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Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


Will Wight, self-published author of Cradle fame, hit the #1 bestseller list on the whole Amazon Kindle store (not just his category) for 24 hours or so this week with the release of Wintersteel (Cradle Book 8). It's still at #4 right now.

He's done some posts on his blog and on Reddit regarding his process and business model that I've found very informative:

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Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


angel opportunity posted:

This doesn't mean I am disdainful of my readers or anything. It just means I'm writing something that I'm not the target audience for. I try really hard to put my own voice into this stuff and get elements in there that I appreciate myself (usually humor, for example, even if it's not a "comedy") but I am always hyper-conscious of what the readers actually want to read

<snip>

These are things that often make me feel constrained or limited in what I can write, but I always deliver them so that I can make money.

With all that said, I find that "non-readers" like me have a pretty big advantage when it comes to writing really fast. When I used to write stuff for the Thunderdome, I was hyper-aware of how I would judge it as a reader, because I was writing stuff purely for fun. I was writing what I would want to read myself. Now I am writing things that I don't like to read, and so I use the Pomodoro method. I set a timer for 20 minutes and write non-stop for twenty minutes, usually producing between 900-1,200 words. I take a 6-minute break and repeat. I try to do this for two hours to produce 5,000 words in a two-hour chunk. My first drafts are very clean, and my editing pass for a full novel takes maybe 6-7 hours. My editing pass will be fixing typos, mistakes, and occasionally making some sentences sound better. I never edit anything as I write, and I never go back and look at what I wrote until a book is finished.

"Readers" really struggle with this kind of thing and generally write much more slowly. They also tend to let what they personally like get in the way a lot, and typically what they like isn't what will make them the most money. I am already writing stuff that I don't like, so I tend to just write stuff that makes the most money.

This is an entire lecture on how to be a commercially successful author crammed into a single eloquent post.

Thank you so much for sharing your advice, especially on how to write stuff that doesn't necessarily appeal to you as a reader but still have fun doing it and putting your own spin on things.

Also happens to be extremely timely advice for NaNoWriMo!

Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


How rough are we talking? Have you done a self editing pass through it already? Have you tried getting feedback on it from a few trusted people? What are you looking for help with? Macro stuff (structure, plot, character) or micro stuff (prose, copy editing, proof reading)?

Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


Sounds like you're looking for somebody to go over the prose. From the fiction writing advice thread OP:

Dr. Kloctopussy posted:

EDITING

If you donít bother to edit, you are just quitting in the middle.

As with everything in writing, there are tons and tons of ways to edit. Iím going to talk a bit about ďlevelsĒ of editing, what things to consider and look for when editing, and then some ďtips and tricks.Ē

Levels of Editing

It is not helpful to finish your first draft, scroll back up to the first paragraph, and start looking for punctuation mistakes. First consider your book as a whole, then start narrowing your focus, in steps. Punctuation mistakes are last. Donít spend time fixing punctuation mistakes when you might just delete the whole scene (or chapter, sighÖ.) later.

Book Level

At this level, it actually does not matter what exact words you have on the page. What matters is what happens and why. Does the flow of events make sense, especially based on the characters and their motivations? Where can it be made stronger? Tighter? More interesting? This is level where Iíve rearranged when things happen in the story, added subplots, deleted subplots, added foreshadowing, revised character goals so their actions are consistent throughout the story, and decided to eliminate what appeared to be a major character (everything he did could be done by someone else, and it would make things more simple and more interesting).

A high-level summary of your book should make sense. Get it to that point before continuing. If you donít have a solid story, making different parts of it better isnít going to magically transform it into a solid story.

Chapter and Scene Level

Once you have a solid story, make sure that everything in the story is actually on the page. Do you have the scenes you need? Do people do what needs to be done and say what needs to be said in the scene? Is there a balance between action, dialogue, and description that is appropriate for the scene?

At this point, itís also useful to start looking at the items mentioned in the macro-level critique section below: POV, motivation, tension, tone, voice.

Line Edits
Finally we get to the point of really looking at the words, sentence by sentence! The guidelines for doing line edits on your own are the same as for doing line edits for others, as described in the next post.

Proofreading/Copy Editing
Get all your grammar and punctuation right. I find this extremely difficult to do for myself, because once Iíve read, rewritten, and read again, Iíve become blind to misplaced commas.

Since you're doing a translation, it sounds like you're after a line edit:

Dr. Kloctopussy posted:

There are more detailed styles of crits, as well!

Line Edits

A line edit looks at the story sentence by sentence, pinpointing specific places where things go wrong and ways that the story could use improvement. It covers the same things as a Macro-Level Critique, but on a more precise level, often identifying exactly where something went off the rails.

