Category Archives: self-publishing

KDP pricing vs IngramSpark pricing

I’ve just been speaking to IngramSpark [Australia] and discovered that Ingram only charge for the actual print cost of a paperback!!!!

-dance-

No idea why that’s such a big deal?

Allow me to explain. 🙂

When you print [and sell] your paperback through KDP, your royalty is calculated as the difference between the sale price of the book and two things:

  1. the print cost
  2. the cost of distributing [i.e. selling] through Amazon

Amazon’s distribution cost will always be 40% of the List Price [the sale price], but the print cost will vary depending on what, and how, you print. For example, black & white costs much less than colour.

To explain how distribution and print cost affect royalty, I’m cheating a bit and taking the next bit straight out of my KDP how-to book:

Royalty = (List Price – 40% [to Amazon]) – Printing

Or to put it another way, when your paperback sells on Amazon:

  1. Amazon takes its share – 40% – from the total sale price,
  2. This leaves 60% of the total sale price.
  3. From this 60%, Amazon takes the actual print costs.
  4. Whatever is left over is your royalty.

To illustrate this point, let’s say the List Price of a book is $10 and the print cost is $5.

  1. From that $10, Amazon takes $4 – i.e. 40%.
  2. That leaves $6.
  3. From that $6, Amazon takes $5 – i.e. the cost of the printing.
  4. That then leaves $1 as the royalty owed to the author.

 [10 – 4] – 5 = 1

Note: back when you had the option of selling your paperback directly through CreateSpace, the cost of selling through CS was 20% rather than the 40% owed to Amazon, but there was still a charge.

Knowing how Amazon and CreateSpace calculate royalties, I assumed that IngramSpark must have a distribution cost factored in there somewhere as well. But they don’t, and I couldn’t be happier! IngramSpark will distributre your paperback worldwide without charging for the distribution. All they charge is the print cost. Suddenly, the setup fee and the revision fee don’t feel so bad any more.

Until I see exactly how Amazon and IngramSpark function together, I won’t be completely sure of my figures, but I am now itching to try it and see. And of course, you’ll be the first to know what I’ve learned. 😀

cheers

Meeks

 


New cover, image 1

The second KDP how-to is almost ready to go. This one is for a tiny marketplace of those who want to publish memoirs and other graphic heavy non-fiction books. Soooo…I’ve been playing with images. 😀

I found the original image on freeimages.com and it looked like this:

It was a great beginning but I wanted the image to tell the story of the book. So I added some images that are unique to my writing.

Anyway, I had fun. Oh! And the very first IngramSpark print book arrived today! I have to say that the quality is excellent, and I’m now ready to get all my books printed in Australia. More on that in a future post.

It’s been a good day, and I hope yours was enjoyable too. 🙂

cheers

Meeks

p.s. no comments as this is just a little post.


KDP how-to, ebook version – betas needed!

My thanks to Chris the Story-Reading Ape for pointing out that some readers might prefer an ebook version to beta. Well, here it is, almost:

Please ignore the price. Once the ebook is live on Amazon, I’ll gift up to 5 beta readers with the ebook.

Before anyone volunteers, however, there are a couple of constraints to consider:

  • In order to gift you the ebook from Amazon, I’ll need an email address. I will not use your email address for any promotional activity such as ads or newsletters, but in the current climate, I like to put that point up front.
  • The ebook will only work on tablets and mobile phones – i.e. it will work on the Kindle Fire, but it will not work on the ordinary, black & white Kindles.
  • The step-by-step instructions were written for absolute beginners – i.e. I assumed that they would know nothing about POD publishing. If you are already experienced in POD, you may find the degree of ‘help’ too detailed.
  • Zooming in. Because the ebook was created using KDP’s Textbook Creator, you will not be able to change the size of the font, but you will be able to zoom in on the screenshots. I figured that would be a smallish price to pay for colour images and layout control.
  • The Table of Contents is very basic and only links to the chapter headings. Once the ebook version is finalised, I’ll go in and add at least another layer to the TOC, but I didn’t want to go to so much trouble when things could change a lot.

Okay, I think those are the only warnings I need to deliver. Ah, except for one: if you are not one of my beta readers, please do not buy the ebook as it will change before I’m finally happy with it. I hope the changes won’t be too substantial, but my betas may discover a glaring hole in either my knowledge or the way I’ve explained things so…

If anyone’s interested in becoming a beta for the ebook version, please contact me on:

meeka at triptychacf dot com

Thanks!

Meeks


Authors – were you satisfied with the quality of IngramSpark printing [in Australia]?

