Digital Libraries – Our Best Bet For International Reach

BiBF2016

I’ve covered the value of OverDrive and like digital library suppliers many times here, but it’s worth revisiting once more in mind OverDrive’s presence at the Beijing Book Fair last week.

From the OverDrive blog: (LINK)

“Over the last several years, OverDrive has made a significant investment to increase the amount of global content available for our library and school partners. We now offer 35,000+ Chinese titles from over 500 publishers in our online catalog, Marketplace, both in the U.S. and internationally. Additionally, Marketplace now features hundreds of thousands of titles from publishers in 63 countries and we add new titles each month in both Simplified and Traditional Chinese as well as Japanese, German, Spanish, Polish and many more languages. Titles include bestselling eBooks and audiobooks written in the native language as well as titles translated from English.”

But it’s not just about selling Chinese content in China. it’s about selling Chinese and other foreign language content globally.
From the Over Drive blog again, taking Chinese titles as an example,

“Libraries have responded by creating curated collections of community language content. Toronto Public Library, Los Angeles Public Library and Seattle Public Library all provide examples of digital collections featuring thousands of Chinese titles.”

This is where the true value of digital libraries for foreign-language content lies for us internationalist indies: accessing ex-pat and immigrant communities around the world that still want to read in their home language.

Yes, a Chinese reader in Toronto or Los Angeles could go to the Kindle CA or US store, but Amazon has less than 2,000 Chinese language titles, compared to OverDrive’s 35,000.

Many languages offered by OverDrive are simply not supported by Amazon’s Kindle store yet.

And just to add Fiberead does get our Chinese translations into OverDrive.

In other international library news, Axiell has partnered with Odlio to expand digital content offering to libraries. (LINK)

Odilo partnered with Gardners late last year to build its content catalogue.

For those targetting Latin America Odilio is a particularly good bet, and a good reason to be with Smashwords, which partnered with Odilo at end of 2015.

And also a must for those targetting that part of the world is the Latin American ebook subscription service Nubleer, which is accessible through StreetLib. (LINK)

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This post first appeared in the International Indie Author Facebook Group.

Click HERE to see the original post and join the IIA Group, your guide to going global.

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*  Ebook Bargains UK Newsletter Promotion *
Okay, so the Britain-based EBUK promotional newsletter isn’t quite Bookbub, but it does get some authors some extra sales, and plenty of authors come back to advertise with us time and time again. Not surprising with listing prices ranging from just £5 to £15 GBP.

EBUK is a not-for-profit venture and all proceeds after costs go towards supporting nursery school projects here in The Gambia.

Right now there’s a special 2-for-1 promo for IIA readers who want to use the EBUK promo newsletter to promote their titles.

Just type the code IIA-2-for-1-Promo anywhere in the metadata fields when you book a title and the guys in the UK will credit you with a free listing of equal value.

Click HERE to go to the EBUK site.

The International Indie Author
Looking at the bigger picture.

 

James Patterson Book Shots, Sachet Marketing and the Perils of the Look Inside Feature.

DeadHeat

I follow James Patterson with interest – not so much for the reading as for the presentation and innovation.

Patterson didn’t get to be the world’s biggest-selling author – bigger than Rowling –by hiding his books away from public view and sticking to safe bet formats.

His latest Book Shots project – titles of approx. 150 pages written for the new world of mobile consumers – is designed to chase reluctant readers for whom a full length title of 300 or 500 pages is a daunting prospect.

Stories at the speed of life, as they are cleverly branded.

But he takes that one step further still with his Dead Heat Book Shot, which with perfect timing is set in the Rio 2016 Olympics and released to coincide. And this is a 150 page standard Book Shot delivered in four parts, of just 35-40 pages each, and in the UK retailing at just 49p (a full Book Shot retails at £1.99 GBP).

Whatever we may think of the actual writing, we have to admire the packaging, marketing and timing.

Yes, we can all find things to complain about in the storylines, but Patterson isn’t pretending to be Shakespeare.

Patterson is writing for the twenty-first century mass-consumer that wants reading entertainment they can slot between the rest of their busy lives. Entertainment that can compete with binge-video streaming, music and games, or can be read while multi-tasking in the supermarket queue or waiting for the kids to come out of school.

Patterson – far more so than Rowling – is at the top of his game. His main focus is crime thrillers and mysteries – my preferred genres – so I’ll be buying all the Book Shots over the next few months and reading them not for entertainment (I like Patterson’s tabloid style, but not that much!) but to analyse as a fellow author and work out what it is that keeps Patterson so far ahead of his nearest competitors, year in, year out.

Serialising his short books like this is one great way of reaching new readers, adding new discovery points and standing out from the crowd. Just a shame that the Look Inside feature on Amazon stops before the actual story starts.