A non-exclusive list of other things to address:
- Effectiveness (or not) of the beginning of the story in hooking the reader, and why
- Confusing sentences
- Awkward Phrasing
- Passive voice (the ball was thrown vs. Bill threw the ball)
- Weak words (usually will be words that are generic/imprecise, often accompanied by a modifier. Big house v. Mansion. Sometimes appropriate, but can make prose weak.)
- Over-use of the thesaurus (opposite of above, yes you could say Bill defenestrated Jane, but you should really say ďBill threw her out the goddamned window!Ē)
- Ineffective (and probably unintentional) repetition of words/phrases
- Failures in pacing (e.g. this paragraph drags on forever)
- Incorrectly used words
- Words that are technically used correctly, but still donít fit well
- Similes and metaphors that donít work/are confusing/are distracting
- Where things are too vague
- Information that feels superfluous (please, no more info on clam lifecycle, thank you)
- Dialogue that goes on for too long or feels unnatural or doesnít make sense
- Unanswered questions that hurt the story
- Punctuation problems, especially ones that lead to confusing sentences (as you notice them, this isnít proofreading)

If there are problems in the story that are too big to address in a line-by-line, everyone is better off if you just do a Macro Crit. A line-by-line doesn't help, because the problems are over-arching, even if there are a bunch of punctuation and word-choice problems piled on top of them. If a story fails on a structural level, there's no point in explaining how adverbs work, because even if you fixed all of the superficial problems, the underlying story would still fail.

Line-by-line doesn't make sense until the problems are on a line-by-line level. When they are deeper than that, a summary crit may be all that is useful or possible. And sometimes all you can say is "I have no idea what the gently caress just happened." Thatís a useful crit if itís true!

Copy Editing/Proofreading
These arenít really critiques, but instead fix technical errors.

Line Edits:
Formatting these for full inclusion sucks, so links (thanks flerp!):
https://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=3758791&pagenumber=39&perpage=40#post458776782
https://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=3758791&userid=208822&perpage=40&pagenumber=8#post467541193

There's a few editors listed in the OP that you could try as a starting point. Not sure of what your budget is, but editors will charge either by the word, page or hour.

As a starting point, you might want to post a sample in the crit thread first just to see what the feedback is like and whether it's within your ability to address. If so, it would probably be worth it to do a second pass through and address the feedback before you spring money for an editor to comb through the whole thing.

Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


Breath Ray posted:

Someone mentioned blogspot was the best option for their own website as it's easy to use and the customisation wasnt hidden behind a paywall. But this was about 7 years ago, sooooo for your personal sites, do you still use blogspot or is there another game in town?

There are loads of options with free plans:
I run Wordpress and pay for my own website and domain name because I like having the control over it, but you could easily get started with any of the above. If you want your own URL, you can usually buy that separately and keep control of it, though upgrading to a paid plan on most of these services will generally include getting a custom domain name.

Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


Wordpress.com runs the same software as self-hosting your own install of Wordpress, with the bonus of it always being up to date. SEO-wise, unless you're competing for the first page of Google search results for a highly contested search term, there's gonna be minimal difference. What will matter more is your web page copy, rather than where your website is hosted. Note if you don't buy your own URL, your website will be at yoursitename.wordpress.com as a subdomain of WordpressĖfunctionally this is just more annoying for readers to type, but most people are gonna Google you, or click a link from your ebook, so if you don't want to spend the $10/year it doesn't matter that much.

Embedding videos, etc comes down to whether you're uploading it to your website, or if you're going to upload to YouTube (or similar) and then share embed on your website. Either way will work on most if not all places, though hosting videos on YouTube is better because sometimes your videos can get new eyeballs (and therefore you might get new fans) due to the YouTube Recommended videos or the Autoplay algorithms.

Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


Has anyone here done a self-published children's picture book for the 0-5 age range?

I'm almost done with one (the last pages and back cover will be finished tomorrow) so getting ready to dive into the marketing side of it. It's a bilingual rhyming story book (i.e. it rhymes in both languages) that is like a cross between the Oliver Jeffers picture books, the Belle Yang picture books and Dr Seuss, aimed specifically at the bilingual parents living abroad. The most similar kind of self-published title I can see is the Mina Learns Chinese series.

So far, I've been watching a lot of YouTube videos from people self-publishing children's picture books, but wanted to see if anyone had thoughts on the following:

1. Is IngramSpark still the default go to or is KDP better?

2. Has anyone done a kids' ebook or audiobook*? I was originally planning to do print-only given it's aimed at such young kids but since the main point of the book is to learn the language, an audiobook seemed like it might be worthwhile? The bilingual aspect of the book makes it kind of weird though, like do I do one audio book per language or a combined version? And on the ebook side, we're signed up for Zoom language lessons and a lot of the kids are dialled in to the lesson on iPads so potentially an eBook version might be worth it.

3. Related to #2, has anyone done a self-published board book? Neither IngramSpark nor Amazon do board books, the random Googling I've done indicates most people self-publishing board books are either raising funds on Kickstarter/Indiegogo* or taking the risk of holding inventory themselves. Someone had good things to say about this place: https://hangtongprinting.en.alibaba....6fa226c0Pz2JI4 which incidentally also has the lowest minimum order quantity (100 units)

*Sanderson's illustrator is in the middle of a Kickstarter campaign for a lift-the-flap board book: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/izykstewart/monsters-dont-wear-underpants/description As part of the Kickstarter campaign video, they got Michael Kramer and Kate Reading to do a reading of just a digital version of the book. Since I've got such a niche market, I was planning on doing promotions mainly through Facebook groups, YouTube and a few bloggers rather than the typical routes, which meant that I was also debating just doing a YouTube read through of the book as a promotional thing.

