particular brand of Space Opera.

Amazon, Apple and Microsoft

The new Big Three of digital publishing. Ugh! Can I have a new future please? No? Drat. Okay, then put me in two of the three major markets. Apple still makes me pay to play with purchasing an ISBN. Who knows what kind of lame format Microsoft will insist on after they consume B&N’s Nook inventory. Amazon is already in their own darn universe when it comes to ebook standards and availability. Really guys? Are you just trying to piss off everyone?

All three media companies want you to use their own ebook formats. Let’s continue to make the same dumb formatting decisions we made when the web first started. Remember the Netscape, IE, Apple/Linux web browser wars? Yeah, well ebooks are basically just fancy web pages folks. So the battle of the formats continues to rage.

As long as I continue to play the do-it-yourself publisher game, I’ll have to have my books formatted three different ways. Lame. This forces me to make decisions. If I want to be in all three markets, I need to spend more money converting my books. That’s just not in my financial future. Maybe after I start living off my ebook sales, I will have the money to be in all three markets, but for right now, it’s only going to be two. This assumes that Microsoft doesn’t mess with epub for another year or so. But you know they will, it’s in their company genes to make proprietary formats.

Since I make the lion’s share of my pittance from Amazon, I will have my ebooks there first. Since my ebooks are born as epubs, making them available on PubIt, is a no-brainer decision for now.

You may be wondering why I don’t just throw out a shingle and sell my books on the web site? Because I’m a largely unknown writer selling my own fiction and my audience is too small to justify the effort and money required to set that up correctly. When you are undiscovered, nobody comes to your house. Again, if I were selling thousands of books a day, I’d damn sure have a way to buy from this web site. But until that happens, I have to ride the long coat tails of the Big Three.

But over all, I can’t complain. My audience is mostly finding me on Amazon. Not in great numbers but about a hundred times greater than on B&N and Apple. So it makes sense to cater my ebooks to Amazon the hardest. You can have a thousand lines in the water, but if all the fish are in another pond, you’re not eating fish tonight.

I still feel like Google is sitting this one out. My local Indy bookstores are using them to sell ebooks, but Google’s author back-end is not easy to use and at times hostile to authors who publish themselves. It would be really great if Google spent some time to make their process easier. I’d love to be able to sell ebooks locally and let my favorite bookstores have a cut.

 

Open Source Programmers and Self Published Writers

As someone who makes his living in the computer field, I’ve always been aware of the two kinds of programmers. The ones who work for companies that sell highly polished programs in shrink wrapped packages and are sold on store shelves, and the other ones who work on their own projects that are usually less slick and given away for free. The former programmers make a decent living writing code for others to sell. All they have to do is write code. The later programmers do it for the chance to learn something new and make programs that they themselves want or need to use. These two programmers are known as Professional Programmers and Open Source Programmers.

In publishing there are similar types of authors. Those that just write, and their books are blessed by big companies and get packaged in slick covers to be sold on shelves, and there are those who write, and produce their own books, the way they want them made, and many times give them away for free or sell them for far less profit. The former writers make a decent living writing books that big publishers sell. All they have to do is write books. The later authors do it for the chance to learn something new and make novels that they themselves want to read. These two authors are known as Professional Authors and Self Published Authors.

Having written and used open source software for years now, I can completely see the similarities to self published writers. But I also use proprietary software, and I appreciate many aspects of it. Just like I also support and enjoy traditionally published fiction, just as much as I enjoy doing my own fiction, my own way. I try not to play favorites, but in the end, I will always gravitate to those who are doing their own thing, be they traditionally published or non traditionally published.

I’m not opposed to traditional publishing, nor am I completely committed to self-publishing. I just enjoy scratching my own itch and writing what I find entertaining. If an editor wants to buy it, cool. If only readers want to buy it, that’s cool too. Either way, my writing gets out there and others are able to enjoy it.