Chicken Coops and Robson Street

Pax's view night

I’ve mentioned before that when writing, Google is a valuable asset. I’ve Googled guns, knives, the circulation system, tequila, Irish whisky, martial arts, how to escape a strangle-hold, and many other crazy things in the course of writing. Many an author has joked they hope they won’t be judged by their browser’s search history. I’d second that motion, otherwise I’d probably be under investigation for plotting multiple murders.

Writing The Yacht Club novellas was no exception. Sexy lingerie, bathing suits, posh suburbs of Vancouver, Robson Street bars, Hawaii, are just a few of the things I used Google to research.  And then there were the more eccentric searches:

  • how to construct a water-powered electric generator,
  • how to build a chicken coop,
  • owl anatomy,
  • barred rock chickens,
  • shibaru, or Japanese bondage
  • Samoan tattoos
  • Celtic designs and their meaning

I even stalked and fell in love with a West Vancouver neighbourhood (I’m looking at you, Willoughby Rd) using Google streetview so that I could figure out where my characters would live, shop and eat.

Willoughby Rd

Now don’t get me wrong, I would love to be able to just pick up and travel around the world, all in the name of research, but I have yet to reach that sort of author status. In the meantime, Google is the next best thing.

The Yacht Club releases April 25th.

Excerpt:
A shudder passed through Kimi’s body as she remembered the night before.  God, she needed to get laid.  Shaking her head, she grinned to herself at the thought and reached behind her back to find the pull cord attached to the zipper of her wetsuit.  The neoprene suit had been one of the best things she had packed when she left Honolulu.  Without it, she doubted if she could have continued her daily morning swim ritual; the water was just too cold on this side of the Pacific.  She tugged on the cord, cursing at the zipper which habitually got stuck.

“Hey there, need a hand with that?” The voice was deep and smooth.  Kimi turned in surprise and came face to face with the speaker’s Adam’s apple.  She looked up, shading her hand from the sun to see his face.  He was tall, lean and tanned, or maybe he just naturally had a darker skin tone.  He wore a day or two’s worth of whiskers, but they only helped to give him that sexy bad-boy look.  The crown of curly, blonde hair only added to the effect.

Want to know more? Preorder your copy of The Yacht Club and learn how these three women find their hot and steamy happily-ever-afters.

 Kobo   Amazon  Barnes&Noble   iTunes

Number One Rule When Self-Publishing?

self-publishing-word-cloud-620x350

 

I just finished a very informative series called Doing it Better by Polly Courtney.  In this six part series, Ms. Courtney states that

“As an author looking to self-publish, what’s the number one rule? Do what publishers do, but do it better.”

I couldn’t agree with her more.  I am a voracious reader and I’m always looking for new authors to try and I’m more than willing to give an indie author a go, but nothing turns me off quicker, and gives self-publishing a bad name, as a poorly delivered book.  Lack of editing, poor cover design, plot holes big enough to drive a truck, and flat characters that just don’t make the cut.  These are all signs of an author that rushed to publish, that didn’t take the time to do the work to ensure they were delivering the best quality product they could to their readers, or that didn’t want to make an investment in their own work in order to ensure that the quality was there.

If you are thinking of self-publishing, I highly recommend Ms. Courtney`s series.  The first three parts apply to authors like myself that are just getting into the business of self-publishing.  The final three parts….well, if you’re like me, you’ll watch them and laugh and think to yourself maybe someday.

Doing It Better:  Editing Your Book
Doing It Better:  Getting an Awesome Cover Design
Doing It Better:  Publishing Your Book
Doing It Better:  Getting Press Coverage
Doing It Better:  Making a Book Trailer
Doing It Better:  Holding an Epic Book Launch

 

 

 

 

 

Editing and the dreaded comma are the bane of my existence.

