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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. Would you like to write and publish your own book for kids? Just follow the tips below.
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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.
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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?

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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?

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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: book cover size in terms of 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)

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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.

05
Apr

Ebook Marketing Tips That Work – 6 Strategies You Can Follow

We are going to give you some bulletproof ideas to get your book out there and spread the word (and hopefully get some readers) without becoming that guy you had to block on Facebook because he kept bombing you with messages and inviting you to like his page.

It is a thin line, but basic common sense is your greatest friend. (We already have a post concentrating solely on social media and an other with ten great ebook marketing tips.)

1. You are not only selling a product, but you are also selling yourself.

Regardless of whether you are an enthusiastic beginner self-publisher or an established member of the writers’ society publishing at one of the biggies, nobody is going to build your image for you. (Unless you hire a publicist, of course; but we are not talking about paid solutions today.)

Building the right author brand helps you to distinguish yourself from similar authors and to establish a connection with your readers even before your book is out. Remember that everything you post on social media can be used for or against you: your political opinion, your favourite books and the frequency of baby animal videos are all points based on which your potential readers are going to judge you.
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30
Mar

Coverage of London Book Fair 2017

Book fairs play a vital role in publishing and allow publishers, authors, industry professionals from all around the world to meet and do business in a fun way. The London Book Fair is no exception to that. The 3-day event (14th-16th March, 2017) was held at Olympia with more than 25,000 visitors. There were two floors in two main halls filled with around 1,500 exhibitors from more than 60 countries. This year the market focus was on Poland with a big Polish pavilion highlighting the country’s dynamic publishing industry and to increase awareness of its literary traditions.
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07
Mar

Five Reasons to Self-Publish

When I started writing fiction, I assumed that there is not a single writer out there who doesn’t want to get published by Penguin Random House. Apparently, the numbers show otherwise: indie publishers are trending, and not without a cause. Let’s see five major reasons why many writers choose to self-publish. (In a follow-up article we are going to analyse the cases when finding a publisher is a better idea.)

1. Because it has the biggest market share and is growing the fastest

According to the charts published on Authorearnings.com analysing Amazon sales data from the last 27 months until May 2016, self-published books have an almost 45% share of the market (growing from 27% since February 2014), while the Big Five has fallen from 39% to 23%. It’s a numbers game: like it or not, independent publishing already gives almost half the ebook unit sales of the market and seems unstoppable.

2. Because what you write is unique

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03
Mar

Pitfalls of Ebook Licensing Agreements

Signing a contract and finding the right deal could be difficult if you are a newcomer in the publishing industry. Retailers and aggregators aim to be as profitable as they can, this often resulting in publishers receiving disadvantageous financial or legal terms. And once you signed the agreement on a bad deal, there is no way back correct it.

Many say that there is no way to negotiate an ebook licensing agreement, but this is not true. If you have quality content, you can always negotiate, or even choose a better partner. You are the copyright holder, the creative mind in the process; without you, there is no content to be read and sold. Do not underestimate the power of content creation.

So far, we negotiated more than 200 B2B contracts in various countries worldwide: with retailers, ebook conversion services, marketing agencies and publishers. Several times, we were faced with unrealistic or dominating terms, but we decided to always represent the publishers’ interest; even if we had to refuse to sign the deal!

In this article, we are sharing with you some of the ebook licensing agreement pitfalls you can easily avoid by reading between the lines, so you can fight for better deals for you or your company in the future. To make the “business talk” easier to digest, we incorporated some simple dos and don’ts you can follow. There are five main parts of a contract that you have to read very carefully and several times:

  1. Royalties structure

  2. Payment terms

  3. Grant of rights

  4. Sales reporting and invoicing

  5. Termination

In the following, we are going to guide you through these five parts, show you the common mistakes some people may make and offer some advice.

  1. ROYALTIES STRUCTURE

Do not only look at nominal value.

It is not uncommon to only scan for numbers when reading a contract: you check nominal values, they look nice, so it is good to go. However, the wording can change everything: if you do not read the agreement thoroughly, you might not receive what you expected.

Typical wording differences:

