Posted tagged ‘self publishing’

E-Learning Provocateur: Volume 3

13 November 2013

Hooray! My E-Learning Provocateur: Volume 3 is now available.

This volume comprises my latest collation of articles from this blog. As in the earlier volumes, my intent is to provoke deeper thinking across a range of e‑learning related themes in the workplace, including:

E-Learning Provocateur: Volume 3•   Mobile learning
•   Informal learning
•   MOOCs
•   Flipped classrooms
•   Social intranets
•   Open badges
•   Self publishing
•   Augmented reality
•   The future of e-learning

E-Learning Provocateur: Volume 3 is available in both paperback and Kindle formats.

If you enjoy it, please review it on Amazon!

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Tips & tricks for self-publishers – Part 4

12 March 2012

In Tips & tricks for self publishers – Part 3 I explained how to self publish a paperback.

Now that your book is available, you will need to inform your customers that it exists. If you’re relying on their extraordinary Google and Amazon search skills to be “discovered”, you’re dreaming. You need to do much more than that to get noticed!

So please find below Part 4 of my series which provides tips on how to ramp up your sales…

Flying money

There are literally hundreds of ways to promote a product. I’m no marketing expert, but here are several tactics that I have found fruitful:

• Tell all your followers on Facebook, Twitter and other forums.
• Create a Facebook page.
• Ask your friends and allies to publish a review.
• If you write a blog, inform your subscribers.
• Add a profile to Google Books.
• Promote VIP discounts with a coupon code.
• Advertise on social media and in specialist magazines.

Another tactic I think is often overlooked is to take advantage of all the bells and whistles on your book’s profile page on Amazon. For example:

• Solicit “likes” and customer reviews.
• Activate Look Inside the Book.
• Upload customer images.
• Add keyword tags.
• Add book extras via Shelfari.
• Create an author page.

My author page on Amazon

This is the final part of my Tips & tricks for self publishers series. I hope you have found the information useful, and I wish you all the best in your quest to publish your own books.

Keep me posted!

Tips & tricks for self publishers – Part 3

27 February 2012

In Tips & tricks for self publishers – Part 2 I explained how to self publish an e‑book.

If you’re like me, you’ll now want to create a hard copy – a “real” book. While I am certainly a fan of e-books, I am also a lover of old fashioned page turners. And so are many of your potential customers!

So please find below Part 3 of my series which explains how to self publish a paperback…

Ryan the Lion and E-Learning Provocateur: Volume 1 in paperback form

I was considering using CreateSpace to create my paperback version of Ryan the Lion because it’s the sister service of Kindle Direct Publishing (the service I used to create the e-book version). I was also thinking about publishing a selection of my blog musings under the title E‑Learning Provocateur: Volume 1.

I was dilly dallying about both when Steven Lewis showed me his newly produced paperback, How to Format Perfect Kindle Books – ironic, eh? I had imagined that books created via CreateSpace would be a bit dinky. In other words, you could just tell that they were home-made. But Steven’s book was nothing like that. It was glossy and colourful and wonderful. I was hooked!

I found CreateSpace really easy to use. All the stages in the process are outlined sequentially, with What’s this? links, how-to guidelines and downloadable templates.

At one stage you will need to choose the size of your book. For Ryan the Lion I picked 6″ x 9″ to mimic my copy of Dr Seuss’ Oh, The Places You’ll Go!. For E‑Learning Provocateur I picked 5.5″ x 8.5″ to mimic my copy of Seth Godin’s Tribes.

You will also need to make decisions about your interior. Since Ryan the Lion is an illustrated children’s story, I chose full colour on white paper and a 12-point Bookman Old Style typeface. Since E-Learning Provocateur is a text-heavy business book, I chose black & white on cream paper and a 12.5-point Garamond typeface.

Ryan the Lion in full color

I highly recommend using one of the Word templates that CreateSpace provides for the interior (but check the sizes of the pages are actually what they should be).

You will want to make sure that any illustrations you have are hi-res: at least 300 dpi, but higher if possible. I had problems with PNG files (they outputted fuzzy) so you might consider TIF or JPG instead.

Ryan the Lion in Word

When converting to PDF – which CreateSpace requires – check the page size again in the printer settings. I used BullZip’s free PDF Printer; if you do too, I recommend picking “Flate” for your image compression and “Prepress” for the output quality.

