Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Advice to a Beginner Writer

What advice would you give a beginner writer?

My advice to a beginner would be to (a) join your local writers centre and learn about what you're getting into with publishing and (b) engage a professional editor. You could learn a lot from a publishing consultant, an editor or a book marketing strategist, but it does come at a cost. 

Think about your own situation, time availability, budget and whether you think traditional or self-publishing is the best option for you. How much do you want to learn yourself from a club like a writers' centre (low cost)? Or would you prefer to get personal professional information fast (high cost)?

In any case, every writer needs an editor at some stage for their book to be any good. The question is when is the right time to engage one. Most authors need to go through a process of drafting, sharing their drafts, workshopping with other writers, and self-editing, before it makes sense to pay a professional editor.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Printed Books VS Ebooks, that old debate

As the managing director of Australian eBook Publisher, I often get asked questions by students about ebooks. I recently had some questions about the topic of printed books VS ebooks. I will share my answers below so that any others who are interested in my opinion, based solely on my unique (limited?) perspective, can benefit. :)

Student asked: 

When it comes to e-book publishing and print publishing, which gain better feedback and response from readers and authors?

I answered:
There is a problem with your question. The answer is anything and everything. The question is far too broad and assumes there's some kind of trend that applies to all kinds of books, all kinds of publishing, all kinds of readers and all kinds of authors. These variables are vast and difficult to pin down.

In my experience, specifically in indie publishing (assisted self-publishing to be even more specific), we see about a 70/30 split where 70% of authors are only interested in ebook publishing, and 30% in print as well. There is the rare occurrence of print-only as well. This is a skewed statistic because obviously with a name like 'Australian eBook Publisher' and ranking on Google better for 'ebook conversion' than for 'book design' we would tend to get more of the ebook authors than the both or the only.

The target market of the book is a major factor in whether to go print or ebook or both. For example, children's books must be in print. There is slow uptake of children's ebooks globally. The simple fact is that children, parents, teachers, etc. prefer to sit together and read a real hard copy of a book, not use a screen. However, I do believe this is very slowly changing, because ebooks are so much cheaper. This will occur for middle grade and chapter books a decade before picture books. Indeed, if you ask me, the picture book in hard copy will always rule supreme. The same might be said for some photography books, large reference books, cook books, etc.

Enhanced ebooks for children may be a different story, because only on devices can you easily get hold of ebooks for children with audio narration (media overlay), sound effects, video and interactivity. Please see my projects Myra and the Magic Motorcycle and You, Kifaru and the Mud Problem for example.

Student asked:
I was wondering what you’re thoughts are on the two methods of publishing and perhaps which you like more and why? Is there one you would recommend more than the other? Why?

I answered:
I like both. As a reader, I prefer to have a novel in hard copy sitting on my bedside table. It looks better to be seen reading a book than staring at a screen. It's also a slightly more involved reading experience (you ingest the words rather than skimming them). I read novels both as ebooks and in print, so I do a bit of both. I tend to enjoy it more when it is a hard copy book though.

As a publisher in the indie space, I prefer ebooks because they are so much cheaper to produce, and selling printed books to the level they expect (eg. to make back their initial investment) can be difficult for indies. However, every book and every author is a unique individual, so it really depends on the circumstances.

I recommend whatever my customer wants. Often they want it in print for posterity. That's perfectly valid. If an author engages me for marketing services, that's when I will put in the required time to research them, their genre, their book etc. and explain what I think it would take for them, using their author platform, to sell their particular book. 

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to this. You really have to understand the extreme variety there is in the book publishing industry. Authors are as extremely varied as people are. Books are as varied as any idea or concept you can think of. Anything and everything. You wouldn't say that one kind of clothing is better for all people. It's simply not possible to generalise like that.

For example, Bernie Searle one of my customers is a massage therapist, so he has a way to sell hard copy books, i.e. in his practice. That being the case there's an argument for publishing the book in print. With ebooks, they have to be marketed online (internet marketing), so an author in their 80s who has no ability, nobody to call upon and no budget to pay for an internet marketing person should not go into ebooks if they want them to sell.

Student asked:
Do you think e-book will be the future of books and print publishing will be a thing of the past? Or do you believe that they will co-exist in the future?  Why?

I answered:
The reason I got into ebooks is because it was a noticeable upcoming trend 10 years ago (5 years ago in Australia), and I figured 'Hey, I can do that'. There will always be a place for printed books, of all genres. We will never see the complete destruction of the printed book. The bookstore in Australia has already morphed into a shop full of gimmicks and mass market big names. Even so, I predict that it may not be around in 5 years. Instead, people may only buy hard copy books from second-hand bookstores, department stores and online. Books are cheap enough to post so buying them online is the way of the future. 

Student asked:
For a beginning author, which publishing method would you recommend and why?

