Category Archives: Publishing - Page 2

Big news! Brendan’s Way!

I am ridiculously late in posting this, probably because I had already plastered this on social media. But the big news is, Bundoran Press (of Ottawa, Ontario) made an offer for my book, Brendan’s Way. And guess what I accepted.

Hooray for everyone!

The book is slated for publication in April next year – blazingly fast for the print publication world. I’ll be working on the publisher’s suggested rewrites all summer, and we’ll be doing production etc. in the fall. The launch will be at the Ad Astra conference in Toronto.

I’m thrilled – I hadn’t offered the book to any other publishers, and have a very high opinion of other books that Bundoran has put out. I’m looking forward to this whole process. Updates will be coming much more frequently as we move towards the publication of Brendan’s Way!

The Taste – Now Available

Taste KoboAll right, folkingtons – it’s available! Whether you’re an Amazon Canada customer…

Amazon Dot Com customer…

Kobo customer…

or Apple iBookstore customer…

…”The Taste” is now available for your enjoyment.

E-book Redistributors: Disadvantages

Cross-posted from the Calamus Communications blog.


E-book redistributors (start here if you’re not familiar with the term) make a compelling case for independent authors: they are an easy and cheap way to get your e-books up on multiple platforms, which can mean higher sales and visibility. There are plenty of other advantages, too. But it’s not all good news.

The main problem with any one-size-fits-all solution is that the size may not fit everyone exactly right, or in exactly the same way. This is definitely the case when you publish an e-book once to get it on a multitude of different sites.

All of the e-book sales platforms require mostly the same basic information about the book, which is why these redistributors work at all. But they also might use this information differently. For example, Amazon allows only seven keywords, and in some cases they have specific uses (for example, the keywords might determine which sub-categories a book goes into).

And some authors have found ways to supercharge their Amazon keywords too – ways that might cause issues on other sites. You want to maximize your sales on all the different sites where your books are sold. For the ease of publishing on multiple sites at once, you could be trading away significant royalty dollars in return.

Another problem is the follow-on sales from e-books. One tried and true means of boosting sales is to include links to other books in the same series or by the same author at the end of every book. If a reader just finished your book and is desperate to read another one, putting a link right there in the e-book might lead to a second sale.

But using a redistributor means that you can’t add those links in. You’ll only be able to put the links in for one site at a time, and some sites, if not all of them, will simply delete links to their competitors’ sites. (Why would Kobo want you to go to Amazon to buy the next in the series?)

Another trade-off is control. You can’t tweak your book to look its very best on every device; all your content has to be at the lowest common denominator among the different sales platforms. And to make sure that your images and content look right, you’ll have to publish the book, and then test it out on each platform or device separately.

It’s always the same story: the trade-off between convenience and perfection. If you’re just starting out with e-books, and you aren’t doing anything complicated with them, you might be fine with the redistributor approach. But you also need to think about what the convenience is costing you, not just in their commission, but in potential sales as well.

In the last post in this series, we’ll look at some of the redistributors who are out there – and recommend our favourite!

E-book Redistributors: Advantages

Cross-posted from the Calamus Communications blog.

Last time I talked about what e-book redistributors are: services that allow you to submit your e-book once, and then automatically publish it to a number of the biggest sales platforms. For an e-book author or publisher, this confers a number of huge advantages.

EbookThe biggest plus is that it increases your reach. One of the keys to higher e-book sales is making them available in as many places as possible, therefore putting them in front of as many customers as possible.

To do this one by one, and figure out the intricacies of each separate platform, would be extremely time-consuming. But by using a redistributor you can have your book published in six different places, almost instantaneously.

It also allows you to manage your published e-books better. What happens when you’ve got an e-book live and on sale in six different places, and you find a typo in the first sentence? If you published it on each platform individually, you would have to create a new version of the e-book and then upload it separately six times. You might even have to work with multiple versions in different formats. That’s a lot of work.

If you are using a redistributor, you change it in one place, and it gets published to all the different places automatically. No need to go to multiple places – and you won’t forget to update one of the sites either.

Sales tracking and payments are much easier too. You can see how books are doing on all the different platforms at once, and at the end of the month you have one set of royalties, not six or seven.

So there are plenty of advantages to using an e-book redistributor, and they are typically well worth the money you’ll pay in commission. The ease of publishing alone makes them worth considering as a writer.

Are they perfect? No, of course not: there are a few disadvantages as well. But we’ll deal with those in the next post.

