Page 1

BY AUTHORS, FOR AUTHORS

Melda Beaty

Fiction with a Social Conscience PREMIERE ISSUE! Issue 01, Vol. 01, Winter 2014 $6.00 US / Canada

PLUS

9

THE TOP PLATFORMS FOR EZINE PUBLISHING

MILESTONES IN EPUBLISHING: FROM 1969 TO NOW

Sam Manicom’s Motorcycle Adventures: Captured in Ebook and Audiobook

Sinking Piracy. But is DRM Your Best Option? visit the companion site :

epublishyourself.com


BY AUTHORS, FOR AUTHORS

ISSUE Number One EDITORIAL editor | Publisher

Lee Purcell | lee@epublishyourself.com Contributing editor

John Jerney | john@epublishyourself.com Art director

Jacquie Bell | jacquie@belldesigninc.com

ADVERTISING Advertisement sales

John Jerney | john@epublishyourself.com Telephone: 408-338-8324 (mobile)

Published by: ePublish Yourself! 21701 Stevens Creek Blvd. #370 Cupertino, CA 95015-0370 Call: 408-641-EPUB (408-641-3782)

SUBSCRIPTIONS AND FEEDBACK www.epublishyourself.com | info@epublishyourself.com This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/ by/4.0/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 444 Castro Street, Suite 900, Mountain View, California, 94041, USA.


Image courtesy of the The Library of Congress


From the Editor Welcome to the maiden voyage of ePublish Yourself ! We’re glad you found us and we’re hoping that this issue will begin a journey that will lead to your bringing creative works to the world. The interest in epublishing—centered around self-publishing ebooks and ezines— builds on a long and storied tradition of self-publishing in print, but in an entirely new realm: the digital world. On the surface, this might seem like a small difference, perhaps it’s even a predictable evolution. In reality, however, we’re convinced that it’s much closer to a revolution (some in the industry might even call it a revolt or rebellion). Sparked by a host of technological and social advances that coalesced in the early 21st century, including the ever-expanding reach of the Internet, epublishing has inspired a renaissance in the book world and unleashed a flurry of creativity, experimentation, and inquiry. We’re still not sure where this juggernaut will take us, but it’s clear that the changes are shaking the foundations of traditional publishing. In each issue of this magazine, we’ll highlight the most important epublishing news and developments, and comment on the implications to indie authors and publishers. We’ll provide the tips and techniques to help you create brilliant-looking ebooks, and explain the processes for getting those books into the leading ebook stores. And— most importantly—we’ll share the hard-won knowledge and wisdom of other indie authors who have forged a path and achieved a measure of success. Unlike independent moviemaking, you don’t need thousands of dollars of equipment, actors, technicians, grips, and a set to operate. Unlike independent music production, you don’t have to spend years mastering an instrument and learning the intricacies of digital recording and sound editing. In fact, if you have a word processor and a basic, Internet-connected computer, you already have all the tools you need to create a successful work. Realistically, of course, you’ll also need a good idea, some talent, and some inspiration and support. We can’t promise that we can help with the first two, but we hope that by offering a lot of inspiration and tons of support (both through the magazine and on our website), you’ll be able to maximize your creativity and talent to produce exceptional creative works and find an audience for your efforts through an online venue. Thanks for joining us on this great adventure. Let us know about your successes, along with the lessons you’ve learned along the way. We hope to hear from you.

Lee Purcell | Editor-in-Chief

Winter 2014

ePublish Yourself!

5


Features News

DISCOVER

LEARN

10

12

17

News Shorts Capsule news items from around the industry highlight the important developments that are shaping the landscape of ePublishing. In the news: Apple and Amazon work on techniques for selling used ebooks, Kobo tantalizes readers with a puzzle approach to a book debut, and Barnes & Noble launches NOOK Press.

Sam Manicom’s Motorcycle Adventures: Captured in Ebook and Audiobook Sam Manicom has built a thriving, loyal readership around a very focused genre: motorcycle travel books. Sam shares his experiences and adventures—from the cultural insights gained travelling around the world by motorcycle to the lessons learned in creating and promoting his first ebook and audiobook.

Publish Your Digital Magazine

The rules of the game are changing at lightning speed, causing traditional magazine publishers to scramble and rethink their approach. Not surprisingly, this opens many opportunities for enterprising independents. Here are 9 top platforms to consider for launching a digital magazine.

”I decided to go on my own bec ause, though major publishing houses said that they liked my book, they were right; I’m not a media per son ality. I was just a bloke who’d been lucky enough to live a magical advent ure.” - Sam Manicom

6

ePublish Yourself!

Winter 2014


MEET

MARKET

CREATE

27

Fiction with a Social Conscience: An Interview with Melda Beaty

32

Milestones in ePublishing: From 1969 to Now

38

As an author, playwright, college English assistant professor, and educational consultant, Melda Beaty’s work embraces social consciousness as a key theme. In this interview, she shares her insights into building a career as a self-published author, marketing strategy, and interacting with readers.

From the time the first glimmerings of the Internet began taking shape, ePublishing has advanced in fits and starts, each new technology and capability moving us further along a path where words can traverse geographical boundaries in a flash and independent authors can reach worldwide audiences. .

Although many authors feel DRM is the best way to protect their works from theft, in practice DRM often creates more problems than it solves. This perspective explores the pros and cons of applying DRM to literary works and suggests an approach that makes sense for authors weighing the various options.

Sinking Piracy. But is DRM Your Best Option?

book n people read my he w es m co s es t it down.” “For me, succ at they couldn’t pu th y sa to te ri w and they - Melda Beaty The question facing indie-authors and publishers is this: sh ould you, or should you not, add DRM to your ebooks?

Winter 2014

ePublish Yourself!

7


Departments FROM THE EDITOR

5

Intelligence

9

TUTORIAL Kindle Direct Publishing Quickstart Authors ready to get started with indie epublishing typically have a tough time grasping the big picture. There is a ton of information available, but sorting it and filtering can be a challenge. In this quickstart, we chart the simplest course possible for getting your book off the computer and on to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing platform.

34

8

ePublish Yourself!

Winter 2014

“The sole purpose of this tool is to make your book available for sale an d free you from the bureau cracy of registering your busin ess to issue invoices, sales receipts, and the like. You ‘pay ’ for it as your book sells, giving Amazon a commission on the cover price, which you set yourself. The rest is all up to yo u.” - Maurem Kayna, Brazilian author, ewordnews.com


Intelligence YY Average number of copies sold per day to become an Amazon best seller: 315 (according to Publisher’s Weekly) YY Number of ebooks sold at Amazon in 2012 for every 100 print books sold: 114 (The Guardian) YY Year that The New York Times began ranking ebook best sellers: 2011 (The New York Times) YY Number of independent bookstores that went out of business between 2000 and 2007: 1,000 YY Number of independent bookstores in 2009: 1,651 YY Number of independent bookstores in 2012: 1,900 (The Christian Science Monitor) YY Average price of an ebook best seller in August 2012: $9.33 YY Average price of an ebook best seller in August 2013: $7.22 (Digital Book World) YY Projected yearly cost savings per K-12 student in the US if transition to digital textbooks is implemented: $250 YY Projected total annual savings in the US for moving to digital textbooks:

$12.2 billion (Electronista)

sing

fu simply con e r a t in r p “Lovers of r the food.” fo te la p e th Adams - Douglas

“Stati st for ju ics are no dgme subsi tute nt.” - Hen ry Cla y

“There is no future fo r ebooks, because th ey are not books. Ebooks smell like bu rned fuel.” - Ray Bradbury

Winter 2014

ePublish Yourself!

9


News Shorts Apple, Amazon Look to Sell Used Ebooks

Amazon Brings Kindle Store to China

Press adds new tools to write, edit, and publish your ebooks to the NOOK Bookstore.

Apple and Amazon have both filed patents that establish techniques for selling “used” digital products, including ebooks. There are similarities between the two approaches; for example, both systems use embedded DRM to remove user access to ebooks that have been resold. However, Apple’s patent is unique in that it lets sales take place directly between users. In addition, Apple offers provisions that direct a percentage of the sale price back to the publisher. Amazon’s patent appears broader, dealing with secondary rights on a range of digital materials.

To considerable fanfare, Amazon opened its Kindle store in China this past December. After initially restricting readers to use one of the free Kindle apps for Apple or Android devices to read purchased books, the Amazon.cn website announced in early June 2013 the availability of the Kindle Paperwhite ereader and Kindle Fire HD tablet to Chinese customers.

One particularly interesting new feature: NOOK Press lets you upload a manuscript once and then perform edits to the contents before creating an EPUB file. Before publishing, you can also invite friends and associates to collaborate by reading and commenting on the work directly through the web interface.

Questions and unresolved issues remain, however. For instance, what is the real difference between a used and new copy? And, if the price of a used copy is lower, why would anyone choose to buy new? There is also a question of legality. A federal judge recently ruled against Massachusetts start-up ReDigi claiming that it was effectively impossible to transfer ownership of digital music, as specified in the lawsuit, without copying. Overseas, a German court has also ruled that resale of digital books, interestingly, requires the consent of the author or publisher. On a positive note, allowing ebooks to be resold adds value to digital content, increasing its appeal and encouraging adoption, as well as reinforcing the notion that ebooks, like print books, have value after purchase.

10

ePublish Yourself!

While China offers access to the largest population of Internet users in the world, Amazon faces two significant challenges: fierce competition and consumers that, by some accounts, appear hesitant to pay for digital content. In terms of competition, companies such as Shanda and Dangdang reportedly have deeper connections with local publishers, an area in which analysts say that Amazon lags. Perhaps more troubling however are apparent consumer attitudes towards the purchase of digital goods. Recent surveys have found that as few as 12 percent of respondents were willing to pay for ebooks, while 49 percent noted that they never would. Still, the popularity of ebooks in China makes it hard to overlook the market—sales continue to experience double-digit growth with estimates of over 200 million regular readers of digital literature.

