Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Beware self-publishing your books using iBooks Author

Anyone currently using iBooks Author or contemplating doing so should go read this article, "Apple’s mind-bogglingly greedy and evil license agreement”, on The Ed Bott Report on www.zdnet.com.

In short, the EULA for iBooks Author says you can’t sell manuscripts that you create in iBooks Author for anything else other than Apple (even if Apple won’t sell your book).

So, all that work you did to format your book for iBooks Author. Nope. Can’t use that file to submit to anything else.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The new self-publishing author process (guest post by Jay Cannon)

Jay Cannon is a coworker of mine and he's another aspiring author. I thought it would be great to let him tell you about his new novel, The Euclidian: When Worlds Collide, and the process he went through to self-publish.

Here he is:

I am honored to be able to post this blog on Derek’s site. Derek was of great assistance to me in helping me understand the self-publishing process. He also pointed me towards resources that helped me get my book ready for publication.

The Idea

The idea for the book came to me about thirty years ago while on a flight from Stockholm to Dallas. There was no flight entertainment and I ran out of material to read so I started daydreaming about a kid hitting a tennis ball against the wall in an alley. Then a little alien shows up being chased another alien with a gun. The kid uses his tennis balls to knock the gun from the alien’s hand save the smaller alien. Below is how the scene came to life in my book:

The guard grabbed the ambassador by the collar and dragged her into an alley. Pico slipped off and hid behind some bags of refuse in the alley. The guard silently and aggressively searched the ambassador’s body for Pico, going through her purse then the pockets and lining of her coat. In frustration, the guard angrily shoved the ambassador against the wall where Pico was hiding forcing him out into the open. The guard spotted Pico and pulled out a weapon to kill him, but the weapon was knocked from her hand by a tennis ball. She looked to see where the ball came from just in time to get her sunglasses knocked from her face. She turned to retrieve her weapon but Morgan launched another volley and knocked the weapon into the street. The guard ran into the street and in front of a passing police car.

Figure 6. Morgan saves Pico from assassin

The car screeched to a stop and two policemen jumped out. The guard grabbed her gun and took off running down the sidewalk toward the ambassador’s apartment building. One of the policemen fired a shot at the guard but missed his target. They chased the guard and followed her into the building in time to see her enter the elevator. As the elevator door closed behind her, the ambassador stumbled into the lobby. “My apartment is on the third floor!” she said.

“Thanks,” said the policemen in unison and they headed up the stairs.

They got to the third floor just as the elevator arrived and stood in front of the doors with guns drawn. A flash of light slipped through the seams of the doors, then the doors opened and the elevator was empty.

Writing the Book

I started the book around November 2009. I spent evenings, weekends, plane trips and bus rides updating a set of journals with content for the book. A year later I believed I had it finished. The book had just over 50,000 words. Then one fateful day I went to a talk by Greg Bear who was discussing his science fiction book Hull Zero Three. During the talk he stated that a book with only 50,000 words wasn’t truly a real book. A book should have closer to 100,000 words to be taken seriously. My books have closer to 80,000 words.

That just depressed me. There I was facing the daunting task of trying to double the size of my book when I had poured all my ideas into it. I took some time away from the writing and hung out with my friends. Having a few drinks with my friends Euan gave me an idea for adding an assassin to my book. I also added a road trip, which is an idea I got from a vampire book I was reading. A year later I was just over 100,000 words and ready to publish.

Preparing Book for Publication

I sent the book to several friends to get their feedback. My son was the only person to respond with feedback. That is one thing I would warn people on. If feedback is important, select people that you know will send feedback. I incorporated my son’s feedback and then went through chapter by chapter to try to cleanup consistency issues and remove some of the explicit sex. Sometimes late at night after a few drinks some ideas may seem worthwhile, but in the light of day you wonder what you were thinking.

After updating my manuscript I sent it to a professional editor to clean it up. He not only looked at spelling and grammatical errors, but addressed continuity and feasibility errors. I hired an artist to do my cover art and a graphic company to create illustrations inside the book. Understand that artists cannot see inside your head. So the artwork won’t be a perfect reflection of what your think they should be. Allow plenty of time to review and redo the artwork.

Once you have the artwork done getting someone to professionally format your manuscript for the various electronic and print formats you want to support will be well worth the cost. The person that formatted my book also formatted my cover which combines your cover, artwork, bio, book description and ISBN with barcode.

