Helping authors publish

Author: Robin Phillips (Page 4 of 14)

Weekly News: 1st February 2021

Every week, we post a curated list of links that authors should find useful or interesting. Here are this week’s links:

If you want to publish your book, email us to find out how we can help.

New Year, New Service: Beautiful Interiors

We are very happy to announce that we now offer two levels of formatting for both print and ebooks.

A book interior, showing a chapter start.
Chapter start using our standard formatting

Our standard formatting looks good, is properly laid out, and follows standard industry conventions. We offer several different styles so that you can choose the one that is right for your book.

A book interior, showing a standard page spread
Scene break using our standard formatting

But up until now, our interiors were somewhat limited. They’re stylish, classic, and are easy to read, but some of our clients wanted more than that. We’re pleased to announce that we have now partnered with a company that specialises in interior formatting to provide a premium interior formatting service. We still offer the standard interiors, but if you choose to use the new premium option, you will get a completely bespoke interior, beautifully laid out, and you have complete control.

Several book interiors
Examples of our new premium formatting

So, if you want your book to look amazing inside and out, contact us for a quote.

Why do you need an author website?

Every author should have a website. Some think that a Facebook page or an Amazon page is a viable alternative. Both are certainly useful and worth having, but they should complement an author website, not replace it.

The reason can be expressed in a single word: Control. You have no control over your Facebook page or Amazon page. Facebook and Amazon control how they look and can advertise competing books on your page. They can even remove your access or take the page down at any time, with no right to appeal.

A website, by contrast, is owned and controlled by you. If you decide that you don’t like the hosting company, you can move it elsewhere. No-one else can advertise their books on your site. You can choose the domain that you want to use. You can choose how it looks. If you use WordPress (which we use and recommend) you can easily change how it looks whenever you wish. Most WordPress themes are responsive, which means that they adapt well to different screen sizes. A lot of web browsing is done on mobile devices these days, so this is an important consideration.

Domain name

Get a domain that is tied to your name if you can. Your name with a .com at the end is ideal if you can get it. If you can’t get your name, try adding something like “author” or “books” to the end. For authors based in the UK, a .co.uk or .uk is a good alternative. Robin’s pen name is Russell Phillips, and his website is at RussellPhillips.uk.

A web address like that is professional and gives a good first impression. You can set up an email address for the domain. This keeps your book-related emails separate and gives a better impression than a GMail or Yahoo address. If you prefer, have emails forwarded to your webmail. Always set your mailing list’s “From” address to be your domain address, not GMail, Yahoo, or whatever. Doing this will help your emails to avoid the spam folder.

Flexibility and selling direct

Having your own website gives you a great deal of flexibility. It should always have all the details of your books, with buy links. Beyond that though, you can include whatever features you wish. Some people blog, some have a podcast. We strongly recommend including a mailing list sign-up form, and some people use pop-ups too.

Websites can also host content that will be of interest to your readers. Including information for book clubs might help it get chosen by a club. If you are willing to do author talks, make sure that is clear on your site, along with information about how to book you.

You can sell books and/or ebooks directly, giving you another revenue stream. Many readers prefer to buy all their books from a single store such as Amazon or Kobo, but some will value the opportunity to buy direct from the author. You can set everything up yourself using a WordPress plugin like WooCommerce, or use a company like Payhip which simplifies matters. Either way, the money from any sales will be paid to you immediately, not sixty or ninety days later as is typical with other vendors. You can create discount vouchers to help promote direct sales, or sell a new release from your website before releasing it on the other vendors.

Weekly News: 18th January 2021

Every week, we post a curated list of links that authors should find useful or interesting. Here are this week’s links:

  • Advice to help you start the new year well.
  • You really should hire a professional editor, but it’s worth doing a self-edit first. Here’s how to do that.
  • Flip books are unusual and quirky. This article shows you how to make one and set it up for sale on Ingram Spark.
  • BookExpo has closed, but Publishers Weekly is launching a new show, called the US Book Show.
  • We all know a good book cover is essential. This case study illustrates the truth of that.
  • Every industry has been affected by the pandemic. Traditional publishing is no exception.
  • It’s never too late to pursue your creative goals.

