Tag Archives: createspace

Paperback version of Ships of the Fleet now available

I’m pleased to say that Ships of the Fleet Vol 1 is now available in paperback thought Createspace as well as Amazon.UK and Amazon.com

Ships of the Fleet coverAs I said in my last post, I really wasn’t sure how well the print on demand system would cope with images, but they have printed out quite nicely and now I have the finished product in hand,  I think paper is the superior product for this kind of material. Sure you can’t zoom in* like you can with a tablet but what you do is establish a fixed page layout. Obviously I have SotF on my own kindle and tablet and it is rather obvious that the spacing is rather thrown out by images as the machine will leave large blanks if it can’t fit the entire image on the screen.  There isn’t really anything that can be done about it because different people will use different text sizes or screen orientation – I’ve noticed the e-book versions of the Osprey military history books suffer the same problem. Which I think shows why paper books are going to be around for a while yet. There is always likely to room for a premium version of practically anything.

In related news work is well underway for Ships of the Fleet Volume 2. This one will cover the cruisers of the Contact War through to the early post war period. So for readers of the Nameless War that means Hood and the rest of the Geriatrics squadron through to Mississippi. So far I have the first two models done, with the write up for one of them, which leaves another four models to do.

Until next times regards.

 

*except as Red Dwarf would put it by moving your head closer 🙂

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Filed under science fiction, Self Publishing, Ship design, Ships of the Fleet

Self Publishing Question – Are the other platforms worth the bother?

At this point in time Amazon’s system is the dominate one in the world of self publishing. However it isn’t the only show in town. The question I would like to offer a few words on is whether it is the only one worth bothering with.

To date I have published ebooks via Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo and paperback via Createspace; the links for them can be found at the end of this post. Now this post is probably pretty worthless without some numbers. So as of end of 19th May 2013 I have sold – and I would like to put emphasis I mean sold, not given away – over Thirteen thousand units for the Amazon Kindle, twelve via smashwords, thirty five for Kobo and about forty for Createspace (a few went to friends and family so lets call it thirty). Now I would point out that my launches have always been a bit ragged and I have yet to put my second book or novella up on smashwords so it is far from a perfect like for like comparison but based on those numbers the Amazon system wins hands down so obviously it isn’t worth putting your work anywhere other than Amazon. Right?

I don’t think so. Now there are those – especially in traditional publishing – who view Amazon as the Devil incarnate. I don’t subscribe to that view either. I think that a couple of different factors have to be considered.

1) It isn’t a great idea to hitch your wagon solely to one system. Amazon may be dominant today but what about tomorrow or next week or ten years from now? Like I said in my last post we have to think long term as well as short.

2) Like I said not the Devil incarnate but Amazon is a big rich company that barely knows I exist. It will do what suits it, not what suits me, however for as long as other systems are out there, Amazon knows that the self publishers owe it no loyalty and can abandon it just as quickly as they arrived.

3) Until your work goes up on a platform it is impossible to know how well it will sell. Obviously if it is not there it won’t sell at all.

4) Exposure. What kind of person can I guarantee will never buy my books? The one who has never heard of them. When one of my books appears one a person’s  screen I stand a chance of making a sale. The more places my books can be found, better the chance of a possible reader/customer coming across it. Think of it as a minefield, the better the density the more likely someone is to step on one (for the record my writing will not remove your leg)

Now the flip side of this is time and labour.  With the exception of actually writing the book, setting up the file is the most time consuming part of the whole process. It is also one of those unromantic parts of self publishing that I doubt anyone enjoys. Obviously based on my numbers none of the others have paid for the time spent on setting them up however given time they might. Obviously there is an element of trade off to this. Publishing via a route that has too small a chance of yielding a financial reward is not a good use of my time.  Still this is all part of the judgement a self publisher has to make. We are currently in the first generation of e-publishing. One of the problems I foresee is updating. As new ereaders – or their conceptual successors – come on stream file formats will change and odds are, to keep our work available, we’ll have to be ready to change with it.

I will admit that this post has more than a whiff of Do-as-I-say rather than Do-as-I-do since Amazon is at the moment the only place where everything I have is available but it is a reflection on the difficulty of multiple platforms.

The Nameless War, available on Kindle, Smashwords, Kobo and paperback.

The Landfall Campaign, available on Kindle, Kobo and paperback.

The Job Offer, currently only available on Kindle.

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Filed under Random Rants, Self Publishing, Traditional Publishing, Writing

Createspace Print on Demand – Pitfalls and Pratfalls PART II

A long break between postings and for that I apologize, I’ve been waiting for the proof copy of book two to turn up.

We left off at the final major hurdle – the cover art. While I’m not much an artist, I do have some talent so I already had an idea of what I wanted (basically a variant of the Kindle image file) and was hoping that a template type arrangement would allow me to drop the various components. No such luck. Oh such there is a template arrangement, but the results were going to be so blatantly amateur I never seriously considered them. There is the option to do it yourself and Createspace does provide a downloadable file to offer a guide on size for you see the cover has to be created as a single piece. Meaning front, back, spine and wriggle room all around the edges. Createspace does provide a file to help with this but due to the software I have access, to I couldn’t use this and had to instead had to measure very carefully. Once I had the file I then had to convert the file into a PDF, one that was both high resolution and relatively low file size and that was tricky. In fact so tricky I had to come up with a trick to do it. Basically Adobe have a facility to change image and information files in PDF’s, this is done for a fee. They also offer a free sample. I used the sample to turn my JPEG cover into a PDF that was the same megabit count as the original file.  So happy days.

