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23
May

How to Publish a Book on iBooks

If you’re an author, you probably want to leverage multiple channels to increase your visibility and boost your ebook sales. You can definitely make some money by publishing your book with iBooks. In the following, you’ll learn about some Apple tools to make your life easier when publishing a book on iBooks.

iBooks Author

publishing with iBooks author app

iBooks Author is Apple’s book-creation app that helps you develop Multi-Touch books with interactive elements such as 3D video, embedded web widgets, interactive diagrams even Keynote presentations. These multimedia elements can be useful for non-fiction books like cookbooks, history guides, picture books, etc. iBooks files are a special Apple-only version of the epub standard, they can only be created using the app, and they can only be read by the iBooks app. The software supports EPUB and PDF formats. If you have used Apple’s Pages and Keynote before, you’ll be familiar with how iBooks Author works.

How does it work?

1. Pick a template or create yours from scratch. If you go for the templates, you can still customize them, and you’ll be able to get a unique looking book, so don’t worry about that. There is a great selection of book templates to choose from either for free or at an affordable price.
2. Create your iBook cover: pick a cover picture for your book. If you don’t like what iBooks Author provides, you can also add your own artwork for the cover. Remember, cover is what readers see first as the book opens, so a nice custom cover image is always good to have to make your book stand out. Also, iBooks Author allows you to add an introductory video to your iBook which will start playing when the reader opens your book, so make your cover exceptional.
3. Now that you have the cover ready, it’s time to add some content to your iBook. By using iBooks Author, you get everything you need to be able to create your book. You can create the Table of Contents, add a copyright notice, sections, basic shapes, interactive widgets, images and even a gallery. There are great tutorial videos with tips and tricks out there to get you started with iBooks Author just like the one below.

 

 

iTunes Producer app

iTunes Producer is the platform that allows you to upload your ebook to the iBooks Store. Don’t confuse iTunes Producer with iBooks Author, which is an Apple publishing software. To upload and publish your ebook using iTunes Producer you’ll need a Mac computer and a validated EPUB file of your ebook. Use it to provide Apple with all the required metadata for your book, such as title, publisher, original publication date, and so on. You can also use it to submit files such as the book file, sample file, book cover and screenshots for the iBooks Store. If you don’t have a Mac, don’t worry, an aggregator will publish to iBooks for you.

Using an Apple aggregator

Apple aggregators are experts in delivering content to the iBooks Store. An aggregator deals with ebook authors directly and interfaces between them and ebook retailers such as Apple. You might be wondering by now, why do you need an Apple aggregator, so here are some reasons:

  • You don’t have the hardware or software required to publish your ebook directly to iBookstore. Apple requires Mac OS X system.
  • An ePub file is needed for submission to the iBookStore.
  • You don’t know how to format the manuscript technically. An apple aggregator ensures that your epub file passes validation checks.
  • Apple has a strict file validation process. All submitted files must pass EpubCheck.

Apple has selected PublishDrive as an approved aggregator. Being a company trusted by Apple means merchandising opportunity and faster sale for publishers. Publish on iBooks with PublishDrive and get global reach for your books and professional help so you can focus on the most important job: creating excellent content.

Connect with iTunes to publish a book on iBooks

If your book is ready, you’ll need to sign up with iTunes Connect using your Apple ID. Your Apple ID has to be verified and has to have a credit card on file. After you’re done signing up, you need to sign an iBooks agreement. There are two types of agreement you can choose:

  • Offer your books for free
  • Offer your books for free and sell your books.

After you decided which agreement you want to sign, you need to fill out a secondary contract and share with Apple directly your bank account and tax information. If you sell your books and live in the US, you’ll need to provide a U.S. Tax ID.

Selling your books on the iBookstore

how to publish a book on ibooks

You might know by now that you need an Apple ID to offer your books on the iBooks Store. If you don’t have an Apple ID, you can create one for free on iTunes. Enable your Apple ID for iTunes Connect and provide your publisher name and indicate whether you’ll be submitting your own books or submitting books behalf of a company.

Offering your books on iBookstore is free. However, Apple takes 30% cut of whatever you make on iBooks. With an audience of over 800 million iPad users over a million customers every week, iBookstore is making a huge potential market for authors and publishers, so do not hesitate when deciding on publishing to iBookstore. And remember, if you need help, just submit your books through an aggregator such as PublishDrive.

Happy publishing!

19
May

Self-Publishing Success Stories You Need to Hear About

It goes without saying that the ebook market is evolving and this trend brought along another interesting phenomenon in the digital publishing industry named as self-publishing.

However, this is not a new thing. It’s the technology that has changed over the years. Publishing their own ebooks has never been easier for authors. Self-publishing has become a vital part of the publishing industry and has proven to give many writers a jump start in their career. There are quite a few successful self-published authors out there who actually can make a living off doing that.

Indie publishing lets authors achieve a much greater earning potential and allows them to write whatever they want finding niche audiences with their books.

Authors who were rejected and then became successful self-publishers

Many self-published authors got rather successful after they were turned down by a traditional publisher. Michael J. Sullivan’ story was just like that. He wrote for ten years in a variety of genres, but no publisher was interested to publish his books, so he ended up quitting writing. A few years later he wrote a fantasy series and self-published it.

Amanda Hocking’s success story is also interesting and worth knowing: She wrote 17 novels while working at a full-time job. She self-published them all as ebooks selling more than a million copies.

Ashwin Sanghi, the author of bestselling novels such as The Rozabal Line, has also turned to self-publishing after being rejected by dozens of publishers. Unwilling to give up on his dream, he decided to go to the self-publishing way, and the book is now a bestseller.

