Tag Archives: pros-and-cons

Printing Resources for Melbourne Indie Authors

My thanks to Michelle Lovi, David Prosser, and Suzanne Newnham for all the wonderful information they shared with me. Armed with this information, I went researching and found some resources that may be of use to others as well.

The following are by no means all the POD printers there are in Melbourne, but they are the ones that seemed to provide the best match to my needs.

In order of discovery:

Bookpod

http://www.bookpod.com.au/book_printing.html

This printer is based in Melbourne and requires a minimum 10 books.

Print on Demand

http://www.printondemand.net.au/content/books-manuals-reports-training-materials

This printer is based in South Melbourne. No info. on costs or shipping.

Blurb Australia?

http://au.blurb.com/lp/make-a-book?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=Google_AU_Printing_NonBrand_DesktopTablet_Beta_G&utm_term=%2Bprint%20%2Bbooks&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI-KLXxMr91QIVxgoqCh0zvAS0EAAYASAAEgJDBvD_BwE

This company rang a bell, but when I investigated further, I discovered that you have to use their own proprietary software and fonts. And they only seem to offer one trim size : 6 x 9

Shipping – Express only. Cost in AUD 14.99 [that was for shipping only; no idea what the print costs would be on top of that].

The shipping cost is pretty much the same as for CreateSpace so I was disappointed. 😦

IngramSpark

http://www.ingramspark.com/

IngramSpark have an Australian print facility but they do not have an Australian website [yet]. This was very confusing and I spent about half an hour following links all over the place, trying to find the Aussie site.

In the end, I rang the Lightning Source phone number and the very nice voice at the other end explained that:

  • Lightning Source is for big print jobs
  • IngramSpark is for small to tiny print jobs
  • One account to bind them all
  • Printing processed according to actual, physical location – i.e. in Australia for Australian Indies.

So, to have your book printed in Australia [with IngramSpark], you have to setup an account via the international website [shown above]. Processing the print order is the same for everyone, everywhere, but if you’re in Australia, the printing and shipping will be done from /here/.

To check the shipping costs, click on the IngramSpark website, then click on Resources followed by Tools.

You will now see a whole range of tools available for selfpublishers – including templates and the shipping calculator. I had a little bit of trouble with the shipping calculator because it didn’t seem to like the page count of 370. -shrug- When I entered 380 instead, everything was fine. This is the info I entered for the calculator [the book is Nabatea]:

I have to say, the results made me very happy. 🙂

The shipping costs for 1 book gave this result:

The per book cost is almost double what the CreateSpace eStore would charge [buying at cost], however the shipping and handling work out to be more than 2/3 less. Thus, printing here works out to be quite a bit cheaper than shipping in 1 book from the US.

When I looked at 10 books, the savings were even greater:

The per book cost remains the same but so does the shipping! This means that each book costs only 44c to ship. Colour me laughing all the way to the bank. 😀

And finally, just out of curiosity, I looked up the cost of 100 books:

Clearly, the economies of scale just don’t stack up with POD as the reduction in per book cost was tiny. Nevertheless, it was heartening to see that the shipping costs worked out to be 25c per book.

So there you have it. The local copies of the Innerscape saga will be printed here in Australia, by IngramSpark. This will mean another learning curve for me, but even that has an upside as I’ll be able to publish a second how-to book titled “How to print your book [using Word and IngramSpark]”. lol

I may even offer workshops as well… Guess who’s going to be a very busy girl? -dance-

Hope this is of use to others out there.

cheers

Meeks

 

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Why I don’t like the new WordPress interface

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I don’t like change. There, I’ve said it. Once I’ve got a tool working efficiently, I don’t appreciate being forced to learn how to use a different one, just because someone, somewhere, thought it might be a good idea.

You see, the thing I care about is not the tool itself, it’s what I can do with that tool. So if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, please. Every time you do, you’re wasting my precious time. And whatever you do, please don’t make my blogging life harder!

Sadly the latest iteration of the WordPress interface does not give me anything worthwhile, but it does make what I do a little bit harder.

Before I start complaining about the failings of this new tool, I have to concede that the WordPress designers did not develop this new interface for me. In fact they did not develop it for any of us old users. Almost without fail, every innovation has been aimed squarely at new users, or to be more precise, to attract new users. This can be seen most clearly in the login screen :

wordpress interface new 1

The whole, visual thrust of this screen is to make it easy for a new user to sign up. Unfortunately, if I were a new user, I’d look at that screen and scratch my head because :

1. I would not know the format of the wordpress URLs, and hence I would not know what to type in that nice, convenient box,

2. There is nothing on this screen to help me decipher what’s expected of me.

In a word, this is poor design compounded by the fact that as an old user, I now have to add an extra click to my sign-in procedure. If I stayed in WordPress all day, that extra click might not bother me. But I’m in and out a number of times per day, and each time I have to :

a) Wait for the screen to load

b) Click the Log In button

c) Position the cursor at the new input dialogue box, and only then actually type in my log in details.

