Posts Tagged With: ebooks

CreateSpace’s New Distribution Options: Pros and Cons

Recently, CreateSpace added several new free distribution options to their distribution channels. This includes distribution to bookstores like Barnes & Noble and your local bookshop, academic institutions and libraries, and to CreateSpace Direct. These options, once available only to authors who were able to afford them, are now available to self-published authors with all sorts of incomes, writing styles, and fan followings.

Now there are definite perks to doing this. Authors would love more readers, and if they are able to reach readers in places previously unavailable to them due to monetary concerns, this can only be good for them. And bookstores, which have been suffering with the rise of the e-book and online distributors, will probably benefit being able to cater to the fans of authors whose works were before only available on certain online retailers. In a way, it’s a symbiotic relationship, both for authors and booksellers.

Not only that, but the books of self-published authors are sometimes rejected by libraries and academic institutions because they are self-publsihed in the first place, or their self-published status means that the books don’t come from certain distributors. If authors are able to get their works into libraries, that means people who don’t own e-readers or who can’t afford to buy books online can now read the books of self-published authors through this new distribution system.

And, using the expanded distribution channels means a potentially higher royalty rate for every copy sold.

However, there are drawbacks to this. Amazon, which owns CreateSpace and it’s print-on-demand services, determines minimum prices for all works published through them. They calculate these minimum prices by determining the length of the book, how much it’ll cost to print, how much they get from the sale of the book, and how much they need to give the author. Recently when I published my novel Reborn City, I saw that the minimum price they gave me was a little less than nine dollars, much higher than I’d expected. I wasn’t happy about it, but I decided to go with it and make the best of it.

When today I decided to try these expanded distribution options on RC, I found out that in order to use these expanded distribution channels, the list price would go up to at least thirteen dollars. In other words, the increase didn’t cost anything for the author, but it did cost extra for the reader.

I decided not to take these extra distribution channels because of the price hike it’d require. Some of my friends and family would not be able to afford a paperback copy because of a list price, or they’d be much more reluctant to buy it because is it not  their genre in addition to being over thirteen dollars. Plus, I’m the kind of guy who doesn’t want to make people pay too much for his work more than he wants them to actually read his work. Terrible character flaw, I know, but I live with it.

However that’s my own personal choice. If you wish to, go right ahead and sign up for these new channels. It’s your choice, which as I’ve said before is one of the best perks of self-pbulishing.

And who knows? You could see your sales go up dramatically, and your fanbase expand like a hot-air balloon. Not to mention the joy of telling friends and family that your work is now available in bookstores and libraries.  That’s always something to make you feel good. And for some books, the increase in the list price might not be too high, so if you have my problem with pricing books too high, it may not be so bad after all. I might still use these channels for my collection of short stories, which is already very low-priced.

What do you think of these new distribution options? Are you planning on use them? If so, why or why not?

*Note: Since this post’s publication, I’ve had a change of heart and I’ve decided to try distributing my books through these new channels in the hope of reaching more readers. Whether or not I’m successful, we shall see. Wish me luck, as well as everyone else using these options for the first time.

Categories: Amazon store, Author Platform & Branding, Book Pricing, Book Promotion, Business Plan, Createspace, Digital & ePublishing, Marketing & Promoting, Print-On-Demand, Self-Publishing, The Reader, Writing as a Business | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Writing a Series: Cliffhangers?

I had a conversation the other day about when it is – and isn’t – appropriate in a book series to have a cliffhanger.  Common rule of thumb is that each book in a series should be a stand alone book so that a reader need not buy the entire series, but only read one book and know what’s going on.

At the same time, many authors, both traditional and self published, employ the cliffhanger ending. The Morganville Vampires is a good example of this. The first book drops off in the middle of a “battle”, like the old serials with the main characters in deathly perril.

That seems to have worked for Rachel Caine since she’s ready to publish book 11 in the series.

So, when should an author leave an open ending and when should they be sure that each book can stand alone?

I think genre may be an important factor.  Thrillers and mysteries are more likely to draw in readers who will not go back and read earlier books, or who may not read the series in order. On the other hand, a fantasy epic will likely attract readers who want a huge story arc that spans several novels.

I believe another factor is how much time passes between one book and the next. If an author takes two years to finish that dramatic fight, readers will likely lose interest. If you followed the Rachel Caine link above you can see a list of her novels with publication dates, and see how close together the books are. Even if she drops off at the end of her book, fans only have to wait a few months before they can have the conclusion; and the set up for a new cliffhanger.

At the core I’m a fantasy reader, so I find that I prefer books that have a long story arc. I want to “have” to buy the next book, and I want to “have” to read them in the correct order. I want characters and situations to pop up five books down the line that make me have to scramble back to the first book in an effort to remember what the heck the author is talking about; I want a whole world. However, I don’t like it when a book drops off in the middle of a scene. If there’s a fight, then I think that fight needs to end, or else the next book should open with the fight in it’s entirety.

What about you? How do you feel about cliffhangers or stories that arc from one book to the next? Do they make you want the next book or do you prefer a book that can stand alone, even if it’s part of an ongoing series? What genres do you think lend themselves to long story arcs? What genres don’t?

Categories: General Writing, The Reader | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

eBook Primer

I was talking with my postmistress the other day and she asked me when my next book will be out. I told her that it would be out in eBook around the end of May. She gave me that strange look that my mom gave me when I told her the same thing and I knew I would have to explain it to her. It became a lengthy discussion and one that I thought might benefit some people here.

Adobe Acrobat (.PDF)

Adobe Acrobat is a free program you can download from www.adobe.com for your computer or PDA. This format is the most popular because it can be read from your computer screen or imported to a Palm or Pocket PC and can even be printed.

HTML

HTML is the most versatile of the formats. It can be read from your computer using your browser, convert to your favorite eBook reader’s required format (such as the Rocketbook, the Hiebook, and the REB series readers), sent via email directly to your Kindle, and opened by a word processing program such as Microsoft Word or Open Office. You can print this file, but it will print as one continuous page.

Mobipocket/Kindle/Nook

Mobipocket, Kindle, and Nook each have free programs and apps designed specifically for PDAs such as a Palm or a Pocket PC.  They also have an interface that allows for reading on your computer. Printing isn’t allowed.

Microsoft Reader

You can download this free reader from http://www.microsoft.com/reader. Microsoft Reader can be read from either your PC or from your Pocket PC. It’s easy to use, the program is shaped to look like a book and it has read-aloud capabilities. This reader, however, does not allow for printing.

Now this isn’t the whole list, because there are a lot of different readers and formats out there, but here are a few of the most popular. Feel free to add to the list in the comments.

Categories: Book Setup | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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