Building a book

Writing a book is about more than writing a book. We treasure books. We understand how to read books. A book is more than words. It can, and should be, an interactive experience.

 

Lulu Author Ray C. Freeman published the FIRST EVER Augmented reality pop-up book! His book features virtual three-dimensional artwork by eighteen artists. Learn more about Ray’s book Pop Up (AR)t A Technology Enhanced Publication here: http://ow.ly/1kCo300zNKx

 

 

 

Lulu Author Suzanne Conboy-Hill’s new book Let Me Tell You a Story is geared towards individuals with literacy difficulties. Her book is a collection of short literary fiction and poetry, exploring themes of relationships, disability, loss and vengeance. All sound tracks are accessed by scanning an QR code. Lulu is proud to be part of this wonderful project! . Learn more here:http://ow.ly/LK59300CoLF

hackFieldtrip! Making a QR code is easy and younger people love them. I used QRcode Generator. There are several out there but this is one that lets you create something more decorative than the traditional black-and-white QR code.

tfwf.png

You just type in your web address and your QR code is generated. You can alter the shape 14 different ways and choose colors for foreground and background. You can embed your logo in the center. Mine is a big long so it isn’t as pretty as it could be. Save it. Use it like any graphic. People scan it with their smartphone, using any QR code scanner. Your website pops up. You can direct QR users to a specific page, or to your website. In my case, I used my WordPress blog instead of my website. Have fun. Share yours! I’d like to see your QR code!

You can do really interesting things with books. Self-publishing has moved way beyond what your local copy shop can handle.

Yes, I am biased. I prefer Lulu. I admit it. I don’t work for them. I publish through them for myself and others. They offer hardcover and other options you just can’t get from other publishing companies.

#lulurocks

#thinkfastwritefast

 

Gimme a pipe

One unresolved self-publishing issue is pipes. Browse an old copy of PC Magazine from 1993 and you’ll see that the pipe concept has been around for a long time. Basically, for those who don’t want to click-and-read, it’s a method of moving digital information from one place to another.

Whether you are self-publishing for someone else, or hiring someone to self-publish for you, pipes matter. How do you get your information into the cyber bookstore?

The person who will receive the royalties needs a self-publishing account. That person sets up their tax information, designates what account should receive the royalties, and a host of other bits of data.

The person who actually uploads the content of the book and the book cover needs access to that same account.

So if you hire someone to format your file for any kind of a book, they need to have access to your account. If you are an author, do you really want to give your Createspace or Lulu password to someone you hire? The author’s account contains credit card information, which is actually pipe in from CyberSource.com.

Once a client accesses an author’s Createspace account they have full access to edit the account so that all royalties are deposited in the client’s account, instead of the author’s.

Someone needs to invent a way for editors and layout personnel to access a self-publishing author’s account without giving them full credit card, and other payment, access.

As editors and design staff, we need to inform authors that they need to help us advocate to protect their payment data.

No client has ever asked if I am bonded before giving me their passworded information. They don’t ask for legal contract wording to protect them.

I am concerned about the liability on my part. How do I protect myself? If uploaded data is less than perfect, I need to see the online viewer only accessible via passworded access.

All self-publishing companies need to address this issue.

How do you handle this? As an author, do you give out your password to editors and layout providers?

As an editor or designer, do you log in with authors’ passwords?

#pipesmatter

Lulu self-publishing: splitting the difference

Academic publishing is innately different from all other publishing, just as the academic world, in general, is different. The primary difference is the sharing of information. Or, not.

I have worked in both the private business sector and for universities. In the private sector, business is all about competition. Business competes for customers and employees alike. Innovations are protected. Ideas become an employer’s property. Instead of information becoming power, the ability to hide information becomes power.

The academic world is a different culture. Faculty often collaborate with their peers at other universities in a way that would prompt a meeting with corporate attorneys in the business world for one simple reason. Generally speaking, faculty own their information. They own their research. They also know what the next step is and how to get there. Sometimes it requires collaborating with another mind on another campus. It often involves sharing information with grad students who will move on in a year or two.

