Monthly Archives: August 2012

Adventures on the E-Book Frontier: Dispatch Four

Last week I promised a posting about…the…

Yep, that’s it. That word. Vanity, as in vanity press. There are still misguided souls out there raising an eyebrow at writers who take this route. They question the validity of a digital publication, believing that digital publishing  is more rooted in author vanity than in market needs.

This is simply not the truth.

However as advances in digital technology continue to shift the ground artists create on  (think of all the bickering in the 20th century over whether or not photography counted as an art form, nevermind those who still decry photoshop), it certainly bears clarifying the differences between a vanity press and a legitimate one.

To get the goods, I grabbed my publisher Greg Ioannou for a quick Q&A.

CB: What’s a vanity publication?

GI: A vanity publication is published entirely to make the author feel good. There is never any real intention to see copies go to the public.

CB: How do these differ from what I’m doing with you?

GI: I think your book is really commercial, and I want to sell a zillion copies.

CB: The editing process I’m going through with you is the same I would go through with a traditional house. In other words, it’s extremely rigorous.

GI: Vanity publications are usually not edited to professional standards. No-one’s going to read the book, so why make it as good as you can?
Vanity publishers make their money from the authors, not from selling books to readers. So they will charge for editing as a way of getting money from the “writer”. The motivation is different, and so, usually, is the process.

CB: Let’s talk about being eligible for government grants, which to my mind makes it all legit.

GI: We are being careful to keep the company eligible for government publications grants. Those are based on number of books published and sold, and on royalties paid to authors. Vanity publications aren’t eligible for grants, and can only make up 25% of the titles a publisher puts out. (And most of the major publishers are right at that 25%.)

CB: What’s the snob factor from others in the industry and is that changing?

GI: I’m oblivious to such things. I assume it is there but I don’t notice it.

DB:  When do you think the reading world will be all digital?

GI:  People who have discovered the convenience of e-readers love them. But the tech is still primitive and I’m not expecting a wholesale switch to it for a couple of years, by which time digital will be so compellingly better that there will be no point to print.

And that’s it for the V word. Once again, please feel free to post your opinions on the blog. And speaking of that, next up, a discussion of blogging, an important part of the writer’s new life on the digital frontier.

 

Adventures on the E-Book Frontier: Dispatch Three

In the last dispatch I explained the digital workings of how an e-book ends up on your reader. Today, I’m going to explain how you can get a print version of my novel using this new business model.

Best, the best. There is nothing else to say! . There are a lot of legitimate mail-order pharmacies in this country.

Before the future, let’s reacquaint ourselves with the model of the past. In yon olden days a publisher would order, say a print run of 1000 books. (I know that’s a puny figure, but that’s what the publisher ordered for the first print run of Harry Potter.)

The printed books (paid for by the publisher) are shipped to book sellers and it’s time to shop. This is the concept of supply and demand. We provide the supply; you go wild with desire, and demand to purchase one. That model worked fairly well for a long long time, but in the last decade or so, likely two, the bottom has dropped out of the publishing industry.

Why has this happened? Some say that people are stupid and don’t read any more. Phooey. I don’t believe that for one second.

Others blame the Internet and big box book stores. Might be some truth to that, but before I get off on a rant, back to the exciting new model of book selling – demand and supply.

What this means is that you will never see a stack <sniff> of Night Town in a bookstore near you, unless it is specially ordered and paid for in advance. In the past, the publisher would ship out a supply of books and the cash was ponied up later. Some feel that it was sending out those stacks of books, many that never sold, that could be responsible for putting the publishing industry on life support.

Here’s how a printed copy of my novel will find its way to you. You order Night Town from Iguana Books, Amazon, Lex and Lou’s Amazing On-Line Book Emporium etc …any on-line book seller. They contact Lightning Source (the folks from Tennessee) who prints up a copy especially for you. (And might I take this moment to brag mention that Lightning Source makes very pretty books. Furthermore they’ve got plants in Australia,England and Tennessee making worldwide distribution a snap.)

Lightning Source then ships you Night Town in an Amazon or Chapters/Indigo or whatever mailer (depending on where you bought it) and it could be delivered that very day or the next. Worst case scenario? A week. And that’s very rare.

So that is how it works. Any questions, comments or observations?

