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You should not self-publish if…

While many people choose to self-publish nowadays, authors are well advised to give it some thought before they choose this path to get themselves published.  As an author, you should not self-publish if:

a. You aren’t in it for the long haul: Authors who’d rather write about the book and not bother about the rest of the process are better off working with a mainstream, established publisher. Think about self-publishing as an entrepreneurial process. Like it makes no sense to open a store and leave it unattended, it makes even little sense to write a book and care little about the remaining stages that the manuscript must go through before it becomes a book that customers will buy. Every stage of the process is important: the editing process where the author must approve of or reject the changes made by the editor, the cover design process where care must be taken to ensure than an appropriate yet attractive cover is designed, the typesetting process where attention must be made to the most minute of details including the fonts used, the imprint page and other aspects like widows and orphans and the pricing which will ultimately determine whether the book sells in adequate numbers. Most importantly, you should be willing to market the book, something we discuss in the next point.

b. You cannot be bothered with marketing the book: No one, not even the publisher, knows the book better than the author does. The author knows the circumstances that triggered the book, each character depicted in the book and the intended audience for the book and is best suited to “explain the book”. It thus follows that the author can market the book best. However many authors feel that marketing is something they’d rather stay away from, sometimes even feeling that it is beneath them to market their own book. Since many buyers will search for the antecedents of the author, either by reading about it in the book itself or by researching it, before buying a book, it follows that when the book is spoken about by the author herself, it helps the marketing process.

 

Photo Credit: Zamburak (flickr.com)

 

c. You seek to recoup investments in a hurry: If you have calculated your costs and are now planning to price your book so that you can recover your costs within a few months, nothing will discourage you more. Self-publishing requires a great deal of fortitude and you must be there for the long haul. Like we mentioned before, self-publishing must be thought of as an entrepreneurial venture, doing what it takes to ensure that sales are sustained and costs are recouped over long periods of time. Instant gratification just won’t happen and must not be expected either.

d. You wish to quit your day job: This follows from the earlier point we made. While much has been made of success stories such as Amanda Hocking, it remains a fact that book sales by self-publishers are, at best, modest. That said, with enough marketing effort by the author, sales can matter, often enough to recoup costs. However, to expect book sales to replace your other sources of income might be stretching it a bit too much. We suggest you’d rather keep your expectations low and be pleasantly surprised.

e. You are doing it for the recognition: Again a bad reason to want to self-publish. Authors usually wish to self-publish because a)they have heard of the lengthy process it takes to get published and wish to circumvent that process, b) they wish to exercise total control over every aspect of the publishing process or c) they have approached publishers before and have been told to go fly a kite, although the book and the plot do make sense. It is never a good reason to wish to self-publish simply to see your name on the book. Or to aspire for a Chetan Bhagat-like moment. Or to hope someday that you will be approached by a Bollywood producer for movie rights. These things do not happen often and if that’s the reason you are writing a book, that book might not be worth reading and might not be worth spending a publishing effort on. You must want to self-publish because you have a good story to tell and because this seems like a good way of doing it. Note that ultimately content is king and if your book is short on good doses of that, chances are someone, everyone, will recognize it for what it is.

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New distribution service for eBooks

CinnamonTeal Publishing has launched a new distribution service that will cater to electronic books alone. This service primarily targeted for the distribution of books in Indian languages will allow CinnamonTeal Publishing to leverage its association with several ebook distribution services around the globe and ensure worldwide visibility and availability for its titles. In addition to its revamped website dogearsetc.com, ebooks distributed by CinnamonTeal will also be available through smashwords.com and globalebooks.es, allowing its titles to be purchased on more than 100 websites and a wide range of devices.