And the list can continue with many more examples of authors becoming successful self-publishers. And they all have one thing in common: they are confident in their work and agree that indie-publishing is the future. Nothing proves this better than some statistics: 40% of all ebook revenue is going to indie authors, and self-published books accounted for 31% of all ebook sales in the Kindle Store in 2014. According to the trends in 2016, indie books represent 27% of books on Amazon’s ebook bestseller list.

self-publishing-sales-stats

Three authors who made millions by self-publishing

In the following, we collected three writers who have become not only successful but also got quite wealthy after turning to self-publishing.

First, meet Amanda Hocking, a writer of paranormal fiction who started her writing career as an unknown author and has become a bestseller when deciding on self-publishing on Amazon Kindle.

But the road to success wasn’t easy for her. She had a day job caring for disabled people to make ends meet and a night job when she was writing until dawn. By 2010 she had a total of 17 unpublished novels all of which have been rejected by book agents and publishers. At that time she was out of money and frustrated having spent years trying to interest traditional publishers in her work. amanda-hocking-self-publishing-success-storyA few days after publishing her vampire novel, My Blood Approves, on Amazon’s website, she started selling nine copies a day. A few weeks later she published three further books to the series. Sales went up to more than $4,000 followed by $6,000 in pure profit, so she ended up quitting her job.

 

Being a self-published author and her own boss allowed her to set the prices of her books. She decided to sell the first book of the series for 99 cents to attract readers and then she increased the price to $2,99 for each sequel. However, this is still much lower than the $10 charged for printed books she was able to keep a much bigger royalty (30% for the 99-cent books, 70% for the $2,99 editions) versus the 10-15% publishing houses would pay her. Later on, she decided to sign a deal with two publishers in the US and UK which proves that traditional and self-publishing can live in harmony.

Rob Dirks self-published his first science fiction novel, Where the Hell is Tesla? , and it got sold 10,000 copies in the first twelve months after being rejected by publishers. He claims it wasn’t luck and here are five things he learned from it:

  1. Write your best book: give it a time, do your homework, hire professionals if you need help and make it exceptional.
  2. Build your platform: connect with readers, use social media, email list to build your audience.
    1. Website: if you are going to self-publish a book, you will need a website where your readers will be able to contact you. Having a website is also a great way to spread the word about your work and connect with fans. Here is his website: RobDircks.com
    2. Social media: his advice is not to overdo it, just stick with the ones you think is necessary and you feel right for you. Let’s say you have graphic novel which is very visual, then use Facebook and Pinterest. If it is a non-fiction use Twitter. For example, John Scalzi (@scalzi) is a successful sci-fi writer with a huge Twitter fan base.
    3. Amazon author and book pages: if you decide to self-publish on Amazon, use everything they have. Put keywords list on your book sales page on Amazon, use key phrases in your book description. In one word: take advantage of simple features that can help your books get discovered.
    4. Email list: grow your email list by starting blogging, posting, tweeting and use a software like MailChimp to manage your email list and build campaigns.
  3. Book reviews and exposure: he looked up reviewers on Amazon, Goodreads and reached out to provide a review in exchange for a complimentary copy of the book.
  4. Promote your book: he used paid advertising such as Facebook/Instagram ads, Google Ads, Amazon ads. He ran paid ebook promotions through book promotion sites that send out daily emails to their subscribers such as BookGorilla, FussyLibrarian, BargainBooksy, Booksends, Ereader News Today.
  5. Record an audiobook: according to Rob, there are lots of options for getting narrators and producers to help you record an audiobook. Audiobooks continue to be on the rise with 148% sales growth from 2010 to 2015 and audiobooks can be a significant percentage of your sales.

Arguably the most well-known self-publishing success story is E.L. James’ 50 Shades of Grey trilogy. She self-published the first book in 2011 as an ebook and print (on demand paperback) through an independent publisher. What began as Twilight fan-fiction, soon became a world-known bestseller.EL James: self-publishing success story with 50 Shades of Grey

Despite the mixed critical responses, Fifty Shades of Grey alone has sold over 100 million copies worldwide, and the book holds the record for the fastest selling paperback which made her the richest of self-published authors.

She promoted the book on FanFiction.net by publishing episodic pieces based on the Twilight series. Another thing that has helped the book became world known is how accessible it is. Erotic novels are popular, and commercial books have a good chance at finding a readership.

She already established a following of fans by offering her writing for free on websites. She had readers who wanted to read more, so she wrote more. Remember, you need to build a reader base and to get that you need to give away some writing for free and then publish.

As you can see by now, authors have different reasons to self-publish their books. Some turn to self-publishing after being rejected from traditional publishing houses, others decide to sidestep the judgment of traditional publishers and self-publish. Whatever you choose it is good to keep in mind that if traditional publishers accept your manuscript, they will dictate the terms.

When you self-publish, you get to be the boss. You get to decide everything related to your book from editing, through designing and formatting all the way to promoting and distributing.

Remember: all the hard work will be worth it when your self-published book is finished, and you’re an official published author.

A self-publishing success story from PublishDrive

To finish off the topic here’s a success story to share from PublishDrive: our long-time partner Elefant.ro, a Romanian publishing company launched in 2010 claims 25% of our catalogue.
According to a Romanian industry professional, it was a small market with only a few players back then but with a tremendous potential for development.

Elefant had the advantage of being the first one on the market and got ahead by being reacting fast to the changing environment. The ebook segment is a small market and started to grow in 2012. Elefant set foot in the market in that year when there was no competition at all. Now, there are several players and approximately 10 out of 12 publishing houses have started to publish ebook versions of their books.