Barnes and Noble Launches NOOK Press NOOK Media LLC, a subsidiary of Barnes & Noble, Inc., formally launched NOOK Press, a simple and easy-to-use self-publishing platform that replaces Barnes & Noble’s earlier offering PubIt!. Leveraging technology from FastPencil, NOOK

Winter 2014

Two other features should prove helpful to first-time publishers. First, NOOK Press offers a “Quick Start” option that allows authors to create and preview their manuscript before committing to becoming a vendor. Additionally, live chat support is available during weekday hours to help anyone who has gotten stuck. NOOK Press authors can price their titles between USD 0.99 and USD 199.99 for readers in the US and UK, with books between USD 2.99 and 9.99 earning 65 percent royalties (with no file download charges).

Kobo Debuts Inferno with Puzzle Canadian ebook seller Kobo took a novel approach to help promote Dan Brown’s new book Inferno by launching a three-week mystery contest that offered the winner USD 5,000 and a Kobo Glo ereader signed by the author. The contest, called The Descent, had readers locate clues and solve puzzles embedded in three original short stories crafted by UK-based self-published author J. F. Penn. The stories, available as free ebook downloads on the Kobo website, had readers “channel their inner Robert Langdon,” Dan Brown’s fictional


Harvard University professor of religious iconology and symbology, to solve the challenge.

the critical role that libraries play in bringing authors and readers together in the digital age.”

For Penn, an Oxford-educated theologist, author, and book marketing expert, writing the contest stories presented the opportunity to explore the three sins of temptation, violence, and treachery, seemingly natural subjects for Penn, who is also author of the ARKANE mystery thriller series.

Ebook Sales Strong

Hachette Groks Libraries Big Six publisher Hachette has made its entire catalog of 5,000 ebooks available to US public and school libraries, a step that could foreshadow a broader move by other publishers to work more closely with libraries to harmonize the handling of print and ebook editions. Hachette further plans to make new ebooks available to libraries as soon as they go on sale. Pricing, however, remains an issue, especially for cash-strapped communities. Hachette will charge libraries three times the price of the highest-priced edition in print, reducing the markup to 1.5 times the price of the print book after one year. On the positive side, library patrons will be able to check out a title an unlimited number of times (though only one patron at a time). This is in sharp contrast to HarperCollins, which forces libraries to purchase a new copy of an ebook after it has been borrowed 26 times. American Library Association President Maureen Sullivan welcomed the news, saying, “This step moves libraries closer to ensuring that patrons will be able to enjoy the same access to e-books as they have to print books. It also recognizes

BookStats, a collaboration between the Book Industry Study Group and the Association of American Publishers, released figures indicating that the growth of ebook sales remained strong through 2012, rising 44 percent to USD 3.04 billion, and accounting for about 20 percent of revenue for the year. Adult fiction was an important participant in the growth, increasing 41.8 percent compared to 2011. Children’s and young adult books saw an amazing 117 percent improvement from the year earlier. Print sales, in contrast, remained essentially flat for the same period.

Documentary Explores Our Digital Future “Certainly the book has probably changed us more than any other tool,” Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos noted. But has the printed book (and longform reading in general) become a thing of the past? And if so, how does that change us as individuals and as a society? These are some of the questions posed by director Vivienne Roumani in the new documentary Out of Print, and the responses she gets from authors, historians, librarians, booksellers, and cognitive researchers, are enlightening. Narrated by Meryl Streep with appearances by a range of key figures including Ray Bradbury, Scott Turow (author and President of the Authors Guild), Jeffrey Toobin, as well as the

Winter 2014

aforementioned Jeff Bezos, Out of Print challenges viewers to carefully consider the cost of new technology as we embrace the value and convenience of our new digital life (including the transition from print to ebooks). Out of Print debuted earlier this year at the Tribeca Film Festival and is currently on the film festival circuit.

Amazon Acquires GoodReads Amazon, the Seattle-based bookseller and e-retailer, acquired Goodreads (and the data associated with its 16 million members) earlier this year for an undisclosed amount. At the time of the acquisition, Goodreads was the world’s largest independent book recommendation site with more than 530 million books on member shelves and more than 23 million member reviews. Goodreads CEO Otis Chandler shared the news with members by posting, “Today I’m really happy to announce a new milestone for Goodreads: We are joining the Amazon family.” Member reaction, judging by comments to the announcement, was mixed, with some buoyed by the chance for greater integration with their favorite bookseller. Others appeared more guarded, worried that Goodreads might simply become a data-mining machine for the world’s dominant online book retailer. The acquisition follows Amazon’s earlier purchase of Shelfari, another social book site. Interestingly, Apple had also reportedly expressed interest in Goodreads, attracted too by the site’s social networking focus.

ePublish Yourself!

11


Sam Manicom’s Motorcycle Adventures Captured in ebook and audiobook

Lee Purcell

F

our books and several hundred thousand miles later, Sam Manicom has established himself in a uniquely adventure-filled realm: motorcycle travel writing. Traversing roads that span several continents, venturing into regions where he was not always welcome, and encountering the best and worst in human nature, Manicom combines a relaxed writing style and an observant eye with a natural flair for storytelling. Along the way, Manicom has steadily built a strong readership and a stable career around what he loves to do the most: travelling down unexplored roadways on his BMW motorcycle. ePublish Yourself: How have your experiences changed your ideas and notions of travel and adventure? Sam Manicom: I’ve been travelling in one way or another for most of my life, so the way I feel about adventure has grown slowly over the years. I now think that everyone creates their own journey, and everything is subject to chance. I also think that a person makes their own journey a success or not. In the end, a lot of what makes a great trip comes down to having a positive attitude and an open mind—a curiosity and a willingness to delve into the unknown. Enjoying people is also a massive advantage because they can give a journey a layer of quality that can’t be obtained in any other way. It’s too easy to skim across the surface of a country, but spending real time with local people prevents that from happening. The other important thing is the fullon awareness that when something goes wrong, that’s not a bad thing

12

ePublish Yourself!

“The best adventures often happen on a road you hadn’t planned to be traveling. . . ”

Winter 2014


unless you let it be. Actually it is the beginning of a new adventure, and adventure is a large part of why we are out there, isn’t it. EY: Do you feel that writing about your adventures has helped to sharpen that perspective? SM: I haven’t really thought about it, but, yes, I suppose it has. I’ve always written a journal, and I carry that with me virtually all the time. When you are on the road, you are on intake overload and it’s so easy to forget events and, in particular, details. A journal helps you to retain those things. But the key for me is the fact that while writing your journal, you are reviewing the day, thinking about and questioning the things you have seen. And that’s valuable. It’s too easy to always be concentrating on what happens next. And anyway, to a writer, all of those insights are the meat on the bones of the main story. EY: What should new writers with a book project in mind do to get started? SM: A new author is setting out into a new country. The publishing world has its own borders, customs, history, traditions, language, hierarchy, and so on. It’s quite fascinating. An author needs to treat this as if travelling into the unknown. All senses have to be awake and working hard. It’s a very exciting time.

good enough to feed the hunger of that market. However, there are several disadvantages to trying to find a publisher, as I see it. Approaching a publisher takes a huge amount of time. That’s a problem if your book is time sensitive. Plus, you lose editorial control. Then, in the end, authors get a very small percentage of the cover price which, of course, is at the publishing house’s discretion. It’s very hard. And many publishing houses don’t even send out refusal letters anymore. I was always perversely delighted when I got one! Ebooks offer another option, with certain advantages. Many people today simply don’t want their books taking up space (as hard copies do). Instead, they want the convenience and portability that ebooks offer. They also want to be able to instantly download a book and avoid a trip to the shops (not knowing if a particular book will be in stock, for instance). And then there are situations where a publishing house has seen the sales of an ebook and has taken the book on to publish in print. Ebooks are therefore a great way to get yourself noticed, beyond the traditional ways of finding

an audience. The whole concept of ebooks is very exciting and, I think, a huge opportunity. EY: Do you think it’s worthwhile to consider staying independent and establishing a direct, long-term authorto-reader relationship? SM: Perhaps I’m biased. I spent two years trying to get my first book accepted by a publisher. The sort of response I was getting was, “We like your book but you aren’t a media personality so it won’t sell.” This was before Long Way Round, Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman’s London to New York motorcycle documentary television series. The world of publishing and travel has changed dramatically over the past seven years. Ebooks were but a gleam in someone’s eye; perhaps not even that! I decided to go on my own because, though major publishing houses said that they liked my book, they were right; I’m not a media personality. I was just a bloke who’d been lucky enough to live a magical adventure. But then I thought, if they really did like my book, perhaps it was worth having a go. So I learned how to self-

On one hand, there are huge kudos attached to being published by a publishing house. And there’s no doubt that all the skills of their staff, including editing, design, printing, promotion, and more, are a terrific advantage. So is the fact that retailers pay far more attention to a book when it comes from a big publishing house. Of course, there are all sorts of games involved too. For example, one of the keys is being able to prove who your target market is, and to show publishers that your book is

Winter 2014

ePublish Yourself!

13


publish and off we went. I only printed a few hundred copies of my first book Into Africa, but was stunned at how fast they sold. Long-term relationships, however, are slow to build, and budding authors should realize that unless they are very lucky, or have access to really good publicity, they probably won’t do better than cover their costs with their first book. Having said that, it’s all a bit like facing a dirt track and wondering if you are good enough to ride it. Well, if you don’t try, you’ll never know. The one key point is that whatever you do, it has to be as good as (if not better than) what professional publishing houses do. It’s very easy to be a failed amateur. EY: What’s your best advice about promoting a book in the age of social media? SM: You have to have a good website. It needs to be fast, easy to use, uncomplicated, with useful information and you can’t let it sleep. You need new stuff happening on it all the time.

You also need to be on Facebook and Twitter. I was dragged almost screaming to those forums, but I now know the tremendous value of them. There are side advantages too; you get to know some of your readers a bit, you meet up with people you’d lost contact with, and so on. The best advice though? Constantly look for ways to pop the title of your book above the crowd. This, for me, is the hardest thing I do. Self–promotion is a very alien thing. It doesn’t fit with who I am, but you have to do it. EY: Any tried and true techniques for getting noticed above the noise and confusion? SM: Be yourself, and find things that people will be interested in. Don’t be a bore; do interesting things. Treat people for who they are—usually people are really good, with each having his or her own tale to tell. As with being on the road, if you’re interested in people, then they are more likely to be interested in what you’re up to. EY: Do you think book tours and reading groups (face-to-face encounters) are still valuable?

