Over the past decade Peter Sinclair has produced a series of droll murder-mysteries featuring the spry and perceptive retiree Edgar Hodgkiss, bane of corrupt politicians and greedy developers. We have kept the same basic design, varying the main image and colour scheme. One can only hope this well-written series will soon receive the kind of attention it deserves. New postings of the print and ebook files will be uploaded shortly, and we will post links when they go ‘live’.
A few versions on the theme of ‘digital parenting’ — a thoughtful attempt to promote a rational balance between time on and off screen in a family context, and summarise the latest research on the topic. Published by Hybrid Publishers.
In the latest news from the independent author front , Kathryn Gauci reports back on her recent Bookbub promotion:
“Bookbub was OK but didn't set the world on fire. I think some of that had to do with it being for the UK, AUS, NZ, Canada and India and NOT the US. The US is generally the biggest market. It also adds more to the deal in the first place. The real difference has come with it lifting my profile and follow on orders plus the page reads have more than doubled per day. So hopefully the momentum keeps up. I also put it up on a few other sites for a couple of days at the same time — Fussy Librarian etc, which I think helped. My friend, Barbara had one the week before and spent more on extra promo. Same Bookbub deal as me. She just recovered her cost but the follow-on has improved. Another friend had the US market as well and doubled her money.
It was worth it though. And the extra reviews and ratings are starting to come through also.”
Reviews are a key signal used in the ranking of online books. The more reviews, the higher the book ranks and the more books are sold. Of course, given this logic, reviews have been widely gamed by authors and publishers, to the point when they are sometimes not reliable guides as to a book’s quality and popularity. Authors round up their friends to review their books, or pay other services to generate reviews, or review other authors’ books in the hope of reciprocal reviews. Amazon has been fighting back against this degradation of the reviewing signal — the outlines of said epic struggle are described here, along with the latest strategies for independent authors.
Troy Simpson’s Funny Dictionary (National Library of Australia publishing) catalogues numerous amusing mis-definitions perpetrated by students. One of his fans painted the illustration above — Troy holding the book cover (WorkingType Design).
See here for an account of the amusing speech given at the launch of Troy’s book.
James Pratt has written a cracking thriller novel set in the near future. A resurgent Russia invades an unprotected Europe, with only a small group of special services veterans standing in their way. If they are able to bring an extraordinary secret weapon to bear, they may be able to save Western civilisation. Our cover incorporates some of the elements of the story and uses dramatic colours and high contrast to attract reader attention. Typefaces used include National and Franchise. Published by Silverbird Publishing.
Wayne Pappin has written a heartfelt tale about a small Australian town, focusing on two young men and their travails. He wanted an image of the bridge that features at the heart of the story, which we combined with the two swimmers. The title typeface is Northwell and the subtitle Charcuterie Flared.
Alongside the continuing rise of audiobooks, podcasts have also experienced dramatic growth in recent years. Some podcasts have achieved million plus audiences, which has drawn the attention of advertisers and now Spotify, the giant of music streaming. The podcast space has tended to have a scrappy, DIY feel, but that may start to recede into history. Authors interested in audio books might want to also consider the possibilities of podcasting — there have been several successful attempts to create serialised podcast dramas, an interesting echo of the long-vanished era of full cast radio dramas.
Kritsa is a small and very picturesque village just inland from the northern coast of Crete. Yvonne Payne has written dramatic historical fiction based on Greece’s fight for independence, and now a guide to Kritsa and the surrounding landscape. She wanted a cover in keeping with the earlier covers we designed for her, but showing the broader context of the town and also the smaller details of the streets. Typefaces used include Yana and Nexa.
Book discovery and author resources service Reedsy runs the big print on demand providers (IngramSpark. Bookbaby, KDP print, Blurb and D2D Print) head to head. They have many interesting points to make (read it all) but in the end boil it down to the following formulationL
Upload to Amazon KDP for listing on Amazon, and opt out of extended distribution. Then upload also to IngramSpark for all other platforms and bookstore discoverability and orders.
This essentially mirrors the advice given by several prominent independent authors. An additional point not covered in the article is that non-American authors printing with KDP have to consider the issue of printing offshore and huge postal costs. For Australian authors, using the IngramSpark platform with local printing can make a lot of sense, with volume discounts for print runs and refund of the title setup fee if more than 50 copies are ordered.
Selling books on Amazon and other online platforms is disorienting to writers who grew up with actual bookstores and readers browsing shelves of books. Online booksales revolve around search, algorithms and keywording, an alien world for many. Yet it is a world of great potential for independent writers who take the time to understand it, and with a vastly greater potential reach, not to mention margins unimaginable to traditionally published authors, who have to wait while bookstores, distributors, publishers and agents subtract their considerable take. Jericho writers has some suggestions regarding both blurbs and keywording that are well worth watching.
