Amazon and Hachette Come to Terms

AmazonvsHachette

Remember that weary battle between Amazon and Hachette? Tried to forget about it? Well, it’s back with an underwhelming vengeance. They settled… and they’re keeping the details to themselves and essentially each side is claiming victory or something like that. Makes you sort of wonder why they couldn’t have settled months ago. Still, leave it to Doug Preston to try and have the last words, which are pretty much, “You haven’t heard the end of this!” Can we vote to end his 15 minutes of “fame”? It’s running a bit long.

Listen, as I mentioned briefly in my post yesterday, I’m all for competition. As authors and readers, it would be healthy for Amazon to get some strong competition, especially with regard to the ebook market. Problem is, there isn’t anything that’s on the same level and that’s probably because no one cares about it as much. That is, until the one place that does care starts trying to throw its weight around.

I’m kinda glad the whole thing is over and I hope to never hear about the Authors Guild and Authors United. When your group consists of the top 1% of earners in a field, it doesn’t sound like unity and leadership. It sounds like privilege and whining.

Barnes & Noble Opens Up POD Service

NookPressPrint

And it’s pretty much useless. No, seriously. I’m not really sure what to say about Nook Press Book Publishing. “What were you thinking?” comes to mind. You see, a print-on-demand (POD) service exists, primarily, for two reasons. The first is to be able to create paper copies of your book. Simple. The second is where the real potential for value comes into play for a self-published author. Where can your POD service distribute your book to?

CreateSpace, Lightning Source, and most major POD services will distribute your book to Amazon and B&N so that it’s available for customers to purchase. They also make it available to bookstores and libraries if you can convince them to pick up copies. Do I sell a lot of paperbacks online? No, but it’s nice to know that they’re there. So, you would think that B&N’s new service would at least distribute to bn.com, right? Nope. They don’t distribute anywhere, not even to themselves. Go ahead, go back and read that and make sure you’ve got it. THEY’RE A POD SERVICE THAT DOESN’T EVEN SERVICE ITSELF! That sounds wrong on a variety of levels, but you get what I mean.

While they do offer the ability to produce a hardcover option (something CreateSpace doesn’t do), this whole concept is a bit of a head scratcher. There’s just no incentive to use this service! Why would I even bother? Is it possible that this service might change in the future? Sure, but it’s barely worth a second look at the moment. There are better, established, POD services that actually provide you with… you know, a service.

Self-publishing needs stronger competition. As happy as I am with Amazon, there needs to be a company of equal quality and value for authors to turn to. B&N could be that competition, but it seems like every time they have a chance to get in the game, they fall well short. Nook Press is a poor alternative to Kindle Direct Publishing, and this new addition almost feels like the punchline to a bad joke.

I use CreateSpace for my POD books. Who do you use? What’s been your experience with POD? Let us know in the comments and thanks for stopping by! 🙂

NaNoWriMo Update

Shield-Nano-Blue-Brown-RGB-HiRes

How goes it WriMos? For those of you taking on the National Novel Writing Month challenge, how’s your word count? I’ve been plugging along and I try not to look at how far I am from reaching the goal of 50k. It’s ok. I’m really just pleased at having put words on the page for 9 consecutive days. Ok, some of those days were literally 20 words, but it’s not always about volume. It’s about consistency.

And I feel like I’m moving at a pace that’s sustainable. It’s not that I can’t handle 1667 words a day. We did a word sprint the other day and I tallied 326 words in 10 minutes (it was a dialogue heavy scene… have you read my writing?… I like dialogue). Anyway, instead of being worried about what day of the month it is, I’m just basking in the fact that I’ve managed to churn out ~12,000 words in a week and a half. That’s awesome no matter what month it is!

But, I’m really just hoping to carry this over into the rest of my work. I have several other books that need writing (hello book 3 of my trilogy?) and this kind of sustained focus. I might just declare January Scott’s Power of Six Writing Month (ScoPoSiWriMo?). I know it won’t be as easy as starting with a blank slate, but it needs to happen and the momentum is building.

Anyway, if you’re taking part, I hope NaNo is going well for you. I hope it’s stimulating your writing as much as it is mine. 😀

Are you on track, ahead of schedule, or just a shade (or two) behind? Let us know in the comments and thanks for stopping by!

Photo a Day for 1 Year – An Interview With Artist/Photographer James Cornette

Writers have National Novel Writing Month, where the challenge is to write 1667 words a day for 30 straight days. Now, imagine that challenge stretched out across an entire year! While taking photographs might seem simpler than writing a story, I bet many photographers would beg to differ. Good friend, photographer, exceptionally talented artist, and occasional book cover designer, James Cornette took that challenge in 2013 and succeeded, producing an enviable breadth of fantastic photography in the process. He recently finished putting together a motivational book aimed at those who might attempt the same feat.