SM: Yes, without a doubt—especially if you aren’t very well known. They let people find out who you are. Your enthusiasm bubbles and people like that. We all like positive, enthusiastic people, don’t we? Face to face is key! It’s also the chance for people to offer feedback to you. In this electronic era, being faceless or “manufactured” is too easy. EY: How did the idea for doing an audiobook version of Into Africa come about? SM: I was approached by several people with dyslexia, and I met a couple of blind people, all of whom wanted to enjoy the adventures of the road. They’d heard that my books were good so. . . I researched motorcycle adventure travel books and found that there were just four. Now that had to be either because people had tried and given up, or because the market had changed here too and no one had jumped in. Fortunately, I’m not averse to being early in a game. At that point, it was simply a case of figuring out how much it was going to cost, determining whether a studio

“I was very lucky to find Kite Studios in Cambridge. They were brilliant to work with.”

14

ePublish Yourself!

Winter 2014


The Ted Simon Foundation Sam Manicom assists the Ted Simon Foundation, an organization dedicated to helping promote understanding and encouraging the chances of peace between cultures “through support of adventure travellers and their efforts to broadcast truth throughout the world.” In Manicom’s words, the Ted Simon Foundation was set up to help aspiring travel writers “get it right.” “I know how hard it is for new travel writers to break in,” explains Manicom. “It’s taken me a very long time to learn what’s involved, and the Ted Simon Foundation is my opportunity to share knowledge and to encourage authors. As Mark Twain said, ‘travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.’ The world, therefore, needs more good travel books!” For more information about the Foundation, visit jupiterstravellers.org. would take the project and treat it seriously, and then finding out how to get it published. Another new country to ride! I was very lucky to find Kite Studios in Cambridge. They were brilliant to work with. EY: Was the process more difficult than you expected? SM: It was yet another huge learning curve and I made mistakes. The first barrier to jump was: could I narrate? Many people can’t. Another learning curve was all that was involved with finding and getting permissions for the music in the book. It is, however, a better product because I did that. I really enjoyed it, though. New things. Brilliant! EY: How was the experience working with Open Book Audio (the audio book aggregator)? SM: Very, very good. They were clear, fast, honest, and generally very encouraging. They weren’t afraid to take the time to explain the ropes to a

first timer—there are many ropes and they are pretty twisted in some cases.

EY: What advice would you share about the writing process?

EY: Has the audiobook helped you reach new readers?

SM: Lots! To begin, only write about what you know and are passionate about. And know who you are writing for. Personally, I brainstorm and then go through and edit out anything that might be of interest only to me, but not to anyone else. Your book must have a reason for being.

SM: Very much so. In part, readers who have visual impairments, as I mentioned earlier, but also people who tell me they don’t have time to read. Those folks are listening to Into Africa as they commute to work—though I always tell them never to be driving when they listen to the first chapter! It has also helped in another way. The biggest battle every self-published author has is in getting the word out. It’s incredibly hard. You are always looking for ways to promote your work and the audiobook has helped me greatly. It’s different, not many people have done one, and the feedback is great. That combination is terrific to have for marketing. EY: Are you planning future audiobooks? SM: Probably yes. It’s still relatively early with the Into Africa book, but the feedback is brilliant and sales are beginning to buzz.

Winter 2014

Also, your book has to grab people from the first paragraph, weaving a thread, or group of threads, that follow throughout. Books come alive if you can get all the reader’s senses singing. Include how things smell, what they sound like, how they taste, and what they look like. If your reader can’t be with you in the situation, you aren’t doing your job well. On the flip side, don’t try to be funny if you aren’t. Just be yourself. And just as importantly, be honest. Don’t be afraid to show your feelings. Also be aware that editing is critical. My first full Into Africa manuscript was 200,000 words long; the final book just over 120,000 words.

ePublish Yourself!

15


I also spend a lot of time writing travel articles for magazines and I’m heavily involved with helping Horizons Unlimited make their main UK Adventure Overland event (The HUBB UK) happen. Combine those two with presentations at clubs, book signings, and shows, and there’s not much time left to get into mischief. Or time for a new book. And that’s a mental challenge. Travel is what I enjoy the most; followed by writing. But there’s no point in writing unless you take on board the whole package. And with ebooks nowadays, there’s a fantastic opportunity. Finally, don’t take too much advice from too many people. It’ll just confuse you. Limit your advisors to no more than three people, one of whom is your editor. When writing a book, enjoy the parts that you love and value that time. But also enjoy the challenges you come across. You are on a never-ending and quite wonderful learning curve. Yes, there are hard times, but they don’t last, unless you let them. EY: What can you tell us about your next motorcycle trip or book project? 

SM: Actually, I don’t have a new book project at the moment. Having written all four of my books in the last six-and-a-bit years, and being a selfpublished jack-of-all-trades, there’s a huge amount of work going on just to get the word out about them. I’m constantly surprised at how well they are selling and at the comments I’m getting from readers, but I know that there are an awful lot of people out there who have never heard of them.

Having said all that, there are a few plans bubbling, but it’s far too early to say anything yet. In the meantime, my partner and I do manage to shoot off for a month of riding each year. Over the last few years, that’s included Vietnam, the Canary islands, and the Pyrenees Mountains on the border between Spain and France. The adventure continues... For more about Sam Manicom’s adventures, visit: www.sam-manicom.com.

Website Design, Marketing, Ebooks, Audio aquajazz.com | websites@aquajazz.com | (207) 479-8772

World-class tools and strategies for creative independence

16

ePublish Yourself!

Winter 2014


Publish Your Digtal Magazine

O

ne of the most fascinating areas to watch in the epublishing realm is the blossoming of digital magazines (or ezines). Notwithstanding all the attention directed towards ebooks, ezines offer many of the same exciting opportunities and advantages for both readers and publishers. Printing and distribution costs for conventional magazines have largely kept this branch of publishing in the pockets of well-funded companies or extremely enterprising independents. As is the case with ebooks, however, the rules of the game are changing faster than the megalithic industry giants can adapt, leaving a fair amount of ground open for agile ezine publishers. Best of all, new publishing and distribution platforms continue to spring up, each offering solutions to help you be in the vanguard of the latest publishing opportunities. This article examines the leading digital newsstands, ranging from established industry leaders, such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble to up-and-coming players, such as Issuu and MagCloud. Most of the newsstands offer familiar models to sell and distribute your publications, with some of the more innovative ones taking the next step of integrating social reading. Most encouraging of all, each of the newsstands provides the tools and facilities to make your ezine just as good as a print publication, if not better.

Winter 2014

ePublish Yourself!

17


Amazon Newsstand What it is... Amazon is the largest online retailer and bookseller in the world and, as you would expect, has an equally impressive digital newsstand. The company offers a comprehensive array of devices and applications, and has practically perfected how customers purchase and interact with their products. Because of this, every indie ezine publisher has to at least consider being part of the Amazon Newsstand.

How customers buy... The Kindle Newsstand is a special section within the Kindle Store that features several hundred magazines, most of which are established print publications that have migrated to digital. A large percentage of the magazines are available for E Ink-based devices such as the Kindle Touch and Kindle Paperwhite, however, magazines labeled as Kindle Tablet Editions are only available for Kindle

Android devices such as the Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD.

will prioritize new publications based on print and digital circulation.

In either case, the purchase and delivery process is seamless and essentially identical to how customers purchase books from the Kindle bookstore. All Kindle subscriptions offer a 30-day free period, and many allow customers to pay a lower monthly amount (prorated from the annual price).

Amazon therefore suggests that publishers create an Android app for their magazine, which then appears in the Kindle Newsstand as a Kindle Tablet Edition. Any publisher (not just those with large existing circulations) can choose to publish their magazine as a mobile app, making it ideal for indie publishers.

How to publish...

If you choose to follow this route, the first step is to create an Android app that your customers can use to both read and manage issues. As with Apple, Amazon charges a $99 annual developer program fee, but is currently waiving this charge. Amazon’s mobile app distribution agreement is non-exclusive, so if you have your magazine on other Android app stores, such as Google Play, you can also submit it for listing on Amazon.

There are two ways to get your magazine on the Amazon Newsstand: join the Kindle Publishing for Periodicals (beta) program or create an Android app for Kindle tablets (such as the Kindle Fire HD). The good news is that joining the Kindle Publishing program allows you to create magazines that are fully integrated into the Amazon experience and readable on the complete range of Kindle ereaders. The bad news is that Amazon has temporarily closed the program, and

Finally, as with Apple, you need to submit your app for approval before it becomes available to customers. Amazon offers its own set of mobile app development tools that you can download for free.

Pros • World-leading marketplace • Large, reader-driven user base • Magazines are apps so anything is possible

Cons • High upfront app development costs • Software development experience required • Requires publisher to manage issues and subscriptions Website: www.amazon.com

18

ePublish Yourself!

Winter 2014


Apple Newsstand What it is... Introduced with iOS 5, the Apple Newsstand is a special folder on iOS devices (such as the iPad and iPhone) that collects and displays all your Apple magazines on a set of shelves, much like a real newsstand. Apple Newsstand magazines, in turn, are simply iOS apps that identify themselves as belonging on the Newsstand. This means that Apple magazines can, in theory, offer essentially any type of reading experience, limited only by the publisher’s imagination, budget, or programming skills.

How customers buy... Since magazines are apps, customers can find your publication by searching the Newsstand category in the App Store. Alternatively, they can click the Store button in the Newsstand app itself, which launches the App Store and automatically selects the Newsstand category. Either way, the Newsstand category is what separates magazines from literally hundreds of thousands of other apps. After installing a magazine app, customers can typically download one or more free issues, buy individual issues (through an In-App Purchase), or sign up for an annual subscription (with auto-renew). If your readers choose to accept notifications, new issues are downloaded silently in the background so that the latest issue is always ready and waiting when a reader launches your magazine app.