I answered:
It depends on each individual author and each individual book. For some, I would recommend both because we offer print-on-demand, and the indie author often enjoys having a physical book in their hand they can use to market to their local readership, family, friends, at a launch, take to local bookstores and libraries etc. 

It depends on the authors' goal. If they just want to 'get their book out there' then ebooks are the way to go because they're not investing so much. 

You will find more relevant information in the FAQ of Australian eBook Publisher and on the Australian eBook conversion and distribution blog.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Print-on-demand Wars. IngramSpark VS CreateSpace

For Print-on-demand book distribution, which is better, IngramSpark or CreateSpace?

This article is written by an Australian for Australians, but it may be informative and interesting to readers located outside Australia as well.

In the following example, the book is 372 pp, 129 x 198 mm (5.06 x 7.81 inch), black and white, gloss cover. From my research done at the end of 2016, here are the pros and cons for print on demand via IngramSpark vs CreateSpace.

IngramSpark
CreateSpace
Able to maintain current page size of 129 x 198 mm (5.06 x 7.81 inch)
Yes
Yes
Appx price per book
6.42 USD
5.31 USD = appx 7.13 AUD
Wholesale discount
55%
unknown
Commission kept
0%
40-60% depending on how book is sold**
Retail price required to make min AU$2 profit in USD (appx 1.49 USD)
17.99 USD (24.17 AUD)
1.68 USD profit
16.99 USD (22.83 AUD)
1.48 USD profit
(profit is higher depending on sales channel)
Retail price required to make min AU$2 profit in GBP (appx 1.18 GBP)
13.49 GBP (22.82 AUD)
1.21 GBP profit
9.49 GBP (16.05 AUD)
1.27 GBP profit
Retail price required to make min AU$2 profit in AUD
25.49
2.10 AUD profit
Unable to set AUD price separately

Note: prices vary in territory as print prices vary in different territories.
**     as Amazon are the retailer, I’m assuming that their commission encompasses the wholesale discount.

Summary

IngramSpark

Con: Has a higher price for printing than CreateSpace in the USA for this book size. However, some publishers are able to get volume discounts (contract/deal) with IngramSpark.

Pro: Allows the setting of Australian territory pricing, in AUD, which CreateSpace does not (at time of writing).

Pro: Although with the USA, CreateSpace’s printing and shipping charges were more competitive than IngramSpark’s for this book size, globally IngramSpark’s printing and shipping prices are better than CreateSpace’s, and others, because IngramSpark has printing facilities in major western countries like the USA, Canada, UK and Australia.

Pro: Distributes to over 39,000 retailers including Amazon.

Pro: Seems to have a global focus, not so USA-centric. Has a customer service centre within Australia.

Notes: On IngramSpark the publisher would be able to maintain the current page size, etc. They charge/keep no sales commission. Some printers don’t offer book sizes.


CreateSpace

Pro: The $5.31 USD appx price per book (plus shipping and handling) was lower than that of IngramSpark, however this is only for printing in the USA. Generally and globally speaking, I have witnessed higher prices from CreateSpace than from IngramSpark. This may be because the latter has printing facilities in major western countries like the USA, Canada, UK and Australia, whereas Amazon CreateSpace has to charge to print in the USA. Top this with the extra price to ship to the country in question and you have a significant Con instead of a pro if you think your target market is not just people in the USA.

Con: Does not allow separate setting of an Australian retail price. Australia is a tag along on the USA Amazon pricing and store (Australians have to buy physical printed books from the US store, Amazon.com).

Con: Has an ‘expanded distribution network’ in the USA, i.e. to compete with IngramSpark’s distribution not just to Amazon but to over 39,000 retailers, but seems to be limited to the USA.

Con: Seems to be more USA-centric. Does not have customer service within Australia.

Pro: Amazon probably gives priority to its own (CreateSpace) titles over competitors print-on-demand titles. For example, they will be shown as ‘in stock’ whereas sometimes the titles of other providers (like IngramSpark, LuLu etc.) will show as ‘Temporarily unavailable’ even though it can be ordered by pressing the button to buy. That is after all the point of print on demand. It also seems likely that Amazon will let its own recommender system prioritise CreateSpace books over other indie books, though I have no evidence to back up this theory.

Notes: On CreateSpace the publisher would be able to maintain the current page size, etc. Some printers don’t offer all book sizes. See: https://www.createspace.com/Products/Book/#content6

Unclear wholesale discount, but their commission seems to encompass it. CreateSpace keep between 40% and 60% of list price depending on how it is sold. See here: https://www.createspace.com/Products/Book/Royalties.jsp 

My printed books are available to purchase online, through IngramSpark print-on-demand. My ebooks are available through major vendors. All the links can be found at www.amandagreenslade.com along with further information.




Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Supa Nova Brisbane 2017

I attended in Author Alley as the author of the epic fantasy series (new adult age group) The Astor Chronicles. Met some lovely artists and writers and enjoyed having a front row seat watching the patrons, many of whom were dressed up in fantastic costumes.