In the world of self-publishing, and small press publishing, CreateSpace, KDP and Lulu all offer printed proofs at cost price. These printed proofs equate to quality control. As the author, you get to check your own work and the quality of the printer’s product before approving the book for sale.

I learned the value of printed proofs with the paperback version of Vokhtah. Onscreen, the cover looked fantastic. Once it was printed, [by Lulu and KDP] I discovered that the cover was so dark, most of the fine detail was lost.

The reason for this discrepancy is that computer screens use RGB colour mode – i.e. digital colour – while printers use CMYK, and the two are not exactly the same. Added to that, the calibration of the computer screen may be off, all of which can result in a pretty dreadful end product. But I would not have known about those problems if I had not seen real, physical, printed proofs of Vokhtah.

IngramSpark, however, does not offer printed proofs. As I discovered today, I can order printed copies at cost, but only after approving my book[s]. And guess what? After I approve a book, any changes, any changes at all, will cost me $25 AUD a pop.

To highlight the enormity of this…’policy’ by IngramSpark, Vokhtah would have cost me a minimum of $75 in review fees, just to get the cover printed properly.

Do other Indies take pot luck with IngramSpark? Or do they fork out review fees without protest? Or is this one reason why most Indies use CreateSpace, KDP and Lulu to print their books?

Having tried all three, I was hoping that IngramSpark Australia would save me a boatload of money on shipping costs. Now, I’m not sure what to do.

Should I use CreateSpace or KDP to get the covers right and then print with IngramSpark?

I could, but that would still be a gamble as there’s no guarantee the IngramSpark POD facilities produce an equivalent product.

Has anybody out there had experience with IngramSpark Australia, in terms of quality? Would you recomment them?

If you can share your experiences in the poll below, I’d really appreciate it as I hate the thought of buying something sight unseen. 😦


Were you satisfied with the quality of the paperback printed by IngramSpark Australia?
(polls)

Meeks


Australian #Selfpublishers needed to beta test KDP how-to guide

Apologies! I’d love to send beta copies of the paperback overseas, but the postage is a killer so this plea is for Aussies only.

So what do I want and what do you get?

I’d like 5 volunteers, anywhere in Australia, who’d be prepared to test the KDP how-to for functionality. I’ll send you a questionnaire to make things easier, but essentially, the questions I’d like answered are:

  • do the step-by-step instructions leave anything out that a real beginner would need?
  • do the examples make sense?
  • are the screenshots good enough?
  • are the page numbers in the Table of Contents accurate?
  • are the page numbers in the Index accurate?
  • if dipping into a guide is your style, do the Table of Contents and Index help you find what you’re looking for? Quickly? Easily?
  • is the cover too garish? Tone down the green? Pick another colour for the back cover entirely?
  • and of course, typos, but only if they hit you in the face. Don’t worry about combing through each page.

In return, you get to keep the proof copies I send you. No strings, no obligations. However, if you return the questionnaire, I’ll also send you a ‘first edition’ of the final, finished version. If you want it signed, I’ll do that too, but you can have it naked if you prefer. Again, no strings, no obligations. 🙂

Almost as important are the things I won’t do:

  • no using your email address in any newsletters, either now or in the future,
  • no contacting you directly with any promotional stuff, and
  • no pressuring you to write a review.

So there you have it. I’m hoping to have the proof copies ready within 2 weeks, so if you think you’d be interested, please contact me on:

meeka at triptychacf dot com

or

@acflory on Twitter.

Many thanks,

Meeks


I’m going to hit that deadline…yes!

I have until July 31 to submit ‘How to Print Your Novel with Kindle Direct Publishing’ to IngramSpark. Missing that deadline means having to pay $53 AUD for the setup fee, not something Scrouge McFlory wants to do, no, no, no…

Yesterday, I wasn’t sure if I’d make it coz the Word index was playing up. If any of you have used the Word index function, you’ll know that it creates a Continuous section break all by itself. That’s normal, but yesterday Word added a Next Page break just before the index. No, it wasn’t me. Anyway, headers and page numbers suddenly went crazy and the more I tried to fix things the worse it all became.

To cut a long story short, I bit the bullet this morning and stripped out all the section breaks, saved under a new filename [just because i was paranoid], redid all the breaks, headers and page numbers and…voila! It works.

To celebrate, I jumped on Corel and began playing with some images I’d downloaded from freeimages.com. These are what I started with:

I wanted to indicate visually that the book referred to KDP but wasn’t an ebook. As sometimes happens, the answer was ridiculously simple. This is just the visual image I came up with:

Now I just have to fiddle with the title and backcover stuff and it’ll be done.