Quite frankly, this is unnecessary and more than a little annoying. Sadly, it’s just the beginning.

Once I am inside WordPress, the interface does look greatly simplified, and ‘clean’. By default, the interface opens with the Reader screen, allowing me to dive straight into other peoples’ blogs, if I so wish. Well, sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. First thing of a morning, I’m more likely to want to see my stats, or reply to comments. However, if I’ve just had a great idea for a new post, I’d rather get straight into writing.

Now, to be fair, there is a ‘New Post’ icon at the top right of my screen :

wordpress interface new post1but when I mouse-over it in the Opera browser, I get no tooltip telling me that this is what I should click in order to create a new post. Again, to be fair, Opera is very unforgiving of html or CSS errors, so perhaps the lack of a mouse-over is just a problem with my browser.

However, I find it hard to believe my browser is also to blame for the fact that the ‘New Post’ icon never seems to work properly for me. I can certainly type a new post, however as soon as I try to save my draft, or preview it, the waiting animation just goes berserk and won’t stop. In order to save my work, I have to :

– select all

– copy

– cancel post

– select My Sites

– select Posts

– select New Post

– and paste what I typed into a screen that can be saved.

As you can imagine, this is just a wee bit …annoying.

My biggest gripe, however, has to do with how important features have now been hidden behind acres of simplified screens. For example, in the new, streamlined interface, the only way I can find one particular post I have written is by scrolling through every single post I’ve ever written, in date order! That is the prospect I faced this morning when I went looking for my original post on ‘frozen shoulder/hydro dilation.

I eventually found the search function under My Sites/Dashboard/Posts/All Posts. Now, I have always been able to find the search function on the Dashboard, but I distinctly remember also being able to access the search function from the My Sites/Posts option as well. That is no longer available to me, and I’m forced to do everything the hard way.

[Note: if you have not already found the search function in WordPress, there is a quick how-to at the end of this post].

Again, this lack of functionality is only likely to annoy the $hit out of people like me who have 500 plus posts to wade through. But what happens when those new users become old users and discover that all the best, most efficient features have been hidden from them?

-grumble- I suppose they’ll have other interface ‘innovations’ to gripe about by then…

In the final analysis, I have no objection to WordPress making the lives of new users easier, but so far many of the innovations seem more counter intuitive than anything else. New users need hand holding. They need to be told what everything is, because when everything is new, nothing is obvious.

As for us oldies? How about some innovations that allow us to hotkey our favourite functions so we can customize our working spaces as we see fit? Now that would be a change I’d welcome.

cheers

Meeks

How to find the search function in WordPress [July 2014 version]

1. Click ‘My Sites‘ at the top left of your screen :

wordpress interface new 2

You should now see this :

wordpress interface new 3

2. Click ‘Dashboard’ as shown above.

You should now be looking at the slightly revamped Dashboard screen. This was the heart of WordPress when I began blogging almost 3 years ago.

wordpress interface dashboard 13. Click on Posts in the black, navigation panel to the left of the screen :

4. Now click on All Posts as shown below :

wordpress interface dashboard 2

You should now be looking at a table listing every single post you have ever written.

5. Click in the Search Box [at the top right of the list as shown] and type in a keyword. Then click the ‘Search Posts’ button next to it.

wordpress interface search 1

 

In the example shown above, I typed ‘Nanowrimo’ into the search box and was presented with every single post I had ever written that contained the word nanowrimo in it. This cut my ‘check it and see’ search area down to just a handful of posts.

Once you have found the post you are looking for, you can click on the ‘Edit’ option to open it up. Clicking on ‘Edit’ allows you to..tah dah…edit, but it also allows you to get a ‘Shortlink” for the post. Shortlinks are invaluable when you want to link to an old post from within a new post. Or link to any post from within a Tweet, etc.


Harper Voyager Open Submissions – pros and cons

Harper Voyager is the global science fiction and fantasy imprint of Harper Collins. They are calling for submissions from all authors between October 1, 2012 and October 14, 2012. The successful authors will have their books edited, published as an ebook and marketed online by Harper Voyager, apparently one a month for the forseeable future. Harper Voyager are also hinting that some books may also be published in print. Authors who are not contacted within 3 months of submission will have to consider themselves unsuccessful.

