Wednesday, January 22, 2014

2014:Self-Publishing: Avoiding Scams and Hidden Costs

Okay, to be very frank, this week has been frustrating. I feel I have entered the murky waters of the self-publishing world. I was told, not once, but several times by agents and publishers,  "Don't pay anyone to publish your book!" Well, this week I took more time to read all the fine print and details of several self-publishing sites.

Some sites lure you in with a short video telling you to write your book and make a cover and put it on their site.  The hookis  if you want to be distributed  through their largest distribution network, the upgrade has a considerable dollar value.

Other sites "advise you to use their "editors" While others outright charge you to format your document into the distribution format of their choices.

There is the question of the cover. You can slap any cover you want on the site, but it won't make the "premium" catalogue. Some sites just come out and tell you they design the cover and how much it will cost you.

So far, I haven't read anything in "layman's" language about licensing or about copyrights.  It took me three companies to find one that addressed the ISBN number and that company was charging you for it.

My next step was to look for my information about watchdog sites to help self publishers avoid beingscammed. I found this link:
Click on this link, on the right side of the site, you will see "self-publishing," click on that word.  It takes you to a May 2013 blog that lists some of the more recent self-publishing scams. After reading the blogs, I am still frustrated, but grateful I was cautious. My gut instinct of "if it sounds too good, dig deeper, there has to be a catch..." was on high alert.
victims of scams. I found it

So, discouraged, I asked a few author acquaintances their opinions. One was quite positive and gave me encouragement. One didn't like my choice of vendor and told me to look at another one, but didn't give me a reason, why.  The third one told me "you are not a famous person" and suggested I continue to plow through the traditional querying method of publishing houses until I find someone who likes my stories.

Undeterred, I continue my research, meet with my beta readers, my cover designer, and edit my third novel. I will publish in the right time, the right way, with great success.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

2014: Researching

WOW! All I can say is my learning curve about self-publishing increased this past week. I am impressed with the site The site offers writers the opportunity to get their stories literally out to the world. Mark Coker and his wife Leslyann founded Smashwords after having a frustrating experience trying to publish through traditional publishing houses.
Smashwords was founded in 2008 and authors worldwide have published more than 278,000 ebooks. So the question is "Will work for you?"

If you sign in to or go to utube, you can get an hour and 42 minute presentation on the origination, the business model, the author's responsibilities, and the benefits of self-publishing online with Smashwords. Once you sign in and establish an account the following free texts are available to you at no cost:
  • The Smashwords Style Guide 
  • The Smashwords Book Marketing Guide
  • The Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success: How to Reach More Readers with Your Words
Then the real work begins, you really need to read through all this material. It will give you the full picture of the self-publishing world through the eyes of someone who did it.  You are the author, publisher, marketer, and public relations coordinator for each of your books. You have the control of the book's success. So what is the hitch?

 First of all, you must have a very clean copy. No typos, no grammatical errors, and you have to format your book in flowing type (if you don't want to format it, there is a list of individuals who could do it for you or you need to find someone to do it for you). Smashwords is an advocate of proofreaders and beta readers in the publishing process. Their materials describe the reason and role of these two types of editing.

Secondly, those of you using WordPerfect or Scrivener, your document needs to be converted in a doc. format. Smashword takes your document and formats it into multiple formats for multiple
e-readers. This is addressed in depth in Smashwords' presentation and style guide.

Thirdly, they urge all authors to seek a professional designer for their book covers. You can make your own cover, a very good argument is presented for having help with your cover.  The focus and rationale of the book cover is discussed in depth in The Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success.

Smashwords takes you through a lengthy explanation of copyright and licensing your book. This company does give you your ISBN number free. That is a bonus because ISBN numbers individually purchased are costly.

Have I begun publishing? No, I am still looking for someone to design my cover.  I am "pruning" my document that my proofreader has scoured. Now I am waiting for my beta readers to finish reading the document and return their comments.

Why go through this trouble? If I am going to use Smashwords, I want to end up in their Premium Catalogue because:
Once your book is accepted into the Premium Catalog, it is distributed to major online retailers such as Apple (distribution to iBookstores in 51 countries), Barnes & Noble (US and UK)SonyKobo,Flipkart (New September 29, 2013: India's largest online bookseller), Diesel eBook Store,  eBooks Eros (operated by Diesel), Baker & Taylor (Blio and the Axis360 library service), Page Foundry (operates retail sites and; and operates Android ebook store apps for Cricket Wireless and Asus), and other distribution outlets coming soon. Additionally, Kobo powers the ebook stores of multiple ebook retailers around the world.  Simply by distributing to Kobo via Smashwords, your books will also reach WH Smith in the UK, FNAC in France and PortugulLivraria Cultura in Brazil, Angus & Robertson in Australia, Bookworld in Australia, Indigo in Canada,Collins in Australia, Feltrinelli in Italy, Libris in the Netherlands, Paper Plus in New Zealand, Play in Great Britain, Rakuten in Japan, (now Rakuten) in the US, Whitcoulls in New Zealand, and more on the way. (

If you are interested in publishing an ebook, check out

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

2014: Another Adventure Begins

 2014 launches me into new territory on my writing journey. This year I am going to examine and explore the world of epublishing and self-publishing. Aren't they the same? You may query. Well, the answer is yes and no. I have choices depending on the vehicle and the vendor I choose to use to self-publish.
My writing career has spanned several decades.Yes, I do remember using a Smith-Corona typewriter, learning to use a PC with a green and white screen, finessing a mouse, and finally in the last three years dancing with a MAC.

My software experiences are vast and diverse. I remember getting copy ready for the "printer" who would want specific spacings for the type setting. Now I format documents in a pdf. and electronically send them to a nationwide copier center by Internet and pick up my documents, collated, and bound as I requested.

So, I am not timid about venturing into this new world of epublishing. I want to be discerning. I want to know what are my responsibilities? What are the expectations for marketing? Who does what?
It is a new journey in my quest to write more and learn new technologies.  From time to time, I'll update you and let you know how I am doing in the world were books really consists of 'letters and light.'