Tag Archives: Australia

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.


Not On the Cards, by Cage Dunn

Cage Dunn is an Australian writer who answered my recent call for beta readers. Cage not only tested my latest how-to book, she introduced it to two groups of potential writers at her local library. Their combined feedback was so much more than I could ever have hoped for.

Curious, I decided to read one of Cage’s books. That book was ‘Not on the Cards’, and this is the review I just left for it on Amazon:

At its heart, Not on the Cards is a story of love and responsibility: Gate Keeper to Key Master, mother to child, Gate Keeper to multiverse, yet for much of the time, its set in a carpark near Camberwell Junction. On the weekends, that humble carpark becomes a Trash & Treasure market with a deliciously bohemian atmosphere. I know, because the market is in my home town of Melbourne [Australia], and I’ve been there many times.

In Not on the Cards, that market atmosphere becomes something else, something more like a Carnival and Freak Show combined. It’s the perfect setting for Chiri, a Reader of Cards who also happens to be the Gate Keeper of the Icosa, a construct spanning multiple universes within the multiverse.

Chiri should not be in Camberwell Junction. She should not be living Saturday, over and over again. She should not be lost, unable to find her way back to the place and time where her daughter may or may not be alive.

And then the Thief arrives with a Key that isn’t really a key, but it’s the closest thing to a Key Chiri has felt in a lifetime of waiting. Trouble is, following this Key that isn’t a Key could lead to the destruction of the Icosa, the construct she has sworn to protect.

Do not expect this story to be a comfortable read that you can skim while waiting for the train or standing in a queue. Not on the Cards will challenge you, but oh how lovely it is when you ‘get it’.

The last time my brain received such a workout was when I read Firefall by Peter Watts. Very different stories and storytellers, but the same result – a reward commensurate with the challenge.

Why climb Everest? Because it’s there.

So blown away. 🙂

Meeks


Smiling Quokka

Because sometimes, nothing but a quokka will do!

Click a picture to be taken to its ‘home’. And if you want more, just search for Quokka.

You’re welcome 🙂

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


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

 

 


Profiting from the ‘war on waste’

I rarely watch commercial TV and almost never during the morning, but today I did, and it made me hopping mad. I don’t know the name of the show as I only tuned in when the panel started arguing about shopping bags, but essentially, one guy was being very vocal about how great the new ‘multi use’, plastic shopping bag initiative was. Another guy was making the point that it was a pointless exercise because the bags were still made of plastic AND Woolworths was now charging for them as well.

I don’t have a picture of the new, you-beaut plastic shopping bags [because I refuse to buy any], however I think most of us know what they look like. They’re thicker and look suspiciously like the bags we used to get shoes and other jazzy apparel in.

Yes, these bags are a bit bigger and yes, they are a bit stronger too, but they’re still plastic. Worse, they’re made of a plastic that is even harder to get rid of than the so-called single-use bags. I do have a picture of those:

They are ugly, and a menace and impossible to recycle…but they can be re-used. I use at least some of mine as rubbish bin liners in the kitchen [in Nillumbik we have to sort waste into 3 bins]. I also use them to pick up dog poop and other nasty things, thereby saving on plastic gloves as well. At the end of the day, however, these plastic shopping bags still end up in landfill, so I’m all in favour of getting rid of them. The big problem is: what do we replace them with?

Greenies bring their own heavy duty shopping bags which look something like this:

These are fine, in theory, but hands up how many of you forget to take them with you when you go shopping?

I have about 10 of these stupid bags – in the house, in the boot, even on the back seat of the car. D’you think I remember to take them? Nope.

“I just need to pop into the supermarket for milk and eggs…”

Yeah right. I’ve yet to leave a supermarket without at last four bags of unplanned necessities. And you guessed it…they’re in grey plastic shopping bags.

It’s not that I don’t want to do the right thing for the environment, I do. But I’d really love to know why this debate has been hijacked by the supermarkets and the plastic bag manufacturers?

Am I the only old[er] person who remembers string bags that scrunch up into next to nothing? And how about those heavy duty paper shopping bags?

I admit paper bags don’t last as long as the plastic ones, old or new, but when paper becomes unusable, it can be recycled, or used to start a fire, or thrown into the compost where it really will decompose. In fact, if we’re talking about paper, how about using up some of our recycled paper to make paper bags? All kinds of paper bags. What’s the point of zeroing in on plastic shopping bags when almost every single items that goes in those bags is also wrapped in yet more plastic?