Those are the facts I gleaned from the Harper Voyager submission guidelines.

The one thing that is missing from the guidelines is any mention  of contracts, payments or royalties so until stated otherwise we have to assume that standard publishing industry contracts will apply. That was easy to write but the truth is I have no idea what standard publishing industry contracts actually are or what an author gets out of them. So I did what any netizen would do and asked Google.

My search brought up http://jakonrath.blogspot.com.au/2012/07/harlequin-fail-part-2.html .

This is J.A. Konrath’s blog and in this article he talks about a lawsuit being brought against Harlequin. I don’t want to digress into a general discussion about the business practices of another publisher so if you are interested you can find more information at : http://www.harlequinlawsuit.com/

The reason I’m bringing up the Konrath article is because at one point he is explaining about how authors are paid and uses the following example which may apply to all publishing contracts.  “Harlequin has an ebook it lists for $3.99. It sells that to Amazon at a wholesale price of $2.00. The author should make $1.00 for each $3.99 ebook that Amazon sells”. This implies that contracted authors make 50% of the wholesale price of their ebooks.

If the publisher keeps the other 50% then, as there are no printing or distribution costs involved in ebooks, we would have to assume that some of that money is for overheads such as editing and marketing. Now I know that editors have to be paid, along with cover designers etc but I’m a little baffled by just exactly what kind of marketing any publisher can do for ebooks. For print books there are reviews, interviews, book signings etc but online marketing is not the same beast.

When was the last time you came across professional advertising for an ebook? I’m no expert but what little I know about marketing suggests that authors have to do their own. Now I suppose Harper Voyager probably does have a Twitter account, maybe a Facebook presence as well but… honestly? I’ve never looked them up in an effort to find a great new ebook. I have been on the TOR site but I haven’t looked for their recommendations either. So I would really like to know just exactly what kind of online marketing Harper Voyager is capable of performing. Will they be spamming Twitter? Or is there some other avenue I know nothing about?

The reason I am making such a big deal about the marketing aspect of online publishing is that I suspect Harper Voyager will be getting the lion’s share of the benefits.

Author benefits

1. Professional editing

2. Professional cover design

3. Status of being traditionally published, sort of.

4. Possible increase in visibility and author recognition amongst readers.

Author disadvantages

1. A huge drop in the financial rewards accruing from their ebooks.

If these authors become successful then the benefits will far outweigh the one, obvious disadvantage. However the cynic in me says that out of all these authors only a very few are likely to hit the sweet spot with readers and so only a very few will actually become successful. But what of all the others? The ones who don’t become successful? The ones who end up selling about the same number of books as they would have done if they’d self-published? Clearly the loss of sales income will hurt.

Publisher benefits

1. A huge pool of new material to pick and choose from.

2. Minimal overheads

3. The possibility that a few of their chosen authors will become successful at which point those successful authors will graduate into print which will be highly  profitable for the publisher.

4. A way to make the ebook revolution work for them instead of against them.

Publisher disadvantages

1. The headache of reading through a huge slushpile of books that don’t ‘make the grade’, however they define that benchmark.

From a publishing point of view I see this move by Harper Voyager as being very clever indeed. For very little effort they will be able to cherry pick the most profitable new work out there as well as gaining a reputation as being a forward thinking company. If everything works according to plan they will be able to transition into the growing ebook market ahead of the other traditional publishers and that will increase their market share. All at very little cost.

There is however a third group who need to be mentioned here – the unsuccessful authors whose work is rejected by Harper Voyager without even a pink slip. What of them? Will they really be the ones who didn’t make the grade or will at least some of them simply be those who are considered too different, too ‘hard to sell’, even in ebook form?

Part of me sees this Harper Voyager open submission as an opportunity. Another part of me sees it as a trap.

Some months ago I finally stopped sitting on the fence and decided that I wanted to be a self-published indie author. Everything I had learned about traditional publishers was a negative and I was angry at the bean-counter, chase-the-unholy-dollar-at-all-costs mentality of the Big Six publishers. I saw being an indie as a sort of badge of courage. Hell, I saw it as me, striking a teeny, weeny blow against all corporate evil. It was a good feeling. Now I’m conflicted.

If I stick to my guns and follow the plan [hah] to become self-published then am I doing so because it’s the smart thing to do or am I just being a coward and shying away from [likely] rejection? On the other hand if I don’t take the gamble and submit then will I be ignoring a once in a lifetime opportunity?

My gut tells me to stick to my guns but it’s also telling me that I’m a wimp who’s too scared to try and fail. I’d really appreciate your take on this whole thing.

Not so cheerful,

Meeks

 

 


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