Leng fucked around with this message at 12:09 on Mar 29, 2021

Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


divabot posted:

In print quality? Kindle Print (and CreateSpace before it) literally use IngramSpark as their printer in the UK, so it'll be the same here, and I presume comparable quality elsewhere.

Is their four-colour any better? Cover colours - and indeed trim - are still wildly variable in my experience.

Ah, now that I didn't know. Further research seems to indicate I should just do both (https://selfpublishingadvice.org/use-both-kdp-print-and-ingram-spark-together/ so I guess I will be doing that. Especially because apparently Amazon hates Australia so that sucks for me.

Today I started reaching out for beta readers via Facebook groups. I was looking for 10 and got almost 70 responses in under 2 hours...and the sign ups are still coming in (tempted to cut it off but I'll let it run until the end of the week so I can collect more prospects). I'm a little floored that there's been such positive interest; I'm gonna pick 10 based on random number generator I guess and reach out to the rest on launch day with a discount code for their trouble.

I almost wasn't going to try for beta readers because I made the noob mistake of thinking "ah crap that's all too hard, I should just throw it up, post a link and see what happens" which is the stupidest thought process ever. Thankfully, the number of things to complete on web forms were overwhelming enough that I decided creating a sign up survey for beta readers would be easier instead. I'm really glad I did, because now I have some detailed answers to my earlier questions.

Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


D-Pad posted:

What FB groups do you like? I had joined a couple and they were really bad.

It isn't a writing or reading oriented FB group, it's a couple of FB groups full of my target audience members (and I'm one myself). I joined the groups way before I ever thought of writing the book, because the struggle to raise a bilingual kid in a predominantly English speaking country is real. There's constant chatter about bilingual picture books (which for Cantonese is an underserved niche) and how to get them because they are really hard to source.

On top of all that, I really wanted to get some bilingual picture books for my daughter that were, you know, actual interesting stories, not just a vocab book in disguise. Then I realized I could just...write one and so I did. I spent today sending out a PDF copy to beta readers and partially setting up my website (so Script Frenzy is going to have to wait ) and tomorrow's task is to reach out to the Cantonese language YouTubers who target mainly English speakers to see if they'd like an ARC in exchange for doing a YouTube review or something.

On Wordpress chat: I set this one up on NearlyFreeSpeech using the WP-CLI (WordPress Command Line Interface) method and it was pretty easy. Now I'm in the middle of customizing my theme and writing the web copy (like not even the blurb, I finished writing the blurb at the beginning of this week).

EDIT: Oh and mailing list sign-ups. I was going to do a Mailchimp except they need a real physical address so now I have to organize a PO box before I can do that. Which is a distraction from the main stuff so I'm just getting individual permission through various Google Forms right now. There's a Google Sheets Mail Merge thing you can do with Gmail which is how I sent out my book to beta readers and the daily quota on Gmail is 100 recipients so I figure until I can hold out a little longer before I do all the PO box stuff. Then I will migrate it over to Mailchimp just in time for the launch so I can send a proper launch newsletter with Amazon links and asking people for reviews.

Still debating whether I should get people to do pre-orders. I have heard that pre-orders are good because they all count as sales on release day. But what sucks is if I could get a decent amount of pre-orders then instead of doing POD through IngramSpark I would just order a bigger run to be shipped to me and then organize shipping separately. But maybe that would be a logistical nightmare in itself. You know what, forget it I think I just talked myself out of doing that. I should just concentrate on launching the first book properly and iterate for the next one.

Leng fucked around with this message at 06:56 on Apr 1, 2021

Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


D-Pad posted:

Honestly this sounds like something that could do really well on Kickstarter. Publishing projects for underserved communities or subjects tend to do well on there and you only have to print whatever you sell.

I have thought about that and will probably do a Kickstarter for a board book edition if the other editions do well. The downsides to a Kickstarter is a) I would have to organize all of the fulfilment logistics myself which sucks and b) there wouldn't be a presence on the main book selling channels. The good thing about my market is in theory I should have a long tail of sales post launch, because there are always bilingual people having kids and appropriate books are hard to find when you live overseas.

Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


Camo Guitar posted:

How recently did this kick in? I'm also here in Aus and had author copies come in last month.
(Also FedEx is beyond loving useless for delivery, I had to go hunting for my first batch of author copies. I had put on the wrong address (previous address) and after a bit of tracking I found them at a newsagency where they dropped the package off after bouncing a couple of times and left it there, washing their hands of it.)

Edit: just ordered another 3 to my address in nsw without a problem so you may be in luck!

Perhaps it's outdated info? The comments in the link were as recent as Nov 2020 so I thought maybe it might be applicable.

Also I am now going through the book building process on IngramSpark and why is the 203mm x 203mm trim size no longer available to be selected? Like it is listed as an available trim size on their site. The only other square format available is 216mm x 216mm and I did not size everything for that.

If I have to bloody redraw all of the illustrations...



EDIT: wow okay the more you know, if you go through IngramSpark's book builder tool, you can only select 8.5" x 8.5" (203mm x 203mm) trim size. And also it only accepts .docx formats. avoid the book builder tool.

EDIT EDIT: okay, finally got things to work far out I should create a YouTube tutorial on how to do this for picture books because wow it was confusing. Anyway, 3 hours of wrangling with Scribus and Calibre later, I managed to get my print and epub files ready to go.