How to publish... Apple magazines are full-fledged apps, which means that you are free to add just about any type of interactivity or media to your publications. However, this also means that publishing and distributing to the Apple Newsstand is considerably more involved than simply creating a PDF or EPUB file.

To begin, you need to create the app itself—customers use this app to both read individual issues and manage their subscriptions. Most publishers therefore make the magazine app free to download. Following this, you will need to create individual issues that are offered to your customers as In-App Purchases, or delivered automatically as part of a subscription. (You can choose to offer free trial periods for subscriptions.) As a publisher, you are required to register as an iOS developer (at $99 a year) and submit each app (though not each individual issue) for approval by Apple, a process that can take a couple of weeks or more. After that, you manage issues using iTunes Connect. Apple helpfully offers tools to automate the issue submission process. All issues reside on your own web server before they are delivered to readers through your app.

Pros • Large, enthusiastic base of iPad users • Single issue sales and subscriptions available • Magazines are apps so … go crazy!

Winter 2014

Cons • Upfront costs significant (software development experience required) • Requires Apple iOS Developer account ($99 per year) • Requires a server to host and push content to subscribers Website: www.apple.com

Barnes & Noble Newsstand What it is... As the digital newsstand of the largest brick and mortar bookseller in the United States, the Barnes & Noble Newsstand should be high on the list for most indie magazine publishers. In fact, as Amazon was frantically building its ebook empire in the early days of the Kindle, B&N was equally busy actively courting magazine publishers, quietly building one of the most impressive digital magazine newsstands in the world. Today, the Barnes & Noble Newsstand still features about twice as many digital magazines as Amazon.

ePublish Yourself!

19


How customers buy...

How to publish...

Similar to Amazon, Barnes & Noble offers a special section within its ebookstore known as the NOOK Newsstand that features over one thousand leading publications. Many of the magazines are available for the entire range of NOOK devices, including the NOOK applications for PC and Mac, however some magazines are tablet only.

Similar to some of the other large digital newsstands, getting your small indie magazine on the Barnes & Noble Newsstand can be difficult. Like Amazon, B&N has a dedicated program for magazine publishers, but getting into the program involves contacting Barnes & Noble directly and seeking approval (by all indications, the company is not very receptive to small indie epublishers at this time). Getting into the NOOK App Store to develop a magazine app similarly requires approval from Barnes & Noble.

While the purchase and delivery process is seamless for magazines in the NOOK Newsstand, the Barnes & Noble digital ecosystem is a bit more complex than with Amazon or Apple, especially for NOOK HD and HD+ tablets. This is because B&N now allows NOOK HD and HD+ users to also purchase content (including books and magazines) through Google Play, Google’s digital marketplace. Greater access comes at a price though. Google Play requires a separate account, and customers need to use the Google Play app to read any magazines purchased there.

20

ePublish Yourself!

Lest this sound too discouraging, there is a way to reach NOOK HD and HD+ tablet users at least, and that is to create an Android app and sell it through Google Play (see the Google Play Magazines section for more information). This restricts you to NOOK HD and HD+ tablet users, however, it does provide a solution until Barnes & Noble opens their arms to embrace indie ezine publishers.

Winter 2014

Pros • Popular digital newsstand (larger than Amazon) • Strong support by Barnes & Noble • Best way to reach B&N fans and NOOK users

Cons • Difficult to join the newsstand program • Significant development cost of publishing through Google Play • Only able to reach NOOK HD and HD+ users when publishing through Google Play Website: www.barnesandnoble.com

Google Play Magazines What it is... Google Play is what Google calls a “digital content experience” where you can find and buy music, movies, books, Android apps and games and, of course, magazines. As a cloudbased service, Google Play content is available using practically any device


through which you can access services using your Google account. Google Magazines offers hundreds of best-selling titles but, at this time, very few if any small indie publications.

How customers buy... Customers can access Google Magazines (a section of Google Play) either through the web or using the Google Play Magazines app on Android devices (interestingly, an Apple iPad version is not currently available). To purchase magazines, the store requires a Google account along with valid payment information in Google Wallet. Customers can purchase single issues or annual subscriptions. Issues reside in the My Magazines area on Google Play, but customers can also download copies, at which point the content becomes available for reading anywhere (without requiring a connection). New issues are delivered to subscribers as soon as they are available on the digital newsstand.

How to publish... Getting your publication into Google Magazines begins by completing the Publisher Interest Form on the Google Play web site. Google requires you to provide basic information about your publications, including your subscriber base and the category of your topselling magazine. Also note that

Google Magazines is only accepting publications with print circulation at this time. If you have a print magazine with decent numbers, by all means explore this option. If accepted, you will use the Google Currents Producer to manage your issues, including setting the price and specifying other distribution information. For other smaller indie publishers Google Magazines, as currently established, is probably not a good fit. In this case, your best option is to create a standalone Android app for your magazine that you can then easily list on Google Play itself. This allows you to sell single issues or subscriptions using In-App Billing (which is the Google equivalent to what Apple calls In-App Purchases). Creating an Android app means significantly higher development time and costs, but you, as the publisher, retain complete control.

Pros • It’s Google • Growing digital marketplace • Well-documented workflow with a large community

Cons • Google Magazines only suitable for established print magazines

• Google Magazines app not available for iPad • Significant time and cost to develop a custom magazine app Website: play.google.com

Issuu What it is... Issuu offers one of the smoothest entry paths to new ezine publishers, featuring a comprehensive free solution that is also extremely easy to use. Create an issue of your magazine, save it as a PDF file, upload it to your Issuu account, and you’re ready to start building an audience. Though many of the publications on Issuu are magazines, the service is really a document sharing and management system equally suitable for reports and marketing collateral. Issuu displays each publication using a sophisticated browser-based reader that also works on mobile web browsers (including those on iPad and Android-based devices, such as the Kindle Fire).

How customers buy... Issuu is really only suitable for free magazines—Issuu does not offer facilities for payments or conventional subscriptions. Customers can find your magazine either directly on the Issuu web site or through a Google search. Issuu does a nice job with the user interface, presenting a familiar twopage magazine-style spread with simulated page turns, together with smart zoom and pan capabilities. Customers manage their issues and bookmarks using a virtual bookshelf.

How to publish... Publishing on Issuu is as simple as creating and uploading a PDF. When publishing, you can specify a series of metadata with your magazine to encourage discovery. Though Issuu is principally a free service, a pro-level tier is also available which further

Winter 2014

ePublish Yourself!

21


How customers buy... Joomag offers a well-stocked newsstand on their web site, which is also partly accessible using the Joomag iPad app. Customers can preview several pages of a publication, and then sign in with their Joomag, Facebook, or Twitter account to purchase using a secure checkout (paying with either a credit card or through PayPal).

allows you to brand the web-based viewer and remove advertisements. If really motivated, there is a way to charge for publications on Issuu by marking your magazine as private and then managing your own subscription system using an external payment solution (such as PayPal). But Issuu is not really designed for this, and the resulting system would probably not be very convenient or secure. Issuu makes it easy for you to embed the magazine viewer directly on your web site or blog. Detailed analytics about the number of readers, most visited pages, referral sites, and more, gives you useful information about whether your magazine is getting noticed.

Joomag What it is... Joomag combines digital publishing, optimized for web and mobile viewing, with a print-on-demand option that makes the system suitable for a range of publications including, but not limited to, magazines. Featuring strong mobile support, Joomag offers both a native iPad app as well as HTML5-based technology that makes your magazines accessible using any mobile device that features a modern web browser (allowing your readers to swipe to flip pages, pinch to zoom, listen to audio, watch videos, and more).

Pros • Free (Pro option available) • Very quick and easy to publish • Ability to embed a magazine on your web site

Cons • Suitable for free magazines only (no payments or subscriptions) • Free version displays advertisements • No dedicated mobile reader apps Web site: www.issuu.com

22

ePublish Yourself!

Winter 2014

Customers can purchase single issues, multi-issue digital (but not print) subscriptions, or a print-on-demand issue. Customers can also add issues to their library and, if the publisher allows it, directly download a PDF of an issue to their local machine.

How to publish... Joomag uses a tiered pricing model ranging from free to $39.95 or higher per month. The free tier offers singleissue, web-only delivery, which might be fine if you are just starting to get your publication off the ground. More serious publishers might want to consider the $39.95 package which allows you to sell both single issues and subscriptions, and enables your customers to read your magazine using the Joomag iPad app. Publishing to Joomag is straightforward. After uploading a PDF file, Joomag automatically


optimizes your magazine for web and mobile, and makes it available in the Joomag library (you can also choose to make your publication private). Joomag offers a sophisticated online editor that lets you enrich your magazine with interactive content including audio, video, subscription and feedback forms, and more (you can create your entire issue using the editor if you choose). Joomag lets you embed a light or full version of your magazine on your site or blog, and offers a comprehensive set of analytics including how readers interact with your magazine, where your readers are from, and which marketing efforts are driving traffic to your publication, among others.

Pros • Clean and easy-to-use publishing interface • Strong analytics to help understand your readers • Native iPad app for mobile edition

Print issues are professional quality and delivered around the world; digital editions are supported by a first-class iPad app and a web-based viewing application. Best of all, there are no upfront costs or special formatting involved.

How customers buy... MagCloud offers a digital newsstand accessible using either a web browser or the MagCloud app for iPad. Through the newsstand, customers can easily browse categories or search for specific titles, purchasing single print or digital issues. Customers can further build a library of their favorite digital editions. Depending on the publication, customers can read issues using the MagCloud web viewer application, the MagCloud iPad app, or as a downloadable PDF. To encourage discovery and engagement, MagCloud also allows new customers to purchase issues as

a guest without creating an account, though an account is required to create a digital library.