E-book redistributors: what you need to know

Cross-posted from the Calamus Communication blog.

AmazonKindleUser2If you’re considering publishing your work as an e-book, you’ve probably encountered the bewildering number of platforms out there. Amazon, Kobo, Apple iBooks, Google Play, Barnes and Noble — all of these sales platforms are worth considering to sell your book.

Just putting the books on one platform is daunting enough; dealing with the many intricate details of this vast array of platforms and getting your book on all of them seems like an impossible task. How do authors do it without taking on e-book publishing as a full-time job?

The answer is e-book redistribution services. These are web-based companies that don’t necessarily worry about selling your books directly to consumers; they’re more interested in publishing books on your behalf on other e-book platforms, and taking a commission on each sale you make.

How do they work?

Publishing a book through a redistributor is not much different from publishing on any e-book platform. You enter the details about your book (like the author, title, blurb, and keywords); you upload a manuscript and cover; and you send it for publication.

The difference is that you do this once, and the redistributor does the work of repeating those actions for every different platform they support. They’ll reuse the book details and put them in the right place; they’ll convert the manuscript (usually from Word or HTML) to whatever format each platform requires; and they’ll jump through all the hoops needed to publish the book. You publish once, they publish a half-dozen times. Pretty efficient!

What does it cost?

Typically, the fees are far from exorbitant. There are no upfront fees, so if your book doesn’t sell (or if the platform rejects it for some reason), you don’t lose anything. And on each sale, the redistributor tends to take about 5% of the royalties. For Amazon, where you’re getting just over $2 for a $2.99 e-book sale, that comes out to only a dime. That’s not such a bad deal.

It takes a little longer for your sales to show up – the platform reports them to the redistributor reports them to you, which delays the process sometimes. And the redistributor typically collects the royalties together for all of the platforms and provides them a month or so after they receive them, which means you get a nice lump sum from all your sales at once, but it might come a little later than if those sales were made directly on the platform.

Are they worth considering?

Given the small slice that the redistributors take in commissions, their efficiency and effectiveness are amazing, and any e-book author should consider using the services. However, there are drawbacks as well. In the next posts we’ll look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of using e-book distributors, as well as review the services that are currently on the market.

How to Get a Literary Agent

Asking “how do I get an agent” is the wrong question. Some excellent advice in this article:

It’s not because self-publishing is the future or because you don’t need an agent in 2014 or blah blah. There’s plenty of room for those discussions elsewhere. It’s just the wrong question because asking it means you think the process matters.

It’s like saying: How do I enter the password? That’s helpful sure, but um, you have to have the actual password first. Chances are, you don’t. None of us do at first.

To make that clear: the password here is to have a really great book. A book with a lot of potential to sell or win awards or accomplish things that people in publishing find important. Actually not just potential, but likelihood, real likelihood of fulfilling it. That might not be easy, but it is really simple.

This is exactly it. The process doesn’t matter; you’re not selling your ability to follow a process, you’re selling a book. The book matters. Worry about writing a great book.

Accepting Rejection

I’ve had some ups and downs recently with my work — some positive signs about a couple of manuscripts that I worked on, and some rejection as well. Even very small victories do mean a lot to me, as a writer, but the rejections do take a little bit out of me.

Of course, I’m still hunting for the big success. I know I’m getting closer, but I think of all of the little steps forward as little bites, while I’m still trying to land a fish. It’s frustrating, of course, but you can’t get the fish without getting some bites first.

I did get one excellent rejection recently. The editor was positive about the work, but had a list — a long list — of edits she’d want to see; she said she’d look at it again if I took care of those things. They were often very fundamental weaknesses in the story, or issues that were woven throughout the book, and to attack those issues would take some time and effort. I’m going to do it, though. It’s a good book and everything she listed would make it a better book.

But even more encouraging is the fact that I wouldn’t have this list with any of my more recent books, or at least I wouldn’t have a list this long. Part of the problem was that I embarked upon that book without any real idea of what I was going to do; I actually took a four-month hiatus from it — paralysis, really — before I could figure out what to do with the last third of the book.

More recently, I’ve learned to outline my work, so that I don’t have these important characters who are AWOL through most of the book, and I have motivations clearer in my head before I start writing them. I know I also write more quickly with an outline. The trick has been getting the outline at the right level of detail, but I’ve figured out the sweet spot for my writing.