Artist, photographer, graphic designer… author? You’re a modern-day renaissance man! What made you take the leap into self-publishing your book?

selfie

“Selfie” ©James Cornette

I love torture! I never fancied myself as a writer and it was never a desire. But, after looking back at the project as a whole, the “how did I actually stick to something this long?” had to be told. The amount of effort the “photo- a-day” took kind of sunk in. A few friends commented on how they didn’t know how I stuck to it for a whole year and how they could NEVER do that themselves. That was my cue.

I was actually excited to share just how I did it and what a great payoff it was personally. This idea of sharing took more shape after listening to a Dan Miller podcast about ebooks. Curiosity took over and I jumped into “figure it out” mode. It amazed me that sharing information was such a driver for me. As an artist I love to show work but I tend to get a little “guarded” on my process. I realized this was nothing more than insecurity. If I could show work AND share how, that was a win-win situation.

You and I talked throughout the process of creating this book and I love the way it turned out. It’s really great. What did you think of Kindle Direct Publishing and the path to publication?

Thanks, Scott! You were definitely a motivating factor in seeing this through. KDP…That is a tough one! I LOVE the platform and what it offers. The Help Topic section was thorough and helpful but a bit overwhelming at first. A video guide would have been a bit more reassuring.
One issue that came up right out of the gate was what format was best for my book. Initially I laid the book out in Adobe InDesign. This set me up for false expectations of how my book would look. I was in full on Graphic Designer mode and had 2 columns, dropcaps, nested images. My book was 50% text and 50% graphics so I naturally wanted certain chunks of text to be grouped with specific photographs. I gave the Kindle Pluggin for InDesign a go. FAIL! This churned out text and graphics all jammed together. The wind was sucked right out of my sails. I am sure you remember that conversation!

Regroup! Next up was Kindle Kids’ Book Creator followed by KindleGen v2.9. Kindle Kid’s Book Creator gave me the look I wanted but rendered out massive jpgs of each page. The result was a file too large and text that was fuzzy at a zoomed in view. If I were to go this route I would use Createspace instead. KindleGen never actually worked. I would get a command line popup (that scarey black box with lines of code on a PC) that would crash immediately. My ADD kicked in hard here and I left KindleGen in the dust.

I was determined to figure this out. Next up was HTML. I am no developer but have spent some years building site in HTML. There was enough guidance in the Help Topic section to get me on my way. This was the best option for me and got me the closest to the original book layout. It was not 100% but if I wanted to get this book out the door I was going to have to make some compromises. The result was live text and photos that were in the correct proximity to the text. I then zipped up the HTML, CSS, and images to upload to KDP. It was a bit tedious… upload, review, make edits to formatting, repeat. KDP has a great emulator that shows what your uploaded book looks like on multiple devices and gives you the option to view it horizontally or vertically.

So, when’s book #2 coming out?

Hehehh! I got the writing thing out of my system. I am leaving that to you professionals!

You’re a really great photographer and your art is pretty damn awesome too. Do you think the two go hand in hand?

"DoubleDutch" ©JamesCornette

“DoubleDutch” ©JamesCornette

Way to butter me up! Great question! It so difficult for me to separate the two. One skill feeds the other and vice versa. At times I believed both skills were different outlets for the same content. But that ignores the nuances of each practice. They are siblings that get along. Make sense? I don’t believe it is a requirement to be multi-disciplined but it sure helps! My art background provides me a different way of looking at and composing a photograph. Being an artist allows me to be more abstract in my approach. I use some of my art suggestions in the book. The artistic approach keeps you engaged in the process and the project. We are doing so much more than just recording an image daily or writing a blog post… we are “painting” a story, emotion, or thought.

The thing I always try to remember is an artistic bent is both a blessing and a curse. The blessing is that we try new things and engage in discovery. The curse is that we are easily bored and have trouble with follow-through. This is why I wrote the book… follow through.

You’re in the process of finishing up a “sketch-a-day” for a year project. Which project was more of a challenge?

HAHAHA! I am starting to twitch! The sketch-a-day is killing me! Let me start by saying that “a-day” should be pulled from the title. Let’s call it “365 sketches.” So, why am I not keeping the same pace? I get lost in my sketches. The photos were better thought out because I followed my 12 step process! I stuck to the plan. With the daily sketch I tend to make it more of an illustration than a sketch. I will finish all 365 sketches but not without some angst. The thing you will notice more readily in the daily sketches is the level of engagement in each sketch. I have some solid ones and some duds.

