And Another Author Goes Rogue . . . this time on Youtube

This is author Joe Simpson. He’s the author of Touching the Void and now cofounder of DirectAuthors.com.

For those of you that don’t remember, Touching the Void first appeared 25 years ago. It’s the true story of Joe Simpson and Simon Yates and their incredible survival of a mountaineering trip in the Peruvian Andes that went terribly wrong.

In a world filled with CGI adventures that happen in dystopian fantasy worlds, this is real adventure happening to real people in real time. It is stuffed with very human, actual, life-and-death decisions, that leave readers with long lingering “but what would I have done?” moments to ponder in the wee hours of the night.

Simpson is the author of several books but he recently got into a dust up with his publishers over (no surprise here) e-book royalties. He didn’t feel 25% was sufficient, so he’s going to publish the e-versions of a his works on his own, and to do that he’s created DirectAuthors.com.

Venturing out on one’s own is something a lot of authors, well-known and not, are choosing to do these days. We thought you’d find it interesting to hear from an well-known author, who has had a long-standing good relationship with a publishing house, state his reasons for deciding it was better to eBook on his own.

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The 99 Cent Best Seller

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It’s easier than ever for authors to publish themselves–but tougher by the day to find fame. For those of you that want a great read on the inside the race to become the next E.L. James, pick up a copy of the Dec 10th, 2012 Time Magazine and dive into Andrew Rice’s article The 99c Best Seller.

You can also read more online, but you’ll need to be a Time subscriber: http://www.time.com/time/magazine#ixzz2E83K1bdt

Published in: on December 10, 2012 at 1:01 AM  Leave a Comment  
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PDFs as eBooks that won’t make eReaders weep

PDF Page set up    If you are going with PDF, you will need to reformat your book so that the pages are small.  The average eReader screen size is something you need to focus on.  If the display is 6″ wide, you cannot have your static PDF text running at a width of 6.5″ with additional white margins!

In the example we showed you Friday, the PDF was created on 8 x 11 pages, but the text box itself is only 4.75 inches wide and 8 inches long (including the header).  In other words, it was created to become a 6 x9 Trade paperback.

This is why, once you manipulate our PDF slightly in Adobe Digital Editions, it’s easy to read.  It’s just like reading the book version, because it is the book version.  And in fact, you and could read it, with friends at a book club, on readers or in hardcopy and be seeing the same thing with the same pages.

But to be honest, it could have been even better, ie easier for eReader users, if we’d simply made set the page set up for the PDF to custom, and set the text box on a page size that smaller to begin with, to match the size of the reader screen.

It’s something we’ll fix this time around simply because it’s easy to do, even in InDesign!

If you have your text set up on the custom paper size, and that size is smaller than a screen display (6″ wide), with it a tiny margin all around .25″ (it’s probably more like 50 pixels), then your resulting text boxes will fit into an eReader and display well without any manipulation once your text has been PDF’d.

In our case, we’d probably want to set the page size to w 5.25″ by h 7.75″  (A kindle DX display is 5 3/8 x 7 7/8). As it stands, our text box at 4.75″ w is fine, but it needs to be reduced to 7.25 in height.  This will create more pages in the final PDF, and a different numbering than the hardcopy edition, but a better eReader experience for anyone using a Kindle DX or iPad.

Remember, once it’s PDF’d there’s no going back, no one can manipulate it very much. So if the E-reader can’t present it in a readable fashion . . . your book won’t get read.

More on PDFs, tomorrow.

Text   This doesn’t mean you should change your text size (unless you’re using something like a 10pt).  Using a 12pt Times New Roman throughout is probably for the best (although some people prefer non-serif fonts).  Because it’s large enough that people of many visual abilities can read it.


If you love your font selections, that’s ok too. But you need to make sure they travel with the PDF (think embedded journalist, traveling with troops).  Most people don’t understand how to convert to a PDF with embedded fonts (that would be, PostScript the file first, then open the Acrobat Distiller then choose open and select the PS file, at which point it converts to a PDF with embedded fonts). If you do know this, great, do what you want.

With a PDF, it is what it is. Your readers get some of the experience of the physical book because you can duplicate the typography. Many eReaders change the font, or allow it to be changeable, but you can’t do that with a PDF on an eReader. It is, what it is.

You want to be sure that you have your PDF version set up to be either a) as useable as possible, or b) exactly as you want it in your book, but you’re ok with that because you’re using it more to send around as a “Galley” version / review copy of a print book that’s coming out soon.

Marketing   People with Nooks and Kindles  and iPads can read PDF version documents.  But, people have to hear about your book before they go to your website and download it.  Since you can’t market your PDF versions on B&N or Amazon or iBooks platforms without converting them to proprietary formats first,  . . . . .

Things your PDF eBook should have: TOC, bookmarked to chapters so people can navigate it quickly. A good cover which you can do yourself create cheaply with images from photostock places. Text boxes that will fit into the display window of  e-readers easily. Page numbers (because otherwise it’s hard to remember where you were or discuss the book with a friend).