The Romanian ebook market is steadily growing, the revenue in the ebook segment amounts to 5 million USD in 2017. The user penetration is at 5,1% in 2017 and is expected to hit 8,6% in 2021.

Elefant took advantage of the growing ebook market and constantly focusing on improving its catalogue. And it seems to be working for them. They were able to produce a 230% increase in revenue between June-October 2016 and have continuously grown their sales numbers with PublishDrive.

Look how their sales increased since they’ve been working with PublishDrive:

Sales growth between May-October 2016

Sales growth between May-October 2016

Happy publishing!

15
May

Everything You Need to Know About Self-Publishing Comics

Comic books represent a huge part of our modern mythology. We all know characters like Spiderman, Batman or Wonder Woman who dominate comic book culture and their adventures have become a phenomenon among the comic book fans.

There are a lot of reasons why you should self-publish a comic book. It will rarely happen that the major publishers such as Valiant, DC or Marvel hire a writer off the street, so self-publishing comics have been popular and changing an aging industry. However, thinking that self-publishing is here to put large publishers out of business is wrong. You’re also mistaken if you believe that self-published comics are something new, booming onto the scene in just the past few years. What’s changed is the barrier of entry and just how many people have access to the tools they need to publish their own stories and have a 100% control on every process.

self publishing comics

 

How to gain awareness by self-publishing your own comic book?

Be unique! Big publishers only go with what’s proven and safe; they won’t risk something brand new. However, self-publishing gives you an opportunity to be creative, and it allows you to work freely without any pressure. You can be experimental and prove that readers can appreciate something new other than reading the same story. Another interesting thing is that more and more comics are being published digitally nowadays which is a great way for self-publishers to put their work out there. You can try Amazon’s Kindle Comic Creator, which is an app that everyone can download and publish their own comics for Kindle devices.

Things to do before self-publishing a comic book

When writing a comic book, you need to know who’s going to buy your book. If you’re selling comics you need to be online and on social media since it’s all about the visuals. Start with Twitter, which is the best place for individual artists to connect with other artists and you can get extra exposure by participating in Sketch Dailies or Inktober. Besides Twitter, you can exploit all the social media arsenal to connect with your target audience. Use Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram and make sure to post panels, visuals as teasers. You need to gain a fanbase, so even posting entire comics for free online and then later publishing it for a profit can be a good strategy. After gaining a following of devoted fans, it’ll be easier to make money from your work.

Another way to gain online presence is to create a website which is cheap and super easy. Once you get it up and running, you need to focus on maintaining and updating. You can also create a blog and write entries that focus on the subject matter of your work and write posts that might intrigue readers and media people to find out more about you and your comic book. But remember, using social media one of the most important thing is to be consistent. Set up a routine and decide how many times per week you post, on which days and hold by to it.

It takes the time to build a community, but if you’re patient and consistent, you’ll get there.

If you decide to self-publish a comic book, you need to pay attention to choose the right book size. The size of your book is determined by your approach to page layout as well as economic reasons. If you choose a non-standard size, your work can stand out but also it may be more costly. The common sizes today are 5,5 x 8,5 or 8,5 x 11 with no-defacto standard.

Comic books served digitally come in different forms which can be broken down into two sections: comic books protected with DRM and those without DRM. The former can come in various formats where the most popular are those delivered by Comixology. These are typical not files but a proprietary viewer that allows users to read comics. However, they don’t own the comics the service is allowing them to read the comics they purchase. On the other hand, comic files not DRM protected are the traditional files such as PDF or EPUB formats or the popular CBR and CBZ comic book formats which can be viewed by a variety of readers.

comic-book-publishing-platforms

How to gain experience and awareness in the comic book industry with your work?

Write as much as you can. The more content you have, the easier to gain awareness and get reviews from industry professionals, readers. Another thing you can do is to visit events where you can spread the word about your book. Events are also perfect for networking and self-promotion. Comic book conventions are the best places to exchange ideas, meet new artists and keep in touch with people. ZineFest is an annual global celebration of zines, comics, and self-publishing as well as a series of talks, events, and workshops. ZineFest brings together makers of zines and comics to display and sell their work.comic books on ipad

Distribution and networking

There are quite a few distribution channels you can choose to go with your comics as a self-published author. Many authors choose digital platforms such as Gumroad and Comixology or decide to sell their print copies at conventions or in comic shops and bookstores. However, getting into stores is a huge challenge, unless authors submit their books to Diamond Comic Distributors, the only nationwide distribution platform that exists in the comic book world, and make the cut. It is not easy to get in, as Diamond pays too little attention to indie works. And they take 60% cut of the money your book makes. In comparison, you can decide to put your book up to Kickstarter which only takes 5% cut.

Remember, you’re selling to readers instead of stores, and as an indie creator, you can see if there’s a demand from the people who are going to read it.

As a comic book creator, you need to be part of a community to get support from each other. Every opportunity you have to show your work, meet people who could become fans, friends and even business collaborators, you have to take advantage of and think of it as a business investment for your book.

08
May

What’s the Best Ebook Publishing Platform for You

There are a lot of digital publishing platforms nowadays that authors can choose when deciding to publish an ebook. New services keep appearing to help publishers and self-publishers distribute their ebooks globally. Now let’s see what options you have if you’re thinking of publishing an ebook.

In the last couple of years, ebooks have emerged with significant force in markets with English as a primary language, especially in the US. Let’s see why ebook publishing is probably the best option for self-publishers.

