The clamour among authors and publishers for a mechanism that prevents ebooks from being pirated (illegally downloaded, copied and shared), particularly for DRM (Digital Rights Management, an umbrella term for technologies that prevent ‘piracy’), hasn’t quite disappeared. Before we get into a discussion around piracy and DRM, let us examine the types of customers that prompt this clamour for DRM technology.

There’s:
A. The customer who will only download free stuff, whether books or software
B. The customer who will download free books because he/she cannot afford to pay for a legal copy
C. The customer who will accidentally land upon a pirated book and download it because he’s found it for free, and is perhaps never going to read it anyway.

If you consider these three options, you have lost a sale only in case A. In cases B and C, they were never your customers anyway, rather, they would not pay for your book in any case.

Spending on DRM to prevent customer A seems a colossal waste of money. And time.

The case for DRM is widely considered a weak one: to begin with, it is expensive to implement and can easily be tampered with. In addition, in the absence of an industry-wide DRM standard, different platforms have adopted different locking mechanisms thus making it difficult for retailers and buyers to purchase solutions that are compatible across platforms without bearing a cost in each case. Moreover, we are of the opinion that e-books should be shared, much like printed books are, and that artificial barriers that prevent what is essentially a basic human instinct to share, must be avoided. DRM, being what it is, will only lead to a backlash from consumers by turning away buyers who legitimately purchase a book are seeking a good reading experience.

On the other hand there is the matter of indiscriminate pirating that is a legitimate concern of many authors. If books are simply distributed over the Internet, free of cost, surely it must impact sales and, consequently, rob authors of their royalties. Unfortunately, there is no study that proves that DRM actually prevents piracy. Moreover, these days a printed book can be easily scanned, then subjected to OCR software, thus making it easily available for sharing. Countering piracy therefore needs a different approach. But, as seen above, it does not make economic sense to spend money countering piracy.

Many reports like this one make the distinction between piracy (where the file is let loose and anyone, even those unrelated to the originator, can lay hands on the book) with casual sharing (where the book is shared between people who know each other. DRM might prevent casual sharing, and, consequently, a sale that might happen because the person it is shared with might actually like the book and buy herself a copy. Publishers understand this and are moving one by one to make their books available DRM-free.

So what might be a good way to prevent unbridled file sharing? Making the book easily accessible might be a good way to start. Most often, it is not the price, it is the fact that books are simply not available, that forces buyers to look elsewhere for books. E-commerce platforms coupled with easy-to-obtain applications on smartphones (on which reading is quite popular(requires a subscription)) can make for a seamless purchase-and-read experience.

While it is still not a good idea to implement hard DRM to counter piracy, one option that is finding much favour (and one that we have adopted on our e-commerce platform, dogearsetc.com, for our books) is digital watermarking (or social DRM). Digital watermarking involves adding an image or some software code that identifies the original purchaser of the book. In case of rampant piracy, the source can thus be traced. Thus, while sharing is not limited or made cumbersome, due to the absence of DRM, publishers are still enabled with the tools needed to identify the customer who purchased the book (and who may have then turned generous and made the book available to all and sundry).

Digital watermarking is not provided on every platform and there are still platforms which offer a choice only between hard DRM and no DRM. Social DRM seems like the best compromise and it is our hunch that it won’t be too long before it is accepted widely.

If you are a publisher based in India, or even an author applying for an ISBN, chances are you have encountered a rather long-drawn, tedious process to apply for an ISBN through an online portal provided by the Ministry of HRD (MoHRD), Government of India. While a step in the right direction, the process itself hasn’t been smooth and has led to many publishers complaining about the long waiting period that they have to go through before their application is approved, not to mention confusion over the documents that need to be submitted for the application to be approved. Further, unlike earlier, where an entire block of 10 or 100 ISBNs were allotted to the publisher, this new process requires the publisher to apply for each ISBN separately. A few of us, publishers, have submitted a memorandum to the MoHRD, and the authorities, in turn, have agreed to look into the issues that were raised. If you wish to be represented (the memorandum highlights the issues of publishers alone, not authors), write in to us so we can include you in our discussions. You can email leonard.fernandes@gmail.com for more details.