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Meeks


IngramSpark for Australian Authors

Just finished a long conversation with a very nice lady from IngramSpark Australia, and I thought I’d share what I learned with other Australian self-publishers.

First and foremost, IngramSpark have a print facility right here in Australia. That translates to massive savings on shipping costs for Australian authors.

How massive? Roughly $4.90 for 1 to 28 medium sized paperbacks if you live in Melbourne. That’s because the IngramSpark print facility is located in Melbourne. Delivery charges to other states will obviously be higher. Nonetheless, I doubt those charges would come close to the cost of shipping books in from overseas.

Secondly, IngramSpark printing costs are a bit higher than CreateSpace but lower than Lulu. They also have:

  • a full range of trim sizes
  • hardbacks if required
  • global distribution to countries not available through Amazon.

Amazon distribution has become a sore point with Australians as they cannot buy print books on Amazon Australia. In the past, they would have to order print books from Amazon US or UK and pay shipping costs that often doubled or tripled the cost of the book. Now that we’ve been geo-blocked from Amazon international, print books will no longer be available at all. Unless…

And this brings me to my conversation with IngramSpark today. I rang to clarify whether I could use IngramSpark to provide print books to Amazon Australia. The question was complicated by the fact that I wanted non-Australian Amazon markets to continue selling paperbacks printed via CreateSpace and KDP.

Aussie authors will be pleased to know that the answer from IngramSpark was ‘yes’. 🙂

Basically what happens is that my book[s] will be available for world wide distribution – to countries not covered by Amazon as well as markets already covered by Amazon. When someone buys one of my print books from Amazon US, UK or EU, Amazon will fulfil the order from their own ‘feed’. In other words, if they can supply from CreateSpace OR KDP they’ll do so.

But…for markets such as Australia, Amazon will source the print book from IngramSpark. That means my paperback will be available to Australian readers from Amazon.com.au, and it’ll cost readers a heck of a lot less in shipping.

Apart from availability and shipping, there is one more reason to print books with IngramSpark here in Australia, and that harks back to their distribution capabilities. If I can persuade a local bookshop to give my book[s] a try, the bookshop can order direct from IngramSpark at wholesale prices. Wholesale discounts range from 30% to 55%, which puts self-publishers/small publishers on a more even footing with large, traditional publishers.

-dance-

Okay, I’ll stop high-fiving myself now and get serious again because there are also disadvantages to printing with IngramSpark. The two biggest disincentives are:

  • the setup cost of $53 AUD per book, and
  • the need to have an ABN [Australian Business Number].

If you’ve never run a small business before – for example as a sole trader – the idea of getting an ABN can be daunting. The truth, however, is that it’s both free and relatively painfree to apply for one.

For detailed, step-by-step information about getting an ABN see this post. And see this one about why you should NOT pay for that ABN [because it’s free].

Now for a word about the cost. $53 AUD is a steep price to pay when you’ve got more than one book to setup. I have 7 to-date, so that would have been an upfront charge of $371 AUD. Luckily, I managed to setup all 7 books during a free promotion run by IngramSpark.

I’m not sure exactly when or why IngramSpark runs these promotions, but from what I can gather, they seem to happen once, or maybe twice a year. I have two more how-to books in the pipeline, so I’ll have to pay the full setup charge for those, but at least the cost will be staggered for them.

Oh, and one more disadvantage – once a book has been approved [by the author] and is available for sale, any changes will incur a $25 fee. So…be very sure your book is as ready as it’ll ever be before you approve it for publishing/sale.

Okay, that’s it for now. I’ll be ordering proof copies of all 7 books in the next day or three. Once they arrive I’ll take pics and write an update on the quality, timing etc.

cheers

Meeks

 

 


#KDP Cover Creator – in words and pictures

After reviewing the Amazon KDP print-on-demand process, and finding it wanting, I thought I’d better provide a guide to the Cover Creator do’s and don’ts.

To begin…

If you have already published an ebook with KDP:

  1. Log in to KDP
  2. Go to your Bookshelf
  3. Find the ebook for which you want to create a paperback version and click ‘+ Create Paperback’

If you have not published with KDP before but have an ordinary Amazon account, go to the website:

https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/

And sign in with your Amazon ID and Password. If you don’t have an Amazon account, click the big, yellow ‘Sign Up’ button and follow the registration instructions.