If you want to publish your book, email us to find out how we can help.

Make and Sell a Flip Book

I own a copy of a rather unusual book, Monty Python’s Flying Circus: Just the Words. It includes volumes one and two in a single flip book. Volume one starts at the front, but to read volume two, you flip the book over and start from the back. The two meet in the middle.

I started wondering recently if I could create a flip book and get it printed and on sale. This article will explain how I made such a book and put it on sale via Ingram Spark. KDP Print doesn’t support this type of book.

For my book, I used the Project Gutenberg text of Little Wars and Floor Games, both by H.G. Wells. I chose these because they are in the public domain, they fit together, and they’re books that I’m happy to have on my shelves but didn’t already own.

Create the Interior PDFs

First, I created the interior files. I used Vellum to create two interior PDFs, one per book. In my book, Little Wars starts at the front, and Floor Games starts at the back. I had to rotate the Floor Games PDF, so it was upside down, and the pages had to be reversed.

To do that, I used a program named pdftk. I used the command-line version, although I believe a version with a graphical interface is also available. The command I used was:

pdftk Floor-Games-Print.pdf cat end-1south output Floor-Games-Rotated-Reversed.pdf

Then I used pdftk again to combine the Little Wars PDF and the rotated and reversed Floor Games PDF into a single file. I also added a PDF of two blank pages between the two:

pdftk Little-Wars-Print.pdf two-blank-pages.pdf Floor-Games-Rotated-Reversed.pdf cat output back-to-back.pdf

The resulting PDF looked normal for the first half, but the second half was upside down and the page numbers went down instead of up.

The interior of Floor Games, after it had been rotated and reversed
The interior of Floor Games, after it had been rotated and reversed

Cover

Since this was an experiment, I created a simple cover on Canva. Again, the back cover had to be upside down. Because the book is very short, it didn’t have a distinct spine for me to worry about. I allowed Ingram Spark to add the barcode, and they added it to the default location. Normally, this would be on the bottom right of the design, but when the book is turned over to read the second book, the barcode appears in the top left, and upside down. A professional cover designer could have moved the barcode to a better location, although the barcode would still be upside down in relation to the back cover design.

On Sale

I uploaded the cover and interior files in the normal way. Ingram Spark approved it for printing, but KDP Print would not. I have approved it for distribution, so if you would like to see the finished product, you can buy it from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or others (ISBN 978-1-912680-29-0). I have set the price deliberately low, since it’s on sale mostly so that people can see the results for themselves.

Conclusion

This was an unusual project that I undertook mostly as an experiment, but I’m pleased with the results. If you have a project that would suit the flip book treatment, we’d be happy to help. Email us for more information and to get started.

Animated gif showing the Little Wars and Floor Games flip book
The finished book

Proving copyright ownership with WIPO Proof

NOTE: The WIPO Proof service will shut down at the end of January 2022. Existing WIPO Proof tokens will continue to function as proof of ownership.

Most authors know that they own the copyright in their work as soon as they write it. There’s no need to register, but it can be useful to have proof. One option is to register the copyright with the US Copyright Office – this is an option even for non-US authors.

Earlier this year, the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), an agency of the United Nations (UN), created WIPO Proof as a way to register ownership of a digital file such as an ebook file or PDF.

A WIPO Proof token costs less than registering with the US Copyright Office. A WIPO Proof token currently costs twenty Swiss Francs (about $22), whereas registering with the US Copyright Office costs $45 or $65.

What a WIPO Proof token is and is not

A WIPO Proof token provides proof that you had a digital file when you created the token. It does not prove that you created the file or own the copyright. You could think of it as being akin to the old idea of posting a copy of the manuscript to yourself, but with the added legitimacy of being issued by a UN agency. In practical terms, if you need to provide evidence of ownership, being able to prove that you had a copy of the disputed file at some previous date is useful.

Indie authors are most likely to need something like this to prove their copyright to a vendor or distributor such as Amazon or Draft2Digital. I emailed the following companies to ask if they would accept a WIPO Proof token as evidence in a copyright dispute.

Barnes & Noble didn’t respond to my question.

Apple, Google, and KDP said that they couldn’t answer the question. They all said that their legal team would decide on a case by case basis.