Quite often, after you have received the printed copies of your book, you will notice that the colours in it (or on the cover) are quite different from those you saw on the screen while the book was being developed. This is because the colour schemes used in each case – the computer screen and the printer’s ink – are vastly different in their composition and, consequently, appearance.

pic credit: www.printplasticcard.com

pic credit: www.printplasticcard.com

The two colour schemes are RGB (Red, Green and Blue), used for depicting colour on the computer screen (the pixels have little subpixels that just show red, green or blue in different ‘doses’), and CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black; the K actually stands for key, which was what the black colour denoted), a combination of ink amounts that produces a certain colour.

A little more technical detail for those who might care: RGB colours are also known as “additive colour”, because there are no colours to begin with, and the colours are added together to achieve further colour combinations, or until the outcome is white. On the other hand, CMYK colours are subtractive – it starts with all colours (which combine to form black) and as colours are subtracted incrementally, the outcome gradually veers towards white.

pic credit: http://www.americancarton.com/

pic credit: www.americancarton.com/

What must be noted is that the colour gamut in case of the RGB palette is a much larger one when compared to the CMYK palette. Care must be therefore taken to ensure that, while designing printed material, the CMYK palette is used so that printing can actually happen with the right colours. In most software, the default mode is RGB, so if you are designing a printed brochure, for example, you must ensure that you switch to the CMYK colour palette.

So, rule of thumb: CMYK for print jobs, and RGB for web-based graphics.

Authors often ask how much they will get paid per sale. That’s a fair question. They want to know right from the start, and naturally expect the process to be transparent.

They also see what other websites offer. In many cases it is a percentage. Sometimes 30%, sometimes 70%.16651395369_6b93208988_m

So they ask us how much would we pay.

Except in our case, we do not decide how much we will pay. Rather, the author decides how much she/he should earn.

And we pay you that entire amount. No questions asked.

So, how does 100% sound?

That means, if you decide you would like to earn Rs. 10 per sale, that is how much you get. If you decide you want Rs. 100/- per sale, than that is how much you get (except that such high royalties may increase the cost of your book).

We pay you the entire amount. There are no complicated formulae, no obscurantist percentages, no revenue sharing, nothing. One of the many joys of self-publishing with CinnamonTeal.

[Photo credit: Got Credit]

While the concept has been around for quite some time, crowdfunding hasn’t been taken quite seriously as a means to fund self-published books. This article examines various crowd-funding options that an author could consider while gathering the money required to self-publish a book.

Some terms to watch for:

All or Nothing: In particular, while choosing a platform on which to raise funds, do pay attention to the all-or-nothing policy. While starting a campaign you are required to state the amount you wish to raise. Platforms that adhere to the all-or-nothing policy will not pay you if you do not raise this amount. That means, for example, if you have stated a goal of Rs. 10,000/- and you manage to raise only 7,500/-, you will not get that amount and it will be refunded to those who have contributed to your cause. In this case you will have to raise Rs. 10,000/- or more to be able to avail of the funds.

Campaign: A campaign is a call for funds. Many platforms do not allow an infinite duration for campaigns i.e. you are allowed to display your request for funds only for a limited period of time. This limit varies with each platform. A successful campaign implies that the targeted amount of funds are raised.

Crowdfunding: It is an electronically-abled process where people pitch in with small amounts of money to help you reach your stated goal of funds. So, if you wish to publish your book and you are short by Rs. 10,000/- to meet your expenses, crowdfunding is a good route to employ to meet the shortage. Depending on how you pitch your idea, i.e. tell people about your book and how you will use the money you raise, various people will put in small amounts of money to help you raise the 10,000/- you need.

Rewards: Since equity-based crowdfunding, where your funders are entitled to a stake in your project, is not legal in India, it is suggested  that you “reward” those who have funded you. Rewards could be related to your project. For example, depending on how much they have funded, you could give them one or more copies of your book for free or at a substantial discount, or you could reward them with a bookmark or some such thing.