First, the cost of publishing an ebook is just a fragment of publishing the print version of it. Second, less cost means less risk for self-publishers, so they’re willing to take a chance on them. If the book is not going to be a hit, you don’t have to worry about throwing a ton of money out of the window for nothing. The author can sell as many copies as he wants although all he gets is his cut of the take. The question you might have right now is: do self-publishers make money from ebooks?

Well, if you are willing to put effort into it, researching the different publishing platforms, set the price right and know your reader base you’ll probably draw some attention.
Another reason, which stands behind ebooks, is that the digital book market is experiencing a huge growth in the industry.

In the US, for example, close to as many people read physical books as ebooks by now. However, in other parts of the world ebooks still have a long way to go but looking at the latest trends they do have a future. By 2018, ebooks set to surpass print in the US which is an incredible shift compared to other developed countries. [1]

ebook publishing platform stats by country

What to consider when choosing the right platform for your book:

  • Royalty: if you decide to publish your ebook to a platform you probably know already that the service will take a cut of the take. It can vary depending on who you choose. More information on some of the platforms in the table below.
  • Pricing: some services have limits on how to price your book. For instance, Amazon doesn’t allow new authors to offer their books for free or may not give you control over the pricing at all. This may not be a bad thing, but you might want to avoid to get stuck in a situation where you don’t like the price and can do nothing about it. Finding the right price for your ebook is not easy, and of course, you want to sell it at a high price so before you commit, make sure you have the price set for your book that you’re happy with.
  • File format: There are platforms out there that offer ebook formatting as one of their services, however you might prefer doing it by yourself. But if you do so, be careful, properly formatting of an ebook is difficult, and there are a ton of softwares specializing in formatting such as Sigil or Vellum.
  • Exclusivity: some services may demand exclusivity such as Amazon’s KDP. As for self-publishers who only have a handful of books, there is a possibility to leave some titles available through open publishing while having a couple of books exclusive to Amazon.
  • Ebook retailers: the five largest retailers on the market are: Amazon, Apple iBooks, Nook Press, Google Play, and Kobo. Most of them sell throughout the world, either directly from their own websites (Amazon, Apple, Google), or both directly as well as indirectly through affiliates (Kobo). Other than the big players there are many more platforms on the market you can choose to publish your books with.

 

Ebook publishing platforms

In the following, you can find useful information about some platforms you can choose to go with your ebooks.

KDPNook pressiBooksCreateSpaceKoboPronounDraft2Digital
Royalty35% or 70%65% or 40%70%35% – 70%70%10% cut10% cut
File FormatsePub, mobi, HTML, doc, docxePub, doc, docx, HTML, RTF, TXTePub, iBooks AuthorPDFePub, PDFePub, mobiePub, doc, docx, RTF
ExclusivityExclusiveNon-exclusiveNon-exclusiveNon-exclusiveNon-exclusiveNon-exclusiveNon-exclusive
Paymentsmonthlymonthlymonthlymonthlymonthlymonthlymonthly
Reportsdailymonthlymonthlymonthlymonthlydailydaily
Retail OutletsAmazonB&NiBookstore2 distribution packages: Standard or ExpandedKobo store and other ebook storesAmazon, iBooks, B&N, Kobo, GooglePlayiBooks, B&N, Kobo, Scribd, 24symbols, Tolino, Inktera.

How to publish your books effectively to more stores and gain global distribution?

There are certain platforms on the ebook market who identify themselves as ebook aggregators. An aggregator stands between the author and the retailer such as Amazon. As Brookes describes: „ebook aggregators are companies that take a file from the user, convert it into multiple formats and make it available through multiple distribution channels (platforms, stores, libraries).”

Most of the aggregators offer various services other than ebook distribution and aggregation such as ebook conversion, cover design, editing and some even have print-on-demand services. They can also provide help with ISBN acquisition, copyrighting and tracking user payments. However, their primary focus is on distributing content to more than just one store. An aggregator helps authors and publishers reach the stores globally with their ebooks. As an ebook aggregator, PublishDrive delivers ebooks to iBooks, GooglePlay, Kindle, Scribd, OverDrive and 400+ stores and 240k libraries in US, China, India, Europe and over 100 countries. Besides ebook distribution, PublishDrive offers ebook conversion as one of its services. To learn more about PublishDrive, click here.
[1] https://www.statista.com/chart/2823/book-market-development-forecast/

03
May

From Draft to Bedside Story – PublishDrive’s Guide to Self-Publishing a Children’s Book

Writing for children is rewarding, heartwarming and something to be proud of. No wonder many people aspire to write and publish a children’s book. If you think that writing and publishing for kids is child’s play, you are very wrong. 🙂

Partly because of the increased costs, partly because of the difficulties of marketing, publishing or self-publishing for children is harder than for adults. And don’t forget, that the readers (and citizens) of the future deserve well written and carefully crafted books, and responsible adults to create and select what gets into their hands.

children's books

Self-publishing vs. traditional publishing

While finding a publisher could save you most of the work that has to be done until your book is out on the shelves and selling well (editing, finding an illustrator, type setting, printing, distributing, marketing, etc.), it is tough to break into the traditional market.

Many of the publishing houses don’t accept new submissions at all, and even if they do, they have guidelines when selecting manuscripts you not even know about. Be assertive and proactive when looking for a publisher: while smaller publishers only publish 1-2 new titles a year, big publishers have the means to take the occasional risk. The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators has a very thorough guide to help you get started if you decide to look for a traditional publisher.