None of this guarantees online success of course — persistence, quality, a backlist and luck all play a significant part. But getting the basics right with your online publishing presence at least gives an author the opportunity to succeed, and often at minimal cost.
Not content with dominating the world of ebook promotion, Bookbub is dipping its toes into the booming world of audiobooks by joining forces with Findaway Voices. They are up against ACX, Amazon’s successful audio production arm. Audiobooks are much more expensive to produce than ebooks, so there is a barrier to entry akin to the old traditional publishing world. Until someone trains an AI to narrate stories effectively, that is…
While the big bookselling chains may have gone the way of the dinosaurs (though department store book sections are expanding somewhat), the indie stores live on. However efficient an algorithm, it can never compete with the experience and warmth of a hand-curated bookstore. Victoria has quite a number of excellent little bookstores scattered across the state. As there is a particular kind of joy in finding a lovely bookstore, we thought we would run a series of posts, each highlighting an exceptional indie.
The first of these is our local. The Eltham Bookshop. Located at 970 Main Road, Eltham, it is a genuine book-cave, fitting an amazing amount of literary content into a relatively small space. Meera and Navin Govil run a active program of book launches, promotions and book-related events throughout the year, meaning the bookstore is very integrated into the local community. Meera has been trading for twenty years and has a loyal customer base. She supports local authors and small publishing houses. Definitely worth a trip — Eltham would be much diminished without it.
Next: Bookwolf in Maldon.
Authors will happily spend months or even years writing their book, carrying out immense amounts of research, rewriting, proofreading and structuring. But when it comes to thinking about one or two hundred words on the back of their book, their collective minds go blank. A feeling of panic descends. The author knows instinctively that there is something different about a blurb. How can they possibly encapsulate their work in such a tiny container? The typical response is to write a synopsis, giving away practically every plot point in the book. The best blurbs are an artful compromise between disclosure and withholding, suggestion and explanation. The blurb is a key marketing tool, both in actual bookstores and online, and it merits quite a bit of time and thought. Here are three perspectives on writing a great blurb, packed with plenty of useful advice and practical suggestions.
An interesting piece explaining how some of the world’s biggest publishers have learned to live with and profit from their Amazon presence. The ongoing decline in real world bookstores (especially in the US) has made that more of an existential necessity than an optional extra. Remember when the Internet was going to bring diversity and choice? It certainly hasn’t worked out that way in browsers, search, social, ecommerce or just about any other field. Without some kind of regulatory restriction, it seems the natural evolution of any online business sector is towards aggregation and domination by one player.
Janet Doyle’s fascinating book was launched at The Book Wolf, a charming bookshop in Maldon which also hosts discussion groups and music events. Guests enjoyed readings from the book, performed by John Curtis, Mike Smythe, and Janet herself. Musician John Curtis performed two pieces of music written especially to evoke the mystical town of Ldjakhion in which the novel is set. The audience asked many questions of Janet, and were particularly interested in aspects of the background research and the choice of names for the various characters. Signed copies of the book were sold on the night. We will post a sales link to the book shortly.
Many authors have never heard of Bookbub. The service is essentially a regular email offering selected discounted ebooks to a massive subscriber list. Most of the titles promoted therein are from major publishers, but a significant fraction are from independent authors and small publishers. Publishers and authors pay over $600 per title just to be considered for inclusion in their featured deals. They are extremely powerful in the world of ebook sales and massively profitable.
Peter Ralph has done a stellar job analysing the performance of bookbub and advising authors how to get one of the sought after featured deals. Other bloggers have useful posts about setting up effective ads for Bookbub, Others point out that while the sales spike created by bookbub is real and substantial, it can be rather short lived. This author suggests that the real benefit of being featured on bookbub is exposing the rest of your published work to a new audience.
In a world where bookstores, though gamely hanging on, represent a decreasing fraction of overall print sales (not to mention ebooks and audibooks), authors have to come to terms with the necessary techniques for online sales success, and letting the market know they even exist.
Many of Google’s web services are extremely successful and useful (gmail, search, keep, etc) but many are in decline or have been shuttered permanently. This website keeps track of the current status and outlook for all of the major google services, including those who have long ago ascended to digital heaven.
Dianne Wadsworth runs a proofreading service for a variety of clients. We have referred authors onto her, and received very good feedback. Visit her recently revamped site to obtain a quote for your writing project. Needless to say, proofreading is a crucial stage in preparing your book for print.