Once you’ve logged in to KDP, click the ‘+ Paperback’ button as shown below:

To work…

You should now be looking at the first page of the paperback setup screen. New authors will need to fill in the required details before they click ‘Save and Continue’ at the bottom of the screen. Existing authors will find the details already filled in using the details from the ebook.

Page 2 of the setup contains more questions, and down near the bottom half of the page you’ll find the Cover Creator option:

Click the yellow, ‘Launch Cover Creator’ button if you want to use the app to create a cover for your book.

[Note: if you already have a cover, you can upload it by clicking the ‘Upload a cover you already have…’ radio button instead. Covers must be in PDF format and they must be the appropriate size for whichever trim size you have chosen – i.e. for the physical dimensions of your book, including the spine]

You should now be looking at the ‘How to Use Cover Creator’ window:

This is essentially just an overview of the process. Click the ‘Continue’ button.

Next, you will be asked to choose a background picture for your cover. You have three options – use a free, KDP image, use your own image or skip this step:

Point at the options to see a description of that option. If you want to use your own image, click ‘From My Computer’ and select the appropriate file to use in the templates. If you’re not ready to select an image yet, click ‘Skip This Step’. You will be prompted later to select an image for the cover. For the purposes of this guide, we’ll be using the free images from the KDP gallery.

From Image Gallery…

The images in the KDP gallery are organised in categories. When you select one of the main categories listed on the left hand side of the window, the sub-categories will display on the right hand side. In the example shown below, the main category selected is ‘Backgrounds’:

Clicking one of the sub-categories will take you to the actual images. In the example shown below, I clicked on one of the images from the ‘Abstract’ sub-category:

Alternatively, I could have typed a keyword into the search box to narrow down my search.

Once you find the image you want, click the orange ‘Use this Image’ button.

Cover Creator inserts the chosen image into all of the available templates and displays them for you to choose the one you like the best:

Click the left and right direction arrows to see all the available templates [11]. When you find one you like, click it.

You should now be looking at the ‘Quick Tutorial’:

This is just a simple overlay that explains the purpose of the buttons, icons and guidelines. Click the ‘Dismiss’ button to get rid of the overlay.

While the overlay is helpful, it completely ignores the most basic elements of the screen – i.e. how to enter your own blurb on the back cover!

When you dismiss the tutorial overlay, this is what you will see:

The triangular orange alerts are there to tell you how to replace the nonsense text with real text. Point to an alert to see a description of what it’s about. Generally, to replace the nonsense text, simply click in the relevant paragraph. This will clear all text and allow you to type, or copy/paste, the correct text onto the cover.

Easy, right? Not quite. For reasons I can’t fathom, the default font size for the paragraphs is not the same as the text shown. For example, the font for the author bio is huge, so before you type in the blurb, you have to set the font style and size via the editing bar as shown below:

Click the small down arrow to display the list of available fonts. Click a font to select it.

Next, click the small down arrow next to ‘Auto Fit’ and select a font size because…auto fit doesn’t work and the font is still huge. As far as I could tell, selecting the size of the font is a case of trial and error. The alignment options seem to work, as do the font colour and drop shadow options, but no matter what I tried, the Bold and Italic options remained greyed out.

Once you have all the back cover text entered properly, click on the ‘Author Photo’ icon. You will see two options – ‘From My Computer’ and ‘Skip This Step’:

Down the very bottom, in tiny blue letters, you should also see a link to the ‘KDP image guidelines’. -grinds teeth- Clearly this screen has been re-used without adjusting for context. Clicking this link does provide some very important information about cover images – i.e. if you choose to use your own image – but it provides absolutely nothing about the Author Photo. Luckily, Cover Creator resizes the Author Photo to fit automatically.

But… All photos are not equal. First I tried a photo of 527 x 532 pixels, and it worked perfectly. Then I tried a much smaller one – 157 x 202 pixels. Cover Creator inserted it into the available space but came back with a problem. It thought the photo was less than 300 DPI. Actually, both photos were 300 DPI so the size had clearly triggered some glitch.

For your information, the following photo size seems to work well:

500 x 500 pixels or

1.667 x 1.667 inches or

42.33 x 42.33 millimeters

With the blurb and Author Photo taken care of, it’s time to edit the rest of the template. First up are the template colours. Click the paintbrush tab beneath your cover:

This will display an editing bar:

The options on the left allow you to select each colour individually from a pallet of colours. The options on the right are colour sets that work well together. If you are choosing your colours individually, be very careful that the background and font colour are a good contrast to each other. If they are too similar, the text will be very hard to read.