Question for the thread: how many of you joined up with https://www.allianceindependentauthors.org/member-benefits/ ? The free set up and revision on IngramSparks looks like it'd be worth alone, assuming I stick to my plan of putting out at least another one of these books in the next year. Is it worth getting one of the higher tier membership levels or is the associate one just fine?

Leng fucked around with this message at 17:26 on Apr 3, 2021

Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


Alright what gives?! I just tried to order an author proof to my Australian address and got the "sorry we can't ship to this address" message. Are you guys ordering actual author copies or the proof?

Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today




But doesn't that screw around with your launch plans? Do you stealth publish it, order author copies, then immediately take the book down until you get them, fix any issues, then put it back up on your planned release date and then do your promos from there?!

What is also bizarre is that we could get author copies but not proof copies, that makes no sense at all. I'm now considering just doing the paperback through Ingram Spark as well, despite the horrible interface. At least I shouldn't have issues getting proofs from IS.

Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


Plot twist! The first author proof went poof after 24 hours without being able to check it out. I set up a ShopMate account after a few hours poring over the other options and resigned myself to paying more money to get the thing shipped over.

While I'm waiting for the second author proof link to show up, I go over to IngramSpark to uploading new files because their cover file instructions are completely unclear and also because I picked up a mistake I made on the interior file while reviewing it on the KDP online proofer. Lo and behold, the IngramSpark website is messing up big time, in that it refuses to load the revision fee information at all. Like where that information should be is just a giant blank on the website. The source code itself hasn't loaded either. Great. I'm not clicking on that, when I shouldn't be paying anything since I have a valid code that would waive the fee.

Meanwhile, I check my email and click the link to add the new KDP proof to my cart and this time, it gives me the global shipping option at $8 USD. well no complaints here, then. I checked that out quick smart before Amazon could change its mind again.

Now I am back to hating IngramSpark's entire user experience.

I did not expect the actual publication process to be MORE painful than the process of writing and illustrating the book itself.

Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


Alright, back with more questions!

Based on new data coming in, it seems like the majority of my target customers buy either from Amazon (in which case they'll most likely order the KDP paperback over the ebook), or direct from the publisher (i.e. me). Reading up on IngramSpark's vaunted "distribution" into actual bookstores seems like it's not that accurate and also not that beneficial (you would have to set royalty at 55% AND allow returns AND they won't ship returns to Australia so the only option for returned stock is destruction ).

HOWEVER, the majority still prefer reading in hardcover.

So right now I'm thinking of ordering small batches of author copies and selling hardcovers directly through my own website. Since it's such a niche audience, I think I'd have more luck selling directly.

Has anyone done something similar? If so, what are you using for the ecommerce side of it (WooCommerce, Shopify, Wix, etc)? I'm looking at Ecwid currently as they have a free plan (https://www.ecwid.com/pricing) which would suit me fine since I won't need anything more complicated.

Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


n8r posted:

Where are you pulling the information about people buying directly from a publisher? I seriously doubt most people even know who the publisher of a particular book is. Having the infrastructure / volume to justify hardcover seems beyond the means of most self pub. You really should just stick with kdp/Ingram (with 55% and returnable).

Yeah that's what I initially thought until I went and did some research (direct survey responses and actual observation).

Bilingual books are hard to find and source overseas. Most big name book stores just don't carry them because it's not worth for them as they cater to a primarily English speaking audience. Group buys direct from publisher are a regular occurrence on Facebook groups. When people ask for book recommendations, most give links to Amazon or publisher websites, with an occasional shout out to bloggers who make book lists.

What's your experience been like with 55% and returnable in getting books into stores? My recent lurking in the Ingram community is turning up a lot of stories about how despite having 55% and returnable, authors aren't able to get their books stocked (granted most are talking about Barnes & Noble where apparently there's a corporate policy against stocking POD titles?).

Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


If the dropcap is being done using CSS to float the first letter left and make it big, then the LOOK INSIDE might be playing havoc with it and overriding it. Dropcaps can be hit and miss.

Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


My week so far:

Monday
Went through beta reader comments. Unfortunately, they confirmed two main flaws that I thought were there but didn't fix because .

Tuesday
Gritted my teeth and fixed both of the main flaws, i.e. rewriting sections of the text and then laying out the new text, then reformatting all of the pages for all the different formats.

Wednesday
Upload new revisions for hard cover and epub to IngramSpark. Epub was created by using the Kindle Kids' Book Creator, then converted from mobi using Calibre. Stupidly assume it's gonna be fine because it was like 3 AM

Thursday
Look at ebook with new eyes. Amazon's stupid rescaling of images makes everything illegible. Experiment with adding popups. Decide popups suck. Create ebook AGAIN, this time with individual pages as pages instead of spreads as pages. Spend hours trying to pass epubcheck. Try out draft to digital, except they basically don't help and their proof version actually makes something that was correct worse. Realize that this means the version on IngramSpark will probably have issues and that they will distribute the same file to everybody.

Realize this means I need to distribute to each place myself, and create separate epub specific to those formats.



And that I need to yank ebook distribution back from IngramSpark (I had already opted out of distribution to Amazon before but now I need to yank it from them entirely) and that you have to do this by contacting their customer service team directly (and their response times are abysmal).



