Update to “News and Views”

Aside

An update to “News and Views”, from an email just received from the British Library regarding ebook submissions:

Dear Steve,

 

At present, electronic publications are submitted to us on a voluntary basis, although Legal Deposit for electronic material is likely to come into force next month. Currently, where a publication is produced in print format, there is still a requirement for this to be sent to us, and we would not require an electronic version as well. Material can be submitted to us by e-mail attachment to this address, providing the total size of the e-mail is no larger than 5 MB. As you have mentioned, PDF is our preferred method but we can accept other formats just as ePub or mobi files.

Hope this information helps.

Regards,

[Name deleted]

British Library – Digital Processing Team

 

A refreshingly clear reply!  Note that “Legal Deposit for electronic material is likely to come into force next month”.

~ Steve

News and Views

Well, what a time to be involved in self-publishing!  It would seem that Amazon are making new enemies in all directions.  From what I’m reading on Facebook, I’m rather glad that none of my ebooks have been listed on Amazon.  Two cases stand out and are very worrying.  In the first, a reader purchased an ebook by an Indie author from Amazon.  Recently, she was notified of the fact that a publisher had taken over the author’s work.  They then proceeded to effectively steal the purchased ebook from the reader and tell her that she had to now purchase a much more expensive copy of it.  Obviously not acceptable in any way whatsoever!  In the second case, Amazon have apparently sent out a mass email to owners of ebooks by a certain author.  This email urges them to remove the ebooks from their libraries.  When contacted by readers, the usual statement is that they should remove the ebooks because of the content.  The author asserts that there is nothing untoward or offensive in the ebooks.  Worse, Amazon kindly offer a refund of sorts.  They make no mention of the fact that the refund is deducted from the author’s account!  This is despite the fact that the terms are that purchasers have only 7 days for such a refund to be available, but these ebooks have been purchased up to 6 months ago!  Together with Amazon’s drive for exclusivity over ebooks and cutting how much is paid to affiliates, it would appear that Amazon want to lose all Indie authors, and their readers.  It is an insane situation.

Something may be of interest to UK authors, or authors with books/ebooks being distributed in the UK.  First, it is a legal requirement for copies of all printed matter to be sent to the British Library.  One copy is usually prepared for permanent long term storage.  The other is made available to anybody who cares to read it, in one of the many reading rooms of the Library.  Moves have also been made to include electronic publications.  A voluntary system is, apparently, already in place.  PDF publications are most frequently referred to (in fact, I found no mention of any other format).  The current system is stated to involve sending a copy of each publication to the British Library on either CD or DVD.  I have emailed to get more current information on this, pointing out that the insistence on sending CDs or DVDs is extremely wasteful, given the usually small size of ebooks.  I certainly have no objection to sending a copy of each of my ebooks, but I would only do so either by email or through an appropriately designed submissions page on the web site.  Apart from this issue, however, there is also a UK Web Archive run by the British Library.  This archives UK web sites, or (I believe) web sites run by British citizens.  This is only done for sites which are “nominated”.  I have nominated this blog.  I am waiting to hear on both these matters.

I find the behaviour of Amazon, in particular, very disturbing.  They are the “big boys” of online book/ebook sales.  There’s no denying that fact.  For them to behave as they are shows a lack of respect for both authors and readers.  Considering that some groups on the internet insist on authors having their books/ebooks on Amazon, for them to be listed on the group’s own web site, a very dangerous situation is rising.  Personally, I am sorely tempted to stop dealing with Amazon entirely!  That would mean that I would no longer download ebooks from authors who only offer them through Amazon, and there are still many at the moment.  I implore my fellow authors to think long and hard about having any association with Amazon.  I believe that they are trying to make their position so unassailable that, if they succeed, authors and readers alike will lose out big time.

~ Steve

Running the Obstacle Course

Being an author presents some very real challenges.  In fact, it’s a bit like running an obstacle course – one created by a particularly fiendish designer.  The problems start at the very beginning.  You decide that you have to write.  Not just essays or other pieces associated with your education.  There’s something inside you, screaming to be let out.  The question then is what do you want to write?  Is it something that comes naturally to you, that’s been engendered by what you’ve read?  Maybe it’s harder to define – a nebulous something that you know is waiting for you but the exact nature of which escapes you.

Having established the need, and maybe having some clue as to subject, you sit down with pen and paper.  The blank sheet stares defiantly at you, daring you to mark it, to destroy its pristine perfection.  Agonising minutes pass, during which nothing happens.  Then, you make that first choice: you can walk away or you can do something as simple as writing “1” at the top of the page.  If you do the first, you may never, ever, return to writing.  Once the blankness of the paper has been overcome, you may find that the words, so long bottled up, come flooding out.  A deluge of ink.  Cascading thoughts.