That just doesn’t happen in the business world. One of the few and early exceptions was the Power PC. But, for the most part, business is about division and protecting trade secrets rather than sharing and evolving them.

Except at Lulu. But, then, business is a little different at Lulu.

One of the features Lulu offers is a revenue split. A revenue split is the perfect way for creators to each receive their share of royalties. When a book project is created, an author can add accounts for others who worked on the same project.

split

As books sell, Lulu handles the paperwork and pays royalties via PayPal or check to each coauthor. I hope that, when Glass Tree Academic Publishing, goes live they will include this feature.

But, who do you share creator revenues with? Anyone you want. If you want to split a portion of the royalties with an illustrator, just set them up with an account. Or, it can be one or more coauthors.

I’ve looked closely at Createspace and Amazon Business and don’t see a way to split revenues automatically. But, then, they follow a different model. One that doesn’t cater to the academic world.

As always, think outside the box.

#thinkfastwritefast

Slow down…you publish too fast

I am fully aware that this may sound contradictory but, seriously, slow down your process! Don’t leap at publishing. You are likely to regret it. You need a plan.

It’s true that you can literally upload your words and see your book listed on Amazon and other sites within minutes. Okay, maybe an hour, by the time you fill in all the information and setup your royalty payment system.

But, it’s fast. It’s real fast. It’s…too fast!

Coordinating publication is not always as precise as one might like, unfortunately. A book may not literally be available as an eBook the very moment that it is available as a print book. Those are two different delivery systems. You can come close. You might even make it happen. But, chances are you won’t flick a switch and both will go online simultaneously.

More importantly, it doesn’t matter.

Unless you are a world famous author, readers are probably not poised at their keyboards, ready to hit the buy button the moment your book appears like they are when concert tickets go on sale. If, they are, I’d like to hear about your experience.

But, seriously, slow down. Take a beat.

Before you upload anything, create a schedule. Yes, a schedule. You are going to need to coordinate your marketing efforts based on that schedule.

I currently have a client who has an August release date on a book we started working on in January. I admire that. It’s smart planning. He teaches, does public speaking and podcasts. He has set a realistic expectation.

There are issues that you need to deal with that take time. You need to test that your text appears the way you thought it would. You need to make sure your cover art looks good. If not, you need to revise and upload—maybe numerous times until you get things just perfect.

Did you think your book was going to have text on the spine? It has to have a minimum number of pages in order for that to happen.

hackIf your book is too slender for a spine, you need to add more pages. But, don’t just add blank pages. Get creative. Add a worksheet. Create a crossword puzzle using words from the book. Create pages for Notes. Add reviews. Add pages talking about other books or services you offer.

Createspace recommends that you take the time to buy a copy of your print book so that you can proof it. Lulu requires it. The process varies.

I highly recommend ordering a copy and looking it over meticulously. In my rush, I once spelled not one, but two, words wrong on the back cover of one of my own books. I’m always experimenting with decorative page number art. Sometimes it looks fabulous in print. Sometimes, not so much.

While you’re waiting for the book to arrive, you should have been writing press releases, planning your email campaign, organizing a social media blitz and creating landing pages. How many? Maybe 27. Maybe 4. As Jay Berkowitz, author of Ten Golden Rules of Online Marketing says, there is no magic number or perfect campaign. You have to constantly test to see what works with your customers for a given product. And, what works for one book may not work at all for the next one.

Then there are other time-sensitive issues like creating a pre-release campaign, or other distribution options that require a book be exclusive for a certain period of time. Read the fine print.

Your job is not done when you upload your book. You need to set up book-signings, rub elbows with other more experienced writers and connect, connect, connect.

My favorite book is not a current one. It is the Cluetrain Manifesto. I highly recommend reading it but I will give you the short version: business is a conversation. You need to be conversing with people. Some of them will become your customers. Some will become your Chief Enthusiasm Officer.