Serialising our self-published works came in for some bad press thanks to some indies trying to scam KU by chopping up larger books to gain the pot payout, but in principle serialising our work – not just new titles but existing works – is a great way of reaching new readers.

Why?

• we can keep down our up-front risk cost to the reader down – 49p is less of a risk than £1.99 to get started on the new Patterson four part series, and if we do like it we don’t pay more for buying the rest afterwards.
• if we are serialising old works then there is no delay for readers who do like the first to get the next. It’s just a click away.
• Patterson’s Book Shot in full is just one more title in his portfolio. Just one more discover point. By chopping into four and offering four separate parts or an option to buy the book in full Patterson adds five discover points. Five more chances of a reader coming across his works and getting hooked.
• it needn’t cost us a fortune in extra bespoke covers. Patterson uses the same cover for all four titles, just the edition number changes. And we can see, the volume number is big and bold to make sure it stands out on the thumbnail images.

Which is one lesson I’ve learned from Patterson’s Book Shots already.

For my Sherlock For Kids and Easy-English Sherlock series I use the same base cover design for maximum branding, but the thumbnails do need close inspection to see what is what. So I’ll be looking at some sort of additional cover feature to differentiate the covers in thumbnail viewing mode.

At a broader level I already have my flagship title Sugar & Spice available as a full book or in three parts, with the first free courtesy of StreetLib (the only way to get indie titles into Amazon at $0.00 without being price-matched or in Select). And I’m looking to extend that experiment to other titles.

Next year I’ll be starting on my full-length Classics For Kids titles, with a re-telling of the Sherlock full length titles, some Shakespeare titles and an easy-read version of my favourite Austen novel, Pride & Prejudice, releasing those as serialised parts.

Beyond that there are distributors who specialise in sachet-marketing for the mobile reader.

Juggernaut in India, Pigeonhole in the UK and Germany, and Tapas in the US immediately spring to mind.

I know one IIA Group member already has some titles on Tapas, and when the time is right hopefully will come along and share the experience. I almost signed up with Tapas earlier this year, but real-life got in the way. I’ll be trying again soon.

Going wide is about much more than just being in as many retailer as possible. It’s about making our products appeal to as many people as possible.

♦ ♦ ♦
This post first appeared in the International Indie Author Facebook Group.

Click HERE to see the original post and join the IIA Group, your guide to going global.

♦ ♦ ♦
*  Ebook Bargains UK Newsletter Promotion *

Okay, so the Britain-based EBUK promotional newsletter isn’t quite Bookbub, but it does get some authors some extra sales, and plenty of authors come back to advertise with us time and time again. Not surprising with listing prices ranging from just £5 to £15 GBP.

EBUK is a not-for-profit venture and all proceeds after costs go towards supporting nursery school projects here in The Gambia.

Right now there’s a special 2-for one promo for IIA readers who want to use the EBUK promo newsletter to promote their titles.

Just type the code IIA-2-for-1-Promo anywhere in the metadata fields when you book a title and the guys in the UK will credit you with a free listing of equal value.

Click HERE to go to the EBUK site.

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The Thirty Minute Upload Workout – Going Wide Needn’t Be A Chore.

SFK-The-Red-Headed-League-English-German

And no, despite the image, this is not a self-promo Buy My Book post!

 

When it comes to finding the path of least resistance we indies have it down to a fine art.

Even though all logic dictates that, unless we have a sweetheart deal with a retailer, being available as widely as possible is the best long-term career move we can make, it seems many indies will nonetheless convince ourselves it’s all soooo much effort that we’re better off just signing up to Select and crossing our fingers.

NB: This isn’t an anti-Select post. Select is a great tool and used wisely can bring its own rewards, but we should never chose an option simply because it’s quick and easy, or because we see big-name authors doing well in Select but who may well have special deals like White Glove, etc that are why they are doing so well when so many regular indies are not.

Especially when it’s so quick and easy to go from being just in Amazon’s dozen stores to being in 400-500 stores worldwide, and still be in those same dozen Amazon stores as well.

How quick and easy?

Well, overnight the cover came in for my English-German bilingual version of the Red-Headed League, the Conan Doyle classic re-told for children as part of my Classics For Kids global literacy project.

There’s not much point putting a global project in Select, because, despite that long list of countries in the KDP dashboard when you click world rights, Amazon actually blocks downloads to much of the world and imposes surcharges on ebook sales in other countries not in the Kindle Zone (ie outside the dozen or so Kindle store countries).

For example a $2.99 title sold in South Africa will cost the reader $4.99 but the author will see just 35% of the original $2.99 list price.

I picked the bilingual title to illustrate this post because, being bilingual, it has almost double the metadata, with bilingual title, bilingual series title, bilingual blurb, etc.