 

TEARING HAIR OUT-2

Remember in primary school where you learned about punctuation, nouns, verbs and adverbs?  Yeah, me neither.  It’s all a vague recollection now.  I do remember standing at the chalkboard (hmmm, am I dating myself with that?  Do they even use chalkboards anymore?) staring at a sentence with no punctuation and the goal was to identify the parts of the sentence and correct the grammar.  But that’s all I can remember.  I can’t actually remember any of the rules I might have learned.  Nope. Nada.  I’ve got nothing.

You would think that being a voracious reader, I would instinctively know what is proper grammar and maybe in some ways I do. I certainly know when a particular bit of prose stinks, grammatically speaking.  Some mistakes are so obvious, you wonder how an author ever let their book go to print with the error.

The main problem is that as an author you are too close to your own writing. You have read and re-read it over and over. You know what you meant to say and so you miss the glaring mistake. Reading your work out loud is a big help, but having a fresh set of eyes is the best thing to do.   Beta readers are a very important cog in the wheel.  Don’t try and publish without them.

I found this article online that offers some great tips about editing.

Check out The Ten Mistakes (that writers don’t see but can easily fix when they do) by Holt Uncensored.

Pick Your Platform, part two

In part one, I gave you a basic overview of ebook publishing. Today I want to look at printing your book. Even if you don’t plan on offering your book in print and want to stay with ebook format only, it is nice to be able to print a physical copy of your work. Who doesn’t want a paperback of their own book sitting on their shelf?

At one time, the only option was what many called ‘vanity publishing’, a system that allowed you print out a hard or softcover book but also required you to order a minimum number of copies. Often requiring you to put out a lot of money up front. The printing landscape has changed now that print on demand is more prevalent.

PRINT ON DEMAND

For print copies of your book, print on demand (POD) is the way to go. Gone are the days where you had to order hundreds of copies of your book and hope to be able to sell them. Now you just set up your manuscript as a PDF or EPUB and upload it to a POD publishing platform and you’re set.

Amazon is a big player in the POD side of things as you would expect. Their Createspace platform allows you upload and modify your manuscript before publishing. They also offer free and paid services for editing, formatting and cover design. Once your manuscript is ready to be published, it will be made available on Amazon.com. You can set your own price although there is a minimum price in order to cover costs. Because of the added cost of printing the actual book, your royalty is much lower, just 30% of the list price (of course you would also be selling your print version for more than the ebook, so you can offset this a bit).

Uploading to the standard distribution (which pays 30% of the list) only reaches Amazon.com. This is great for Americans, but not that helpful for international writers. If you want to get your book out to the rest of the world, you have to use Amazon’s expanded distribution channel (EDC). According to Amazon, this gets your work out to the rest of the world, provided the rest of your world only includes Europe, the UK and Australia.

There are two problems with EDC. First, Amazon.ca is not included so there is no guarantee selecting it will get your book into Canada. It seems to be hit or miss, from what I have read of other writers’ experiences. Second, even if you do get your book on Amazon.ca, you will only see 11% of the list price as a royalty.

Another big player in the POD category is Ingram Content Group and their IngramSpark platform. Ingram is the world’s largest wholesale book distributor (even Amazon uses them). Their IngramSpark platform is geared towards the self-publisher and is similar to Createspace, but there are a few differences (see chart below).

CS vs IS

The big difference between Createspace and IngramSpark is that there is an upfront cost to use IngramSpark of $45 USD. There is also a yearly fee (currently $12 USD) to keep your book in their catalogue and, therefore, available for order. I haven’t actually compared a book printed by Createspace to one by IngramSpark, but supposedly, Ingram is the winner with a better print quality. They also offer the option of creating a hardcover, something you don’t have with Createspace. Finally, because Ingram has worldwide distribution with printing facilities in many countries, you can ship almost anywhere at reasonable prices and expect delivery in a reasonable time frame. Createspace falls short in the international shipping department (that Amazon mentality that the US is the only country in the world coming to play again?). One funny bit of information is that CreateSpace actually uses Ingram for international distribution so your book may end up being printed by IngramSpark even if you don’t choose that platform.

