Category Archives: Self publishing

The Problem with Paper

When I first published There Must Be Horses, I picked the most usual size for children’s books and opted for cream paper because it looked good. However, as soon as I tried to make the book available for UK shops,  I realised I had a problem. Although Amazon’s Createspace prints that size book on cream, the print-on-demand company I wanted to use for non-Amazon orders doesn’t.

One solution was to buy books in bulk from Createspace and handle the orders myself. But I wanted to spend my time writing, not running backwards and forwards to the Post Office with parcels, so  I solved the problem by having a small print run done and using a distributor to handle the orders.

Now that print run has nearly sold out, my initial problem has come back. This time I definitely want to use print-on-demand so I had two choices: publish a second edition that’s a slightly different size with cream paper or keep to the current edition and change the paper colour to white. Having two editions would complicate things so I’ve settled for changing the paper colour.

So, if you buy There Must Be Horses now, you’ll find that it’s printed on white paper, not cream. You may also spot that the spine is slightly narrower than older copies, because the white paper very slightly thinner than cream paper. But everything else about the book is same, including the story inside.

Choosing a publishing name

When I first decided to self-publish, I was faced with a dilemma. Should I create a publishing imprint or publish under my own name? Much of the advice on the internet suggested I should create an imprint, but mostly that was to set myself up as a business and I’ve already done that. (I’ve been registered as a sole trader for tax purposes since I first started earning money as a writer.)

I was also keen not to hide the fact that I was self-publishing and I couldn’t see another reason to have an imprint name. So I self-published There Must Be Horses under my own name and don’t regret doing so. However, I have found that it looks odd in reviews, especially the ones in magazines where they just the title, the author and the publisher so my name shows up twice in swift succession. It also looks slight odd on the title page if I follow the traditional system of putting the author’s name under the name of the book and the publisher’s name at the bottom of the page in smaller type. That’s why all my future books will be published under the name of my own imprint: Kubby Bridge Books. In case you’re wondering, I don’t live near Kubby Bridge and don’t think such a place exists. The name came from playing around with my horse’s name and the name I use for larping (live action roleplay). I originally used it as a username in an online game and liked it so much that I decided to use it for my books.

I’m delighted that this change hasn’t cost me anything. Nielsen were happy to add the imprint to my account so I can still use the ISBNs I originally bought under my own name. It will deal with the problems I’ve discovered, but I’m still being upfront about self-publishing – the copyright page will make it clear that the imprint belongs to me.

 

For more information on writing, publishing and marketing books, visit my other site at helpwithpublishing.com.

A new use for old stories

stories for illustrationLike most authors, I have stories that are hidden away in a drawer or on my computer. Some have never been published. Others have been published in the past, but are now out of print.

Self-publishing provides a wonderful way to give new life to stories, and I’ve done so successfully with Perfectly Pony – a collection of pony stories and facts for readers of 7+. But it’s much more difficult to do with picture book texts because I only have the words, not the pictures.

So I set to wondering who might appreciate pictureless picture books. The first group that came to mind were sleepy children, lying back on the pillow with their eyes closed. They could listen to my stories and make their own stories in their heads.

Then I realised there was another group who might want them even more – would-be illustrators who wanted to try bringing a story to life with pictures. Why not make my stories available for them to practise on at college, school or home? And maybe they could also be used by teachers who wanted to trigger their students’ creativity.

That’s the idea that triggered Stories for Illustration – a selection of five of my picture book texts complete with tips on illustration and permission to copy them and use them in class and in portfolios. I’ve put gaps in the text to show where the page turns might go and added tips at the end of each story that look at particular issues the illustrator needs to consider. And of course, they are still fine for reading aloud to those sleepy children.

I’ve no idea how many I’ll sell and I don’t really care. What matters to me is getting my  stories out of the drawer and back into the world where they can be read.

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Google v Authors Guild – a decision at last

It’s eight years since the Authors Guild first sued Google about scanning books and displaying snippets. During that time, the Guild claimed to be representing all authors, not just their authors, and attempted to sell us all down the river by entering into a deal with Google that would have given them permission to produce and sell our books without the copyright holders permission and would also have prevented us suing Google ourselves. The Google Book Settlement was over 200 pages long, hard to understand, very one-sided in Google’s favour and a nightmare for authors. It took a  great deal of effort and hours of time to fight but fortunately we won.

The judge who threw out the dreadful Google Book Settlement was Denny Chin – the same judge who has ruled that Google’s scanning and display of snippets is “fair use” under US copyright law. Judge Chin listened carefully to authors comments on the Google Book Settlement, even those like me who wrote him ordinary letters because we couldn’t afford to pay lawyers.

I’m sure Judge Chin was right in his decision over the Google Book Settlement so I’m happy to accept that his decision on the “fair use” issue is equally right.

Help with self-publishing

Ever since I switched to self-publishing my books, I’ve been bombarded by questions from other authors thinking about doing the same. As a result, we’ve developed a new website called helpwithpublishing.com which has just gone live. It’s still in its early stages so we’d welcome feedback and suggestions on topics we should cover.

We’d also love to hear from UK-based editors, designers, illustrations and technical people who would be interested in being on our database of experts willing to help self-publishers.

Resources for publishing print books

cover of bookWhen I first decided to do a print edition of There Must Be Horses, I thought I’d pay someone to lay out the book for me. But most designers use Adobe Indesign so I wouldn’t be able to make any last minute edits myself unless I bought the same software. At £650, that’s seriously expensive and way outside my budget.

Thankfully an internet search showed up a viable alternative that was much, much cheaper: Serif Page Plus. At around the same time, I met an author at the Winchester Writers’ Conference who had used PagePlus to create his book. The end resul looked so professional that I decided to give the software a try, and I’m really glad I did.

Tackling a task I had never done before with software I had never used was a pretty ambitious project involving a huge learning curve, but I soon found there is plenty of useful information on the web as well as Serif’s own tutorials. There’s even an excellent phone helpline where an extremely helpful man patiently talked me through something I was finding extra tricky. Once I’d learned how to use master pages for internal design and layers for cover design, I was able to experiment and discover the full power of this excellent software package.

Page Plus produces high quality pdf files ready for sending to the printer. But in order to produce a professional looking book, I needed to understand the conventions of book layout and learn how to make professional decisions about fonts. For this, I turned to several other resources.

  1. The books on my bookshelves.
    Looking at these helped me see that the odd numbered pages are always on the right and that new chapters start further down the page than the rest of the book does.
  2. www.thebookdesigner.com
    An excellent site full of advice on book layout and cover design.
  3. Createspace
    Amazon’s user friendly POD system that offers helpful advice and templates to help you lay out your book. I found its article on creating pdf files particularly useful.
  4. www.fontsquirrel.com
    A useful source of free fonts.
  5. The Non-Designer’s Design and Type Books
    I love this book by Robin Williams (which is actually two books in one). It’s an excellent introduction to design and type for beginners, packed full of visual examples that demonstrate the difference even small changes can make. I found it invaluable for understanding which fonts to choose and how to decide about leading (the technical term for line spacing). It’s also useful for designing publicity material.

I’ve received many flattering comments about the print edition of There Must Be Horses so these resources worked for me. Why not give them a try?

If you are interested in self-publishing, you’ll find plenty of information to help you on www.helpwithpublishing.com.