Using Kickstarter

Spacewalk on Gemini flight, from NASA
Spacewalk on Gemini flight, from NASA….For some taking the plunge into self publishing, the first step may be a bit  like spacewalking

Taking The Plunge

It’s a constantly changing and strange world for those who have not yet broken into traditional publishing and are now considering a try at doing it themselves. Roughly speaking, authors have been self-publishing e-books for over 10 years now with the bulk of online activity coming within the last five. For the most part, Amazon has been the main place to post your e-book, but other venues such as Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple and Sony have been around almost as long. Following is a quick survey of some things that you might encounter if you decide to self-publish.

Content

Not only do you have to have content that is of a high quality, but also your written material must be in demand by those who are willing to purchase and read an e-book. This might sound like a no-brainer to many writers, but keep in mind that there is a lot of well-written, highly-conceived material that receives little attention by readers. In other words, to draw the interest of readers you have to hit the right chord that will make that person purchase your e-book. This is just as true for the short story priced at 99 cents, as it is for the full-sized novel that runs in the ten dollar range.

The Writer Glut

As time goes on, literary sales to owners of electronic reading devices may become more difficult as the numbers of authors attempting to self-publish increases and the number of e-book  readers levels off. This is just a matter of  numerical reality and common sense. Nowadays, when I put I put up a new title on Smashwords, it is off the charts (relegated to page 5 or greater) in a few hours. Back when Smashwords was just starting out, a newly published e-book would stay visible (in the first several pages of listings) for a few days.

Reversing The Trend

However, all is not lost for the newbie writer, for there are several ways to beat the odds and gain a loyal following. Let’s assume for a minute that you have already found a small niche with a couple of written pieces that readers respond to in a positive way, which hopefully includes an occasional purchase or two. From here the next step will be to bring more people into your readership base.

The best way to do this is to self-publish more work, while at the same time, letting everybody know about your newest release. Currently, blogging and participating in other forms of social media, such as Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, etc., are the best methods to get the word out……. And hopefully along the way, something that you wrote goes viral and you become the latest internet sensation…….BUT DON’T COUNT ON IT……for slow and steady seems to be the rule of the day.

Going The Kickstarter Route

So far I have been working on the assumption that you are doing everything, like editing, proofreading, cover design and formatting, on your own. If you aren’t, good thinking because bringing talented personnel to help out with these tasks can be a big boost to the way your final product appears to the prospective buyer. It can also be a big drain on your bank account.

This is where funding sites like Kickstarter can be an essential aid to the newbie self-publisher, because by the time your first publication is ready to go live, you will be more of a publisher than a writer. However, the plus side to all of this, is that going through a public crowd sourcing site, like Kickstarter will force you to plan ahead and seek good graphic designers, formatters, proofreaders and whoever may be required to get your little literary effort looking ship-shape. And then again another big advantage, is that once your project goes live, your potential readership will grow from the ranks of those who choose to support your project. And that my friends is a win-win situation.

contrary to popular belief, self-publishing is seldom an easy ride,
Contrary to popular belief, self-publishing is seldom an easy ride.

 

 

Advertisements

Who’s Using Kindle’s KDP Select?

DutchMasters-adjusted

What Is KDP ?

KDP stands for Kindle Direct Publishing. In a nutshell any ebook that is formatted for electronic publication and then published on Kindle e-readers through Amazon is part of  Kindle Direct Publishing. To be part of KDP your little e-book can be available on other venues (i.e. Nook, Smashwords, Apple, Sony etc.)…..but there has to be uniform pricing. Many authors have opted for this route in the brave new world of Indie publishing, especially those with a high online profile and a good marketing plan.

Mona_Lisa,_by_Leonardo_da_Vinci,_from_C2RMF_retouched
The Mona Lisa, a painting by Leonardo da Vinci

How About KDP Select?

In addition to the basic Kindle publishing platform, Amazon now has a special option for self-pubbed writers that offers 90 days of exclusivity on the Kindle. To participate in this relatively recent program, the author has to remove the e-book from all competing markets and only have the electronic item available on Kindles. After the 90 days is up, the author has the option of renewing the Select program for another 90 days. In exchange Amazon makes the title available to its Amazon Prime members. Membership in Amazon Prime must fork out 80 bucks a year, but in exchange, they receive access in the form of free downloads at any time to any title published on the KDP Select program. In return the author receives a fee directly from Amazon that comes out of a separate fund. I know this may seem hokey, but so far in 2013, each Amazon Prime download (or borrow as Amazon calls them) is worth about 2 dollars US. In other words, a popular writer with a 1,000 borrows would receive approximately $2,000 for those downloads.

Última_Cena_-_Da_Vinci_5
The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci

Is It Working?

Though there seems to be some skepticism about the long term future of this arrangement, many authors seem to be content with the KDP Select program so far. Some of the advantages of this program appear to be its ease of entry,Amazon’ts prompt tracking of online sales and the possibility of high volume sales for popular authors. As a result Kindle millionaires is a new buzzword for those who have been following the rise of e-book Indie authors.