Can’t be done? Bull$hit. From memory, the green grocer in Eltham [next to Coles] provides customers with the option of using small paper bags instead of clear plastic bags. And IGA in Warrandyte is selling heavy duty shopping bags made from paper. Each bag costs 10c,  and is surprisingly durable. Wet things will put a hole in the bottom of the bag, but for them, you can use these:

The dark blue plastic lump next to the cup-and-saucer is a plastic shopping bag. Yes, I know, but bear with me. I bought 2 of them a couple of days ago from the Eltham 2 Dollar shop. I’d gone in there to ask about old-fashioned string bags [they are trying to order some in for me], and decided to make do with these tiny plastic ones in the interim.

When you open them out, they look like this:

Each one of these bags can take a heck of a lot of shopping, yet will fold up into a package small enough to fit into a pocket. And that’s exactly where I keep mine, in the pockets of my hooded winter jacket. As I wear this jacket whenever I leave the house, it means I now have two re-usable shopping bags with me at all times. No more old lady memory. If I pop into a supermarket for milk and eggs, I’ll always have a bag to put them in.

Oh, and one more thing, when you shop with a trolley, why put fruit and veg into clear plastic bags? Small things like fresh peas or green beans I can understand, but apples, potatoes, lettuce etc can sit quite happily in the trolley without any packaging at all. And once you’ve paid for them, they can all get thrown into a shopping bag. If you’re worried about loose fruit and veg falling out of the shopping bag, just tie the handles.

And people…there is no excuse for buying fruit and veg in polystyrene ‘trays’ with plastic wrap over the top. Seriously.

I’m all for the war on waste, but I fear it’s become a trendy ‘fad’ that will disappear after a few months of inconvenience. The problem is real and has to be tackled realistically. And that means there is no room for purists. Convenience will always be an issue. Poor memory will be one as well. We need to address the worst case scenario and find solutions that everyone can live with. String bags are one. Tiny, foldup plastic bags are another. Durable cloth bags and paper bags should be readily available as well.

The one thing that should not be promoted is heavy duty plastic because it’s worse than the problem it’s trying to solve. And no, supermarkets should not be making a profit out of our desire to make this world a better place for our kids and their kids.

Get real Australia

Meeks

 


The Lost Valley – my review on Amazon

I wrote about Jennifer Scoullar’s latest novel here, and so I thought you might be interested in the 5 star review I left for it on Amazon.com:

I’ve read a number of Jennifer Scoullar’s novels now, and I’ve enjoyed all of them, including Fortune’s Son, book 1 of The Tasmanian Tales but…The Lost Valley turned out to be something a whole lot more.

This is the most powerful story Scoullar has ever written, imho, and her characters almost jump off the page, they ring so true. Tom, the gentle twin who dreams of flying like a bird. Harry, the troubled twin who’s desperate to reclaim the family fortune lost by his father. And Emma, a working class girl who dreams of becoming a doctor in pre-World War II Australia.

Life, and the war, turn all their dreams upside down and inside out, especially when Kitty, a gorgeous Hollywood starlet walks into their lives. But weaving through the entire story is a thread of quiet joy – the secret of the Lost Valley.

I can’t say anymore for fear of spoiling it for everyone, but I guarantee you won’t be disappointed. Scoullar’s attention to detail and obvious love of the Australian bush, make the storytelling sing, but it’s her characters you’ll grow to love. All of them, well except for maybe one. Her you’ll hate. 🙂

Disclaimer: I received an ARC copy of The Lost Valley but would happily buy it for myself it’s that good.’

If you’ve read The Lost Valley, please leave a review on Amazon. And please follow Jennifer while you’re at it. It makes such a huge difference to a writer, not just because it helps us sell our work, but because we don’t actually get feedback all that often. I don’t think there’s a writer alive who doesn’t get a thrill when someone says ‘I like this’. 🙂

cheers

Meeks


#Australia – everything you never wanted to know about the IPA

Apologies to my international friends, this rant is predominantly for Australians.

The IPA has been on the news a lot lately, but I didn’t really know what the hell it was. Until just now. IPA stands for ‘Institute of Public Affairs’.