But it still took me only thirty minutes to put that title into all the distributors needed to reach 400-500 global retail and library outlets.

Okay, here’s how I set about it.

First, I have everything ready and lined up.

  • The epub/mobi file is ready.
  • The cover is ready to go.
  • The finalised Word file is open at the title page.
  • I have the blurb all-typed up and ready to go.
  • I have a list of keywords ready to type in.
  • I have my categories and price decided on.

All of which (epub aside) we need whether we are going as wide as possible or going into Select. If we have the mobi file it’s just a couple of minutes work to run it through Calibre and convert to epub.

Then I simultaneously open browser tabs for Amazon KDP, Kobo KWL, Pronoun, Smashwords, Draft2Digital and PublishDrive (I don’t have direct access to Apple and gave up on NookPress when Nook UK closed, so I use the aggregators to get into B&N).

From there, it’s a breeze.

  • Copy title from Word doc and paste into title bar in KDP, then KWL, then Smashwords, then Pronoun, then StreetLib, then PublishDrive.

If moving from Select to go wide, then do the same and copy the metadata from KDP to the other stores.

  • Repeat for series title. Repeat for blurb.
  • Upload cover to KDP, then move along to KWL, then etc.
  • Upload epub/mobi/Word doc to KDP, then KWL, then etc.

All of which has so far taken maybe ten-fifteen minutes of our valuable time if we’re on a steam-powered laptop and a Third World internet server as I am.

Then we have fifteen-twenty minutes remaining to tackle the more time-consuming tasks of selecting categories, keywords, price and outlets.

But here we simply refer to our categories and keywords list and input the data, one upload option after the other. Category options vary slightly from one upload option to the next, but it’s no big deal.

Prices again need a few minutes of thought to make sure we optimise our list-prices. For example, having chosen our KDP prices we can still play with lower prices for some locations with some outlets. If we have $3.99 AUD set for Australia in KDP (the lowest we can get 70% for) then obviously we need to match that in KWL, D2D, etc for Australia using the territorial pricing tool. But we can still list at 0.99 for example in New Zealand, which isn’t covered by Amazon’s MFN clause because there isn’t a Kindle NZ store.

Our final job is to choose the sales/library outlets for each uploader. Again, done one after the other it’s just a few minutes work to sort them all.

If using KDP then obviously we untick Amazon on StreetLib, Pronoun and PublishDrive (there are good reasons why we might want to upload to Amazon without using KDP, but that’s for another post).

Ditto KWL.

Beyond that we need to choose whether to use Smashwords or StreetLib for OverDrive, and whether to use StreetLib or Pronoun or PublishDrive for Google Play, and D2D or Smashwords or PublishDrive or StreetLib for Tolino, and StreetLib or D2D for 24 Symbols, and etc, etc.

Yeah, decisions, decisions, but if we’re going straight from one to another it’s not rocket-science to keep track and make sure we get all the options available without any overlapping.

Finally, hit publish and, for Smashwords, pop back and check the channels and series managers because for some reason Smashwords make us do that after we publish, not before).

Then make ourselves a cup of coffee. We deserve it.

Many outlets will have our title live the same day, Others will take a few days or a week or even many weeks, but the thing is, all it’s taken us is half an hour of our lives to set it all in motion.

Maybe a few minutes longer if we are also doing NookPress and Apple direct, or maybe also using Bookbaby or XinXii or Ebook Partnership or…) but by any realistic measure this isn’t going to take us much over thirty minutes.

A half hour now that could be paying back at one level or another for years to come.

There are good reasons to restrict our reach with some titles and focus our energies on one retail outlet.

But saying we haven’t time isn’t one of them.

I’m wide. How about you?

♦ ♦ ♦

This post first appeared in the International Indie Author Facebook Group.

Click HERE to see the original post and join the IIA Group, your guide to going global.

♦ ♦ ♦

*  Ebook Bargains UK Newsletter Promotion *

Okay, so the Britain-based EBUK promotional newsletter isn’t quite Bookbub, but it does get some authors some extra sales, and plenty of authors come back to advertise with us time and time again. Not surprising with listing prices ranging from just £5 to £15 GBP.

EBUK is a not-for-profit venture and all proceeds after costs go towards supporting nursery school projects here in The Gambia.

Right now there’s a special 2-for one promo for IIA readers who want to use the EBUK promo newsletter to promote their titles.

Just type the code IIA-2-for-1-Promo anywhere in the metadata fields when you book a title and the guys in the UK will credit you with a free listing of equal value.

Click HERE to go to the EBUK site.

 

 

Paypal Suspends Operations In Turkey. StreetLib, Draft2Digital, Smashwords, Pronoun et al – Take Notice.

download

 

Paypal Suspends Operations In Turkey. StreetLib, Draft2Digital, Smashwords, Pronoun et al – Take Notice.

