Archive for April, 2011


Self-publishers: Taxation and business lowdown for POD and eBooks

© Declan Conner and declanconner.com, 2011.

Taxation depends on personal circumstances and the various tax treaties between America and your country of tax residence. Most of the distributors are based in America and for Americans the situation is straightforward. For those who live outside America, by law, your POD and eBook distributor have to deduct withholding tax of 30% on sales in America until you can prove your claim not to pay tax, or to pay tax at a reduced rate if a tax treaty covers your country. If there is no tax treaty, then tough, you will have to pay the tax.

But before we talk about taxation, it is best to look at the business of self-publishing and trust me; it is a business, if you are to take it seriously. The more I learn about the subject of self- publishing to pass on to others, the more I am of the opinion that every author’s aim should be to secure that all elusive contract with a traditional publisher through a literary agent, or leave their manuscript safe and secure on the hard drive.

 I just wonder, as author’s tread the path of self- publishing if they realize how little money there is to be made. Sorry, I will rephrase that to . . . how much money there is to be lost.

If you look at the development costs for what is a business, it is very easy to throw $5,000 down a hole. Of course, through sites like mine and there are many, there is plenty of advice for would be self-publisher to produce their book for a fraction of that investment. (Providing you don’t count the unpaid cost of the hours of writing etc)There has to be a stronger motivating force than making money, or the patience to play the long game, because there is very little profit to be made from self-publishing either eBooks, or dead tree books for the average author.

Unless the money you intend to invest is no more than you would spend on a hobby, or you either want to see the fruits of your labor displayed on your bookshelf at home, or you are driven by the need to have the general public read your story, then consider every aspect of what is a new business and you just may strike it lucky.

‘Amanda Hocking,’ you shout, ‘she made a million from her eBooks, before a traditional publisher offered a million for a series of three books.’

‘Don’t get carried away,’ I say, ‘Amanda is one in a million.’

Like any business, you should have a business plan as well as a marketing plan to have the slightest chance of success. Before commissioning that book cover designer, editor, or proofreader, set yourself a budget, get quotes and research the production costs. These costs are all your initial investment, which you can set against your tax return as self-employed expenses. On this subject, it is wise to save every receipt for every business expense and for capital equipment used in your business. The list is extensive, but will include such as your computer and printer, subscriptions, editing and sundries, etc. On the subject of editors, insist they provide you with an invoice.

 It is not possible for me to give advice on individual personal circumstances, or how royalty receipts are dealt with by your countries taxation regime. Taxation is something you will have to take advice on, either through an accountant, or by searches on your countries Internal Revenue sites.

We can now move on to work out the cost price of your paper book. Your gross profit will be the margin you set for your royalty. In the case of eBooks, if you sell your eBook through kindle at $2.99 or more, your profit per sale will be 70% on American, UK and Canadian sales and sales in all other countries it will be AT 35%. Set your price at less than $2.99 and your royalty will be set at 35%.

Once you are in a position to set your retail price, there are many factors to consider that could be more to do with marketing than common sense. First, consider this. . . If you set your price of your paper book at an uncompetitive price, be prepared to sell only to friends and family and kiss your investment goodbye.

 If you set your price at say $0.99c for your kindle book, then your gross profit per sale will only be $0.35, or if you are British 0.25p. I’m sure you all have calculators, so work it out from there how many eBooks you need to sell to get a return on your initial investment. I am not saying don’t do it, it would be hypercritical of me as my books are set at $0.99c and price can be a useful tool to gain a reader base. However, be warned, without marketing, price alone will not gain you sales even if you offer your book free on kindle. You’ll soon find that out when you go on the forums on Kindle boards, or Authonomy and hear the reports of low sales figures.

Don’t be put off by my article, publishing you work can be a very personal rewarding experience, just make yourself aware of the facts. One fact is that most new small business don’t make a profit in the first year. Another fact is that, once an author has become an estabished brand, with a reader base, usually with in the region of four books, it is possible to make a profit as many will tetstify.

For detail on how to claim your rights under a tax treaty for your country to the IRS, There is a tax guide under the tab formatting POD for you to do it yourself.

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© Declan Conner and declanconner.com, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of all or any material, or articles and guides published on this site without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Declan Conner and declanconner.com with appropriate and specific link direction to the original content.