Sounds kind of official, doesn’t it? Well, it’s not. The IPA is a Liberal Right Wing think tank/lobby group that believes it knows what’s best for Australia. Those views are set out in a boring document called ‘Be Like Gough’:

https://ipa.org.au/publications-ipa/ipa-review-articles/be-like-gough-75-radical-ideas-to-transform-australia

Right at the end, however, are 75 suggestions for how Australia should be changed. I have not altered those 75 suggestions in any way. I have simply highlighted the ones that shocked me the most. Read them for yourself:

Since writing this post, I’ve been tweeting the List on Twitter and someone kindly let me know that The List is now 100 strong. The following is now the updated 100:

  1. Repeal the carbon tax, and don’t replace it. It will be one thing to remove the burden of the carbon tax from the Australian economy. But if it is just replaced by another costly scheme, most of the benefits will be undone.
  2. Abolish the Department of Climate Change
  3. Abolish the Clean Energy Fund
  4. Repeal Section C of the Racial Discrimination Act
  5. Abandon Australia’s bid for a seat on the United Nations Security Council
  6. Repeal the renewable energy target
  7. Return income taxing powers to the states
  8. Abolish the Commonwealth Grants Commission
  9. Abolish the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
  10. Withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol
  11. Introduce fee competition to Australian universities
  12. Repeal the National Curriculum
  13. Introduce competing private secondary school curriculums
  14. Abolish the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)
  15. Eliminate laws that require radio and television broadcasters to be ‘balanced’
  16. Abolish television spectrum licensing and devolve spectrum management to the common law
  17. End local content requirements for Australian television stations
  18. Eliminate family tax benefits
  19. Abandon the paid parental leave scheme
  20. Means-test Medicare
  21. End all corporate welfare and subsidies by closing the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education
  22. Introduce voluntary voting
  23. End mandatory disclosures on political donations
  24. End media blackout in final days of election campaigns
  25. End public funding to political parties
  26. Remove anti-dumping laws
  27. Eliminate media ownership restrictions
  28. Abolish the Foreign Investment Review Board
  29. Eliminate the National Preventative Health Agency
  30. Cease subsidising the car industry
  31. Formalise a one-in, one-out approach to regulatory reduction
  32. Rule out federal funding for  Commonwealth Games
  33. Deregulate the parallel importation of books
  34. End preferences for Industry Super Funds in workplace relations laws
  35. Legislate a cap on government spending and tax as a percentage of GDP
  36. Legislate a balanced budget amendment which strictly limits the size of budget deficits and the period the federal government can be in deficit
  37. Force government agencies to put all of their spending online in a searchable database
  38. Repeal plain packaging for cigarettes and rule it out for all other products, including alcohol and fast food
  39. Reintroduce voluntary student unionism at universities
  40. Introduce a voucher scheme for secondary schools
  41. Repeal the alcopops tax
  42. Introduce a special economic zone in the north of Australia including: a) Lower personal income tax for residents b) Significantly expanded Visa programs for workers c) Encourage the construction of dams
  43. Repeal the mining tax
  44. Devolve environmental approvals for major projects to the states
  45. Introduce a single rate of income tax with a generous tax-free threshold
  46. Cut company tax to an internationally competitive rate of 25 per cent
  47. Cease funding the Australia Network
  48. Privatise Australia Post
  49. Privatise Medibank
  50. Break up the ABC and put out to tender each individual function
  51. Privatise SBS
  52. Reduce the size of the public service from current levels of more than 260,000 to at least the 2001 low of 212,784
  53. Repeal the Fair Work Act
  54. Allow individuals and employers to negotiate directly terms of employment that suit them
  55. Encourage independent contracting by overturning new regulations designed to punish contractors
  56. Abolish the Baby Bonus
  57. Abolish the First Home Owners’ Grant
  58. Allow the Northern Territory to become a state
  59. Halve the size of the Coalition front bench from 32 to 16
  60. Remove all remaining tariff and non-tariff barriers to international trade
  61. Slash top public servant salaries to much lower international standards, like in the United States
  62. End all public subsidies to sport and the arts
  63. Privatise the Australian Institute of Sport
  64. End all hidden protectionist measures, such as preferences for local manufacturers in government tendering
  65. Abolish the Office for Film and Literature Classification
  66. Rule out any government-supported or mandated internet censorship
  67. Means test tertiary student loans
  68. Allow people to opt out of superannuation in exchange for promising to forgo any government income support in retirement
  69. Immediately halt construction of the National Broadband Network and privatise any sections that have already been built
  70. End all government funded Nanny State advertising
  71. Reject proposals for compulsory food and alcohol labelling
  72. Privatise the CSIRO
  73. Defund Harmony Day
  74. Close the Office for Youth
  75. Privatise the Snowy-Hydro Scheme
  76. Have State Premiers appoint High Court justices
  77. Allow ministers to be appointed from outside parliament
  78. Extend the GST to cover all goods and services but return all extra revenue to taxpayers through cutting other taxes
  79. Abolish the federal department of health and return health policy to the states
  80. Abolish the federal department of education and return education policy to the states
  81. Repeal any new mandatory data retention laws
  82. Abolish the Australian Human Rights Commission
  83. Have trade unions regulated like public companies, with ASIC responsible for their oversight
  84. End all public funding to unions and employer associations
  85. Repeal laws which protect unions from competition, such as the ‘conveniently belong’ rules in the Fair Work Act
  86. Extend unrestricted work visas currently granted to New Zealand citizens to citizens of the United States
  87. Negotiate and sign free trade agreements with Australia’s largest trading partners, including China, India, Japan and South Korea
  88. Restore fundamental legal rights to all existing commonwealth legislation such as the right to silence and the presumption of innocence
  89. Adhere to section (xxxi) of the Constitution by not taking or diminishing anyone’s property without proper compensation
  90. Repeal legislative restrictions on the use of nuclear power
  91. Allow full competition on all foreign air routes
  92. Abolish the Medicare levy surcharge
  93. Abolish the luxury car tax
  94. Halve the number of days parliament sits to reduce the amount of legislation passed
  95. Abolish Tourism Australia and cease subsidising the tourism industry
  96. Make all government payments to external parties publicly available including the terms and conditions of those payments
  97. Abandon plans to restrict foreign investment in Australia’s agricultural industry
  98. Cease the practice of setting up government-funded lobby groups, such as YouMeUnity, which uses taxpayer funds to campaign to change the Australian Constitution
  99. Rule out the introduction of mandatory pre-commitment for electronic gaming machines
  100. Abolish the four pillars policy which prevents Australia’s major banks from merging