That entire process took me about two months. I used elance.com to find the illustrators and found the other people from Derek’s website. You will need to have a PayPal account to pay people. I decided to create two version of my book. One with images, violence and sexuality; and one without. The storylines are still the same, but I thought parents might want a version for their young kids.

Selecting Sites to Sell my Book

Amazon.com is the number one place to sell books. I used Kindle Direct Publishing to create the Kindle e-books and CreateSpace to create the paperback. I also used Smashwords for the other e-book versions. Oddly enough Smashwords sold the most copies in the first week.

Marketing the Book

To get the word posted information about my book on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. I sent emails to everyone I know. I created display ads for Facebook and Google. I am running this ad at the Lincoln Square Cinemas in Bellevue, WA. I’m hosting a book launch party at Black Bottle to spread the word about my book. I’ll event be selling some there. I had to get a U.S. employer ID and Washington State license to do so.


Writing the book and getting it to market was a huge effort, but well worth it. I hope to continue to write books as it is greatly rewarding.

Derek says: Thanks for letting us know how you went about self-publishing, Jay! I’d love to hear how your marketing efforts go.

Good luck on the book!

And if you’re reading this, why not help out a new author and buy his book?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Where Magic Reigns published!

I just released Where Magic Reigns, Book 2 of the Tales of Zura series for Amazon Kindle!

Now you can continue to follow the adventures of Kyle Morgan, Jürgen Schmidt, Susie Five Eagles, and Veeksha Das as they learn more about the magical alien races that abducted them in book 1.

Except now they aren’t on Earth any more. They have to survive on a hostile alien planet!

Book description

After their harrowing adventures in The Elemental Odyssey, four twelve-year-olds find themselves on a strange alien world. No grown-ups, no park rangers, no policemen, no soldiers. They are utterly alone and at the mercy of the furious perils that teem in the jungles of Zura.

As they flee across soaring islands in the sky, Kyle Morgan, Jürgen Schmidt, Susie Five Eagles, and Veeksha Das meet several different kinds of Zurans. But these aren’t the familiar and furry creatures that invaded Earth. These are scaly reptiles, small and large, but all hungry.

Unfortunately for the kids, on Zura humans are made out of food.

About 82,000 words or 366 pages.

Buy it on Amazon for $3.99.

Be sure to read the first book in the Tales of Zura series, The Elemental Odyssey, available at a discounted price, before reading Where Magic Reigns.

Praise for Tales of Zura Book 1 – The Elemental Odyssey

“YA Fantasy brims with Originality” – SD Beallis

“NOT a clone of the "standard YA story".” – Kevin O’ Mclaughlin

"such an awesome adventure book." – JMBrady’s 10-year-old son

“If you are a fan of YA fantasy, or you are looking for an alternative kind of fiction, I recommend Elemental Odyssey unreservedly. I'm looking forward to Book 2!” –TonyL

“The young adult fiction genre is a bit crowded of late, it’s nice that Canyon here has got a fresh take on it.” – Jerald Wegehenkel

“…i want to thank the writer Derek J. Canyon for writing a unique blend of magic and technology” – Amit

Friday, January 6, 2012

December 2011 sales report

December was my 15th month selling ebooks. I have sold a total of 13,397 books (about 300 given away free) and earned over $12,200 in royalties.

This month I sold 583 copies (plus 300 given away free) of 7 different titles. Without counting the freebies, my sales volume increased about 10% over November.

My royalties increased from $612 to $734.

Average sales per day increase from 17.7 to 18.3 (not counting freebies). With freebies, sales per day were 28.5.

I'm starting to see a correlation in the graph from Oct/Nov/Dec 2010 and Oct/Nov/Dec 2011. If you look at the monthly royalties chart above, you can see that the yellow line has the similar incline across those months. A slight increase from Oct to Nov, and then a greater increase from Nov to Dec. Will January show the same trend? We shall see.

On the daily unit sales chart you can see the massive spike around Christmas time. That’s when I put a couple books up for free. Derek’s Rhyming Riddles #1 was free for one day (and downloaded 96 times), while Derek’s Rhyming Riddles #2Christmas Riddles was free for 4 days (and downloaded 201 times).

Was this free giveaway a success? I’ve only sold a couple dozen more copies of the Riddle books so far, but I’m hoping as people get through the freebies they’ll come back for more.

I’ll be releasing the sequel to The Elemental Odyssey in a week or so. I’m very interested to see if my first full-length sequel will buoy the sales of the previous book.