Imagine you’re an indie author in Turkey. You’ve been selling ebooks using platforms like Smashwords, StreetLib, D2D, Pronoun, etc, and receiving your payments through Paypal because for most of the above that’s the only option available to you(in Pronoun’s case, the only option available, period.)

From 06 June your writing career is going to be effectively over as Paypal suspends all operations in Turkey.

The Turkish financial authorities have declined to renew Paypal’s licence. (LINK)

The whys and wherefores are neither here nor there.

For these Turkish authors (and ex-pats in Turkey without a Paypal account in another country) sales coming in through Smashwords, StreetLib, D2D, Pronoun, etc will effectively be meaningless unless those authors are able to use one of the very limited alternative payment options available.

Pronoun only offers Paypal. Pronoun no longer has any relevance to Turkish authors. Some of the other distributors offer bank-transfers, but getting money transferred to a European account from the US can be prohibitively expensive ad make smaller payments pointless. Likewise receiving and banking USD cheques/checks outside the US can be a nightmare.

It’s not just Turkish authors. Paypal makes a lot of noise about being a global player in 203 markets worldwide, but here in West Africa I cannot open a Paypal account at all, despite the fact that The Gambia is listed as a Paypal country. Paypal requires street names and zip codes. Only handful of roads here in The Gambia have names, and there is no postal service, only PO Boxes in a handful of big towns, so zip codes don’t exist.

Across much of Asia, Africa and Latin America where Paypal accounts can be opened these are often limited accounts and money cannot be transferred to local banks from Paypal, so receiving payments through Paypal is meaningless.

Many people in the US and Europe have had Paypal accounts closed on a whim by Paypal because of some real or perceived transgression.

To get my payments from Pronoun, Smashwords, etc, I have to have the money paid into a friend’s Paypal account in the UK, and they transfer the money to my bank account. For D2D I have a friend in the USA who receives payments on my behalf, and holds that money to pay for services I may need.

Most people in the world won’t have conveniently-placed friends in rich western countries to help out.

Back in 2009-10 when the global ebook market was US-UK it didn’t matter so much that distributors offered such limited options to receive payments.

In the globile world of 2016 it matters a lot.

And as events in Turkey demonstrate, it could matter a whole lot more in the future.

Being able to sell books around the world through Pronoun, StreetLib, Draft2Digital, Smashwords, etc, is fantastic. Fantastic, that is, for western authors and the handful of global authors who can participate and get paid.

In the light of events in Turkey I would ask all distributors to look again at their payment options for authors and broaden the payment-receiving options.

It’s 2016, not 2009. The ebook market is global. It shouldn’t be a one-way street for authors lucky enough to live in the right place that they can get paid, while other authors are forced to look on enviously, denied the opportunity to participate in the Global New Renaissance.

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This post first appeared in the International Indie Author Facebook Group.

Join the International Indie Author Facebook Group for daily news, views and discussion about the global publishing scene.

CLICK HERE.

 

StoryDrive – Beijing. End May. Something To Look Forward To.

001beijing

China’s StoryDrive convention kicks off later this month. Not something we can easily attend, so enjoy the photo of the convention centre as a reminder that China is very much part of the digital age, and we should all be looking very closely at the opportunities unfolding in this amazing country.

I’m on limited net access this month (for the many new subscribers, I live in West Africa) so just a brief post here to point you towards Porter Anderson’s post over at Publishing Perspectives with a preview of StoryDrive. (LINK)

As Anderson describes it, StoryDrive “is a conference that focuses on storytelling across cultural and international borders, and the rights trade.”

For the many newcomers who may be thinking “why bother with China? It’s a closed community,” just to say I regard China, along with India, as the two most exciting prospects on the planet right now for savvy indie authors looking at the bigger picture.

It’s a common misconception that western authors can’t sell in China and no-one in China would be interested in western books anyway.

A widely held belief that has no basis in reality.

As long ago as 2014 my UK-based crime thriller that has absolutely nothing even r emotely Chinese about it topped the ebook charts in China, including taking number one slot in the Kindle China store.

It can be done. It has been done.

China is a very real opportunity for adventurous indie authors, and not just for ebooks. China is way ahead of the transmedia game.

Do take time to check out Porter Anderson’s post and see why you should have StoryDrive Beijing 2016 on your Follow Closely agenda.

Oh, and watch out for StoryDrive Asia in Singapore in November.

A Global New Renaissance is unfolding. Writers today have opportunities quite unprecedented in human history.

Don’t let them pass you by.

The Global New Renaissance is real. It’s happening right now.

Be part of it.

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This post first appeared earlier this month in the international Indie Author Facebook Group.

To keep up with all the latest on global publishing opportunities, and a lot more, join the International Indie Author Facebook Group. (LINK)