In Your Corner: When Free Isn’t Free

When it comes to self-publishing, “free” isn’t always free, if you catch my meaning. In an industry where we’re used to self-publishing and indie presses being the much-lauded “little guy” going up against the Big Five traditional publishing houses, we sometimes overlook an important fact: indie authors still need to read the fine print.

Every publisher is a business–small presses, vanity publishers, and self-publishing companies like Outskirts Press included–and therefore, publishers still must make a profit somewhere. And that “somewhere” part is … well, the key. Rather than learn about hidden fees after you’ve gotten started down the path to self-publishing, wouldn’t it be better to know ahead of time how much you’ll need to spend? Planning, budgeting, and creative control are all vital facets of the experience, and we want to put you in the driver’s seat.

To that end, here are a couple of hidden fees to watch out for:

  • Amazon’s “Megabyte” Fee: If you happen to choose the 70% royalty option when publishing through Amazon’s KDP store, Amazon will charge you for each megabyte of your document. They have a full explanation on their KDP pricing page. It’s also worth noting that Amazon is not the only publisher to invoke this kind of hidden fee; many digital publishers do. So read that fine print!
  • Cover Design: Unless you opt for a bundle or collected service from a self-publishing company which offers professional cover design, you won’t be receiving one for free! And while many online websites offer free tutorials, the results … don’t always look so good. If you need a little convincing to pay out the money for a professional cover design, see one of our many previous posts on the benefits! The same is true for professional copyediting and many other interior design aspects of your book.
  • ISBNs: Unless you already knew you needed one, you might not know about this hidden fee. It’s a sneaky one, too–but there’s help at hand! It’s easy to file for an ISBN, if you know how or who to hire.
  • Street Cred & File Conversion: Some of the unquantifiables of self-publishing include more generic “business expenses,” like establishing credibility by having an imprint’s name rather than your own personal name on the Library of Congress information page, and paying for a good and accurate conversion of your manuscript file to the final format. Neither of these things is strictly necessary, in that you can self-publish without them, but it will take you much longer to get your book out there, and much longer to sell those books once they’re printed if they’re not formatted correctly or attached to a “legitimizing” imprint.

In many ways, you get what you pay for, so hidden fees aren’t strictly an evil thing. They exist for a reason, and your success depends on knowing which of them is useful to bow to and which ones you can forego. Just be aware … they’re out there, and you need to budget them in before committing to a final bank balance.

hidden fees

You are not alone. ♣︎


Elizabeth

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 18 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, pre-production specialists, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path

Growing Pains: Part VIII

We all know how bombarding the marketplace can be. Ads are constantly smacking us in the face every time we open a webpage or app on our phones, computers, iPads, Kindles, turn on the TV, drive down the road, attend an event, etc. etc. Some ads just hit us and go in one ear and out the other, but some ads really stick out (for better or worse), and those are the ones we remember. In a world where you have a few seconds to make an impression, you need to embrace being different and standing out, because the first impression may be the only one you get to make before you blend into the white noise of the everyday marketing buzz.

This week, I’d like to talk about how being different can help you grow your business as a self-published author. You want to be able to hook customers off of more than just a random purchase based on your book cover. Yes, do stand out and hook customers with a unique book cover, but don’t be a one-hit wonder. Being “different” (whatever that really means) is something that you need to aim for in the long term, on a bigger scale. You want your readers to feel like they are consuming a product that also makes them different via consumption. We all know those niche, cult-classics that those really “hip” and “in tune” readers flock to just so they can say they read it, and when they do people will nod and say “oh yeah, I’ve heard about that!”. The kind of books people read in busy coffee shops so that everyone knows they’re reading it. You want to be produce that book.

Think in terms of 80s and 90s Apple ads, where Apple stressed how different they were from other companies, and how using Apple products would make you different too. Was this marketing effective? Take a look at everyone in your immediate vicinity and see if they aren’t staring into an iPhone, iPad or MacBook and you tell me. Is it possible for books to have this same effect? Think Fight Club, Infinite Jest, V for Vendetta, On the Road. People want to say they’ve read these books and they want to tell you how these books transformed them when they read them in highschool, college, on a road trip, etc.

How do you become a book like that? Well, it’s not easy, to be perfectly honest. But those authors probably didn’t know they were writing a cult classic when they wrote it, they just wanted to try something different. If you have a creative instinct that doesn’t follow the normal plot line, character structure, story structure, format, etc. — follow it. It could give you that “different” edge that will set you apart from the slew of book titles that people are bombarded with at bookstores and on Amazon every day. Be the different you want to see in the marketplace…to distastefully appropriate a Ghandi quote.


Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠


Kelly

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com

From the Archives: Google Book Settlement & Registering your Self-published Book

Welcome back to our Tuesday segment, where we’ll be revisiting some of our most popular posts from the last few years.  What’s stayed the same?  And what’s changed?  We’ll be updating you on the facts, and taking a new (and hopefully refreshing) angle on a few timeless classics of Self Publishing Advisor.

∗∗∗∗∗

[ Originally posted: August 18, 2009 ]

Perhaps you’ve been following news about the Google Book Settlement over the past few weeks. The overall implications of the deal are still unclear, with notable opposition coming from The Authors Guild and the American Society of Journalists and Authors.

The details of the settlement involving copyright concerns and royalties first initiated through the Google Library Project in 2004 are a bit esoteric and apparently complex. Don’t be overwhelmed. There is no downside to registering your self-published book, so don’t miss the deadlines.

Outskirts Press has provided a step by step overview of the process in their most recent newsletter. Check it out here.

The good news, for most of us at least, is that the Authors Guild v. Google battle hasn’t rated the news much recently. During the battle, which lasted from “the filing of the case on September 20, 2005 to the Supreme Court’s denial of review on April 18, 2016” (that’s eleven years!), the internet was aflame with opinion. And in the initial aftermath of the initial settlement proposal in 2008 and again after the District Court ruling dismissing the case in favor of Google in 2013, tempers were hot. By the time the Supreme Court ruled in 2016 to uphold the District Court ruling, most authors had moved on, emotionally. Most of them had to.

You don’t win against Google if you’re the little guy, the results seemed to say.

Over at the Authors Guild website, they spin a slightly different story–and again, they probably have to, in order to maintain morale and keep up the energy to fight other battles, which they often do in defense of self-publishing authors as well as traditionally published authors. The fact remains–and is becoming increasingly hard to debate–that authors need to form alliances in order to protect their interests in a market that by its very nature lies open to exploitation and rapid evolution in ways that can undermine any one market’s profit base.

In short, all this is to say: the hubbub may be dying down, but we’ve learned a valuable lesson. Don’t hesitate to register your books, yes, but also … figure out who your allies are, and cultivate a few if you’ve started out solo. It will make a big difference down the road, if someone violates your copyright, for example, if you have a little weight behind your suit. Publish through a reliable self-publishing company (and of course I recommend Outskirts Press, after years working with the company) who is known to advocate for its authors. Put out feelers to join forces with other, local, indie authors. These may seem like small things, but they can have a very big impact later on, down the line.

google books
Google Books–a land of opportunity … and Copyright challenges.

Thanks for reading.  If you have any other ideas, I’d love to hear them.  Drop me a line in the comments section below and I’ll respond as quickly as I can.  ♠


Kelly

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.

Saturday Book Review: “I Love Me and the Skin I’m In”

Book reviews are a great way for self-publishing authors to gain exposure. After all, how can someone buy your book if he or she doesn’t know it exists? Paired with other elements of your book promotion strategy, requesting reviews is a great way to get people talking about what you’ve written.

When we read good reviews, we definitely like to share them. It gives the author a few (permanent) moments of fame and allows us to let the community know about a great book. Here’s this week’s book review, courtesy of Midwest Book Review:

jessica n crutcher I love me and the skin I'm in

I Love Me and the Skin I’m In

by Jessica N. Crutcher

Publisher: Outskirts Press

ISBN: 9781478770602

Synopsis*:

Love yourself no matter what others say. Follow Jessica on her journey to understanding what it means to love yourself despite how others may view you. See how Jessica handles the challenges of bullying, and learns to love the skin she is in.

 * courtesy of Amazon.com

Critique:

“I Love Me and the Skin I’m In” is a sensitive, yet practical story about girls finding ways to react to racist bullying by their peers. Jessica is a lovely, beloved girl with cafe au lait colored skin. One day as her mother took her home from school, she was upset. Further questioning revealed that Jessica had her feelings badly hurt by fellow students, who told her she was not black, so they did not like her. The story that follows presents some positive options about reactions to racism and bullying among children. Realistic colored illustrations reveal children with different skin and hair colors. Jessica is able to figure out a strategy for going on with her life in elementary school even though her feelings have been badly hurt. She finds new friends who are supportive of her, who share her experiences of bullying. Best of all, their teacher notices and cares about what has happened. She expedites a teaching encounter between Jessica and her new friends who have also been bullied, and the girls who hurt their feelings. Apologies ensue, and Jessica forgives each of the girls who bullied her. “I Love Me and the Skin I’m In” ends with a positive message of self empowerment for kids who experience similar bullying behavior: Learn to love the skin you’re in.

reviewed on the Social Issues Shelf of Midwest Book Review ]

Here’s what some other reviewers are saying:

I absolutely adore the concept of this book and enjoyed reading it.