Things you don’t really need: Headers. Headers, as you’d find in a traditional book, or even a PDF, with book/author name? Don’t need those.

An interesting post by Amanda Hocking – who sold way over 1 million e books, herself

If you’re over 30, or don’t have teenage kids, your probably don’t know Amanda Hocking. She writes paranormal romance for YA (young adults) — read vampire, werewolf, witch etc, for teenagers.

She’s sold over a million ebooks on Amazon (at 99 cents each) and recently signed a deal with St Martin.  Back on Aug 27, 2010, she wrote a blogpost: “An epic tale on how it all happened.” Everyone that wants to be a writer should read it. It’s brutally honest.

Not only will it teach you how to pick a topic and write a book that will sell (it’s called being on trend),  it will teach you a great deal about how out of sync publishing houses, and literary agents, often are when it comes to the reality of markets and sales. Amanda had publishers calling her to make deals, and still couldn’t get an agent to respond!

In addition, it tells you what you as an author will probably need to do to become known and sell books. And shows you the example on the blog. That is, the blog, the tweeting, etc, etc, etc . . . . Amanda does it all with style and grace.

Don’t be torn about what to do in order to succeed, just do what the crows do.  Find a bird that looks glossy and sleek, who obviously knows how survive and thrive, and follow its lead.

Published in: on August 29, 2011 at 7:08 AM  Leave a Comment  
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When you decide you are better off going it alone and publishing with a small press, or becoming a publisher, or publishing yourself

Most of the work of booksales is down to the author these days. It’s just how it is. Self-published authors know how to shift books so, if you’re thinking of going it alone, keep that in mind. There are are a couple authors shifting 1,000-3,000 a month in eBooks on Amazon. Learn what these successful authors know about covers, sales,  marketing, targeting audiences, and trends.

Even if you don’t ever self-publish, or plan to start a publishing house,  you can take that knowledge with you into publisher contract negotiations, art direction meetings, and discussions with their marketing teams. It always helps to know about other aspects of the business, besides where to put a comma, and if you can make an intelligent comment about something such as bundling e/p versions of a book or youtube book trailers, that’s always a plus.

There’s really no stigma in going it alone these days, and it’s easier than you think. Author Barry Eisler is
one of the world’s bestselling spy/thriller authors, and he publishes himself. (And yes, he has a really dark website, but he does sell spy books!) He actually walked away from $500K book deal with a major NY publisher in March  to go it alone. He’s a great writer, but he knows how to market himself and his work and he works hard at it.

Dan Poynter’s books on self-publishing are always a help to newbies. You can usually find them in your local library but  visit his ParaPublishing site to get the latest news, downloads and tips.  Dan gets $8,000 to turn up and speak for a day. The guy has been self-publishing since the 1970s, and he’s been crazy successful at it, so, he’s worth hearing out.

Dan gives you the brass tacks on marketing, branding, what it takes to shift books, various rights you have as an author that you need to consider before you sign any away (movie, book, e, audio, serialization, Spanish language, etc).  His insights are extremely helpful to currently unpublished authors who often need to understand big picture of publishing and have no clue what future steps lie ahead should their book find agent and ultimately a publisher.

The important thing to understand about how you choose to publish your work, is that you make the decision that’s right for you. (Hint: it’s the one that makes you peaceful and happy inside, not the one that makes you rich but miserable.) If you don’t enjoy the process you won’t stick with it. Yeah, some days will be tough no matter what, but overall, you should be happy you have an agent, or decided to go it alone, or went with a small publisher, or . . . .

Thinking of Publishing? Or maybe you secretly want to go the route of Self-Publishing but someone told you that would make you look like an idiot?

How Self Publishing Came of Age and Self-Publishing Stars are great articles by Guardian staffer Alison Flood that ran last month. You may have missed them if you don’t read UK papers.

Author: David Moody

In the first article Alison Flood looks at what used to be seen as a last resort in publishing, self-publishing. It is fast becoming the most successful trend in writing. And why wouldn’t it be?

In the second article, she talks to a couple of authors doing it themselves, and doing it really, really well — Englishman David Moody and American Barry Eisler, two of the most successful self-published authors.

Um, as you might get from the Moody site, David is into Sci-fi Horror fiction.  (Sigh, yet another author who believe blood splatter on a cover is a selling point. So overdone these days it actually takes away from a good book!)

Author: Barry Eisler

As for David Eisler, who walked away from a $500K book deal to self-publish . . . We purposely don’t send you to the homepage because we think the tips to writers is more what you’re looking for, and we’re kind of G-rated operation at FAB.

Barry is a great person and a brilliant writer of thrillers. His site is hugely helpful and everyone should have a look at it, but his current homepage features titles that aren’t in the G-rated territory so we didn’t feel right about sending you there.

The truth is, authors have been self-publishing since day one. Walt Whitman? Leaves of Grass? Self-published. Not only that. He then went on to pay to have his “anonymous” reviews of his own work printed in the NY Times! So, one might conclude, authors have been deviously promoting themselves also, since day one. There’s no reason you can’t too!