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Disclaimers:

Crowdfunding has not matured in India as much as it is in the West. There is also some ambiguity as regards its legal standing. Read this link for more information on this topic and issues to consider. That said, it has been successfully employed by many individuals and organizations as can be understood by the “success stories” promoted on each platform.

Please note that these are all independent sites and the information gathered here is mostly gleaned from their websites. We have not worked with any of them. If you wish to engage the services of any of them, we advise you to investigate the service yourself for the fine print. Similarly, this list is not an exhaustive one. Companies whose websites were not clear on certain points were not listed here. See a longer list here [the website needs registration].

The services are listed here in alphabetical order. The order does not suggest any preference for any service provider over another.As stated above, this list does not cover all crowdfunding websites that are operational in India, especially those that are geared towards disbursing micro loans for rural entrepreneurs, such as Milaap and Rang De. They may, however, be investigated to see if it works for your book.

We suggest you view the FAQs page on each website and/or contact them to clarify all doubts you may have. Many platforms charge a fee so it is better to have all your doubts cleared before you launch a campaign. Ask how funds will be transferred, whether you will be able to accept funds into an Indian account, what taxes are deducted and what will be the nature of any other charges imposed. Also ask if international donors will be able to contribute to your project.

 

Here are the platforms we chose to list:

Jack of All Threads [ http://jackofallthreads.co/]

How it Works: This platform is unique in that it allows you to design a t-shirt and sell it in order to raise funds for your project. The platform will design the t-shirt for you, facilitate its sale and produce and deliver them to those who have bought it. You will be given a base price which should be equal to or less than the selling price you decide for each t-shirt. At the end of the campaign, should you meet your sales goals, you will receive the difference between base and selling price times the number of t-shirts sold.

All or Nothing: The platform adheres to the all-or-nothing policy.

Duration of campaign: A fixed duration of 5 and 21 days is allowed for the campaign, although the campaign can be sometimes extended at the platform’s discretion.

Fees: The platform charges 10% of the funds raised.

 

The Hot Start [http://www.thehotstart.com/]

How it Works: The process begins when you submit a campaign for approval. After approval your campaign goes “live” and you can begin directing potential donors to the website so that contributions can be made.

All or Nothing: The platform offers the choice of two options, one adhering to the all-or-nothing principle and the other to what they have called a “flexible funding model” which allows you access to the funds raised even if you do not meet your goal.

Duration of campaign: This platform does not insist on a fixed duration for your campaign although it is recommended that you keep your “project open for a period between 30 and 60 days”.

Fees: There is no mention of any charges on the website, whether or not the campaign is successful. Do contact them for more details.

 

Wishberry [https://www.wishberry.in/]

How it Works: You go through a sign-up process during which you have to provide all details related to the project, including the amount you wish to raise. The project must then be approved before you can launch the campaign. During the sign-up process you will be required to submit a marketing plan as well as short video pitching your idea. Be prepared with these so you can proceed smoothly through this sign-up process. The website expressly states that foreign donors will be able to contribute to the campaign.

All or Nothing: The platform adheres to the all-or-nothing policy. If the entire amount is not raised the funders are reimbursed their money less a small charge.

Duration of campaign: A fixed duration of 60 days is allowed for the campaign.

Fees: An upfront non-refundable fee of Rs. 2,500, plus 12.5% Service Tax, is charged as soon the campaign request is approved. Cancellations after approval are not allowed. In addition, a transaction fee of 10% of the funds raised on the platform, plus 12.5% Service Tax (on the 10%), is charged.

 

In addition, to the afore-mentioned platforms, all of which are based in India, there are also others based abroad that you could use to fund your book. Prominent among them are Kickstarter and Indiegogo, which are used primarily for creative endeavours. In addition, there is Pubslush, which has tailored its services to meet the needs of authors and publishers. In the case of these websites, factor in the cost of shipping and postage while deciding your rewards. Also make sure your book appeals to an international audience.