When the PDF is produced, check yet again the size of the pages. It’s important to appreciate that PDF is a WYSIWYG technology: What You See Is What You Get. So check the page breaks, page numbering, illustrations, blank pages, everything. What You See Is What You Get.

For the cover, Steven Lewis recommends engaging a professional designer. That’s a good idea, but because I’m familiar with graphic design, I created my own cover with Corel’s astonishingly cheap PaintShop Pro. CreateSpace has pre-designed templates, but I think they’re a bit naff.

Before submitting your work, always use CreateSpace’s preview facility to check again that all is well. You’re probably over it by now, but this last step is well worth it. You’ll be amazed at what you have missed.

Similarly, always order a proof to check the actual product in real life. Ryan the Lion costed me a bit more to produce because it’s full colour, but it was still crazy cheap. If you don’t believe me, read Lifehacker’s piece about a local competitor’s self-publishing service. And you can get your proof shipped to the other side of the world in less than a week.

So like KDP, CreateSpace is effectively free apart from proofing and shipping (and perhaps designing a cover). Again, Amazon sells your book and provides you with a slice of the pie. Because it’s a physical product, the book is printed on demand.

Ryan the Lion paperback on Amazon

So now you know how to self publish a paperback, you are ready for Tips & tricks for self publishers – Part 4, in which I’ll provide advice on how to promote your product…

Tips & tricks for self publishers – Part 2

15 February 2012

In Tips & tricks for self publishers – Part 1 I shared with you my insights into old school publishers and literary agents.

Assuming you have received your rejections – or more likely, no replies at all – you will now be ready to stick it up their proverbials and self publish.

So please find below Part 2 of my series which explains how to get started with an e-book…

Ryan the Lion on the Kindle

If you can use Microsoft Word, you can publish an e-book.

I started my foray by turning Ryan the Lion into an e-book via Kindle Direct Publishing (then called Digital Text Platform). I chose KDP for several reasons:

• I trust Amazon (the owner of KDP)
• Kindle (Amazon’s e-reader) has sold in the millions
• My e-book is automatically stocked in the Kindle Store
• My commission percentage is healthy, and
• I retain control over my work (to update it, set its pricing etc).

Oh, and it’s effectively free. Basically, Amazon sells your e-book and provides you with a slice of the pie.

Ryan the Lion ebook on Amazon

A caveat that you should be aware of sooner rather than later is that KDP is Amazon-only. That means your book won’t be stocked in Barnes & Noble, the iBookstore, or anywhere else. It also means your e-book will be in Kindle format (not ePub).

To remedy this situation, I concurrently published my e-book through Smashwords. I originally chose Smashwords because of their distribution deal with Apple, but I have since found them to be a pleasure to work with.

Ryan the Lion ebook on Smashwords

Smashwords can publish your e-book in multiple formats: HTML, PDF, Kindle, ePub, LRF and PDB. More importantly, however, they can ship your book to multiple retailers: Barnes & Noble, iBookstore, Sony Reader Store, Diesel, Kobo, and of course, Amazon.

I opted out of the latter because I had already created my e-book through KDP. I still prefer KDP for Amazon because they accept HTML as the content file, which gives me more control over the structure of the final product. If you aren’t familiar with HTML, you may prefer to forgo KDP for Smashwords.

Strangely, Smashwords doesn’t ship to the Google eBookstore. Nevermind, you can upload an ePub file to Google’s catalogue via their partner program.*

* Well, that’s the theory. I uploaded my ePub several weeks ago but it still hasn’t appeared in the Google eBookstore, despite my validating the file and contacting Google Book Support to resolve the issue. I’m starting to get the feeling it will never appear…

So now you know how to self publish an e-book, you are ready for Tips & tricks for self publishers – Part 3, in which I’ll explain how to self publish a paperback…

Tips & tricks for self publishers – Part 1

31 January 2012

Last year, I self published an e-book and two paperbacks.

Since doing so, I have received loads of questions from people about various aspects of the process.

Of course I’m only too happy to help, so please find below Part 1 in a series of tips & tricks for self publishers…

Lady reading at her desk

Old school publishers

If you can get an old school publisher to publish your book for you, I say go for it. They’ve got the production, distribution and marketing capacity that you and I can only dream of. So by all means, send your manuscript to them.

However, unless your name is James Patterson or Patricia Cornwell, your chances of getting picked up are almost nil.