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I doubt this topic will be flavor of the month with editors and literary agents. However, I say this, tongue in cheek and await with baited breath your response. After due consideration and all things considered, I have arrived at the conclusion, at this moment in time, that you are collectively destroying the English language at ground roots level. To add insult to injury, not content with censoring clichés, adjectives and adverbs are disappearing from modern literature without even a proverbial . . . bat of the eyelid. ‘Of course’, you say, ‘clichés don’t cross international boundaries. Take the biscuit for example. In America it would be take the cake’.‘Oh dear’ I say, ‘poor translators’.

I would ask you to spare a thought, for those poor unfortunate foreign students, whom after spending four years or so to learn all the oral and literary skills to be proficient in English, only for them to be thrown into the big bad world, unable to understand what anyone is saying in a social setting. Thank goodness for the classics.

Have no fear. Help is at hand. As luck would have it, those very nice people at Authonomy (Harper Collins) have been wonderful in providing an extensively researched list of clichés for authors to avoid, in their ‘writers tips section’. Believe it, or not, they have headed it . . . A to Z of clichés to avoid like the plague.

Okay, I’ve said my piece, now I’m off to write a short story with as many clichés that I can find. You’ll find it on Amazon any time soon in my second volume of short stories.


I am currently working on a simple, yet comprehensive guide on how to format and design your pages for POD, through the likes of Create space and Lulu. The guide will enable you to provide headers and correct number paging, together with drop caps etc. There is also a “Lowdown on taxation,” article included.

To see how it is progressing, check the, “POD Formatting.” page navigation tab at the top of the page, or click here. Formatting POD


PRESS RELEASE

Declan Conner, is the author of ‘Lunch Break Thrillers’. Twelve not so short crime/mystery thrillers. His stories cover popular subjects such as, edating frauds, identity theft, political intrigue, home foreclosure, lost airline baggage rage and climate disaster etc, across a variety of thriller genre styles.

Lunch Break Thrillers, without the links has already enjoyed success, reaching the bestseller list for its category in the UK and sandwiched between the likes of Steven King and Agatha Christie.

Declan has made two of his short stories interactive by adding links to articles that sparked the ideas for the stories and to enhance the readers experience. As an example, his controversial story, ‘Where there is a will, there is a war’, puts forward a fictitious scenario for the real reason behind the war being waged by America and Britain in Afghanistan. The links add some ring of truth to the story to leave the reader with plenty to ponder about in the dark corners of their minds, long after the last page is turned.

Whilst the use of links in ‘How to’, eBooks is common, Declan hopes that others will follow his lead, by making use of simple eBook technology to enhance the reading experience for adult fiction eBooks and which will set them apart from printed books. This is different to the interactive features developed to harness the computer characteristics of eReaders and designed to appeal to those who enjoy computer games. These features are at the cutting edge of technology and are particularly well suited to children’s books.

His book is available with both American and UK English translations, at an introductory offer of 99c in America and 70p in the UK.

US, LUNCH BREAK THRILLERS        UK, LUNCH BREAK THRILLERS

Self publishing a book soon, or do you have one that is creating a BUZZ. Why not send me details and I will post it under, Creating a Buzz. Check it out.


Missing_wraparound_print_cover (1) 1040

Professional design  above versus my version

Missing Cover 2

Survival_Instinct_print_wraparound_cover 1048

Professional design  above versus my version

SURVIVAL INSTINCT NEW COVER

Deadly Journey. Due for publishing early 2014

deadly Journey JPG

Professional design  above versus my version

JORNEY TRIAL EBOOK COVER

The answer is everything…Your book cover is the packaging that it going to sell your product that it contains.  It is clear from the examples above, that my own skills fall short in this respect, when compared to contracting the skill sets of a designer.

There is a basic principle in advertising that applies equally to books. Just look at ads in your local newspaper. The well-informed advertisers work to three principles. Whom it is, what it is and where to get it. All other marketing jargon and arty-farty creativity are bullshit, unless the purpose of the ad is brand awareness. You must always have the basics in mind when commissioning a designer, to be able to give them a clear undertaking of what you require and leave them to use their creativity around that. If you are designing the cover yourself, then just pray your creative juices will enhance the basics. I have to say though, that cover design is the one item on your list that if you have a budget, it is best left to the professionals. I think I struck lucky with the design of Lunch Break Thrillers. However, the cover for Survival Instinct left a lot to be desired. I knew how I wanted it to look, but didn’t have the software or the expertise to realize my concept at the time. Fortunately, when I scraped the budget together, the end result was well worth it and paid dividends.