I freaking hate this part of the process and can totally understand why authors would opt to outsource this pain entirely. No wonder there are so many ebooks about how to self-publish and make ebooks etc etc etc. I just want to go back to planning out the next two books in the series.

Right now I don't even know if I want to set up a second paperback version on IngramSpark for Australian customers only (since KDP will apparently ship paperbacks from their US printer instead of...just printing in Australia via a partner) because I am so sick of wrangling with all of these back end platforms.

I will probably be less upset when I get my KDP proof next week. I hope. Maybe. But just the thought of it is again making me think I should just set up the paperback on IngramSpark so I can get and compare the proofs at the same time, since IngramSpark takes forever to process a title.

Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


Ccs posted:

That sounds like hell.

<snip>

It's kind of crazy that the display of text and images can be such a headache when the distribution for video seems to be so much simpler on the internet.

As an amateur front end web developer, I can say that this is exactly like trying to ensure cross browser compatibility and standards compliant code when IE6 was the most widely used browser.


Your article was one that I referred to over and over again during the course of the ebook saga. I kept not going through with your solution, because I hoped that someone ELSE would have solved the problem for picture books but I may have to end up doing what you did.

Also in other website chat (because I'm now just sitting waiting for meta data to update and IS to give me my eproofs), I found a really good free Wordpress theme today: https://rarathemesdemo.com/author-landing-page/

It is great if you specialize in one type of books (like I am currently doing) and is well documented (https://docs.rarathemes.com/docs/author-landing-page/faqs/how-to-configure-footer-credit-settings/) on how to customize. My website now looks so much better than it did before and I'm glad I spent the afternoon fixing it up, because literally as I was putting the final touches on the book's product page, someone posted in a Facebook group asking for books exactly like the one I've written.

I have a mailing list sign up on that very page for people to be notified when the book comes out so here's hoping I can add some more emails to my list, in hopes of getting on that Amazon Best Sellers list on launch day.

Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


Are you doing any additional promotion of your own? I haven't reread your published version but I did flip to the back and noticed you didn't include any links to a website of your own or a mailing list. Your Twitter handle was mentioned but almost as an aside.

I'm currently in the midst of prepping for my own launch while my proofs are stuck with KDP and Ingram, so curious as to what you're doing. Though as I type I've literally just logged in and noticed both of them are cleared! Yay!

On the other hand, something I just learned is that if you have a foreign language title, you are boned if you want to change it halfway through the process. Thorpe-Bowker's system chokes on Chinese characters so it just shows up as "???????" in the records. Chinese characters show up fine in both Ingram and KDP, but KDP won't accept a title change if it doesn't match Thorpe-Bowker records exactly, which it never will because of the aforementioned choke issue. There wasn't a problem if I set up the book title first before assigning the ISBN though!

I need to make more calls this week to speak with someone who can figure this out and see if the system can be overridden. Otherwise I guess I go paperback with Ingram only, which will suck for KDP distribution.

At least Chinese characters in titles works fine in Ingram, who have leapfrogged KDP again now. I wonder which of them I'll love/hate more at the end of this process.

EDIT: Wow, ok, KDP hate confirmed, back to liking Ingram:
  • KDP point blank don't support Chinese in print format (no reasons given) and will actively have you removed by the quality team
  • Pre-orders of print via KDP is not possible, you have to go and click a button to publish on the actual day you want the print book published
  • However, if you print via Ingram, you can enable preorders of print formats everywhere
  • Doing that involves approving an eproof first at minimum so the title has gone into "production" status at least once, so you can then enable distribution, with both the publication date and on sale date set to your planned release date
  • Further research shows that KDP will still fulfill orders using Ingram even if they could print on KDP, which according to chat on the IngramSpark Facebook community is verifiable using printer/manufacturer codes on the actual product
Since I just knocked back my proof again because I picked up a few more errors, I now have to wait two more days for Ingram to turnaround a new version so I can approve it, at which point I'm going to enable distribution regardless so I can get preorder links up everywhere damnit.

I'm slowly coming to the conclusion that if you plan on self-publishing in print, you should just do Ingram and screw KDP. Maybe I'll change my mind again next week.

Leng fucked around with this message at 15:43 on Apr 17, 2021

Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


Congrats, that's awesome!

quote:

Best Sellers Rank: #72 Free in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
#1 in Occult Horror
#1 in Epic Fantasy (Kindle Store)

Still riding at the top for Epic Fantasy and your other category, that's a nice achievement!

Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


So this popped up on my feed today:
https://www.amazon.com/b?node=21613975011&ref=tsm_1_tw_s__4743373791&linkId=116620400

Kindle Vella sounds like KDP trying to get in on WattPad/Royal Road action. Is anyone planning to experiment with this?

Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


Amazon is abandoning .mobi as of the end of June this year:
https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/help/topic/G200634390

And of course this is going to happen after my launch date.

Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


Fixed, because children's book. But it would have been nice to just fiddle with ONE format instead of multiple. At this point I'm not even sure it's worth doing ebooks for all the major platforms; I'm tempted to just throw a PDF up on my own website and sell it direct. At least the PDF would display properly regardless of device.

Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


Adobe is the developer of the format but these days it's pretty ubiquitous after it was standardized as an ISO in 2008 (so Adobe don't get royalties off people using the format anymore). The main issue is PDFs are perfect for fixed layouts on larger displays, since they're essentially printer files, but technically ebooks should be reflowable and optimized for smaller displays. Most ereaders will choke on a PDF, or if they display it, it will be an annoying reading experience full of scrolling or repeatedly pinching to zoom in and out.

In other news, the last round of my proofs have come in! I got an early proof from KDP, plus a paperback and a hard cover from IngramSpark. Gotta say, IngramSpark wins this round:
  • no annoying "NOT FOR RESALE" plastered all over the proof copy
  • shipped in a rigid cardboard shell (KDP packed their paperback inside a padded envelope that got crunched by the postal service when they forcibly shoved it inside my mailbox)
  • the glue on the paperback binding is done perfectly (KDP one is not glued together very well and you can see the white in the gutter)
  • the color printing and quality of the hard cover is beautiful - I felt pretty emotional on holding it in my hands
Shipping and printing costs are more expensive, but I guess you pay for that quality. Off on the back of the proofs, I am disinclined to do any print on Amazon at all, because the quality is just not great. I don't know what that's gonna do to whether they show up as in stock on Amazon, because currently the data has migrated over but I can't get pre-order links up for Amazon which is frustrating.

Still need yet another revision because I picked up errors when looking at the proof. But better now than post launch!

Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


In my ongoing saga:
  • Final revisions for interior are done and approved in IngramSpark for both hardcover and paperback, in KDP and in the Kindle ebook
  • The Apple iBooks epub has been updated and finalized but I'm stalled at setting up an iTunes Connect account because of some weird script choking on Apple's end
Since the running advice in the IngramSpark community seems to be use KDP for distribution on Amazon, then IngramSpark for print everywhere else, but go direct for all ebooks, I'm now up to investigating Barnes & Noble for their self-publishing platform, which is apparently also trialing print on demand. Has anyone here tried out B&N?

EDIT: I hate marketing and publicity. Since I ran into technical issues with setting up ebooks, I spent the rest of this afternoon reaching out to bloggers, YouTubers and Instagram influencers. I swear writing the outreach emails are harder than writing the book.

Leng fucked around with this message at 07:09 on Apr 27, 2021

Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


Today is an exciting update! Preorder links are starting to go up at various retailers (Amazon of course, Bookshop.org, Barnes & Noble, Kinokuniya, Dymocks), but there are weird glitches due to metadata lag:
  • Some of the retailers have only just gotten the initial round of metadata - which means the book title (and some of the links) contain Chinese characters which either get messed up as "???????" or escaped unicode characters like "今" which does not look great
  • Some of the retailers have the book info but are missing the cover for whatever reason
  • Amazon is super frustrating - the hardcover shows a preorder link as expected on the US site, the paperback is listed as unavailable on the US site, both preorder links work fine on the AU site, but both formats are listed as temporarily out of stock on the UK site.
This means I've updated my book webpage from taking in emails to putting actual links to preorder pages in there. Still haven't set up my estore, that's a job for tomorrow I think, in tandem with finally getting my email list sorted.

In other exciting news, I've heard back from 4 out of 5 of the bloggers I've reached out to. 1 isn't interested, but recommended 2 of the others on my list, 1 hasn't responded, and the other 3 have agreed to do a review, though 1 of those 3 are backed up with projects and doesn't have a definite timing on when the review will happen. The other 2 are US-based so I'm going to organise for IngramSpark to ship those copies now, but worryingly, the only shipping option I've got is "Basic", which IngramSpark says has no tracking available but the IngramSpark community at large insists that all levels of shipping in the US have tracking despite what IngramSpark's own documentation claims.

back to hating the stupidity and confusion of the IngramSpark interface.

EDIT: welp, for whatever bizarro reason, after submitting the order for the first US reviewer using "Basic" shipping, I now have other shipping options for the second reviewer. There's just no rhyme or reason to IngramSpark's interface.

My book's metadata has also finally hit Goodreads for the hardcover, which means I can now claim my Goodreads author page. We're getting close to the 2 week mark prior to publication date which means I need to start planning out a social media blitz. I hate social media and I never know what to post, so this is going to be fun like having my eyes gouged out during a root canal.

Leng fucked around with this message at 12:33 on Apr 29, 2021

Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


I hate Amazon so much. Preorder links that were working are now suddenly showing as temporarily out of stock. WHHHHY.

Also the IngramSpark author copy shipping options are ridiculous. I'm in the process of getting physical copies out to my beta readers and it is actually ending up to be cheaper to order them copies off Amazon or Barnes & Noble or Book Depository, etc than to order them an author copy from IngramSpark.

Don't get me wrong, the unit cost is cheaper, but by the time you add in the processing fee, handling, then the actual shipping cost, the only shipping option that would make the total cost cheaper is selecting the basic non-tracking non-insurable option, at which point I might as well just buy it on Amazon or wherever else so I at least get the royalty while also getting tracking.

Also also this experience has definitely confirmed that I do not want to hassle around with fulfilment myself. Ugh.

Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


In all fairness, the majority of my problems are because I'm doing a children's book which requires print formats and fixed ebook layouts.

If I were self publishing genre fiction I'd probably be done by now and even on costs. I did my own illustrations and cover (only because I could get away with that kind of simple art style for a kids book) but shipping ARCs and beta read reward copies probably cost the same amount as hiring a good cover artist/designer.