How to publish... As a publisher, you create and upload a single PDF file that you can then make available as both print and digital editions. Unlike some of the other pure digital solutions, MagCloud requires you to offer a print edition, with which you can package a separate digital version (either free, free with a print purchase, or priced separately). Most importantly for indie publishers, there are no upfront costs to distribute through MagCloud. When publishing your magazine, you specify a markup over the print cost, which is about 20 cents per page for standard printing and binding. Your publication can be between 20 (the minimum) and 384 pages, and the maximum PDF file size is 384MB. You can price your digital editions at 99 cents or higher, and you earn 70

Cons • Free tier not as comprehensive as some other services • Difficult to search for pubs using the iPad app • Print on demand option expensive for single issue orders Web site: www.joomag.com

Magcloud What it is... HP MagCloud is one of the easiest and most flexible ways to self-publish your magazine in both print and digital. In a nutshell, you upload a PDF and set the pricing and other data, and MagCloud takes care of sales, printing, distribution, and shipping (for the print version) and sales, distribution, and digital reading and library management (for the digital edition).

Winter 2014

ePublish Yourself!

23


percent on sales through MagCloud. com (50 percent when customers buy an issue as an In-App Purchase using their iPad).

level is YUDU Pro which offers a complete mobile solution for iOS and Android.

MagCloud adds an invisible digital watermark to each digital edition, but does not use strong DRM.

Customers can discover and read your publications using the YUDUfree Store, which lists titles by categories and offers readers the ability to organize their issues in a library. Readers can then choose to make certain items in their library public, thereby encouraging interaction with other people.

MagCloud offers very clear and helpful documentation, including downloadable step-by-step instructions, plug-in presets, and templates for popular platforms including Adobe InDesign, Microsoft Word, QuarkXpress, and others.

Pros • Print and digital in a single, free solution • Clear and helpful documentation • Comprehensive template and export presets

Cons • Subscriptions not available • Tablet support only for iPad, not Android tablets • Unable to brand the mobile reader app (everyone uses the MagCloud iPad app) Web site: www.magcloud.com

YUDUfree What it is...

How customers buy...

YUDU adds several other interesting social media features, including allowing readers to create interest groups, add other people as friends, and even subscribe to readers’ and publishers’ RSS feeds to learn when something of interest is published. Customers can purchase either single issues or digital subscriptions, both of which appear in their personal library.

How to publish... YUDUfree (the basic tier) allows you to upload PDF, Microsoft Word, and Apache OpenOffice format files. After uploading, you can specify the metadata, and choose whether to make your magazine public or private (in either case, YUDUfree requires you to offer your publication at no cost). Upgrading to YUDUplus for £99 (about $150) allows you to embed

YUDU is a UK-based digital publishing service that features a tierbased solution allowing independent publishers to distribute and sell digital magazines, as well as other digital content such as audio books. At the most basic level, YUDUfree allows you to create search enginefriendly publications that you can then share with friends or embed on your web site or blog. One step up is YUDUplus which further enables you to sell your publications, as well as add multimedia features. At the highest

24

ePublish Yourself!

Winter 2014

audio and video content into your magazine, as well as offer your magazine for single issue purchase or as a subscription in the YUDU Store. YUDU then offers comprehensive daily statistics about your readers’ behavior. YUDU Pro is a premium tier that adds mobile support, working with you to create native, branded iOS, Android and, in the future, Windows RT apps. Each platform supports selling individual issues or subscriptions (as in-app purchases or through your web site).

Pros • Simple, clean workflow to publish a free magazine • Includes social features such as friends and interest groups • Premium tier offers support for iOS, Android, and Windows RT (future)

Cons • YUDUfree only allows free magazines (need to upgrade to sell issues) • Mobile distribution requires working directly with YUDU • Based in the UK, the site can sometimes be slow in the US Web site: free.yudu.com


Zinio

and reading featured articles (in each of the newsstand categories).

What it is... Zinio bills itself as the world’s largest online newsstand, featuring over 5,000 digital magazines with readers in more than 200 countries. Equally impressive is the range of devices that Zinio customers can use to read their magazines, with full-featured applications available for the Apple iPhone and iPad, Android devices, PCs and Macs, and Windows 8 devices. Zinio is therefore a premier digital newsstand that should be on every indie publisher’s radar.

How customers buy... The Zinio experience begins either on the Zinio web site or by accessing the Zinio newsstand through any of the supported apps. Customers can purchase both single issues or annual subscriptions, accessing magazines either through a hierarchicallyorganized newsstand or by exploring

Along with its breadth, Zinio’s principal strength is its cross-platform support. Customers can easily read their magazines on their phone while on-the-go, access their library using their desktop computer at work, and then switch to their favorite tablet on the couch at home. Zinio further notifies customers when new issues are available in their library.

How to publish... Zinio is probably one of the more difficult newsstands for small indie publishers to penetrate. You begin by applying to be a Zinio partner using an email form on their web site. If Zinio is interested, the company will contact you, but the process is somewhat opaque.

video). Zinio Fusion leverages Adobe InDesign, among other applications, making it easy to integrate with your existing publication workflow.

Pros • Impressive range of magazines • Available on all major mobile and desktop platforms • Excellent user experience

Cons • Need to partner with Zinio to join the newsstand • Process is opaque until you are accepted as a partner • Not suitable for many small indie publishers Web site: www.zinio.com

After you are on board, Zinio offers a suite of tools called Zinio Fusion to help publishers create cross-platform interactive, multi-layered content (including embedded audio and

Winter 2014

ePublish Yourself!

25


Fiction with a Social Conscience An Interview with Melda Beaty John Jerney

Author, playwright, college English assistant professor, and educational consultant, Melda Beaty would like to see the books she writes stimulate an awakening of social consciousness. From her first self-published collection of essays My Soul To His Spirit: Soulful Expressions From Black Daughters To Their Fathers, to her stage play Front Porch Society, which delves into the complex lives of four elderly black women in the rural Mississippi Delta on the eve of the 2008 presidential election, Beaty wants readers to think and engage. In her most recent self-published novel, Lime, the Chicago-based author juxtaposes common perceptions and illusions of modeling and beauty with the persistent crisis of domestic violence. Self-publishing too brings its own social challenges, as Beaty shares, though none that can’t be overcome with a combination of hard work and savvy marketing. 26

ePublish Yourself!

Winter 2014


ePublish Yourself: What led you to become a self-published author? Melda Beaty: At the age of nine, my mother introduced me to the game of Scrabble and I think that’s where it really began. She encouraged my vocabulary growth and, by high school, when school was out, I was reading novels in the summer and was writing book reports for her. She wasn’t a teacher, but that’s what she required of me. I remember that I was really into African-American authors, and it sort of turned a light bulb on in my head. From then on, English was my friend and I always did well in English courses. Ultimately, I ended up majoring in Journalism as an undergrad and Writing for my Masters degree. The storytelling part came during that time as well—I was always writing stories. I remember composing a story at the age of nine and entering it into my elementary school’s hobby fair. And I won! Not to sound cliché, but from then on, stories talked to me all the time. The story for Lime began to speak to me back around 2003 or 2004. And it has been a long process in trying to get it published. I guess the issue weighed on me more than I thought. And, as a writer, I just began journaling and writing about it. After I moved back to Chicago from school, I remember bonding with some girlfriends, and we would sit around and talk. I noticed that we all had very similar stories about our relationships with our fathers. I didn’t see a book at that point, but I did want to record their experiences and perhaps write a story about it. What ended up happening was that I put out a call on the Internet and started collecting stories of black women across the United States. Amazingly, I received over 500 submissions, ranging from stories about daddy’s girls to fathers who were now deceased. I didn’t know

what to do with the resulting book, so I went the traditional route. I tried to find an agent, and I got very close, but something about the contract didn’t sit well with me. So after some time, I just decided to pick up Dan Poynter’s book on self-publishing and I followed it to a tee. And that’s how I got that first book out. That was 2005. EY: How different were your experiences with your current book, Lime? MB: Today, it’s much easier and much more professional. In my case, I chose CreateSpace (an Amazon. com company), which I discovered through a segment on NPR about a woman who had a very similar story but kept getting constant rejections from traditional publishers. For me, the CreateSpace process was just wonderful. They are so professional. For Lime, I had already hired a graphic artist and I did most of the editing myself, so we didn’t have to start from scratch. But the services CreateSpace provided were second to none. So today, as an independent author, there’s really no excuse, in my mind, for putting together a poor book. The writing needs to be done well, and that’s the responsibility of the author. But in terms of presentation and distribution, you couldn’t ask for better services. EY: Everyone stresses the importance of a professional cover. How did you find a good graphic designer for Lime? MB: I happen to be very good friends with a creative director at Ebony magazine, and she designed my first book. So I asked her if she would be willing to design my second and subsequent books. However, had I not known her, I probably would have just asked around within my network. And that’s where the digital age comes in. I have Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts, and there are any number of online

Winter 2014

groups where I can ask just about any question and have hundreds, if not thousands, of people, willing to share their expertise. EY: What other help did you feel that you needed to bring the book to a professional level? MB: I did need help with the layout and formatting, both print and ebook, so that they both look professional. When I did my first book, I remember going around to the brick-and-mortar stores, including Barnes & Noble and Borders, because I wanted my book to be on those shelves. I asked the managers to show me the section for self-published books -- I assumed that there was such a section. And sure enough there was, but it wasn’t labeled as self-published, and the books were at the bottom of the shelf. I thumbed through several trying to get a sense of how they looked. And I realized that the reason that they were at the bottom of the shelf was because they were poorly presented. Some had too large a typeface, some were unexpectedly bold, and so on. Some simply looked old-fashioned. Right there, I vowed to myself that I would put together a book that was worthy of being on the top shelf. Or at least higher than the bottom shelf. EY: What were your goals when you started, and how were you going to measure success? MB: It’s all relative, I suppose. Of course, there are sales and rankings. I hear about that constantly because I’m always on the Internet researching how to market and promote my book. But for me, success comes when people read my book and they write to say that they couldn’t put it down. When someone says, “I am not a reader, and it takes me forever to finish a book, but I finished your book in a day or two,” that’s success. I also really believe that word-ofmouth recommendation is part of

ePublish Yourself!