We hope this primer will provide you with some food for thought as you think of ways to fund your book. Remember that crowdfunding is in itself a lot of work because once you have launched a campaign, it will be visible only for a finite period of time, during which you need to make sure that it is known to as many people as possible so that they can fund it. You have to therefore work your contacts, email them and urge them on Facebook and other such platforms to visit your campaign and donate to it if it appeals to them. A half-hearted campaign will be of no use to you.

 

Photo Credit: LendingMomo.com

self-publishing services a la carte

We have often wondered if we really provide value to our customers. With so many other firms offering services similar to ours, it would be foolish to still stay around if we did not make a difference. We have therefore asked ourselves: Why should people do business with us? What should be their rationale for choosing us over the others? What is it we provide differently and why should that matter? These questions are best answered by those who have shopped at CinnamonTeal and returned satisfied. However, based on their testimonials, we have gathered some insights into their reasons for doing business with us. We hope we are right.

  • Your book is important to us. It is not another statistic we can trumpet out loud or a milestone we have to cross. We have never approached two books in the same way – you would be hard pressed to find two identical book designs. And the more you tell us about your vision for your book, the harder we strive to fulfill that vision. At the end of the day, the services we provide should ensure that your book comes out trumps.
  • You know what you are paying for and there are no hidden costs. And you get what you pay for. We endeavour to be always transparent in our dealings.
  • You will choose your course of action. We will not force you to do things you do not wish to do or go down an uncomfortable path. You will be informed on what is needed to arrive at a beautifully published book and be given the freedom to decide how to proceed. This is why we have chosen not to offer packages, because we believe that there are many components in the packages our competitors offer that are either of no use to the author or should simply not be charged for.
  • You have a vision for you book and we strive hard to manage your expectations. We will tell you, for instance, that books do not sell unless the author is involved in promoting them. If you ask us, we will also tell you not to depend too much on just a store presence (rather, to try all available channels) simply because there are too many books out there and books that are not promoted will not sell. You will know, going in, what to expect at the end of the process.
  • You will not end up with a shabby book. We are die-hard traditionalists who are not willing to tamper with the idea of the book. We believe that a customer buying your book should get value for her money and therefore a book should be well edited and properly presented. CinnamonTeal Publishing has been in the business since 2007, having introduced self-publishing in India, and we know what aspects of the book need particular attention. Having worked with almost all genres, we bring that experience to bear while designing your book.
  • Your satisfaction is important to us. For that reason, we are constantly looking for ways to improve our services, both in range and in depth. This is because we would like to be a one-stop shop for our customers, many of who have unique needs. For the same reason, we do not have constraints – like that on the dimensions of the book or on the number of images you can insert into your book. On that note, expect to see us improve our services even more. Owing to the Publishing Next conference we organize each year, we are attuned to the changes happening in the publishing world and bring that knowledge to the table while working on your book.
  • You can always communicate with us. We are easily accessible. While we prefer that you first email us describing your book and your vision for it, we are open to talking to you after that email so we know what it is you wish to discuss. In addition, many of our authors have come and met us at our office in Goa, simply because it assures them to know that there are people at the end of the line.

But perhaps, most importantly, you should work with us before we give it straight to you. We do not shy away from letting you know where your book needs improvement, we enumerate all costs and do not have any hidden charges and we do not promise to deliver a book overnight. There are certain things that are simply not possible and it is always good that the author knows what to expect while working with us. We can confidently say that we work in your interest, in order to put a book out there that’s the best we can produce.

These are still our thoughts. If you feel differently, we’d like to hear from you.