If knocking on the doors for years makes your stomach churn, you are probably better off going indie. You have to work hard to succeed, but you can make your own decisions and will not be subject to anyone else’s will. It is not impossible to self-publish and still being sold in high street bookshops: even the Waterstone’s has somebody to look after indies.

Be aware of the sharks though: there are many companies targeting people who would like to self-publish, offering packages for printing, marketing, and distribution, but actually just taking your life’s savings away. Be suspicious of anyone promising you easy success: there is no such thing. If somebody wants you to pay them upfront to publish your book, leave.

If you still consider choosing a vanity publishing service, by all means, launch a crowdfunding campaign. You will not only collect the money you need (which is a lot of money as printing in color is expensive) but also see if there is any interest towards your book and whether it worth investing in it. You can use the audience you made this way later in the marketing process.

Self-Publishing a Children’s Book

How do I start?

Forgive me for saying the obvious: research the market. Discover the trends in children’s publishing, check out your favorite publishers and see what they are doing. What are the popular topics? And what are the topics nobody is talking about?

Then decide on your age group: children’s books include books made for 0-14 years olds, but the categories are diverse. Books made for toddlers (picture books) are usually very colorful with little or no text (and made of chewable material). Books for young readers (reading books) have some combination of text and pictures to help guiding the future bookworms and books from up to 10 years old (young adult fiction) can be black and white with fewer or no pictures at all (and look more like a “book”).

You can read more about the categories and requirements at the Bookcareers website.

This will also help you to decide which way to go: with books made for younger audience you could consider an interactive ebook or a print-on-demand service, but for books made for “older” children, an epub will do (with the possibility of POD). See our selection of apps and devices later in this article.

You also have to find your niche: the special sub-market you are trying to reach. Is it dinosaur-lovers? Are you writing to empower little princesses? Try to find a gap in the market to reduce competition, while keeping up with what is trending. Finding a niche can put you in a category, but this is rather a good thing. Read more about the importance of a niche here. When deciding on what to write about, consider that while you are targeting children, the decision of what to read is going to be made by their parents, so make sure to write “adult-friendly” books.

boat-drawing-for-children

Finding an illustrator

Whether you are planning a picture book or a crime series for pre-teens, there is no children’s book without illustrations. However, you only need to worry about illustrations if you self-publish: if you have found a publisher, they will do this for you.

First, you have to consider what you are looking for: do you need pictures covering each double page, or just black and white drawings at the beginning or end of each chapter? There are several places at the internet where you can find a freelance illustrator. Make sure you research their work and get to know their style: in a children’s book, illustration and story have to work together, creating an organic piece of art.

While working with a professional illustrator won’t be cheap (apart from paying for the artist’s time, you are paying for their craft, creativity and also the tools they have to use), this is a step you definitely shouldn’t skip and shouldn’t save money on. Since hiring an illustrator could cost several thousands of pounds, you have to be very sure that your book is worth to be published and that it will sell well to get your money back.

Once you found the perfect illustrator, let them work. They know their profession (just as you know yours): while they will ask you about your ideas before starting the work, give them the creative freedom they need. You can find more tips on choosing the perfect illustrator at The Creative Penn.

drawing tools

Print or ebook?

How is this still a question? Both. While traditional books don’t need defending, many people still can’t imagine handing over the tablet to their toddlers or school aged children when it comes to storytime. If you are considering print, be aware that printing a children’s book is very expensive. While services like Blurb offer easy to use layouts and quality printing, it will cost around 20-25 GBP per book in case of printing 10-50 books. To avoid upfront printing costs, and the difficulties of distribution, you are probably better off looking for a POD service.

On the other hand, the market is full of devices and apps to reach children from very young age to the pre-teen years and to make reading cool again. Apart from tablets and e-readers coming with spill and drop proof covers, Amazon has worked hard to introduce a Kindle for kids with built-in Vocabulary Builder, Word Wise (help with words that usually cause difficulty for young readers or second language learners), and badges and challenges to encourage young readers.

There are also several apps to keep parents (and kids) happy. Apart from countless interactive picture books for the youngsters, Apple iBooks’ Storytime app will read to the children and runs on a smart TV. There are also apps that let you switch between listening to the story and reading it.

To cut a long story short: there is nothing to stop you from e-publishing a children’s book, use your creativity and get the most out of whatever the technology can offer.

castle-photo

Marketing and distribution when self-Publishing a children’s book

As we mentioned before: while your audience is children, the ones buying your books will be the parents. Therefore you have to build out two separate lines of marketing: you have to market directly to the child, who will be the one taking your book off the selves, and to the librarian, teacher, parent, and grandparent, who will make the decision of buying it.

In case of children’s books, while the general online presence is very important (see our article about social media marketing), you also need to join conversations about issues concerning the children you are writing to. If a forum is about dealing with the loss of a loved one, and you have a book about it, go and mention it. Don’t be pushy: just be friendly and open, offer your help if you can.

You also need to work on your offline marketing: reach out to schools, libraries, and bookstores. It might sound commonplace, but: start local. Go to your local bookseller, to the nearby schools. Do you have any children in school? Do you know anyone? Never underestimate the power of personal connections.

Winning a prize can open several doors that were closed before, and luckily enough, many of the children’s book competitions are open to self-publishers. You can also send your book to literary magazines for reviews: if your book gets features in one of them, that will make your job much easier.

Hold exciting and engaging live events: a simple reading probably won’t be sufficient, especially with a young audience. Do you have something interesting to talk about? Can you fold balloon animals? Be creative. If the event seems to be fun and educational, the parents are more likely to bring their children, and you are more likely to gain more publicity.