It should also be noted that Amazon has some pricing guidelines for those who participate in KDP Select. Also they allow the author to choose 5 days of free promotion during each 90 day period. These free promos are available to anyone with a Kindle E-reader or compatible computer program, and not just  those who signed up for Amazon Prime. On these chosen days prospective readers can download the ebook for free. This results in a large number of downloads on the free days. These free downloads may or may not  result in sales after the free period has ended. The main drawback for the free promotion days is that the situation creates a large body of e-readers who expect every electronic title to be free……. More about this later.

New Shoes

cover image for New Shoes
Cover image for my newly, self-published e-book, New Shoes

The Cover

Today, I self-published a new 3,000 word short story at Smashwords. Tomorrow, I will probably add the ebook to Amazon. The story was easy to write, but coming up with a decent cover was a challenge. I can’t say I’m really excited about this one, but it will have to do for now. I used a couple of free images I found at Morguefile to create this undersea collage.

The Story

The story revolves around a young Louisiana fisherman named Jacque LeBeaux and a bunch of trouble he has gotten himself into with some not-so-nice mobsters. I don’t want to say too much, because it will spoil the sea adventure tale….. But I will say that there is a lot of banter and dialogue that goes on between the main character and his captors. You’ll just have to download it and read it to find out how things turn out.

Montreal At Night

Night Lights on a Rainy Night In Montreal

I love walking around this city at night. So much that I often stay up to the wee hours of the morning, walking for miles on end and then stopping at an all-night internet cafe so I can communicate online. The Christmas season is rapidly approaching so by now all the stores are all decorated and waiting for Christmas shoppers. And for the most part they are not disappointed, for the Christmas shoppers are already out and about.

For you see- up here in the provinces there is no roast turkey and pumpkin pie at the end of November. That’s because Canadian Thanksgiving falls right on October 123. That’s right Columbus Day. I’m not sure I like the implication, but the home country sure doesn’t mind for the October is a long holiday and feast day not at all unlike our own Thanksgiving.

Well, anyway with no November Thanksgiving, there can be no “Black Friday” and so as a result the Christmas spirit doesn’t have to wait for the end of November to get rolling. And overall the transition is more gradual because it begins earlier.

Green Wreath At DesJardin Center

The Green wreath hangs above the entrance to the DesJardin Center. This place contains tons of glass and open space as well as a large Food Court with a free Wifi connection. It is good place to go in the morning where you can buy a cup of coffee or some sort of similar refreshment, take a seat and write meaningless blog material, just like I’m doing now.

Poissonnerie in Montreal
Poissonneriein Montreal on Sherbrooke Street
Night Lights in Montreal

And finally we come to this nocturnal explosion of color. Basically, the digital age has been a boon to nighttime image making. These cameras are not only very sensitive to night time shooting conditions, but the final image can be easily adjusted to create a more realistic color scheme.  I use a cheap Kodak Easy Share CX7430.

The camera has been good to me as it is a good nighttime shooter. However the images are not real sharp and a wicked paralax has developed so I can no longer shoot a daytime picture with a distant horizon line, for a wicked series of blobs develops towards the horizon when I do. As a result I shoot a lot of wall scenes and close-ups. I have my eye on a Panasonic Lumix with a Leica lens, but it may be awhile before I can afford one.

Hope you liked the images.

Can Self-publishing Get You A Book Contract?

Cat's Eye Nebula:  Credit; J. P. Harrington (U. Maryland) & K. J. Borkowski (NCSU) HST, NASA
Cat's Eye Nebula: Credit; J. P. Harrington (U. Maryland) & K. J. Borkowski (NCSU) HST, NASA

Walt Whitman self published his first book of poetry. So did Edgar Allan Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne. And you can add Mark Twain and Henry David Thoreau to this list of self-published authors also.

And the 20th century saw many self-published writers turnout successful titles. Some of the more noteworthy are Ulysses by James Joyce, Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust,  The Adventures of Peter Rabbit by Peter Beatrix Potter, The Elements of Style by Strunk and White, Robert’s Rules of Order and the  Joy of Cooking.

So how do things shape up for the 21st century. Ten years into the new century and it appears that self-published authors are doing well with obtaining book contracts.

“A successfully self-published book can propel you down the road to a book contract at a commercial publishing house.” At least that’s how Alan Rinzler, a consulting editor, describes the situation over at his blog, the Book Deal. On his most recent post he goes on to list two self-published authors, who have recently received book deals and then goes to list some reasons why self-publishing is a good prelude to a book contract. Reasons include proof that a writer can market the title and a signal that the author has the confidence and courage that is needed in today’s literary market.

So for all those writers who feel obligated to finding a literary agent(that includes yours truly), maybe there are other ways to go.