You see, publishers are taking less risks on new talent and instead are sticking to their tried and true cash cows. I think that’s unsustainable and a sure-fire way to run a business into the ground, but that’s another story.

What I’m saying here is: Brace yourself for rejection.

Literary agents

Unfortunately, my experience with literary agents is poor. I found the several whom I tried to deal with to be unprofessional, ineffectual, and consequently irrelevant.

Of course, not all literary agents are like that. I just couldn’t find a good one, so I cut my losses. I figure if you want to work with clowns, join a circus.

Clown feet on a tightrope

Sometimes the only recourse for mere mortals like you and me is to self publish. Luckily, that’s really easy to do on the interwebs.

In Tips & tricks for self publishers – Part 2, I’ll show you how…

E-Learning Provocateur: Volume 1

22 November 2011

Well I have finally bitten the bullet and published a selection of my blog musings in paperback form.

The book is entitled E-Learning Provocateur: Volume 1 and my intent is to provoke deeper thinking across a range of themes in the modern workplace, including:

E-Learning Provocateur: Volume 1•   social media
•   learning theory
•   pedagogy
•   instructional design
•   learning styles
•   blended learning
•   informal learning
•   mobile learning
•   augmented reality
•   virtual worlds
•   cloud computing
•   self publishing
•   employee engagement
•   corporate social responsibility
•   religion
•   the future of e-learning

The book is available now at Amazon.com.

The end of publishing as we know it

10 April 2010

In my previous article, I pondered how we are – finally! – entering the age of the e-book.

Already we are seeing an acceleration in the sales of e-books, which I expect will correlate with a resurgence of reading as an informal learning activity.

But I suggest that another, less obvious, effect of the e-book phenomenon will be a resurgence of storytelling as an informal teaching activity.

A lost art

Storytelling is as old as language itself.

Thirty thousand years ago, the Australian Aboriginals used Dreamtime legends to share and retain knowledge from generation to generation.

Stories such as The Special Platypus and The Little Flying Fox taught their audiences the virtues of modesty, identity and tolerance.

Western culture also has a rich storytelling history. For example, fairy tales such as Hansel & Gretel and The Ugly Duckling taught their audiences the virtues of love, dignity and respect.

But somewhere along the journey we lost our way.

What happened to the storytelling tradition of my culture?

Sure, we still tell stories in the form of books and movies – in fact we’re inundated with them – but I’m not alone in feeling that the big publishing houses and film studios of the world have hijacked the art of storytelling for the sake of pure entertainment.

Cash is the modern religion, and formula sells.

Light at the end of the tunnel

As e-books become more accessible, the act of reading will inevitably become more popular. Schlock will still be on the menu, but so will be enlightening tales with authentic messages.

For example, stories like Oh, the Places You’ll Go! will eventually join the other Suessical classics online and find a whole new generation of bookworms to inspire.

But you don’t have to be a famous author to get published online. Gone are the days of struggling writers submitting their work to arrogant publishers, only to receive knock back after knock back. (And don’t get me started on literary agents!)

These days anyone can publish their own story – easily.

Insert plug here

I decided to put my money where my brain was.

Ryan the LionIn the tradition of Aboriginal legends and European fairy tales, Ryan the Lion is a children’s story that explores themes of identity, tolerance, and self approbation.

Ryan is a lion cub who acts like the other animals in the jungle because he thinks they are cooler than he is. In doing so, however, he attracts their ridicule.

As Ryan grows up, his mane gets longer and his roar develops. Soon he attracts admiration, and he feels pride in being himself.

The DIY revolution

Ryan was ridiculously easy to publish.

There is a plethora of self-publishing services out there, but I decided to go with Digital Text Platform for several reasons:

Amazon.com•  I trust Amazon,
•  Kindle has sold in the millions,
•  My e-book is automatically stocked in the Kindle Store,
•  I can create hardcopies via DTP’s sister service, CreateSpace,
•  My commission percentage is healthy, and
CreateSpace•  I retain control over my work (to update it,
    to set its pricing etc).

Oh, and it’s effectively free!

Smashwords

I have since published Ryan the Lion via Smashwords too for similar reasons, but principally because of their distribution deal with Apple.

Macmillan’s stoush with Amazon was a walk in the park

The moral of this blog post is: I’m happy because I’m empowered to tell my story, and my target audience is happy because they can access my content at the press of a button.

The only ones who aren’t happy are the big publishing houses. Just wait until they realise the world’s storytellers don’t need them any more.