27


“For me, success comes when people read my book and they write to say that they couldn’t put it down.” success. It’s important that a wider audience has an opportunity to read my book, made easier of course by being able to download a book right to your Kindle, for instance, and take it wherever you want. So for me, it’s not just a quantitative measure, it’s also qualitative. EY: Before you began working on Lime, were you thinking primarily ebook, or were you thinking print as well? MB: I was very excited about ebooks. But my first thought was to get the print version done because that’s what I was used to. My first book was not an ebook—it was not an option when I published it. But I knew, and everyone was telling me, that you have to have an ebook today. So when I saw that CreateSpace provided a package that included an ebook, that was a very high priority. And while I know that you can just do ebooks, I’ve also talked to people—and I’m one of those people—who likes holding a book in hand. I like putting a book in my library, on my bookshelf, for myself, for my children, or for people who come into my home. There is something nostalgic about taking a book off your library shelf, holding it in your hands, and reading it. So I knew I wanted print. But I also knew that for the newer generation, I wanted to publish an ebook version. EY: How do you market your books? Do you actively seek reviews? What is your strategy? MB: I have been marketing from day one. When the book was released in July, I immediately began sending out information on all my networks. But

28

ePublish Yourself!

some of the best results have come through what you might call indiefriendly websites. And I have signed up for pretty much all of them. In general, these sites allow me to post information about my book, and in some cases become a featured author. I’ve also done several interviews for online magazines and websites. In effect, this has become almost like a full-time job for me. I’m also always reading what other people are doing, learning tips, and subscribing to newsletters. I’ve also been fortunate enough to have a few radio interviews and a book signing. And now, I’m trying to reach out to book clubs. I always ask people to write a review on Amazon. And I’m going to ask you, when you finish my book. . . I would love a review on Amazon. And I find that people are willing to do that. So it’s just a lot of combing the web for marketing ideas and trying new, innovative things. I am open to anything that is cost-effective and reaches a diverse audience. EY: Of all your marketing tactics, which have you found to be most successful? MB: I think for me it has been the write-ups on online magazines and websites. Also, the radio interviews and podcasts, as well as being a featured author on sites, have been very helpful. Finally, word-of-mouth has been just amazing for me. EY: Have you thought of creating a book trailer? MB: Yes, I have. And I actually looked into it at one point. There is

Winter 2014

a videographer at my church and, in the beginning, I thought about it but the cost was just a little bit too much. I think for me, because I’m a single mom and a lot of my funding and finances go for household things, and because I don’t have a major publisher behind me giving advances, I have to be a good steward of my money. In the future, I am going to create a budget so that I can do a trailer. What I have found with the trailers I have seen is that I really just want to be as concise as possible with it. I want to do something that’s really going to deliver the message of the book in a short amount of time, yet leaves the reader wanting to know more. EY: Was it ever your intention for self-publishing to lead to a traditional book deal? MB: In the beginning, it was. I started writing Lime in 2004, even before I published my first book, and I just knew that I was going to get a big contract with Simon & Schuster or Random House [laughing]. So that was my intention. But I received stacks and stacks of rejection letters. And the most frustrating part was that everyone had an opinion about what I should do with my book. Some felt that the protagonist needs to do this or, maybe I should limit that, or you need some of this, or you need more of that. And it got to the point where I kind of felt that I was losing my voice, and I was losing the focus of my book. I just didn’t understand why there was no general consensus of what needs to be done with my book. And that’s when I decided to create my own consensus and just publish it myself. Now, I could probably try to go back to the traditional route, but honestly, I fluctuate back and forth. I’ve heard some of the horror stories [with traditional publishing] and I’ve heard some of the realities. And


with as much marketing as I’m doing right now, I know that I’m going to have to do just as much with a major publisher. On the other side, there’s something about having ownership and control of your book that’s fulfilling for me. That’s not to say that if Simon & Schuster comes knocking at my door, that I’m not going to open it [laughing]. But it is to say that based on what I have learned, it would make me pause and think twice about it. EY: What support network have you built around yourself ? MB: I joined LinkedIn this year and put my focus into the online writing communities. The support is amazing. Recently, for example, there was a discussion about how to contact book clubs. The process of writing is like working in a vacuum—it’s just you and your computer for hours and hours. So it’s comforting to have other people who you can bounce ideas off and, in turn, people you can help and encourage with something that you know. The most recent blog on my website is about two sites that do great free promotion for independent authors. And I put that out there so that I can help someone else. Because this is a community, just as others have helped me, I’m determined to help others as well.

EY: How important is it to interact with your readers, and what have your experiences been?

that they might deserve because of the stigma that’s associated with being a self-published author. However, many are also defying the stigma with quality books.

MB: I am always trying to talk about issues that stem from my books, and not just trying to get people to buy the books. In the case of Lime, the focus has to do with notions or illusions of beauty juxtaposed with the issue of domestic violence. So during October, which was Domestic Violence Awareness month, I made a point to reach out to those communities and to educate my readers about more than just buying the book.

The main effect is that many review sites will not touch a self-published book. But the good news is that many more sites are now available that will promote quality self-published books. That, however, has been the hardest obstacle to accept. This process takes time. Rome wasn’t built in a day and I realize that my book isn’t going to make it into consideration for Oprah’s Book Club selection quickly either. I’m going to have to build momentum, and I have to build credibility. And that’s what I’m doing, and that’s what selfpublishing has allowed me to start.

Every book that I plan to write is going to have some sort of socialconsciousness focus. Something that will at least make readers think, and hopefully, encourage readers to act. In addition to entertaining, I hope people become engaged in the subject and see how that can inform their lives and the lives of those around them.

EY: Isn’t it interesting that it’s cool to be an indie musician or an indie filmmaker, but it’s still considered second-class right now to be an indieauthor? MB: It is strange. But a lot more people today, and I don’t know if it’s the younger generation or not, that are really welcoming all types of indie artists, including authors. I’m not sure, but it might be that they’re looking for something new, innovative, and different. And that’s wonderful because I’m sure there’s someone, somewhere, right now in

EY: What were some of the surprising lessons you learned in going through this process of selfpublishing? MB: One of the negatives has been, and continues to be, that self-published books are perceived as less than other books. And they often don’t receive the attention

Lime Prince lives the dream as an international supermodel icon. Her Ethiopian and Jamaican genes, accented with piercing lime green eyes, make her the object of every man’s desire.

But when the fantasies of beauty collide with the realities of domestic violence, will her sordid past shame her out of the glitz and glamour of the modeling world? Read Lime, a gripping novel dedicated to women who have been victims of domestic violence, but are now empowered to never be victims again.

Available in the Amazon Kindle store and on Smashwords. com

Winter 2014

ePublish Yourself!

29


An excerpt from Lime December 1, 2004 I took a bit of a hiatus. I needed to gather my thoughts and process all of the conversations that my blog started four months ago. What began as a way for me to understand my best friend after a life changing attack has developed into a female community bonded by our need to give voice to our personal tragedies. Yes, I am including myself in this community, because although my tragedy was not a physical one, I have shared in each of your tragedies for the past four months. Our collective voices let the world know that real, tangible women with careers, ambitions, families, etc., exist and that we are more than the physical scars that the world sees. We are irreplaceable beings that the world needs to recognize, see, and respect. Your words and your pictures speak truth; an Iiternet reality show, and for some of you your truth is somehow tied to the unrealistic world of Hollywood, celebrities, and Supermodels. Please don?t make the same mistake that society does when they look at each of you and judge us for the same reasons that you are unfairly judged. Many of your comments suggest that you have forgotten what it feels like to be judged. I logged onto my blog this evening for the sole purpose to reveal my identity and to let you know that I think I have found a way to bring positive attention to each of you in light of your attacks. Each of you has helped my understanding of violence against women and what is truly beautiful for women in your own unique way, and for that I am grateful. I want to show the world who we are as women. I want to photograph each of you in a way that shows your unique beauty. Allow me to create a new face for women forever changed by violence. Bonded, Lime Prince, New York

a basement trying to hit that right melody, there’s someone working on the cinematography of their film, and there’s an author trying to figure out how she’s going to get her book out there. In a sense, we’re all in this together. EY: What are the special opportunities, and challenges, of using self-publishing to address special or niche topics? MB: My first book might fit more along that vein because it’s a book

30

ePublish Yourself!

about black women, their fathers, and the relationships and impact of those relationships on a black girl. Because this is a niche, in a sense, I had to find more innovative and creative ways to get that book out there. One thing I did was design a curriculum around the book. Being an educator, I thought there was some value in trying to get the book into the hands of black teenage girls. So you could get the book along with a reading and writing study guide that goes with the book. So one way to grab

Winter 2014

an opportunity is to be creative and innovative in what you do. Everyone has a story to tell, but if you’re going to write about risqué or taboo topics, be prepared to reinvent the topic in some way so that it’s more acceptable to a mass audience. Domestic violence is not pleasant, but it’s real. There are millions of women, not just in the US, but around the world, who are experiencing it. And we have this new age of fashion and modeling that’s everywhere on TV


today. That has allowed me to reach an audience about this topic. EY: Based on your experiences, what do you plan to do differently with your next book? MB: This may seem small but I know, and I’ve been told, that I should have some sort of teaser before the book comes out, not unlike the movies. With Lime, I waited for the book to be out before starting to let people know. I think I can also improve the timing, making sure that the book is presented around some event, perhaps an annual event, just to give it a little greater presence and prominence. I have to say that I’m not exactly a social media aficionado; I can leave

my phone at home and not realize it for an hour or more. But I do recognize the importance of social media, and for the next book, I need to probably do even more.

the epilogue. I wrote Lime with that in mind. The story has to continue as Lime (the principal character) furthers the awareness of domestic violence on an international level.

Honestly, I haven’t decided which avenue to take to get the next book out there, but I like what I’m doing with Lime. It would be nice and helpful if I had a traditional publisher behind me for the upcoming book. But based on everything I’ve done so far, I don’t think there’s anything that I would say didn’t really work.

Top of Melda’s reading list: The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis

EY: Is your next book a sequel to Lime?