The development of eBook technology and the sites that distribute eBooks have set size parameters that have caught out many designers of books. Books that caught the eye on the bookstore shelf can look bland on the web page and unless you are a fan searching out a writer, the book can be easily overlooked. I would always recommend designing the eBook cover first and make sure that it is clearly visible as a thumbprint.

So how do the basics apply to all book covers? Simple, but first take a look at eBook covers as the information for the customer to make a decision about buying is fragmented and slightly different to the printed book. Your name is your brand, your title is what it is and if it is an eBook, the click on the cover will take you to where you can get it and will provide further information to allow you to make a decision to buy, or not.

In the case of paper books, the customer will have everything in their hands to make the decision, through the cover, the book blurb, the author’s bio and sample reading, but as in the case of both media, it is like being on that first date … there has to be that initial spark to explore the possibilities.

If you take the brand, you may be unknown now, but your name is going to be your brand. All that implies, is that you will be known for writing in a certain style and in a certain genre. If you take care of the quality of your product then you will become a trusted brand and recommendations will follow. When designing your cover be sure to have one eye on future publications. By positioning your name where it will appear on all your books, including the spine and in the same font style, it will make your brand easily recognizable as your reader base grows. The positioning of your name on the spine is perhaps the most important. Just think how it would look with a number of your books on your own bookshelf.

Titles are… ‘what it is’ and should give some clue as to the content of your story. The same is true of any background design.

I think the, ‘where to get it’, is self-explanatory. In all cases, you will have been enticed by a need, possibly influenced by outside sources, or marketing to arrive at the location to purchase.

So what other influence can determine your choice of design? For this, you need to research your genre. However, it doesn’t stop there. Ask the question, will a design for the American market suit the British market? You may be surprised by the answer.

‘Who am I to give advice?’ you say. All I can say is, I have researched the subject of covers over the last two years. ‘Will the information guarantee success?’ you say. Hell no, but it will put you in with a fighting chance in what is a highly competitive market.

Try the link in the sidebar at the bottom for further insights into cover design (Success and Failures.) I will add more as I find them.

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© Declan Conner and declanconner.com, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of all or any material, or articles and guides published on this site without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Declan Conner and declanconner.com with appropriate and specific link direction to the original content.

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FREE. How to format your book for Kindle

I should point out,  this guide misses out an important step in formatting for smashwords. The reason for this is, that part of their style guide results in all italics and other features being lost and means you have to go through your entire MS to put them back in.

Their guide is also sketchy about centering which they say can be hit and miss. Centering is not a problem with my kindle formatting guide if you follow the instructions.

The first thing you are going to need is Kindle. Don’t worry you can download it for Free to your PC. You will then be able to sample for free, read and buy books. If you have an Amazon account, then you have a kindle account. If not, it is simple to sign up.
If you follow the links below, scroll down and on your left hand side there is the Download for Kindle to PC.

If you then go to Amazon .com for US Customers , or Amazon,co .uk, for UK customers through the links below. You will then be able to sample my book to look at how it turned out (free). Of course if you decided to buy it, then I would be delighted. The full copy would enable you to see how I’ve used the end of the book to talk to the reader and put links to the paper book and forthcoming publications. It will also enable you to test out fully the navigation of the hyperlinks to work your way around the book. You can also look at other books for ideas.

US http://www.amazon.com/Lunch-Break-Thrillers-Stories-ebook/dp/B004OA60U6 $0.99c

UK http://www.amazon.co.uk/Lunch-Break-Thrillers-Short-Stories/dp/B004OA6LIM  0.70p

I’ve produced this guide as someone who is not computer literate. My guide will hopefully assist those like me that are baffled by computer speak. It may not be the only way to format, but it worked for me.

I am assuming your MS is not already formatted as a book with headings, numbers and contents pages and it has no text boxes.

The first thing I would ask you to do is to forget completely how a book should look on the page. When formatting for kindle, there is no need for page numbers, headers, justified text, or text boxes to line up chapter numbers and blank pages to ensure chapters start on the right hand side. If you take the steps in this guide, Kindle’s system will convert it to how it should look as an eBook.

The second thing I would do before starting is to send a copy of your original MS to your email address as a back-up copy, or save a copy to a pen drive. If ever your computer crashes or is stolen, at least you will have access to your original MS.

Open your MS in word 2007.

Open a new page in Word 2007.

On you MS word document press Ctrl and A to highlight all text. Right click on any of the highlighted text, this will reveal a box to enable you to copy the document. Then go to your new doc, right click and paste your MS. Leave your new doc highlighted.