You need to build in time for executing your plan. Setting aside 45 minutes to upload your book is such a tiny part of what you need to be doing. As a writer, you have the advantage. A great deal of what needs to be done involves writing.

hackJust slow it down a bit. Create a spreadsheet. Use an Airtable Blog Editorial Calendar. Write like mad and schedule posts via a social media management tool. Create a Facebook Page. Your Wall where you post pictures of your kitten is not a Facebook Page. It is a Wall and serves a different purpose. You need a Page.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll start talking about being Serial. I’ve used the Serial concept in so many ways over the years. You may find it helpful, too.

cluetrainIn the meantime, I’ll give you a reading assignment. Talk about innovations in publishing, the Cluetrain Manifesto is available online for one penny.I bought the hardcopy back when it first came out, some 15 years ago.

 

 

 

#thinkfastwritefast

 

Amazon: the double-edged sword of marketing

a/k/a Lulu’s secret advantage

Everyone wants to see their book on Amazon. It’s a good thing. But it isn’t everything.

There is a popular myth that, if you want to sell your book, it has to be on Amazon. There is a good deal of truth to that. Being on Amazon is like a badge of honor.

Who doesn’t have an Amazon Prime account, these days, especially if you buy books? And, if you buy books at all, you probably have some flavor of an Amazon account.

And, authors do sell books on Amazon. Obvi.

I promised to share with you how to use Lulu to your best advantage. So, here goes the tip of the iceberg.

First of all, everything is pretty even between Amazon and Lulu, except for Lulu offering a few more printing options.

The biggest difference is that you earn higher royalties on Lulu books, when readers buy directly from Lulu. But, the same books can (usually) be simultaneously distributed through Amazon.

So, you’re adding to your distribution, by publishing through Lulu and distributing through other sources as well–from Lulu. You’re not eliminating Amazon or other outlets.

Possibly the most effective way to guide customers to buying through Lulu is to send them emails or to use landing pages. The biggest drawback of Lulu is that they do not offer free shipping.

But, you’re also not paying $99/year to get “free” shipping that you enjoy with Amazon. Free is never actually free.

Since Lulu is going to net you higher royalties anyway, adjust the list price to be competitive with Amazon prices by setting your Lulu list price (with shipping) to the Amazon price with free shipping. Play around with it.

Ultimately, you need to decide which is better for you.

  • Is it better to have your book listed exclusively on Amazon, where you are buried so deep that no ever finds you? Free shipping doesn’t matter much if you are selling ZERO books, right?
  • Is it better to publish on a site like Lulu where you can also distribute on Amazon but earn a little more of a royalty on each book from those who buy directly through Lulu?

It doesn’t make much sense to write a book no one is ever going to find. It could be the best book in the world but if no one knows about it, why did you write it?

If no one buys it, why are you writing another?

The logical thing to do is find the book format that best meets the needs of the individual book you are about to publish. This book. Right now.

That may not be the case for your next book. And, that’s okay.

Publish it any way you want. Distribute any way you want, but don’t forget you can sell directly from most publishers—plus still sell through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

The important thing to know is that you still have lots of work to do after “The End.” It’s just a different kind of work.

You need to find your readers. You need to communicate with them. You need to sell through their favorite store—unless you can match price, shipping, convenience, or whatever deep need is going to turn them into a paying customer.

You need reviews. But, how do you get a book review?

You send a free copy of your book to a reviewer who looks at every aspect of the book: the content, the writing style, the presentation, everything that goes into making a book into a book.

hack There are professional review sites that accept self-published works. Publishers Weekly has a separate site just for self-published books. It is called Booklife and you can find submission information online at Booklife. They will even review e-books.

If you have to ask whether you should include return postage or an invoice, you probably are not mature enough as a writer to consider requesting reviews. Perhaps you need to learn more about marketing books before leaping in.

As Jay Berkowitz said in The Golden Rules of Online Marketing, “If you build it — they won’t just come.”

My sage advise is not to avoid Amazon. It’s to add to Amazon.

So get out your sword. Marketing can be a battle.