  • Net sales vs. Net RRP/SRP:
    • Net sales is calculated based on the real price on which your book is sold. This is fair and simple: your readers pay a certain amount for your book and the retailers calculate your share. Usually, you are better off going for this.
    • Net RRP/SRP (recommended/suggested retail price) is based on the price you gave to the retailer. If they have to raise the price to match it to the price tier, you still get your share based on the RRP, and might miss out on extra money. However, if the price drops for whatever reason (e.g. for sale), you still get paid based on the RRP and have no losses. Depending on your business strategy, this can work as well. (You can read a lot more about this in our post about pricing strategies here.)
  • Retail price vs. Net retail price:
    • Some retailers like to play with sales tax or VAT, but always go for the net sales price, since VAT/sales tax may differ by country or state. It is non-transparent to calculate your royalties based on that.
  • Excluding vs. Including all the fees and commissions paid to retailers:
    • Including all the fees and commissions paid to retailers means that with a 60% publishers’ royalty you will receive 6 USD after a book sold on 10 USD net price. Clean and simple.
    • Excluding commissions paid to retailers can result in a worse deal if you sell through an aggregator or a mobile app dealer, since they do not include the fees and commissions in the royalty share. Using the previous example, they will only calculate your 60%, once the other retailers, such as Apple or Google took their share for micro purchases within the app. So if your book is sold for 10 USD, take 30% off for Apple iOS fee, and calculate the 60% royalty from that: you will receive 10×(1−0,3)×0,6 = 4,2 USD. This is significantly less than the 6 USD you could earn with an “including retailer fees” contract. Note, that this calculation is also non-transparent, since you cannot see the exact contracts between the aggregator and the retailers.
  1. PAYMENT TERMS

Look out for “when we receive the fund”.

There is a fine line between “it sounds too good to be true” and being untrue. Always check in the contract how payment is going to be made.

  • Based on earnings reports vs. Based on receiving the funds from retailers:
    • Earnings reports list all your sales within the month and set a payment date. You have to receive your money by this date independently from whether the retailers have been paid or not.
    • On receiving the funds: you will receive your money only after (and if) the aggregator was paid. It does not sound too bad, but remember that you cannot track when a partner receives funds from the retailers. Since you do not know when your partner receives the fund, you cannot know when you will be paid either. This can be very frustrating if you are waiting for your first check. Try to go for services who pay you based on earnings reports, not based on whether they received the fund.
    • Typical wording may include the followings: “we will pay you after the retailers paid us” or “we have no obligation to pay your royalties in the event of a failure of any online bookstore to pay royalties to us”.
  • Higher threshold vs. Transaction fees:
    • Lower payment thresholds can be tempting, as you get paid more often. But don’t forget that more often means paying more transaction fees – and some services, like PayPal get the receiver to cover the expenses of the transfer (their fee structure is explained here). If you have a lower threshold with more transactions, you end up paying more. It is a bit like the famous marshmallow-paradigm: you are better off, if you wait.
  • Exact numbers for payment terms:
    • Many companies do not include exact reporting or payment terms, just use undefined expressions such as “usually between 30-60 days”. Do not let anyone use blurry terms when it is about money; fight for exact numbers.
  1. GRANT OF RIGHTS

Keep the rights of your intellectual property (IP).

Non-exclusive contracts what you have to search for when choosing a partner to sell your ebooks. Non-exclusivity means that you can sell your books in other stores/platforms legally. On the contrary, exclusivity means you cannot sell your books anywhere else. Don’t tie yourself to any of the partners early on – most of the partners you can trust on the long term will give you the non-exclusive term anyway, so if you want you are able to sell the same book on other stores too.

Give only the necessary rights for the partnership and do everything you can to protect your IP.

You have to make sure that no one but you can change your IP.

You can grant rights to

  • resell or
  • make small technical changes if necessary for conversion.

But never give rights to anyone to

  • change the title,
  • change the author’s name,
  • add own branding,
  • change the content
  • or add watermarks with the retailer’s links (because it may end up with confrontation to competitor websites).

Just think about Amazon Kindle links in a book uploaded to iBooks! Take control of your own content and metadata and be conscious about them on the long term.

  1. SALES REPORTING and INVOICING

Define the periodical sales reporting period.

In case of any business transaction, money cannot be transferred without some invoice or written document, so look at who is sending the invoice and when. Is your invoicing monthly or quarterly? Choose a partner with a self-billing service if possible to avoid any administrative burdens but still receive your money in time.

Also look for discrepancies between reporting and invoicing. If you get quarterly reports, look at when you will receive those reports and how invoicing is connected to it. You might see the following: quarterly payments are reported until the end of the next calendar month, and the invoice is sent four weeks after the end of the invoicing period. This means that Q1 earnings will be reported until the end of April and will be invoiced until end of May. And we have not even talked about the payment term!

  1. TERMINATION

Make sure you get your content back.

Termination is a divorce in the business world: a painful process. Before you take any action, look at what happens with your IP afterwards and how long will it take to say goodbye.

Your content should be deleted from the servers of your partner and their third parties’ platforms. Your content should be withdrawn immediately (within a reasonable timeframe for making the technical changes) and it should not be longer than the termination deadline.

Unfortunately, we saw so many bad stories from publishers not being paid or simply tied to another service with bad terms and no long term thinking. Everyone starts a business relationship trusting the other player and believing that mutual cooperation will result in a mutually beneficial way – however, that might not be the case all the time. You have to find the right partner who treats you and your business as equals to have the chance to make intelligent long term decisions. You can probably save yourself from a lot of headache if you let us search for the right terms with the right players and let go of anything else not needed.