At the top of the page, select, ‘Page Layout’, under that tab click on margins. On the drop down click on ‘Normal’, and then press save. You can make adjustments to the margins after you have inserted your page breaks at a later stage.

On the page layout page go to ‘Spacing’, on the top R/hand side and on the second box down select, or type 10 point and again save. The box above should be zero.

Click on the top left hand ‘office symbol button’. Go to the bottom of the pull down and click ‘options’. In this drop down, click on ‘Proofing’. This will open a new box and you should click on ‘Auto correct options’ which will bring a new box into view. Check the ‘auto correct’, tab and uncheck all the ticks and press ok. Do the same with ‘auto format as you type’, and click ok.

The next step is to normalize your document.

Press ‘Ctrl and A’ if your doc text is not still highlighted blue. On the home tab at the top of the page, go to the normal box at the top right of the page and right click, then select ‘Modify’. Make sure that in the box that appears, that you set your font at ‘Times new roman, size 12′ and press save. Go to style changes at the top right hand side. Open this and select ‘Normal’.

Now go to the top of the page to where it says paragraph and press the arrow in the corner to reveal your para’ settings. Note all your text should be highlighted, if not Ctrl and A.

Your setting should be …Alignment ‘left’. Outline level, ‘body text’. Indentation left and right both zero Under special, select ‘first line’ (indents). I am in cm’s and I have set mine at 0.5, but you can chose your own… Spacing, before, zero. Spacing after, 10 point. Line spacing, single. click ok. Now go to your normal tag (under view on the home page) and click on it. Your entire doc will now be set. Don’t forget to press save on your document.

You can now click on a white part of the page to remove the highlights from the text.

Do not change the size or font at this stage. Or try to re-centre anything.

In the paragraph section there is what looks like a P the wrong way round. Click on that and it will show dots for spaces between letters, and paragraph symbols and also where indicated, arrows, if you have used the tab key in error.

You now need to go through your entire document to check you have no double spaces between letters. Also that there are no dots at the beginning of a paragraph before the first letter. If there are any Tab arrows, you need to back space to the previous sentence and use the return key to create your paragraph. (Be careful not to back space too far and delete you punctuation or text.)

At the beginning or top of the page of your MS you are going to add a title page….Press the return key to give you two spaces from the beginning of the doc and type your book title ie SURVIVAL INSTINCT. Press the return key twice to give two more para spaces and type under that, ‘By, Author Name’.

Press the return key and go to page layout tab at the top of the page and select. To the right of where it says ‘orientation’, there is a symbol for a space break showing two pages with a space between them. Click on the symbol. On the drop down select page break. You should now be able to see the page break in the correct place after the author name.

Left click and hold down the mouse and run over the title page text to highlight. On the Home page click on the arrow in the corner of where it says paragraph. In the drop down box change the alignment to centre and press ok.(Whatever you do, do not use the symbols for left right centre or justify) Then go to the font and change to 14 pt. and save.

Go to the top of the next page and click you cursor and put two para spaces and then type Copyright. Then another Para and type the title. Another para and type, Copyright 2011 – Author name. (It is not recommended you put in the copyright symbol as on some devices it shows up differently.) Another para and type All rights reserved. Repeat with paras if you want to put anything else. The idea is to keep it short and sweet, so the reader can quickly get to reading the first chapter. If you want dedications, put them at the end. At the end of your text click on ‘Page Layout’ at the top of the page select page break as before. (Note if you have any page breaks or section breaks on your MS, other than the ones you are putting in, then back space them and delete them.) When the copyright page is complete. you can centre the text as per how you did the title page.

You are now ready to do your contents page. You can either type a list of chapter titles or simply number them in a line. Whatever you do, do not use text boxes, you will be using hyperlinks so there is no need to have both names and numbers.
Again two paras from top of page type, Contents and then your list of chapters. When you have finished insert a page break. (If your para spacing looks to be too much, then highlight all the contents and reduce your spacing to say 6 point just for that page.)

Now you can start with your chapters. (Make sure there are no more than two para spaces between the page break and the title of all chapters.) Again start 2 paras down for your first chapter title and one para for the start of the chapter text. You now need to adjust your first line of text for your chapter title and your first line of text. Click your cursor in front of the chapter title. Go to the para drop down box and under special, change ‘first line’, ‘to none’. Then press save. Do the same for your opening para text. At the end of your chapter (and every chapter) do one para and type Contents. Then insert a page break

Repeat this through all your chapters. If you want the Chapter headings larger, change to 14 point, but do not change the font. Remember if there was any centering anywhere in your text. Only use the drop down para box to re – centre.