As you read through these 75 100 points, you may recognize some that have been accomplished already, while others, like the privatisation of the ABC, have only just been aired in public. Taken as whole, however, these suggestions are aimed at two things:

  1. reducing or repealing anything that provides help or support to individuals, and
  2. promoting changes that will allow private industry to do whatever the hell it wants.

That, my friends, is not, and never has been, the Australian way. We don’t let people sink or swim on their own. We don’t put shareholder dividends above the well-being of the people, and we don’t believe corporations will do the right thing out of the goodness of their hearts. We made it through the Global Financial Crisis [GFC]so well precisely because our financial institutions were regulated and couldn’t do whatever they wanted.

This all boils down to trust. The IPA seems to trust the Robber Barons. Who do you trust?

Meeka

For further reading go to:

https://thesnipertakesaim.wordpress.com/2013/03/02/ipa-agenda-to-re-shape-australia/

The article is written by Barry Tucker and it’s thought provoking to say the least.

 


Jennifer Scoullar – Rural Australian Romance

Some of you may remember a review I wrote for Jennifer’s first novel – Brumby’s Run. Even though Romance isn’t really my genre, I loved Jen’s writing, her characters, and the way she brought country Australia alive on the page.

Jen is a traditionally published author [Penguin], but like us Indies, she has to help with marketing. To that end, she’s asking her readers for help to establish a ‘launch team’. That’s where I come in coz Jen’s a mate. This is a bit from her post:

‘A launch team consists of a select group of fans and supporters, who will help build some buzz around a new title. The main way they can help is by writing reviews, particularly on Amazon. Nothing boosts a book’s chances like having a solid number of online reviews shortly after its release. This can be achieved by letting people read your book early…….So in light of this, I’m enlisting interested people to join my marketing team by giving away a digital advanced readers’ copy of my upcoming release. The Lost Valley is Book 2 in my Tasmanian Tales trilogy, that began last year with the publication of Fortune’s Son.’

I can assure you that Jen’s writing is superb, and you will enjoy the ARC [advanced reader copy], especially if you have any interest in Australia. If you go to Jen’s website, you’ll see that she’s the real deal. She lives in the country and is mad about horses. 🙂

https://jenniferscoullar.com/2018/06/15/building-a-launch-team-the-lost-valley/#comment-15534

If you can give Jen a hand, please visit her site and take it from there.

Thank-god-it’s-Friday!

Meeks


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