In any case, it’s a good rejection, and the publisher is willing to look at something else I’ve got. I can get used to this kind of rejection… but not too used to it!

On Amazon and bestsellers

Recently, a somewhat successful writer demanded to know where all his money is:

This past summer, my novel, “Broken Piano for President,” shot to the top of the best-seller lists for a week. After Jack Daniel’s sent me a ridiculously polite cease and desist letter, the story went viral and was featured in places like Forbes, Time magazine and NPR’s Weekend Edition… My book was the No. 6 bestselling title in America for a while, right behind all the different “50 Shades of Grey” and “Gone Girl.” It was selling more copies than “Hunger Games” and “Bossypants.”…

From what I can tell so far, I made about $12,000 from “Broken Piano” sales. That comes directly to me without all those pesky taxes taken out yet (the IRS is helpful like that)…

The book sold plus or minus 4,000 copies.

Many writers, publishing for the first time, assume that the rewards will be far greater than they actually are. Because the book exists, their thinking tends to go, people will buy it; the inevitability of huge cash rewards must therefore follow.

And most learn in short order that the reality is different. If they’re lucky, they’ll get a handful of sales a month on Amazon. Four thousand sales in a week is a great total. But it’s still penny-ante stuff. How much money did the author expect to make from those sales? Why is he mystified that he’s not rich?

He sold more copies than the year-old 50 Shades blockbuster franchise. That series has sold 65 million copies, through every store in every strip mall and airport in the industrialized world. Outselling it for a week on one website? A blip in the statistics. Believe me, the 50 Shades stakeholders didn’t notice it.

No, the real lessons here seem to have passed the author by:

  • It only takes 4,000 sales to be a best-seller on Amazon. That’s fewer sales than it takes to be a best-seller in all of Canada. It’s not a lot of sales.
  • The traditional publishing and distributing model is still master of the publishing world. Will it change? Maybe — probably — but it hasn’t yet. More books in more stores equals bigger sales.

Giving unto Caesar

If you’re a non-US writer, and you’re selling books with an American e-publisher, you’ll know the big annoyance we all face: American e-publishers (like, oh, say, Kindle and Smashwords–the biggest ones) withhold 30% of non-US citizens’ royalties for tax purposes.

To get that money back–or more importantly, to avoid their hanging onto it in the first place–seems like a difficult problem. The labyrinthine series of forms to submit to nearly everyone involved, faxes to send, flaming hoops to jump through, and bricks to hurl through government offices’ windows is just a little bit difficult to sort out. And if you’re like me (lazy, jaded, hung over) you tell yourself that it’s not worth the onion, and sigh and play yet another game of Bejewelled Blitz.

It doesn’t have to be this way, as it turns out. Don’t worry–you can still play Bejewelled Blitz (try to stop me!) and you can still be lazy, jaded, and hung over (ditto!)–but you can fairly easily get those royalties in your pocket instead of the IRS’s.

Here’s how.

A lovely Irish writer, Catherine Ryan Howard, posted some clear and understandable, yet precise and detailed instructions devised by another lovely Irish author, David Gaughran, about how to finish the process quickly and painlessly.

I don’t use the word “hero” very often–for which I am often myself considered heroic–but these are real heroes living in our midst. They ought to be showered with the most fragrant rose-petals and lily-stems and rhubarb-leaves and pumpkin-husks that the gardens of the world have to offer.

Thanks to you both, and good luck to all those other authors who will now have approximately 30% added to their e-publishing income. I don’t know about anyone else, but that better than doubles my monthly budget for rye whiskey.

Show me the &c.

Ask any published writer in Canada: today was a good week. This is the week the cheques come out from Access Copyright. Me, I got over two hundred and fifty big ones.

(By “big ones” I mean, of course, dollars. Every dollar earned through writing is a big one. And “over” I mean in the most precise possible sense: my cheque was for $250.01.)

Where does this money come from? There’s money set aside by the federal government for this purpose, and places like schools and universities pay into it as well. The idea is that since the public (in the form of library patrons and students and such) benefits widely from these published materials, a small amount is paid into a pool of money and, based on each writer’s publications, a form of royalties is paid to the writer. Everyone wins: the public gets nearly-free access to the books and articles and the writers receive a small stipend.

Access Copyright is a great organization, by the way,and if you’re a writer in Canada who jas published works or hopes to do so in the future, it would be worth your while to check them out. You could one day be a two-hundred-and-fiftyaire, just like me.