Favorite musicals: Annie and The Color Purple Favorite radio programs: Fresh Air with Terry Gross and This American Life with Ira Glass Most visited web site last month: www.meldacreates.com

MB: Absolutely. Readers will discover that too when they finish

Democratic Architecture

by Donald MacDonald

Practical Solutions to Today’s Housing Crisis “Donald MacDonald is the most imaginative and inventive housing architect in this part of the world, and perhaps in the whole world.” - Allan Temko, Pultizer-prize winner, San Francisco Chronicle “It’s about time that a respected member of the architectureal community faced up to social responsibilities. Democratic Architecture will hopefully recreate a public interest in housing for real people.” - James Steward Polshek, F.A.I.A. “Democratic Architecture offers viable and affordable solutions to our country’s housing problem. It raises question not just about housing policy, but about larger political and ethical issues, such as, How should we live? And what doesw a country owe its citizens.” - Thomas Fisher, Dean, University of Minnesota, College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture Available in the Amazon Kindle Store: http://amzn.to/17uHynb

Winter 2014

ePublish Yourself!

31


Milestones in ePublishing From 1969 to Now

1978 1971 Project Gutenberg launched. Started by Michael Stern Hart, it now offers more than 42,000 free ebooks. Patrons are encouraged to convert publicdomain print titles to digital text.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (radio series) introduces a fictional intergalatic ebook containing all the knowledge in the Galaxy.

First mobile phone (Motorola DynaTAC 8000x) becomes commercially available in the US, offering 30 minutes of talk time, 8 hours of standby, and costing $3,995.

1982

1969 First message transmitted on the ARPANET, the precursor to what we now call the Internet. The message was intended to be “login” but only the first two letters, “l” and “o” were sent before the system crashed.

32

ePublish Yourself!

1983

1984

The Internet is born. First PDA (Psion Organizer II) released in the UK.

1973 First hand-held mobile phone demonstrated.

Winter 2014


Highlights of the most significant developments

1993 Apple Newton MessagePad introduced featuring handwriting recognition (that actually worked).

1992

1989 Voyager Company releases CD-ROM companion to Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9.

Sony introduces Data Discman ebook device featuring a low-resolution, grayscale LCD and prerecorded discs. The Data Discman never catches on outside of Japan.

1993 1991 Tim Berners-Lee proposes HTML as the markup language for the Web.

1990

Mosaic Web browser kickstarts the Web.

1993 Adobe Portal Document Format (PDF) becomes available.

Tim Berners-Lee proposes the World Wide Web.

Winter 2014

ePublish Yourself!

33


Milestones in ePublishing 2007 Goodreads launched by Otis and Elizabeth handler.

2000

1998 The first commercial ereader, the Rocket eBook, arrives from Franklin Electronic Publishers, marketed with the tagline “A world of books in the palm of your hand.”

Stephen King offers Riding the Bullet as a digital file. The novella, the world’s first mass-market electronic book, is available for download at $2.50 and can only be read on a computer.

Mark Zuckerberg (and his Harvard college roommates) launch Facebook.

2004 Google announces plans to digitize millions of books.

IBM introduces Simon, the first smartphone (PDA with mobile phone).

2004 Sony introduces LIBRIé, the first E Ink-based ereader, featuring an impressive 10MB of storage.

ePublish Yourself!

EPUB adopted as a free and open ebook standard.

2004

1994

34

HTML5 proposed as new HTML standard.

Winter 2014

2007 Amazon introduces Kindle ereader and Apple introduces firstgeneration iPhone.

2006 Sony introduces the PRS-500 (Portable Reader System) available for sale at Borders bookstores throughout the US.


Looking to Future Developments 2012

2010 Apple introduces the iPad with the iBooks ereader app.

Amazon releases the Kindle Paperwhite. Facebook reaches over one billion users.

2010 Kobo ereader released.

Google Play launched. US Department of Justice launches anti-trust lawsuit against Apple and six publishers.

2011 EPUB 3.0 released.

2009 Barnes & Noble releases the NOOK ereader.

2011

2013

Amazon ebook sales exceed print book sales.

Ebooks account for 20% of book sales.

Amazon introduces the Kindle Fire.

Nearly 40% of the world’s population is on the Internet. Amazon acquires Goodreads.

2008 Google introduces the Android operating system.

Winter 2014

ePublish Yourself!

35


Amazon Quickstart Guide Your goal, as an indie-author and publisher, should be to make your work available in as many markets and formats as feasible. This is especially true if your book is primarily textbased, as is typically the case with novels and general howto guides (since these types of ebooks are comparatively easy to format and produce well). Having said that, where should an indie-author start? Most experts would likely agree that the best place to launch is in the Amazon.com bookstore. Not only does Amazon feature the largest ebookstore in the

world (two million ebooks and counting), but the process of producing and publishing your first ebook is simple and streamlined. In addition, as an early leader, Amazon has set a number of standards including easy access to international markets, high royalty rates, the chance to offer your book for free (for a set period) to entice new readers, and the ability to make your ebook available for lending. All told, Amazon is a great place to get your feet wet if you are looking to quickly get your book to market.

Publishing to Amazon.com should be your first step

In this quick visual tutorial, we present the main steps to publishing your completed manuscript on Amazon. com. Some steps take mere moments to complete, others require careful consideration (such as previewing your Kindle-format ebook before submitting for publication). But overall, the process is amazingly straightforward allowing you to have your ebook on sale almost before you can say “New York Times Bestseller.” Good luck!

Step by step

1

Write your manuscript

You can use Microsoft Word, Apple Pages, Adobe InDesign, or Scrivener, among other programs. Be sure to use paragraph and character tags (a style sheet) to ensure consistent formatting and conversion.

36

ePublish Yourself!

2

Create your ebook file

Do you need extra control over the ebook formatting? If so, use Mobipocket Creator on your PC, available for free online. Otherwise, you can have Amazon automatically convert your word processing file.

Winter 2014

3

Create an Amazon DTP account

If you already have an Amazon account, you can use that. However, you might want to create a new account if you plan to publish using a separate identity, such as an imprint or publisher name. Either way, it’s free.


Add a new title to your bookshelf

You need to specify publisher, tax, and bank account details (for royalty payments).

5

Navigate to the Bookshelf and click the Add new title button.

7

8

Upload the cover and ebook file

4

Complete your account information

Enter the ebook details

You need to specify the title, edition, description, contributors, publishing rights, and categories.

10

Specify the publishing territories

You need to specify the territories/countries for which you have publishing rights. For selfpublished work, you have rights to all territories.

You can choose to optionally enable Digital Rights Management (DRM), which is copy protection.

11

Set the price and royalty rate

You can choose a 70% royalty rate if you price your book between $2.99 and $9.99. Pricing outside of this range involves a painful cut in royalties.

Winter 2014

6

Join KDP Select?

If you make your book exclusive to Kindle for 90 days, your book can join the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library (and be promoted as free for up to 5 days).

9

Preview your ebook

You can use either an online previewer or downloadable Kindle simulator. The downloadable previewer simulates Kindle E Ink, Kindle Fire, and iOS devices.

12

Publish your ebook

You can also save a draft and complete any of the steps later.

Congratulations, you’re now an epublished author!

ePublish Yourself!

37


Sinking Piracy. Is DRM Your Best Option?

A

t first glance, the proposition seems simple enough. You work hard to write and produce your ebook and, quite reasonably, you expect to be rewarded for your efforts. Common sense dictates that you should take precautions to protect your work. And nowhere does this seem more essential than on the Internet, where just about anything can be transported around the globe, unfettered, essentially at the speed of electrons.

The most common solution for protecting your ebook is a technology called Digital Rights Management, or DRM. Simply put, DRM lets authors and publishers, like you, control the way in which digital content, such as ebooks, can be used by others (typically, customers). The most obvious use of DRM is to prevent ebooks from being read on devices—including ereaders, tablets, phones, or computers—that are not registered to display the book. But DRM can also be used to restrict the number and type of devices that a person can use to read an ebook, how many times a person can lend an ebook to others, and even how much of an ebook a person can highlight. DRM is also the technical reason why people are unable to sell “used” copies of books. All of the ebookstores, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple, employ some type of DRM for the ebooks that they distribute. But since DRM is, by its nature, restrictive, it’s also a controversial topic. And, as some argue, it is not necessarily the best or only solution. The question facing indie-authors and publishers is this: should you, or should you not, add DRM to your ebooks. Let’s explore the issues.

What’s the Point of Digital Rights Management? Let’s begin by asking the question of why DRM exists in the first place. Certainly, the issue of unauthorized copying has been around for as long as books have been with us. But incredibly powerful technologies, such as ultrafast portable computers and near-ubiquitous communications, have made it easier than ever (and perhaps more tempting) to illegally copy someone else’s work. Advocates of DRM see this largely as a technical problem. And what better

38

ePublish Yourself!

Winter 2014


way to solve a technical problem than by applying additional technology? Opponents of DRM, on the other hand, see unauthorized copying as more of a social and business issue. Price your ebooks appropriately, they say, and theft will be reduced to little more than a nuisance. With the lines clearly drawn, let’s examine the most salient issues surrounding DRM from the perspective of indie epublishers, weighing each issue to see if DRM makes sense or not.

Protecting Your (Intellectual) Property You wouldn’t leave your front door unlocked, DRM proponents argue, and applying digital locks to your intellectual property is no different. Authors and publishers deserve full compensation for their creations and, by this logic, locks are a legitimate way to protect what rightfully belongs to us. This argument appeals to many authors because, with the broad reach of the Internet, the theft of even a single copy is enough to potentially cause significant damage. Unlike analog media, such as print books, creating thousands or even millions of perfect duplicates of your ebook is a trivial operation.

But does DRM provide an effective lock? As it turns out, not really. Ultimately, every DRM scheme gets circumvented, often within days or weeks of being released. In practical terms, this means that anyone who wants to break the DRM protection on your ebooks will be able to do so, often in a matter of minutes using widely available programs on the Internet. Having said that, DRM is effective at curtailing the most basic types of unauthorized copying, halting casual (or perhaps unintentional) theft, such

as sharing a single copy of a book with your friends and family. As a lock, DRM has a pretty poor record. It is effective only against what we might call casual copying. DRM is not at all effective against more determined efforts.