Marketing would still be the same headache. I spent all day today setting up a proper mailing list in preparation for a launch eblast. I ended up ditching the WP Newsletter plugin and going for Sendinblue over Mailchimp because the free plan is better. Still can't get my email on my domain working properly, but is finally an issues that's unrelated to KDP and Ingram Spark so I'll take the variety.

But yeah, don't let my rants put you off self-publishing!

Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


Leng posted:

Today is an exciting update! Preorder links are starting to go up at various retailers (Amazon of course, Bookshop.org, Barnes & Noble, Kinokuniya, Dymocks), but there are weird glitches due to metadata lag:
  • Some of the retailers have only just gotten the initial round of metadata - which means the book title (and some of the links) contain Chinese characters which either get messed up as "???????" or escaped unicode characters like "今" which does not look great
  • Some of the retailers have the book info but are missing the cover for whatever reason
  • Amazon is super frustrating - the hardcover shows a preorder link as expected on the US site, the paperback is listed as unavailable on the US site, both preorder links work fine on the AU site, but both formats are listed as temporarily out of stock on the UK site.
This means I've updated my book webpage from taking in emails to putting actual links to preorder pages in there. Still haven't set up my estore, that's a job for tomorrow I think, in tandem with finally getting my email list sorted.

Further update which I feel I need to post as a PSA because I've been freaking out about this over the whole weekend:

The preorder pages on Amazon are fine. There is no issue. People I've been sending to the preorder page can preorder, no problem.

The "issue" was a bad user interface design on the Amazon product page, on every major market other than the CA store, which had the default behavior I expected. Namely, when your shipping location is set to a location other than the country of that store, it still shows you the pre-order button, but there is red/warning text telling you that the product does not ship to your selected location.

Sensible right?

Well apparently some front end developer at Amazon disagreed, because the default behavior on the US/UK/AU stores is that if your delivery location is set to something other than the store's country, then it will take away the preorder button and tell you that the item is "Temporarily out of stock". On a preorder item. Which nobody has in stock, because the point of a preorder is for the retailer to collect preorders for an item that is not yet in stock so they can in turn place a bulk order with the wholesaler in advance of the release date. Thus causing me to freak out over the weekend and make a lot of customer service reps unhappy with my frustration.

I only figured it out because I started contacting customer service in every location because there is no single team that looks after this and the KDP team won't touch it if you're publishing via IngramSpark. Not that any of the customer service reps were able to put two and two together either.

Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


Ccs posted:

Not the most user friendly bit of UI design.

Speaking of, I now have a new target of frustration and rage: Apple.

It seems I am not the only one experiencing this weird script error with Apple and Apple IDs being deemed not active and therefore the iTunesConnect set up process choking:
https://discussions.apple.com/thread/252527782
https://discussions.apple.com/thread/252586742

The applebooks@apple.com email is useless - they just send back an email parroting the error message you already have and telling you to activate your Apple ID (without realizing that the reason you're contacting them is because there's nothing to indicate that your Apple ID is inactive, particularly as you can login, etc without issue). Also it will take 3-5 days for them to reply.

The online chat team also can't do anything when it's an iTunesConnect issue, phone support is required. Oh, and the information about phone support information on their own website (https://itunespartner.apple.com/books/articles/apple-books-support-2701) is wrong - all phone support hours are 9 AM to 7 PM US Central Mon-Fri, despite the public webpage saying they do 8 AM to 8 PM for the Australian phone lines. According to the only helpful online chat person I got, their internal operating manual says otherwise. Well that would definitely explain why I'm on hold for hours on end if I try calling the Australian line on Monday in Australia, or quite frankly any time after 10 AM in Australia, after daycare drop off.

divabot posted:

draft2digital deal with both pretty painlessly IME

(indeed I find d2d less faffy than smashwords, so I hit Kindle for 90% of sales, d2d for the other 10% and smashwords just to sell on smashwords)

Quite frankly at this point, I'm going to leave it on Kindle, and then set up an ecommerce store on my own website to distribute PDFs and epubs. Most of my readers are going to come via word of mouth anyway, so it's not like I'll be relying on them browsing through the other stores to find it, and I'm not enabling DRM on the ebooks either so it doesn't really matter where they get it from.

EDIT: OMFG that was so much easier than setting up anything on Apple. I now have a working estore that accepts credit card payments on my website. The free plan on ECWID doesn't include auto fulfilment of digital goods, but a quick test shows that when someone places an order, I'll get an email and be able to manually send them the file. I'll call this a win for today.

Leng fucked around with this message at 05:18 on May 4, 2021

Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


Today's update:

Marketing
I still hate social media. But I had a new idea for a regular thing I could post that doesn't feel spammy so I spent 4 hours this week doing the artwork that could be posted to Instagram and another 2 filming extra footage so it could go on YouTube then another 2 hours creating a related PDF download. It's also Mother's Day related so I'm capitalizing in the timing with this weekend.

The Instagram post and related tweet did ok for a new account with not many followers but I shared the Facebook page post to one of the Facebook groups for this niche and it blew up.

I wasn't really expecting it to go quite that quickly, so I was still setting up Google analytics and web pages. Will have to wait until next week to see how well it translates into audience growth, newsletter subscribers and then eventually book sales.