Image: epsos.de

3301099717_9409b2d08b_mMany author, unaware of the potential of self-publishing, as also of its demands, harbour notions that may render the entire self-publishing experience an unpleasant one for them. This post is to dispel some of those notions.

a. Self-publishing is a free-for-all platform where rules do not apply.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, the intense scrutiny that self-published authors and books are subjected to necessitates that the generally accepted rules of publishing should be followed even more diligently. The book should therefore be properly edited, it should be nicely presented, and laws relating to copyright issues should be followed. Like in the traditional mode of publishing, it is not advisable to cut corners while self-publishing too. So get your cover professionally designed, if you must.

b. I can rest, now that I have submitted by manuscript to a services provider

There are many service providers who offer a wide selection of self-publishing services, even promise instant books. It helps the author to know what services are being purchased, what will be delivered in each case and what is required from the author to ensure that a good book is published. An author who stays away from the process and cares little about how the book progresses is almost sure to be disappointed by the end result. The author would do well to think of the whole self-publishing process as an investment that must be carefully nurtured and monitored to ensure that the product, the book, is well produced, and that the money is well spent.

c. People will buy the book that I have written

Chances are they won’t – if they have not heard of it, if it doesn’t look appealing and if it is not easily accessible. Many authors shy away, or are downright dismissive, of their marketing duties. With so many books published these days, it is important for the author to do everything in her power to ensure that those who might read the book know about it. This is not to be confused with peddling the book, which can be done through retail outlets, whether online or offline. However, the author is almost always expected to market the book aggressively, whether through online forums or by ensuring that the book has sufficient exposure in the local press and in circles frequented by the readers of the book.

d. I can pay for publicity

This follows from the earlier point, and is usually a method employed by authors who are either shy of speaking about their book or by those who feel that it is beneath them to speak about it. It is important to understand that few will speak about your book as passionately as you will. So why leave it to someone else to do what you can do best? Besides, publicity agents will have many projects on their hand, just one of which is your book. They will have to divide their resources among these many projects and devoting more resources towards the publicity of your book will cost you more. Moreover, your book should communicated to your readers not in one burst, but in many small messages spread over a period of time. That only you can do.

e. I can make quick money

Many authors calculate how much they have spent on the book, and divide that number by the number of copies they have printed to arrive at the price of the book. Others factor in a huge royalty payment into the book’s retail price. Such impatience in attempting to recoup the costs of publishing can only backfire on the author. With public opinion already loaded against the self-published book, and the print-on-demand model already adding to high costs, any attempt to further increase the price will only alienate retailers and buyers alike. A more prudent approach would be to build a readership around the book and allow more copies to sell.

An author is advised to take the self-publishing process seriously, and ensure that everything that can be done to deliver a good book to the reader is done. Such an effort will ultimately pay off and ensure that the book is a roaring success.

 

(photo credits: https://www.flickr.com/photos/meliah/)

Quite often, we find ourselves in situations where the author has “borrowed” images from the internet, assuming innocently that they are free to use. More often than not, such use is prohibited. Here are some things that you need to know before you use the “free images” available on the internet.

Copyright protects the original work of the creator from being used for commercial purposes. Any artistic or literary work which is copyrighted cannot be used without the prior permission of its creator. In some cases, commercial use is permitted only after assigning due credit to the source or, in some cases, if it is derived from the original. It is therefore prudent to check the applicable rules in each case. Copyright law applies to any work of art, image or a photograph from the time it is created and violation of copyright law often leads to legal disputes. Even unintentional use of an image is considered a copyright infringement. Using only a part of the image, duplicating the image without permission can also lead to infringement. An image which is available on the internet does not necessarily mean that it is free to download and use. You need to check the license details provided for its usage.

 

copyright

So does this mean that there aren’t any free images on the internet? Certainly there are. Any image which is said to be available in the ‘public domain’ implies that it is not owned by any person/authority and one is allowed to use it. However, certain conditions still apply. For example, if the images you download are ‘free for personal use’ alone, then you cannot sell a book and profit from it if it contains those images, since selling the book violates the copyright restrictions assigned to the images. Copyright images are easily identifiable as they have a watermark on them. Websites such as flickr, imagebase.net, morguefile, Wikimedia commons.org have images that are licensed for commercial use. Some of these can be used after giving due credits given to the source/website.

Always make sure to check the copyright rules surrounding the image before you decide to incorporate it in your own work.