You’ve begun, and you feel optimistic.  You just know that you have a bestseller in you.  Hang on!  In a moment of utter satisfaction, you pick up the pages you have created and start reading.  What?  Is this series of disjointed thoughts what you thought you were writing?  Surely not! And you know, with certainty, that your spelling and grammar are far better than what you are seeing.  What’s happened?  Has anxiety and haste overcome everything you ever knew about good writing?  This is an unmitigated disaster!  All right, perhaps its better than that, but the chances are that you’ll have your confidence badly shaken.

If you persevere, you’ll eventually find that you need to seriously think about how you create your manuscripts.  Handwritten is all very well, if you can afford to employ a typist who knows how to produce a manuscript that is acceptable to publishers, or literary agents at least.  Typewritten is better, but amendments take so long and consume vast quantities of time and paper.  Ultimately, the only logical option is to use a computer.  Manuscripts can be knocked into shape, amended, re-amended, and so on, without difficulty.  You will also have the digital file ready for any possible need in the future.

So, you have your manuscript.  The world is a wonderful place, full of light and hope.  But, hang on!  What do you do next?  Primary post-writing obstacle.  The obvious thing to do is to send it winging off to a publisher, isn’t it?  Wrong.  The first thing to do is to write a synopsis and a covering letter.  These go, not to a publisher, but to literary agents.  And where do you get them from?  By research.  You can invest in the Writer’s and Artist’s Year Book or you can try to make some sense of internet information, though bear in mind that the latter has many dangerous pitfalls.  These folk get a huge volume of such letters, every one declaring how unique it is, and worthy of risk.  A tiny percentage actually make some headway.  You are, if you’re lucky and you remembered to enclose return postage, about to start your collection of rejection slips…

Perhaps you will now start to understand why more and more people, including some established authors, are going the Indie route.  As an Indie, you basically have plenty of options, and several will guarantee your manuscript will become a book.  There’s “vanity publishing”, whereby you pay the full cost of printing a run of your book, and then have to distribute them, trying to persuade bookshops to carry copies… maybe three?  or two?  just one?  Of course, the big chain book sellers are not likely to even bother to glance at your book.  Sadly, many small, independent bookshops accept reality and won’t risk space on an unknown.  There are plenty of copies of books by bestselling authors that are sent back or dumped to bulk discounters.  Any unwarranted risk is just too much.  Harsh facts.  Much more sensible is to get a reputation as an author before even thinking about seeing your work in a real, live, printed book.  The simplest way to do that is to enter the world of ebooks!  Just how much of the hard slog you do yourself will depend on you, and how much you can afford to invest.  You can do everything or you can get help.  The level of help is very flexible.  At the lowest level, you can upload your document file to a free handler, such as Smashwords, who will produce multiple formats and schedule distribution to various online book sellers.  It’s an excellent place to start, if you don’t mind doing a fair bit of work yourself – especially marketing.  Above this, you get into the realms of employing others.  You can end up paying a cover designer, editor, proofreader(s), epublishers, marketing experts, and on, and on, and…  If you’re very lucky, and hard working, you may even get noticed, and perhaps even liked.  If you get sales of any significance, you may then choose to take the step into print.  Again, you could approach an agent, armed now with a reputation, but the quickest course would be to make use of a print-to-order scheme, such as Createspace (run by Amazon), in which no excess is ever produced, though you do have to pay for any copies you buy yourself.

I have no idea what the world record is for this obstacle race, but it would make the marathon seem like a sprint race!

~ Steve

The Imagineer Blog Awards 2013

We are happy to announce the opening of nominations for the first Imagineer Blog Awards.  The awards will be given to blogs in the following categories:

  1. Authorship blogs, which give tips and general advice to prospective authors.
  2. Book review blogs, focussed on book/ebook reviews primarily.
  3. Publishing blogs, focussed on advice on publishing and self-publishing.
  4. Part-work blogs, where stories are presented in serialised form for reading online.
  5. Poetry blogs, where poetry is presented in blog format.
  6. Photoblogs, where photography is the primary feature of the blog and may involve books/ebooks about photography or photo “gallery” books/ebooks.

You are invited to submit your nominations for any or all of the above in the comments attached to this post.  Nominations close at Midnight (GMT) on 21st January, 2013.

The winners of the awards will be entitled to display the blog awards “button” on their blogs, and to announce their success publicly.  Winners will be listed on this blog and on the main Imagineer web site and Facebook page.  Links to them will also be included on this blog site in a special link category.