The Publisher’s Weekly points out that good  marketing is always specific: if you are writing about boys playing football, look for your audience in sports clubs. Appearing in children’s book fairs could also be a great way to meet possible audience.

Did you self-publish a children’s book? We would love to hear your story!

25
Apr

How to Self-Publish Your Cookbook

Our new series explores the advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing in different genres and guides you through the process. We also interview some of our best selling writers on the field who are happy to share their own experiences with you.

In the first part of the series, we are introducing Kendall Harrison and her genre: cookbooks.

The first steps: finding your audience

Why do you cook? Who do you cook for? What are your favorite ingredients? If you have a strong answer to all of these questions, you are able to find your niche market.

Are you cooking with your kids, are you nuts for nuts or you just like to eat some filling deliciousness, calories be damned? “My inspiration was my love for cooking.”, shared Kendall Harrison. “My mom is my inspiration. I’ve learned a lot from her cooking techniques and recipes. I cook the way I do because I love my style of cooking, which is healthy food.”
As everybody has different tastes, you just have to find the people who like your cooking and write for them. Try to explore the market and find a gap. I’m still looking for warm and hearty veggie recipes that are not soups, and I’m happy to pay whatever it takes to the cook who creates them for me. Nobody is going to take your cookbook off the shelf if it has Cookbook as the title. Be as specific as you can.

 

old-cookbook

This is not the standard anymore.

 

Most of the best-selling cookbook authors started as food bloggers: they are using social media to build a group of followers, people who regularly visit their website for new ideas and who are happy to share their recipes on their own social media sites before dinner. (Click here to read about ebook promotion on social media.)

Creating a conversation with your readers also helps you to explore who they are and what do they like to read about. It is key that you know what you are writing about: you don’t want disappointed mums to go after you. “The taste of any food is in the eating,” added Kendall Harrison. “Combining ingredients to prepare a meal isn’t the main thing but knowing the ingredients that give the sweetest taste and flavor when used.”

Once you are a big cheese, it is going to be easier to find new readers and sell your book. After the release, you can take off some of your recipes and direct your readers to the webstore where they can buy your book. It is also common to leave only the ingredients on the blog, best in the form of a shopping list. Follow The Telegraph’s advice here on how to bring home the bacon while writing a food blog.

self-publish your cookbook: example

Find your niche.

As you are publishing an ebook that is available for everyone in the world, be aware that people can buy different things in the supermarket and use different measurements. While you don’t have to make compromises, you can help out the readers who do: Is there any way to replace Israeli couscous? Can I use curry powder as substitute for garam masala? (Yes, there is and yes, you can.)

Keep in mind that the food market is extremely competitive. Apart from making fantastic food, taking great pictures of it and writing a cookbook that is fun to read, you have to think about marketing strategy from long before you start writing your cookbook.

ideal-kitchen

Why self-publish?

The cookbooks I buy are usually hardcover, heavy, printed on glossy paper and beautiful. For five minutes, leastwise, until I sprinkle them with olive oil or tomato sauce. Try balancing a one pound cookbook in one hand while stirring soup with the other and keeping your 3-year-old safe with your leg. And try the same thing with your smartphone: it’s no wonder e-cookbooks are thriving on the market.

Not everyone has eight hands

 

If you choose only e-publishing, you save on printing (in case of a full-color cookbook it can be thousands of pounds), distribution and warehouse costs. If somebody would like to spill some coffee on your cookbook or light it on fire, many bookshops (e.g. Amazon) offer a print-on-demand service for them. You can also send one to your grandma.

spices

Why self-publish your cookbook?

Finding a publisher might be a lengthy process savored with rejection letters. The agents you meet are going to ask you questions like: is anybody going to buy this? Are you a valuable investment? If your answer is a confident “yes,” you can read here about how to secure an agent who can try to find a publisher for you. If you find a publisher, they will edit and distribute your book, but also keep the majority of your revenue.

Paying someone to publish your book (assisted self-publishing, also known as vanity publishing) is hardly sustainable if you have a cookbook to publish. The pictures will not only increase your editing costs but the minimum printing quantity as well: full-color books usually come with a minimum order quantity of 1000 pieces.

Although services like the Cookbook Publishers seem attractive at first sight (you hand in the draft, and they do all the work), the estimated costs are high, and the possible profit is unrealistic.
We’re not saying self-publishing is going to be a piece of cake, but at the at least you don’t have to share your earnings with anyone. Kendall Harrison never tried traditional publishing: “I chose self-publishing because it is simple, easy and straightforward with no bottlenecks. My advice is to focus on the goal, which is getting your books out there for others to benefits from. Also not to lose hope when things don’t happen the way you anticipated.”

Self-publishing an ebook can be easily done for completely free (although time-consuming), but if you would like a quality product, you are recommended to hire somebody for editing and proofreading your book, for creating and editing photos and for layout and cover design. (See our guide for self-publishing costs.) The market is competitive: you have to aim to be the best.

cute-pair-cooking

Photos

Photos are so powerful that simply researching for this article made me hungry. Without great pictures, your cookbook is less likely to sell, and with bad pictures, your cookbook is more likely to be ridiculed on social media.

Since your readers won’t be able to smell the food or taste it, the picture has to do all the work.

Photographing food is science on its own: you can find very useful tips about finding the right angle and composition at Cookie and Kate, a step-by-step at BBC Good Food and a how to make brown soup mouth-watering guide from the Digital Photography School. Some of the advice comes up everywhere: take the time to create the perfect photo and learn how to edit your own pictures with PhotoShop or Gimp; use good lighting and simple props.