Jessica has her first experience with bullying and discovers through, family, teacher, and true friend support, that bullying can’t get the best of her.

The book is short, as is typical with children’s books, but I feel like this one could have been just a bit longer. The conflict and resolution happened so fast. It was well written and the concepts and emotions were expressed wonderfully. I simply wish there had been a bit more. Perhaps delving more into the motives of the bullying children.

Also, the illustrations were beautiful, but again, there just didn’t seem to be enough of them.

Recommended to children, fans of children’s books, and anyone wanting to bring awareness to bullying.

– Amazon Reviewer Toinette

Thank you Jessica. I am happy there is a book relating to bullying, etc that shows young children of all races that name calling, etc is NOT the avenue to take when someone hurts your feeling. Jessica was smart enough to tell her Mom what happened, go seek new friends, and accept the apologies of the girls who bullied her. Of course the response of the teacher was A+. Hopefully you know a Male that can write a book for the male population.

– Amazon Reviewer Quilter Patricia

 


saturday self-published book review

Thanks for reading!  Keep up with the latest in the world of indie and self-published books by watching this space every Saturday!

Self Publishing Advisor

selfpubicon1

Conversations: 6/16/2017

WRITE THEIR STORIES:

Developing the Biography, Part III

SO…what are the most important things to include in a biography without getting lost in the research? Most writers I know literally love doing research no matter what genre they’re currently working in. However, researching the lives of people who are no longer living—and, yes, those who are still on the planet—can be intriguing to the point of obsession. If you’ve ever delved into your own genealogy you know exactly what I’m talking about.

The best way I’ve found to keep on track is to prepare a question outline then briefly answer each one. This is what it looks like.

  • Who is my client? The actual person I’m writing for? OR a relative of theirs? OR is this an assignment from a publishing house? What are their expectations for the length of the book and the due dates for 1st draft, 2nd draft and final?
  • What is the purpose of this biography? Is the focus on infant to early adulthood? Their career? Their ministry? Their “fall” into a troubled life?
  • When (what time period) did they live in? Does the client want specific information about what was happening in the world during these years?
  • Where will I be developing this work? Has the client hired me to visit the locations where the subject lived between birth and death?
  • Why? WHY have I accept this project? Do I have a personal interest in this subject/person or certain elements of their lives?

Once I’ve briefly answered those questions, I move forward to my next set of queries. These are very basic and, again, answer them as briefly as possible.

  • Who is the subject of this book? Name. Place and date of birth and death (if applicable).
  • What is this person’s “claim to fame?” Major achievement(s).
  • When did they attend school? Which schools? Any outstanding awards?
  • Where did they live? Did their community acknowledge them in any way? Did their name appear in local newspapers? Why?
  • Why did they choose their career path? Or…were there multiple careers? Any significant contributions to those fields?

With the responses to these set of questions you will be creating a Basic Timeline of this person’s life. These facts will keep your manuscript from wandering. Although sidebar pieces of information—that relate to a different time in the subject’s life—are often added throughout a biography, it is essential for the writer to be extremely clear about when things happened. If the when-facts become jumbled a biography becomes useless.

At this point of manuscript development I suggest writers contact their client and review the direction they want the book to go. ASK them who they want this book to speak to—who will be the reading audience. This is another critical piece of information for the writer because it sets the TONE for your work—how you will creatively shape the story you’re about to write.

Biography writing is an exciting genre and one that will utilize every writing skill you have. It is also a genre much sought after by libraries around the world giving the writer/biographer an excellent platform from which to promote all your writing abilities. I encourage every writer to develop at least one biography in their career. It is, indeed, an amazing journey! ⚓︎

copywriting vs. proofreading


Royalene

ABOUT ROYALENE DOYLE: Royalene has been writing something since before kindergarten days and continues to love the process. Through her small business—DOYLE WRITING SERVICES—she brings more than 40 years of writing experience to authors who need “just a little assistance” with completing their projects. This is a nice fit as she develops these blogs for Outskirts Press (OP) a leading self-publisher, and occasionally accepts a ghostwriting project from one of their clients. Her recent book release (with OP) titled FIREPROOF PROVERBS, A Writer’s Study of Words, is already receiving excellent reviews including several professional writer’s endorsements given on the book’s back cover.

Royalene’s writing experience grew through a wide variety of positions from Office Manager and Administrative Assistant to Teacher of Literature and Advanced Writing courses and editor/writer for an International Christian ministry. Her willingness to listen to struggling authors, learn their goals and expectations and discern their writing voice has brought many manuscripts into the published books arena.

In Your Corner: What’s in it for you at the book fair?

What’s in it For You?