"Gear" ©James Cornette

“Gear” ©James Cornette

What’s the best thing to come out of this whole experience so far?

I wanted it to be personal growth. That is just a side product. The true benefit is the ability to time travel… to sit down and go through a year of photos with your family. To remember the day, the weather, the sounds, the vibe, the laughter, the pain. It all comes rushing back. To share a journey and encourage others to join in is such a great feeling!

So, photo-a day, sketch-a-day, …what’s next?

A 6-pack a day! Actually, a few friends and I were considering a weekly project. This would obviously be more a study in time management and fighting procrastination. The end goal is always the same though… growth! I know I can’t just coast.

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cover

$1.99 on Amazon. Free for Prime and Kindle Unlimited members. Great gift for that photographer in your life. 🙂

Awesome stuff. James, thanks for giving us a little insight into what went into the creation of your book. I’m sort of proud to have been able to contribute to it, as you’ve always helped me out without asking for anything in return.

Be sure to check out James Cornette’s new book on the challenge of taking a photo a day for a year. It’s informative, inspiring, and motivational on many levels. You can see James’ full collection of photographs here, his online portfolio here, and his sketch-a-day work here. I look forward to seeing and sharing more of his work in the future.

Comments or questions for James? Drop a note in the comments section and thanks for stopping by!

Me? On TV? Sure, why not? – We have an air date!

Calendar

Mark your calendars! We (finally!) have an air date for the local TV show I was involved in, called Writers2Writers. (TV show? What? You can catch up by reading my MANY other posts about the show). 😉

The first episode, Show 101, will air on Princeton Community Television on Thursday, November 13th at 7:00 PM and will repeat on Friday, 11/14 at 10:00 AM. Writers2Writers will air on FiOS in several townships and on Comcast in Princeton, NJ. The list of townships and channel information can be found on the About page.

The full episode, along with individual segment videos, will appear on the YouTube page the evening following the first airdate.

A lot of great people came together and invested their time and energy into this show. Like I said in the past, I think it’ll be a nice little reference point for writers and folks who are interested in getting into self-publishing. I hope you’ll check it out. 🙂

10 Places to Promote Your Book

Reader

Let’s face it, everyone pretty much knows about BookBub (if you don’t, feel free to read up on my own personal case study). But, the ‘Bub can be a tough nut to crack and they won’t just keep running the same books over and over. And, while free works, occasionally we’d like to get paid for our writing. 😉 So, what are the second-tier options for my discounted, but still paid book? Check out some of the options below. In no particular order.

The Midlist
Pixel of Ink
EreaderNewsToday
Bargain Booksy
Fussy Librarian
Daily Cheap Reads
Digital Book Today
ReadCheaply
Ereadercafe.com
Ebooklister.net

Now, while I’d like to say that the ROI is as solid for these as BookBub, that just isn’t the case. Make sure you do your homework before running an ad with ANY site. Some genres do better than others. They might have a big mailing list, but unless it’s segmented by genre, you could be sending your high fantasy novel to romance readers. Remember to temper your expectations. Be comfortable in the amount you’re investing, as you may not see a dollar for dollar return. Judge success on your own scale and understand that what works for one may not work for another.

Do you have experience with these or other advertising sites? Share with us in the comments and thanks for stopping by!

NaNoWriMo Day 3. How’s It Going?

Just a quick NaNoWriMo update. I had so much going on Saturday that I couldn’t even think about sitting down and writing, so I made up for it yesterday and pretty much got back on track with 3200 words. It felt really good to just churn out text without spending too much time getting hung up on content. It’s tough, though, because I’m working in first person, so my normal flow sometimes gets derailed by simple POV issues. I’m trying to avoid too much dialogue and allow myself to really get into the head of the main character. Anyway, looking forward to getting home and cranking out another 1667 or so. 😉

Are you doing NaNo? How’s it going? How’s your word count? 

Take a poll! It’ll be fun! Please? Pretty please? :-D

Poll

So, there’s probably been a flood of polls up on WordPress blogs these last few days. You can blame the folks running Blogging 201. 😉 But, I figure I’d join in the fray to get a better idea of what brings you back here (or brought you here in the first place). I post a little bit of everything related to writing and publishing (though primarily self-publishing), and I’m considering opening up the blog to guests in a weekly feature that would be focused on a particular craft or self-publishing topic. But, what I’d really like to know is what kind of posts are most worth your time. What do you like to see and what is the most helpful to you? So, if you have a moment, click away at the poll below!

If the choices in the poll don’t cut it, feel free to leave a comment. Thanks for stopping by! 😀

P.S. This poll will self-destruct on November 7th.