Coming up next, I will attempt to address the thorny issue. “Come on Cathi, isn’t this a vanity publication? How can you do that? Ewwww.”

Adventures on the E-Book Frontier: Dispatch Two

When you buy a house there are three words you must never forget: “Location, location location.” I think, right or wrong, this truth extends to business and so when I went to meet my new publisher to see his digs, imagine my delight when I found myself at…..

My brother presented me nice holiday gift! . Each of these medications are Indian FDA approved and are internationally certified, so you know our products are safe.

Yes, Richmond and Spadina, the pulsing heart of Toronto’s cooltown. Some might accuse me of being shallow for being pleased that Iguana Books wasn’t run by a lone book nerd living in his parents’ basement in the outer reaches of the Baharimba. No my book nerd, my publisher Greg Ioannou (who bears an uncanny resemblance to a young Dumbledore), can actually afford to pay rent in a large loft in downtown Toronto. Good sign. That means he knows what he’s doing.

Greg also has staff; a band of eager and talented young editors, publicists and designers. In short, Iguana Books, a 21st century publishing house, looks and functions pretty much the same as any of the smaller traditional houses.

 

So how does the process differ than the old way? Today’s tale isn’t about the creative side (more on that in a later dispatch) rather it’s a quick primer on how the digital end of the business works.

First, the manuscript (after being professionally edited to within an inch of its literary life) is formatted to fit the many different e-readers on the market by Sharlene Hopwood. Most e-readers use e-Pub, but Kindle uses Mobi.

Next it’s off to Ingram Books, which has the industry’s largest active print inventory, where they’ll be digitizing my novel. Ingram sends it to Amazon (or anyone who deals in the e-book game. It’s staggering how many online book sellers there are and Iguana has forged relationships with them all over the world). Then you order the book from Amazon, who sends you a copy of the file and easy peasy you’re reading.

A small caveat and this is merely indicative of the market at large. Let’s say you bought a Nook and you want to purchase a Barnes and Noble title. That process is so simple my dog could do it. However if you’re buying books from another source, there’s an extra step in file conversion. A slightly unexpected stumble I wasn’t anticipating. It’s not really that big of a deal once you figure it out, but certainly worth mentioning if you’re in the market for an e-reader. In other words, make them explain it to you.

Next week, the mystery of how the print side of the business works, courtesy of  the welcoming gang at my new publishing house….Iguana Books

 

 

Adventures on the E-Book Frontier: Dispatch One

Hi there!

If you’re a friend of mine, you’ll know. If you follow me on Facebook, you might know. But here’s the official news. I, Cathi Bond, potential idiot or brave pioneer, have decided (after a hideously long soul ripping period of time) to publish my first novel Night Town with a digital publishing house. Yeppers, you got it, an E-Book.

How many users have made right decision? ! The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy® (NABP®) inspects Internet pharmacies and awards a “VIPPS” seal to those that meet its criteria.

Why did I do this?

First off, digital publishing is no longer considered vanity press. Stop snorting with laughter and saying, “she couldn’t get a real house to publish her book so she’s gone electronic.” Those in the know (can somebody say Kindle, Kobo or Amazon?) insist digital publishing is to books what iTunes and mp3s are to music. They’re the future and I believe them.

Second reason? I’ve worked in new media since 1998 when the tornado of change swept away my life as a print journalist. I survived by jumping online to do an arts blog for compuserve, a bitch column for Sympatico (and got fired for being too bitchy) and have pretty much staggered along, shaking my money can at whoever might pay, learning how to earn a living in cyberspace. My pal Nora Young and I are podcast pioneers and heck, I even get the chance to talk about this new world on CBC’s Spark. So, as they say in Hollywood, it all feels so organic. I think digital is where I fit.

Finally…I’m not completely sure that books as we know and love them, will still be around in 2-3 years. That’s how long it usually takes to get a new book to market. Well I’ve spent five years of my life writing Night Town and I’m not prepared to let it languish in the slush pile of eternity.

So stay tuned to my adventures on the E-Book frontier. I’m going to write a brief dispatch every week until I publish in Spring 2013 taking you through the experience. How does it work? What are the players like? How does it differ than the traditional model and most importantly – will my decision culminate in a success or a stunning car accident of a failure?

Next week meet the publisher as we take a walk through my new digital publishing house.

Until then,

Cathi