Wish I had had the forethought to set up Google analytics BEFORE I put up the preorder links because then at least I could track how many people clicked through on those.

Overall I'm feeling pretty good since I finally have some regular content I can post without feeling like that annoying person who's constantly spamming people to buy my book. And I should be able to eventually repackage all of the free content into a print book I can sell!

Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


Grand Theft Autobot posted:

SIEGE CATS is a gritty, urban, left-wing Warriors, with a mature style like The Wicked Deep and The Night Circus, where cats battle time-traveling forces of Late Capitalism, connecting readersí experiences of contemporary issues with the enduring legacy of slavery.

newts posted:

Okay. I missed the fact that they were cats at first and was very confused.

This doesnít read like a YA pitch to me at all. It reads more like a political allegory. But with cats. Iíd be expecting something more like Animal Farm. I canít see how this would appeal to a YA audience. I probably donít know what Iím talking about, though, so feel free to disregard.

Seconding this. I do read YA from time to time and this really isn't YA. Is there a particular reason why you're trying to go after the YA market? As I understand, the YA market is insane competitive, but I mainly know what I know because I subscribe to Alexa Donne's YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfwTRhTSM2NyJImC8HeUd1Q (she's traditionally published in YA, her two published books are sci-fi retellings of Jane Austen classics)

Ccs posted:

Could you just age up the protagonist? Honestly I feel like with that pitch Iíd want an older main character. Maybe early 20s, or whatever that is in cat years.

Also this. Flint doesn't come across as a young kitten coming into cathood, he sounds like a grizzled veteran (old war ally, a lost love).

And also why cats? I mean, I love cats and I am a real cat person, but why cats in a YA book? Usually YA has a huge focus on coming of age stories and first time romances, etc.

Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


Further update around marketing: I hate this lead up to a release date because I don't want to endlessly spam people about my book.

I spent today putting together this week's regular free content. Tomorrow is going to be filming the related YouTube video. Hopefully after that I'll have the energy and motivation to start outlining writing the concept for the next book in the series. Though who knows, I might get halfway through it and go, nah screw it, let's just write it and see what happens. I swear that I should naturally be an outliner but sometimes doing the outline feels really hard.


I love cats and I love musicals but I most definitely did not love Cats.

Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


Today's marketing update:

Filmed the related YouTube video in the morning. Watched YouTuber marketing videos on thumbnails, etc over my lunch break. Went and changed a bunch of things as a result after lunch. Finished editing and uploading around 3 pm.

Went back to the launch newsletter I drafted earlier this week and sent some test emails. It keeps getting cut off at the bottom in Gmail. 10 tries later, it's 5 pm and I finally have an initial launch newsletter blast that a) has unique content to the newsletter vs Instagram and Facebook; b) is short enough that it doesn't get cut off automatically by Gmail and c) ready to go at 9:30 AM Sydney time tomorrow.

So tomorrow's pre-release date marketing plan is:
- newsletter scheduled to go out to my small list at 9:30 AM Sydney time, which is still 7:30 PM Eastern, so hopefully I'll catch US/Canada before they go to bed and Australia during the day. Unfortunately, this means everybody in the UK will already be in bed, but 75% of the audience is not bad I guess
- free audiobook on YouTube goes live at the same time, description will have links to buy on Amazon and a bunch of other places
- Facebook group and Instagram posts are gonna go up also at 9:30 AM, this will be mainly to the audiobook, which I hope to then drive sales of the print book

Hopefully the momentum keeps going over the weekend so I don't have to do anything on the weekend other than engage with replies, etc. I'm reasonably confident it will, because that's what happened with last week's Facebook group post (which according to Facebook's analytics apparently reached 7000+ people after 9 shares, and only 2 of those were mine).

Tuesday is launch day, so my plan is to film me reading the hardcover with my daughter and post it as an IG/Facebook story.

Not really sure what I'm going to do after that, but it seems like most other authors in this space build buzz by hosting giveaways. So I will probably do that, but not with my book because I want them to buy my book, but with other people's books and do a cross promo.

I hate marketing so much.

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Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


Grand Theft Autobot posted:

Fair enough, it doesn't really fit for YA, I just assumed it would have to be YA because of animal protagonists.

They're cats because of a line in a history of the Vicksburg siege I read, where a Union soldier remarked after taking the city that the Confederates were so desperate and close to starvation that you couldn't find a stray cat or hog or dog in the entire town. The image stuck with me, and I figured an apocalyptic story about animals in a siege would be good.

The cats could probably be adapted into gangs of kids or something, and that's an angle I'm considering. It would lose a lot of freedom in crafting mythologies and political systems, but it could work.

Oh. That is not a good reason for targeting the YA market. And that inspiration is really cool. If that's what got you all fired up to write the book, then stay true to that instead of twisting it into something else that it isn't.

Also:

Ccs posted:

Part of me is curious if you changed the characters ages and kept them as cats whether it would work. A lot of people grew up on Redwall and so forth, maybe they'd be more open to a story featuring animal protagonists that wasn't necessarily for kids. There's already comics like Blacksad and so forth that do this.

If you had pitched this to me as "Redwall, but for grown-ups and from the POV of cats" I would buy this as a reader, no question.

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