Book fairs are great! … but they can also be terrifying, or worse, difficult to access for the average self-publishing author.  Combine tens of thousands of highly passionate librarians and booksellers, teeming crowds of readers, not to mention casual browsers and you have an unparalleled opportunity for exposure!  The book fair is unequaled by anything else in the reading and writing world, and because it most often reflects the best aspects of the writing and reading and publishing processes, it has plenty of room for you, the self-publishing author.

Many self-publishing platforms and hybrid publishing companies send representatives to book fairs.  Many, including Outskirts Press, even sponsor booths in order to feature self-published books at home and abroad–face-out, not spine-out! And more than anything else in terms of presentation, face-out exposure sells books!

Audience Matters.

What kind of person attends a book fair?  Interestingly, the London Book Fair has already answered that question and thoroughly; according to the LBF website, the 2015 event drew 1,591 exhibitors from 60 countries and some 25,000 attendees from 118 countries.  In attendance also were around 900 members of the media, also from all over the world.  Since Planet Earth only sports around 196 countries at the moment, this means that the London Book Fair manages to represent at least 60% of the world’s population in some way, shape, or form–each year!  And the LBF is just one book fair among many.

You belong there.

Your book is wonderful. It needs to be read. You may be a bit of a rebel: you’re already striking out on your own, dispensing with the false and burdensome values of traditional publishing, after all. But you and your book are free to take advantage of scaffolding like book fairs without being shackled to the rest of it, and your book is a bonafide example of an author designing and creating and publishing exactly what he or she envisioned.  That kind of artistic integrity creates its own gravity, its own magnetic attraction to readers.  Fair-goers will pick up on that authenticity right away!

Your book ought to be the star of the show.

Often a busy or crowded space isn’t the most comfortable environment to spend time talking or browsing for new reading material.  Think of Starbucks–and of bookstores like Denver’s the Tattered Cover.  Both of these companies use small nooks to great effect, and it’s not by just packing in a lot of stuff and posters and wallpapering the whole area with product information.  A book fair is not a bookstore; it doesn’t revolve around books.  A book fair revolves around authors and the worlds that they create.  People can order whatever they like off of Amazon and have it in their hands with far less expense of time and energy and money than attending a book fair–but people still flock to them!  And why?  Because they want to participate in the social world of books.  They want to meet the people who make books happen.  They want to meet you and your book.

So, how do you make your book the star of the show?  You winnow down your display and your presence to the absolute essentials–with full face-out exposure–and you focus on building human connections with the people there. All you need is the confidence to go, and perhaps the support of those who have gone before.

You are not alone. ♣︎


Elizabeth

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 18 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, pre-production specialists, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path

Growing Pains: Part VII

When a business starts to grow, it should reasonably take up more space. This could be space on your desk, in your schedule and just in your life in general. When something begins to take up more space, sometimes the next logical step is to literally give it more space. With that in mind, this week, I’d like to explore the topic of expanding your business to another location.

Because it is 2017, I’d like to begin by saying that this other location need not be in physical space, but can also occupy the virtual reality we all seem to spend so much time in nowadays. If you don’t already have a website for your books, products and services, do yourself a favor and get one. Online marketing is crucial in this day and age, as a significant amount of shopping done today is online. If you’re not online, you’re simply missing out on one of the largest customer bases there is, period.

Further, a website is not always enough. A lot of people get their news and advertisements and ideas of what to buy via social media, thus, expanding your product to these other outlets is a fantastic idea. The more your page is “liked” or “shared,” the more it will show up on more people’s feed, and the higher the chances you have of exposure for your business. Be shameless with the use of hashtags and tagging of people and companies relevant to your work. This is another helpful way for people to find out about your work. Expanding into the digital world has got to be one of the most profitable and lucrative moves you can make as a business owner.

If you find yourself needing to expand your business in actual physical space, this is a whole different ball game. Expanding in this way can be as simple as asking for a display in a lock coffee shop, toy store, library, women’s shelter, Post Office, etc.  Make sure your displays are aesthetically pleasing and call to customers who may not be in that establishment for books, but may find themselves picking it up just out of curiosity. You want your display to have the same zest and pull that you want your cover design to have. Get creative, handcraft a wooden display or ask a handy friend to make one for you. Your display should add to the ambiance of the establishment its in, rather than be a nuisance pile of books with an 8 and a half by 11 sheet of paper next to it scotch taped to the counter.

If you actually need more physical space just to store your back stock of products such as books, manuscripts, files, etc., consider getting a storage unit or devoting a room in your house to just that. Nothing drives me crazier than a bunch of stacks of books and loose papers in my work space, and I think creativity will falter in such an environment. Always give yourself the space you need to both work and operate as a business!

bookshelves
Filling the shelves.

Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠


Kelly

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com