When going with a print book, you have to consider the discount cost (which is why the royalty per list price is so low). If you want your book stocked in a physical brick and mortar store, then not only does the distributor need to be paid, so does the store selling your book. This all cuts into your return of course. For example, on a $15 sale, Createspace takes $9 and you get $6. From that you need to deduct the cost of the book, which is $4.55, leaving you a profit of $1.45. From this example, you would think that the bookstores get $9, but they don’t. They don’t even get close to that. Createspace passes on about 45% of the discount to Ingram (who they use for distribution) and then Ingram takes their cut. The result is that the stores receive about 25% as a discount. That’s not enough to make them even consider stocking the book, but they will order it if a customer asks.

If you don’t care whether or not your print book ever makes it into an actual physical store (i.e. is only available online) then it pays to use IngramSpark and set your discount at 40%. This will ensure you get the most return on your book no matter where it is sold. With Createspace, you take the big hit with their EDC for international sales.  The chart below outlines this.

IS is better than EDC

Basically, IngramSpark pays you the same royalty, no matter where your book goes.  Createspace grabs back another huge chunk of your payout in order to use their EDC (which is actually so they can pay IngramSpark!).

Next time, I will talk a little about third party distribution.

The Learning Curve

So I wrote a book (actually, I’ve written four now).  You would think that would be the hard part.  

It’s not.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, editing is no piece of cake either.

It turns out, however, that the really hard part is figuring out the in’s and out’s of publishing.  It would be enough if that was all there is to it, but with everything I learn, I have to ask myself, but how does that apply to a Canadian?  Sometimes, the answer is easy, it’s the same.  But more often than not, it seems, as usual, Canadians are the forgotten bastard stepchildren of the U.S.

For example, I want my book on Amazon.  Who wouldn’t?  They are one of the biggest booksellers in the world. But luckily, they offer two platforms for getting your book on their site.  Createspace for print on demand (POD) books and KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) for your ebook.

But wait a minute…What do you mean that only ensures my book will be listed on Amazon.com?  How will my Canadian fans buy my books?  

What’s that you say?  You have Expanded Distribution to cover the rest of the world.  Sure, it means you’ll take another huge chunk of my profits (to the point that I will earn next to nothing for books sold through expanded distribution) but at least my book will be available on Amazon.au, Amazon.uk, and Amazon.eu.

Hey, wait a minute, I didn’t hear you say Amazon.ca.

Turns out even with selecting expanded distribution, there is no guarantee your book will ever be listed on Amazon.ca.  The only way to guarantee it is to use a third-party distributor.  There are several out there, but I’ll discuss this option in an upcoming post.

Happy Canada Day!

canada

Lisa

My friend Google

I follow some of my favourite authors on their various forms of media.  I enjoy getting updates from them.  Often they are letting their readers know about their latest research trip.  Caving in South America, pub hopping across Europe, a safari in Africa….it’s all so exciting, and of course, totally out of my budget.  Luckily, my first book is set in a generic city that could be anywhere in Canada or the northern U.S. and more importantly, Google is my friend.

Need to know how to swear in Spanish?  

Google it.  

Need to know how to prepare scallops?  

Google it.  

How about how to make a really good cup of coffee using a commercial coffee maker?  Or, how to escape a choke hold?  What do bogles look like? What would be a good knife to have in fight?  What type of gun?  

Google has the answer for everything.

An entertaining result of all this googling, is the ads that now jump up on all the web pages I look at.  Since ads on a lot of websites are are actually targeted to you specifically based on recent Google search history, I am getting the weirdest assortment of ads.  As far as Google is concerned, I’m a knife and gun enthusiast who needs lessons in self-defence and gourmet cooking, who wants to buy a commercial coffee machine and is planning a trip to Spain.  Of course we are talking about the internet here, so I imagine there are way worse things to be.

 

Lisa 🙂