Finally you send your draft files to be checked by Createspace. I hasten to add this does not mean they are looking for grammar errors or editing issues, this purely to see if the file will actually print. As long as you were careful and didn’t ignore any error messages, this shouldn’t be a problem. Certainly both of mine went through without any problems. You are offered at this point the chance to purchase a proof copy or you can just proof it online. Personally I think unless you are a publishing professional it is an act of insanity Not to get a paper proof. Sure it’s annoying to have to wait for it to turn up in the post but better to find out at this stage if something has gone wrong and you can bet your bottom dollar, that as soon as you have a paper copy in your grubby little fist you’ll find at least one typo that has slipped through. If alterations are made, then the file has to go through the proof process again.

Finally we come to the sordid topic of money. Namely how much am I going to ask for my work and where am I going to sell? Since I have a background in accountancy I take an unsentimental view of selling price. Yes, to me my work is priceless but to anyone else, it is worth what the market is prepared to pay for it, maybe less but never more (I’ve come across people who witter on about devaluing literature and generally I find myself struggle to control the urge to beat them round the head with an economic text book). So since I am an unknown self published author my pricing policy can be loosely summed up by the phrase ‘as little as possible’. The basic Createspace package means selling through their own site plus Amazon and affiliates. This is free. But there is also the option to go for what they call expanded distribution which gives for the princely sum of $25 the opportunity to sell through other sites like B&N. Well more exposure can’t be a bad thing? Unfortunately yes it can. Effectively it forces up the price of the book (in the US and those areas covered by Amazon.com). Given that POD already means higher per unit costs cost than traditional printing, anything pushing the unit cost higher still is unwelcome, so in short the expanded distribution means paying to make the book less competitive. It also puts a crimp on me making any changes to the file (such as another cover)  So for book two I won’t be making use of this.

There is also an option to make the work available to for Kindle. Personally I prefer to go directly through the Amazon system, which I am familiar with but does oblige me to contact Amazon to link the paperback and kindle additions together.

So there we have my guide to the Createspace experience. If anyone has any questions I will answer to the best of my abilities. In the mean time I will be taking a month off from writing to pursue other interests – or possibly huddle in a darkened room whimpering.

Book Two: The Landfall Campaign will be released in early October.

Cover of The Landfall Campaign

Cover of The Landfall Campaign

My next blog will be returning to Ships of the Fleet – The River Class Cruisers, until then regards.

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Createspace Print on Demand – Pitfalls and Pratfalls PART I

No blogging of late mostly due to the fact that for much of the past two weeks I’ve been hard at work trying to get book two set up for its paperback release. This is the second time I’ve fought my way through the Print on Demand (POD) process and I thought I would offer some observations.

Before I start I will put in a couple of qualifiers.
1) I’m about as computer literate as a concussed Neanderthal
2) This isn’t a comparison of different POD companies, just my experience of Createspace.

Now for my actual writing I use the word processor in a venerable version of WORKS (hey! you at the back stop laughing) but when it come to actually preparing the file for the POD I use Word from Office 2010 – a program I don’t like very much but that’s a rant for another day. Anyway first order of business is select book size. Createspace offers quite a variety of sizes and clearly states which ones are trade standard. It also provides a handy Word template which gives a basic layout of title page, index, dedications, chapters, etc, etc. The template also inclines alternate pages left and right to allow room for the spine of the book. The end result all looked good and had been achieved with every little fuss. Feeling confident I at this point naturally ran head on into problems.

In theory the Createspace site can accept Word in practice not quite. I started getting error messages about Fonts that hadn’t embedded and might not print correctly. Unfortunately it doesn’t provide any help as to where these fonts might be in oh… four hundred pages of text. I thought that it might be easier if I provided the file in PDF format and after a long struggle this I managed to do (turned out the version of Word I was using could save in PDF [if you are wonder how I didn’t know that I refer you back to point One of the qualifiers]) In this format the review section was slightly more helpful. There were several words with ascents and these were changed, yet I was still getting the error message about fonts (Myriad Pro to be exact) that wouldn’t embed and I still wasn’t getting any guidance as to where this font was located and Createspace’s support were about as much use as a chocolate kettle. After much cursing and swearing I found it, in the Header and Footer (Author and book name and the page count) . This wasn’t data I copied and pasted in, I typed in those details.

So, to summarize, I used the Createspace template. That Template had formatting that caused problem for their own systems. Now it is worth noting that at also every stage of the process Createspace offers to do it for you – for a fee. While I’m not making accusations because a) I don’t have any proof and more importantly b) one should not subscribe to conspiracy that which can be achieved by incompetence. Still it is wildly irritating to be supplied with a template with problems built in. Book Two I’ve largely avoid these problem by copying the data over a version of the book one file. With the file now complete the next stage was cover design, which will be in my next blog. Until then…

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