The next tab is the layout tab:

Clicking this tab displays a selection of preset layouts:

And finally, there’s the font tab:

This option is for Title, Sub-title [if you want one] and Author Name. It provides a series of font ‘sets’:

Click the left and right arrows to see all the sets, and try them out. Click one to select it.

[Note: I’m not sure if the fonts were all very similar or I’m just going blind, but they all looked the same the me. Of course, this might be a display glitch…]

If you want to insert a sub-title, you have to click around the cover until the sub-title text box suddenly appears. Kind of lame. Type in your sub-title.

Although finding the sub-title is not intuitive at all, one nice feature is that you can select any piece of text – e.g. Title, Sub-title, Blurb, Spine etc – and change its colour using the Text Colour option on the editing bar:

 

You can also change the font and font size, which makes me wonder why you’d bother with a Text tab in the first place. -shrug-

When you’ve finished tweaking the cover, click the ‘Preview’ button and sit back while the system puts the finished preview together. Depending on how big the cover files are, this can take a while.

If you’re satisfied with the appearance of the cover, click the ‘Save and Submit’ button at the bottom of the preview screen:

The cover file will be saved automatically, and you can continue with the rest of the setup for your print book.

I hope this helps,

Meeks

 

 

 

 

 


How to vector a bitmap with Corel Draw X8

I know there are easier ways to get rid of the background in a bitmap, but I’ve never been able to achieve the crisp results I wanted, so instead I apply nodes to the bitmap, effectively turning it into a vector of a bitmap.

What do I mean? I’ll explain with a real life example. This is the image I downloaded from freeimages.com:

The reason I downloaded it was because I wanted those two gears, and only those two gears. This is what I ended up with after 3 days of boring, painstaking work:

 

As you can see, the gears now appear in splendid isolation, crisp and clear, as if I’d photographed them against that dark charcoal background. This is how I did it.

Step 1 – Use the File/Import command [Ctrl I] to bring the bitmap file into Corel Draw X8.

Step 2 – Select the bitmap and click the Shape Tool as shown:

Step 3 – The bitmap should now have nodes displayed at each corner.

Right click anywhere on the ‘lines’ between the nodes to place a new node and open the right click menu:

 

Step 4 – From the right click menu select the ‘Add’ option. This will give you a new node to work with.

Step 5 – Use the Shape Tool to move the new node to the edge of the shape you want to bring out. At this point the lines between nodes will all be ‘straight’:

Step 6 – [optional] As this point I usually create a dark coloured, vector rectangle and place it behind the bitmap so I can see the shape, and its background, more easily. Use the Object/To Back of Page command to locate the rectangle behind the bitmap.

Step 7 – To mold the lines around the bitmap shape, you have to make them capable of bending into a curve. To do this, right click the node you want to change to a curve. The context sensitive menu is displayed again. This time, select the ‘To curve’ option.

Step 8 – The line between nodes should now display two directional arrows:

Click-hold-and-drag the directional arrows to create the required curve.

For the teeth of the gears, I had to use about 5 nodes for each tooth:

As you create the vector shape around the bitmap shape, the coloured background will be revealed, proving that the emerging shape no longer has a background. And of course that means you can place it on top of other images like so:

Ta dah! Not completely finished but it’ll do for now. Oh and I finally worked out how to stop the CMYK black from displaying as grey when converting to an RGB image. Soooo simple.

With the Corel Draw X8 screen displayed, select:

Tools/Color Management/Default Settings

This is will cause a popup window to be displayed. Find the Color Conversion Settings and change the Color Engine to ‘None’:

Now the blacks will stay black instead of displaying as a kacky grey. 🙂

cheers

Meeks


Free ebook promotion on Amazon

How to Print Your Novel with CreateSpace

A step-by-step guide for absolute beginners

 

“An absolute beginner is someone who has yet to learn all the little things everyone else takes for granted.”

Unfortunately, it’s always the little things that trip people up. That’s why ‘How to Print Your Novel with CreateSpace’ takes nothing for granted. Examples, screenshots and step-by-step instructions guide absolute beginners through the entire printing process, from start to finish.

The only pre-requisites are a basic knowledge of Microsoft Word, the ability to save and retrieve files, and an internet connection.

With patience, nothing is impossible.

‘How to Print Your Novel with CreateSpace’ is available as a paperback or as an ebook. The ebook is available on the following devices and apps:

You can find ‘How to Print Your Novel with CreateSpace’ on:

Amazon

The ebook is free from May 1 to 5, 2018.

 


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