Honoring Customer Choice By design, digital rights management limits how people can read the ebooks they purchase. For example, your readers are forced to use Kindle devices or apps to read ebooks from Amazon that are protected by DRM. The same goes for Barnes & Noble, Apple, and all the other major ebookstores. In many cases, your customers very likely won’t even notice that their ebooks are DRM protected. However, your readers will absolutely curse its existence as soon as they try to move an ebook to a new ereader platform. For instance, if any of your readers choose to switch to a Barnes & Noble NOOK after purchasing several of your books on Amazon.com, your books would unfortunately be left behind. Consider too the scenario of an ebookstore ceasing operation, something that’s always a possibility in these tumultuous times. Access to your entire library of purchased ebooks could be curtailed. Traditionally, people have taken advantage of the well-established legal principle known as fair use to make backups of their digital content (such as music) and enjoy it on the device of their choice. DRM protections applied to ebooks put severe limits on legal fair use. Some have also argued that DRM stifles innovation by preventing entrepreneurs from developing more advanced ereaders and applications for popular ebook formats. For these and

Winter 2014

other reasons, DRM is increasingly viewed as an anti-competitive technology. This stigma does not inspire warm support from consumers. While many of your customers probably won’t notice DRM on their ebooks, you stand to alienate your most enthusiastic fans, many of whom will hate it.

Owning, Lending, or Selling Ebooks When you purchase a print book, there is absolutely no question about who owns the book. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you own the words or the right to make copies of the book, but the original is yours to do with as you choose. This is not the case when you purchase an ebook from one of the large ebookstores or publishers. Mainstream digital publishers have, by and large, adopted more of a software model for ebooks. As a customer, you now license an ebook instead of own it.

So what, you ask? Generally, we seem to have accepted licensing as an acceptable model for computer programs, but books are somehow different. Books are more social, and we have developed long-standing customs and traditions about sharing and exchanging information through books. It seems a shame to weaken this aspect of community simply because of new technology.

So where do we stand? Lending ebooks is possible, but only to a very limited degree and only if the publisher allows it. More importantly, however, selling your used ebooks is problematic (although Apple and Amazon have both filed patents to permit this, as discussed in this issue’s News Briefs). As you might have guessed, DRM is the

ePublish Yourself!

39


means by which these restrictions are enforced. Why do publishers do this? Part of the reason is because we, as an industry, haven’t figured out what happens to the “used” ebooks on the original owner’s device. But another reason is because some publishers (and even some authors) feel that any type of secondhand market is, in some way, unethical because it fails to compensate creators every time a secondary sale takes place. DRM is, for the most part, an effective tool for hindering this common and important social activity. DRM also makes it difficult to give your ebooks away. Even the question of inheritance remains largely unresolved. Ownership is up for interpretation as well. For example, under what circumstances might a publisher or ebookstore have the right to revoke your license and deprive you from accessing a book on your electronic bookshelf? DRM shifts the balance of control in important and, in many cases, unexpected and unresolved ways. The social cost of employing DRM is unclear, though the underlying issues do require some form of resolution. From the point of view of ownership, however, DRM does appear to be eroding many of the precepts of individual rights.

Investment and Value Even though the days of triple-digit yearly growth might be behind us (for now), the market for ebooks continues to grow at a healthy rate. This means that inspired readers are potentially willing to make a significant investment in purchasing your books. One way that publishers and ebookstores try to make customers

40

ePublish Yourself!

feel comfortable about their investment is by using industry standards such as EPUB, employed by Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Sony, and others. You could even argue that Amazon’s MOBI format has become a de facto industry standard just by the company’s market dominance.

What About Piracy?

DRM, unfortunately, makes industry-standard formats largely irrelevant. Not only could this result in consumers losing convenient access to their library of ebooks, as discussed earlier, but perhaps more seriously, it could conceivably lock future researchers and historians out of some of our most important records and documents. We all know that devices and technologies become obsolete. The concern is that DRM-protected books might also become obsolete as the technologies are superseded by new approaches in the future.

Not so long ago, the music industry faced a similar dilemma. When Apple’s iTunes first came on the scene, all music files used DRM. But then something interesting happened. After people reacted to the restrictions and Apple quietly removed the DRM, music sales increased. In fact, legitimate music markets continue to flourish—even with YouTube and a suite of competing music streaming services, such as Pandora and Spotify.

DRM reduces many of the potential benefits of open or industry standards, possibly jeopardizing the long-term value of DRM-protected books.

Where does this leave us on the issue of ebook piracy? Intuitively, it seems obvious that failing to protect your work can only lead to theft. Why would anyone choose to pay for something that they could easily get for free?

Does this lesson apply to ebooks? Is it possible that piracy only really becomes a serious issue when there is a broad perception that a product is either artificially or intentionally overpriced, or laden with troublesome restrictions? If so, might piracy then simply be just a temporary market force being exerted in a new environment?

Digital Watermarks Digital Rights Management is not the only game in town. Some publishers are considering the idea of using digital watermarks instead of DRM (or sometimes in conjunction with DRM). Digital watermarks are benign codes interspersed or sometimes hidden throughout an ebook. This watermark uniquely identifies the person who purchased the ebook, either directly (using the person’s name) or indirectly (using a special sequence of characters). For all intents and purposes, digital watermarks are invisible to readers and do not interfere with the enjoyment of the book. Pottermore famously employs digital watermarks as a form of “social DRM,” meaning that the technology doesn’t prevent people from copying or sharing ebooks, but does discourage unauthorized sharing by making it socially undesirable (since the purchaser can easily be traced). But, like every technology, reports are that even Pottermore’s digital watermarking technology has been broken. So it goes.

Winter 2014


Piracy as a Force for Good? You’re Kidding, Right? No one is suggesting that stealing is moral or right. But understanding that piracy, at least in some form, will likely never disappear, is it possible to exercise some sort of economic jujitsu to possibly take advantage of it? Consider the situation regarding print books for a moment. Widespread copying and distribution is typically not a problem for most books, though it does happen in certain circumstances. However, many people do get free access to books from public libraries, by borrowing from friends, or as pass-alongs and hand-me-downs. Few authors decry this type of sharing and the resulting publicity. In fact, most authors dream of this kind of promotion, with the keen understanding that short-term losses will likely be more than compensated by gains in the long run. Of course, no one wants to see their work stolen. Having said that, piracy reflects interest. And interest is what every new author craves. Oscar Wilde expressed the sentiment obliquely when he said, “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.” Perhaps the only thing worse than being pirated is not being pirated.

J.K. Rowling Just Says No When J.K. Rowling launched Pottermore, the web site and store to sell the Harry Potter series of ebooks, Rowling caused quite a stir by refusing to include DRM with any of the EPUB format books sold directly from the site. Fans are confident knowing that they will be able to enjoy the books on the platform of their choice, now and into the future. However, Charles Redmayne, CEO of Pottermore, hinted at another

reason for shunning DRM when he noted that the company wanted to “own” the relationship with its customers. In other words, going DRM-free allows Pottermore to be closer to its fans by limiting any artificial walls that might be imposed by retailers. Tor, the largest science fiction publisher in the world, also made news when it announced that it is making its entire catalog of ebooks DRM free. “Our authors and readers have been asking for this for a long time,” explained president and publisher Tom Doherty in a company press release. “They’re a technically sophisticated bunch, and DRM is a constant annoyance to them. It prevents them from using legitimately-purchased e-books in perfectly legal ways, like moving them from one kind of ereader to another.” Author John Scalzi agreed, noting, ”DRM hasn’t stopped my books from being out there on the dark side of the Internet. Meanwhile, the people who do spend money to support me and my writing have been penalized for playing by the rules.”

What to Do as an Author or Publisher Currently, DRM is still employed by the vast majority of authors and publishers, indie and otherwise, and authors remain nervous, at best, about the idea of offering their books without some form of digital safeguards. When author service Lulu, for instance, decided to stop offering Adobe Digital Editions DRM as an option for ebooks created and sold on Lulu, a firestorm ensued on the company’s community forum (though Lulu books sold through Amazon, Apple, and Barnes & Noble continue to use their respective DRM solutions). Of the authors that chose to comment, the majority worried about their books appearing on torrent (download) sites and most

Winter 2014

complained (very loudly) about not being given the option to continue using DRM. Clearly, authors are justifiably concerned about theft of property and livelihood.

But is DRM the best solution? Judging by the experiences of the music industry, perhaps not. Apple now offers DRM-free music through the iTunes Store and has registered sales in excess of 25 billion songs as of February of this year. Music piracy undoubtedly continues, but, regardless of piracy, a great many people now choose instead to purchase their music. The lesson here: make it simple to purchase and enjoy your books, respect your customers, price your books fairly, and enough people will pay to support a vibrant market. Adding DRM to your ebooks will likely prevent some level of piracy. However, you’re even more likely to annoy your most loyal readers by restricting their sense of ownership and by generally making their reading life inconvenient, especially if they ever choose to change ereader brands. Interestingly, large publishers might end up being at the vanguard of the movement away from DRM as they come to realize that relying on DRM is only making large online retailers, most notably Amazon, ever more powerful. Macmillan USA, the parent of Tor, is one to watch in particular. Based on Tor’s experiences, Macmillan could choose to adopt a broader approach. In the meantime, indie authors and publishers can choose to try to break down the walls themselves. Making it easier for customers to buy and enjoy your ebooks, as well as lowering the barriers for small, independent retailers might, in the long run, be advantageous for everyone involved.

ePublish Yourself!

41


Be watchful You never know what you’ll find beneath the leaves in an overgrown garden.

The Solstice Conspiracy A novel of fantasy, mystery, and adventure for young readers by Lee Rawn.

www.leerawn.com/solstice

ePublish Yourself! issue01 volume01 23JAN14  

Written by authors, for authors, this magazine offers tips, techniques, interviews with ebook authors, industry trends, and surveys of the e...