Draft2Digital said that their vendors generally require authors to communicate directly with the person claiming copyright infringement, so they wouldn’t get involved.

Ingram Spark, Kobo, OneBookShelf/DriveThruFiction, PublishDrive, StreetLib, and BundleRabbit said that they would take a WIPO Proof token into consideration as evidence, if not outright proof of copyright.

Smashwords were the only company that definitively said that they would not take a WIPO Proof token into consideration.

Generating a WIPO Proof token

To generate a WIPO Proof token, you will need a WIPO account. Go to https://ipportal.wipo.int/ and click “Create WIPO Account”. They will send you an email with a link to confirm your account.

Log in to your WIPO account at https://wipoproof.wipo.int/wdts/. Click Get started.

Screenshot: Selecting a file to create a WIPO Proof token

Select your file and the ownership option that applies. That will probably be “Yes, I am the natural person who owns the file.”

Select the category. For books, use “Creative work (audio, visual, or literary work).”

The next screen shows a summary and the fee. I paid in British pounds rather than Swiss Francs to avoid currency conversion fees.

Once the payment is confirmed, you will go to a “Payment Details” screen showing the payment status as “Paid”. Click Continue.

Screenshot: WIPO Proof token created

It will then take you to a congratulations screen. Clicking the download button will download a zip file containing a PDF receipt and a token file. You can also download the token from your WIPO Proof dashboard.

I strongly suggest keeping the contents of this zip file, along with the file you uploaded, in a separate folder on your computer. If you ever need to verify your proof token, you will need the file you uploaded and the token file.

Final notes

WIPO Proof tokens are tied to specific files because of the way they work. So if you get a token for the PDF print interior, it won’t be valid for the ePub. If you change the file, even slightly, the WIPO Proof token will no longer be valid. Therefore, keep the token and the uploaded file together in a separate folder on your computer.

I suggest using a PDF to generate the token, as they are still more widely supported than ePubs. Any claim will most likely revolve around the content of the book, rather than the specific formatting. The companies that said they would take a WIPO Proof token into consideration all said that they would accept a token generated for a PDF, even if an ePub had been uploaded to their systems.

Disclaimer: None of this is legal advice. I am not a lawyer.

Minimum list price for Kindle books

I recently organised a multi-author sale. Several authors (including myself) agreed to reduce the price of one or more of their ebooks to $0.99/£0.99 for a week. I created a page on my website listing the books with links to where they could be bought. Everyone agreed to promote the sale to their newsletter or pay towards a Facebook advertising campaign. So far so good.

I got an unpleasant surprise on the eve of the sale, when I went to reduce the price of one of my books to the required $0.99/£0.99. Amazon wouldn’t let me reduce the price to less than $1.99/£1.25. These minimum prices have been in place since at least 2017, but they don’t get talked about very much, so they’re easy to miss.

The book that I was trying to reduce the price on contains a lot of images, and the file size is about 7MB, much larger than the typical ebook. Kindle books of between 3MB and 10MB have a minimum price of $1.99, even on the 35% royalty option. Kindle books larger than 10MB have a minimum price of $2.99 on the 35% royalty option.

Most ebooks won’t be affected by this, but books with large numbers of images and ebook box sets might be. If you’re planning to run a sale, check the minimum price for your book before you publicise the sale price. In my case, I was able to work around the issue. Since I have multiple books published, I was able to simply put a different book in the sale, one with a file size small enough to allow me to reduce the price as required. This neatly illustrates one of the advantages of having multiple books published — greater flexibility.

The full details of the price limits for different sizes are on the list price requirements page at KDP Help.

Weekly News: 31st August 2020

Every week, I post a curated list of links that authors should find useful or interesting. Here are this week’s links:

If you want to publish your book, email me at robin@authorhelp.uk.

Weekly News: 24th August 2020

Every week, I post a curated list of links that authors should find useful or interesting. Here are this week’s links:

If you want to publish your book, email me at robin@authorhelp.uk.

Weekly News: 17th August 2020

Every week, I post a curated list of links that authors should find useful or interesting. Here are this week’s links:

If you want to publish your book, email me at robin@authorhelp.uk.

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