 

good-looking-bowl-of-soup

Which one would you prefer to eat?

Layout

If you were to edit your draft with all the pictures in a Word document, you would probably go old by the
time you finished. Thankfully, you can always hire layout editors to do the job for you (you can find people on Fiverr for very cheap). If you decide to edit it yourself, you can find free BookWright and Bookify templates at Blurb, templates for Microsoft services at the Brighthub and InDesign templates at Template.net. If you are using a template, your cookbook might look similar to others’, but you can’t go wrong either.

While the options are plenty, there is no need to get scared: Kendall Harrison used Word to edit her book and did the whole process by herself. Nonetheless, she is our most selling cookbook author. You can find her books Whole Food Diet, Delicious & Irresistible Gluten-Free Recipes and Gluten-Free Meals Prepared with a Slow Cooker at major ebook stores such as Apple, Google, Amazon, B&N, Kobo through the largest libraries like OverDrive, Odilo to indie ebook retailers.

Happy Publishing!

24
Apr

Marketing Magic Tool is here to help publishers increase ebook sales

New feature available at PublishDrive. Based on artificial intelligence and machine learning, hand in hand with the power of business intelligence, PublishDrive’s Marketing Magic Tool is here to help increase ebook sales and enable publishers to reach their audience more effectively.

We found that the reader base is unique of every store, so are the bestselling titles and genres. There is no publisher who can keep track of this and develop different marketing strategies by countries and stores without the help of AI and machine learning.

With the new Bestseller Match feature, which is the alpha version of the ultimate Marketing Magic, publishers are able to see the most similar titles of their books (defined by tags and content), store by store.

How to use the feature?

  1. Visit bestsellermatch.publishdrive.com
  2. Fill out all the empty boxes with your book data
  3. See the most similar bestselling books by store

 

 

Watch the video to see how the platform works:

We hope you’ll like the new feature and it will help you sell more ebooks. Feel free to let us know what you think in the comments section below and happy publishing.

19
Apr

Book’n’Seek tool by PublishDrive to monitor your ebooks on sale

Introduced at the London Book Fair in 2017 PublishDrive’s brand new Book and Seek feature is a quality assurance management tool to help provide transparency and quality assurance in the publishing industry. It might sound obvious, but it is good to keep in mind that a book will only make you money, if it is out on sale. We found that working with more distribution partners at a time, keeping track of your books on sale in different stores can be chaotic and time-consuming.

On our Book’n’Seek platform you can simply use ISBN and later on your titles to search for you books and monitor the stores in which they are available for sale.

 

How does it work?

All you have to do is to go to our new platform to bookandseek.publishdrive.com and fill out the empty fields by providing the ’publisher or imprint’ name and the ISBNs of the books to check. Click on ’check my books’ and the system will show you right away the books you were looking for and the stores in which they are out on sale so you can see yourself which books are making you money.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We hope you’ll enjoy this feature and as always, happy publishing.

 

13
Apr

Complete Guide to Book Cover Sizes – Why Do They Matter?

In the first part of the series, we looked at some cover design services and tutorials to help you design the best cover possible and showed you how to 3D it. In the second part, we talked about typography and layout design. Today we are covering some less creative but just as important elements of cover design: dimension, file size, format and colour modes.

If converting a picture file gives you the heebie-jeebies, you are at the right place: let us guide you through this maze of guidelines and rules. We also have some good news: when you are done with this, you are good to go! Your book will attract readers and be accepted to the stores.

If you get it right on the first try, you save yourself all the pain and suffering that comes with being rejected from the stores and having to format and resize and save and upload all over again.

How large should my cover be? (Guide for dimensions)

We have terrifying news: there is no golden rule for cover dimensions. You as an ebook author, however, are in a fantastic position, because your cover dimensions don’t have to match the page proportion: you don’t have to think about your book being too thick or difficult to handle, since everyone is going to display it on a gadget.

You don’t need to worry about your cover looking odd on the screen for the same reason, as every reader or phone screen is a bit different. Currently the most popular e-readers have a screen size of 6 inches, but various resolutions: while the classic Kindle and the Nook Simple displays 600×800 pixels (giving you a ratio of 1:1.33), Nook GlowLight goes with 758×1024, resulting in a ratio of 1:1.35. IPads currently have a ratio of 1:1.33, and most android phones (independently from the size) have a ratio of 1:1.5.

It is impossible to follow, right? Don’t worry, you don’t have to.

Your cover won’t look silly on any reader; the phones and e-readers won’t resize it and display it disproportionately, but merely display it at the center.

If you are not only interested in ebooks but would like to design your cover with a future print edition in mind, you can still follow our guide below, as the process is very similar. For a detailed article by genres, see The Book Designer.

Ebook cover size differencesAs long as you stick to digital, the only thing you actually need to worry about is how your cover looks like. For most fiction genres, a 1:1.5 (6”x9”) or 1:1.6 (5”x8”) ratio works well. Although the shops won’t enforce an exact ratio, you are advised to go for something like this, so your book won’t look out of place (just like Helter Skelter does on Amazon) among all the other books. (Or the sides don’t get cut off by the store.)

If your genre is not fiction, go to your favourite webshop and check the top list for trends and inspiration. It is really easy to calculate ratio: just divide the longer side with the shorter one; then you can multiply the length of the shorter side of your cover with the number you got to get the length of the longer side. (The “It looks approximately the same” approach never works out well.)