After your last chapter, it is a good opportunity to thank the customer for reading your book and tell them of any forth coming publications, dedications etc.

Now all you need to do is to add the hyperlinks for the reader to navigate your chapters.

Go to your first Chapter title/ Chapter number. Select the ‘Insert’, tab at the top of the page. You will see Links. Now highlight the chapter title/number. Click to drop down the links box and click on bookmark. It will ask you to give the bookmark a name, You can use one word out of the title or type in numbers. Repeat this on every chapter title.

When you have finished go back to your contents page. Highlight the first chapter and press links. This time click on Hyperlink. In the box that appears at the right hand side you will see Bookmarks. Click this and your list of bookmarks will appear. Select the correct bookmark and click ok. You then have to click ok on the hyperlinks box. Repeat this for all your contents.
When finished Go to the end of the first chapter where you typed Contents. Highlight this. drop down the links box and add the word contents as a book mark. Do this at the end of every chapter.

When finished go to your contents page. Highlight the title Contents. Select links and then select hyperlink as before.
Your document is now formatted.

Select the round Microsoft button at the top left, go to ‘save as’, and save as a word 2003 doc.

On the word 2003 doc go to ‘save as’ and then to ‘other options’. Select “Web Page filter” and save.

You now have a html of your formatted document. If you open this you can test all the content links.

It is this you submit to kindle. (html) Note. When it is transferred to kindle their software justifies it all. If you use their simple preview, it may not show indents for dialogue etc at the top of a page. Don’t worry it will show up okay on kindle.

US http://www.amazon.com/Lunch-Break-Thrillers-Stories-ebook/dp/B004OA60U6 $0.99

UK http://www.amazon.co.uk/Lunch-Break-Thrillers-Short-Stories/dp/B004OA6LIM 0.70p

Survival Instinct (The dark side of dating) thriller book.

US http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004P8K2S8 Survival Instinct $0.99

UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B004PGN24G Survival Instinct 0.70p

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© Declan Conner and declanconner.com, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of all or any material, or articles and guides published on this site without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Declan Conner and declanconner.com with appropriate and specific link direction to the original content.

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I see so many threads about paper books dying out in favor of eBooks and leading to the demise of publishers, I thought I’d check it out.

It would seem these fears are unfounded.

EBooks are only big business in America, but there is an argument that e-readers are actually expanding the book reading market in the US. Germany, the largest book market in Europe has yet to get off the mark with eBooks, which currently account for a tiny percentage of the total books sold. The same is true of Brazil, which is in the top five of book markets in the world. E-readers there cost from $500 dollars to $1500. Until last year, the only e-reader on the market there had only 200 books in their catalogue. England, which is in the top ten book markets, is only just starting to get off the mark.

From what I can see, the biggest influence on the demise of book stores in the US and England is both the financial crisis and the supermarkets venturing into book sales, not to mention the rise of Amazon. Maybe we fail to take a worldview of the market place and it taints our view of what is actually happening in the world book market? Think about the mega sellers that are translated into 140 languages. Not all countries have taken to e-readers. But one thing is for sure, publishers will drain every ounce of profit they can from eBooks.

A recent example is the publisher of Harry Potter books. A year ago the made around 10,000 from eBooks. The following year they formatted 1,900 books as eBooks and made 1.3 million. Ebooks are just another string to their bow. This is still dwarfed when you consider Rowling has made 400 million from her paper books, after translation to approx 140 languages. Just think what her publisher must have made.

I wouldn’t even cry for the large bookselling stores. Barnes and noble have invested around 140 million in the eBook market to hedge their bets on survival.

Some chains may go to the wall in America, but the slack will be taken up by the Independent book stores and supermarkets. Lets be honest, would you give your child an eReader and trust them not to break it. Children will still be bought paper books and will take the satisfaction of the experience into their adult life. Of course we are talking about the fully developed world here. Spare a thought for those in poor countries where eReaders don’t exist.

The fact is the world market for paper books is over 60 billion and rising year on year. What was the old saying. “There’s one born every minute.” Population growth will ensure paper books continue to rise in volume year on year. And like I said, America is only one market. It is not the world.

I think the only good thing about eBooks is that it has given the likes of me the chance to self-publish.

Free guide, how to format your book for kindle.