The biggest stores (including Apple iBooks) currently require at least 1400 pixels or more for the shorter side; Kobo recommends 1600px, however, so better go with that. With a ratio of 1:1.5, this would mean 1400×2100 or 1600×2400 pixels. The good news are that you don’t need to remember this, because as the book market evolves (with new gadgets and shifting reading habits) these numbers constantly change as well. Obviously, we track the changes and keep you updated; and, luckily enough, PublishDrive is going to do all the adjusting for you based on the specific requirements.

How do I make it happen? (Guide to programs, online editors and getting feedback)

If you set out to design your cover by yourself, you can either use a picture editor software, like PhotoShop or its free alternative, Gimp, or go online and try a book cover designer app, like Canva. It has pre-set Kindle Cover samples with the dimensions of 1410×2250 pixels. They saves you most of the work but you lose out on customizing and fine tuning your cover.

If your cover is smaller than the recommended, let’s say 1000×1500, you are suggested to make it larger. It goes without saying that the same applies for your cover picture: if you are trying to fit a small picture onto a large cover, do not just drag the corners to make it bigger.

Sherprog.com offers you an excellent step-by-step guide for upscaling your image and turning lo-res into high without making your picture look pixelated. Our advice is that you only use a program like this if you know what you are doing.

Your book might be a masterpiece; don’t accidentally ruin your chances of making it a hit with an amateur cover.  If you artificially “enlarge” the cover, you could end up with a cheap-looking result. You want to avoid anything looking like this image, unless your book is about 80s video games.

On the note of feedback: if you don’t trust your spouse and are afraid of your Facebook friends, you can pay people to get a honest opinion.

There are several crowdsourcing websites: you ask your question and collect the answers from nice strangers.

My Book Cover

PickFu, for example, is specified for book covers: if you would like to know whether you are as good a designer as a writer, you just upload your cover to test it. They can also help you to decide between to competing titles.

Joining a writer’s group, however, might be a better choice not only for your wallet but also for your social connections. If you become part of a self-publishing community, you can both get help and advice from like-minded individuals and start building valuable connections you can use once your book is out.

How do I make it look nice when printed? (Guide for resolution)

Image propertiesAlthough your cover is likely to be viewed thumbnail size, on a black and white e-reader or on a smartphone screen (remember:LARGE TITLE!), aim for high resolution.  Resolution refers to the actual number of pixels when printed, and is nicely explained here. You can easily check resolution by right clicking the image, selecting “Properties” and then details.

Here you see dimensions (this can be measured in inches, centimeters or pixels), width and height and resolution measured in dpi (dots per inch). Thankfully, resolution is usually not defined in ebook publishing (as it is only the important in printing), but the web standard is 72dpi, so don’t go under it. While “the higher is the better”, having a 300dpi picture might unnecessarily increases the file size; and most shops don’t let you upload anything over 2MB.

DPI differences

(Image source)

You say TIFF, I say bless you (Guide for formats, colours and file sizes)

Most sites accept JPG, PNG or TIFF. If you don’t want to have several versions of your cover (which can get confusing), go for JPG, this being the most widely accepted. Make sure to keep the original high resolution, just in case you end up with a print version or you need to change something later. Since JPG is a compressed picture format, if you don’t want any loss (eg. your picture to look blurry), make sure you choose the “high quality” option (or something similar, depending on the illustrator program you are using).

For file size, unfortunately you will have to stay under 2MB for being accepted at most stores. If your file is too big, you can try and reduce dimensions but keeping the original ratio (but still staying over 1400 pixels). If it is still too big, reduce dpi to 72. If for some reason your file would still be too large, reduce quality at JPG compression (but this really should never happen).

For the colour settings, choose RGB. RGB is designed for the web, other colour modes (like CMYK) might don’t get recognized and your cover won’t get displayed properly. You can check the colour mode of your picture at the properties, like you did with resolution. If you don’t know how to change it, follow this step-by-step guide for Photoshop.

How do I make it appear on the shelf ? (Guide for metadata)

In order to your cover appearing on the virtual shelf of the e-reader, you have to make sure that you set your image as “cover” in the metadata of your book. For this, you need to open the ebook editor you are using, like Sigil or Calibre, and set the image as cover. You have to do this even if you have previously added the cover image as the first page of the book. If you are using Calibre, you just have to right click your book, “Edit metadata” and select the image. For Sigil, we already have a guide. The image you are using here cannot be larger than 4 million pixels (so a 1600×2400 size works just fine). It should go without saying, but the title written on your cover, the title at the metadata and on the first page of the book should match, otherwise it is likely that stores won’t accept it. (Just use normal title capitalization for metadata, even if you use all uppercase or lowercase on the cover.)

Same goes for the author’s name. You could try to be fancy and not put your name and the title on the cover, but unfortunately it is compulsory; the only exceptions from the rule are albums, where you can get away with a picture only.

Metadata editor

As always, please share your questions in the comments and we do our best to answer them.
Happy publishing!

11
Apr

ONIX import at PublishDrive

We introduced ONIX import as a new feature of PublishDrive at the London Book Fair. ONIX lets you enrich detailed metadata about titles from contributor types till different pricing. Manually importing metadata can eat up a lot of time and to avoid incorrect metadata we made PublishDrive’s book upload system more advanced to give you the best tool to help with book metadata management.

So far at PublishDrive you were able to use bulk import but only from Excel sheets. From now on the source of data for this import can also be ONIX. Now, that we are accepting ONIX files all you have to do is to upload your file and your metadata will be automatically uploaded into our platform.

 

Check out our new feature in your PublishDrive account and happy publishing.