CinnamonTeal believes that this service will allow publishers to make their books available worldwide without the extra hassles of printing and physical distribution, in a medium that is increasingly gaining currency among readers. There is a lot of evidence to suggest that ebook sales are increasing worldwide and while CinnamonTeal Publishing already provides ebook development services, this new distribution service will supplement that service and ensure that the produced titles are also now easily available to buyers. For new authors, especially those who wish to self-publish, this service provides them the low cost option of doing everything electronically and altogether rejecting the option of producing copies in print.

This service will be available for all languages and books will be produced in EPUB, MOBI and PDF formats, which, together, can be viewed on most of the e-readers available in the market. For more details, do write in to contactus@ cinnamonteal.in

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At Lightning Speed

Many distributors are reluctant to work with self-published authors and this remains the ultimate challenge that such authors face, one that renders their book inadequate no matter how well written and produced. At CinnamonTeal we have tried our best to provide distribution services for the titles we have published but these efforts have largely been confined to India. Many authors want their books to be available globally. Our association with LightningSource International (LSI) provides just that.

Starting this month, we have entered into an agreement with LSI, an international POD distributor as a result of which we will be able to offer POD distribution services and make our titles available for buyers in Europe, North America and Australia. This agreement, allows us access to a large number of distributors and retailers.

We hope that this service will go a long way in making our titles accessible to a larger audience. We have always believed that our authors have told some beautiful stories. We are glad many more can now read them. This service is available only for the books we have published

To know more about this service, email us at publishing@ dogearsetc.com

Europe Australia & New Zealand USA
Adlibris ALS Ingram
Agapea Biblioquest Amazon.com
Aphrohead Booktopia Baker & Taylor
Amazon.co.uk DA Information Services Barnes & Noble
Bertrams Dennis Jones & Associates Espresso Book Machine
Blackwell Footprint Books NACSCORP
Book Depository Limited Garratt Publishing
Books Express Holistic Page
Coutts Information Services Ltd. James Bennett
Designarta Books Koorong
Eden Interactive Limited Peter Pal
Trust Media Distribution (formerly STL) Rainbow Book Agencies
Mallory International The Nile
Paperback Shop Ltd. University Co-operative Bookshop
Superbook Deals Westbooks
The Book Community Ltd. Wheelers NZ
W&G Foyle Ltd.
Wrap Distribution
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The Marketing Buck Stops with You!

So you recently wrote a novel which was accepted by a publisher? Great!

Now, you probably think that your work is over? Well, unless you are Salman Rushdie or J.K. Rowling, the answer is a big NO. As a matter of fact, even the most famous authors don’t stop at just getting the book out in the market. The importance of marketing in today’s book business cannot be discounted at any cost. Good marketing can help increase sales and make future book sales easier for you.

If you are a first time writer or a relatively unknown author, then marketing is all the more important. There is a concept of market pull and push. In case of J.K. Rowling, the market pulls in the book while in the case of a first time writer; it is market push which is required. Pushing in a book into the market resulting in sales is not that easy for a first time writer. In this age where hundreds of new books get released every week, you need to market it effectively so that the reader deems it fit to be bought.

Even before I start discussing ways of marketing your book, you need to answer one question. Do you have confidence in your book? If the answer is yes, then read on. If you say no, then no one can help you. Book marketing starts with believing in your baby. Sales will follow.

One of the main reasons for a book’s failure is lack of marketing. If no one hears about your book, then what’s the point in writing? After all, you wrote because you wanted your story to be heard, right?

Your book may have been published by a traditional publisher, self-published or through Print on Demand (POD) but no one will know about it unless you as the author are ready to take the next step; that of marketing and promotion. Unless you can afford to hire your own publicist or PR company, the onus of marketing the book is entirely your own. Contrary to the opinion of professional PR firms, there are many low cost ways to promote yourself and your book. Marketing is all the more important if:

1. You are a first time writer
2. The book is self-published
3. The book has been published through POD
4. All the above

In case your book has been published by a traditional publisher, you’ll find that they do a lot of marketing for you, but that is not enough. You will still need to contribute in the marketing exercise if you wish to see your book sell and make it to any of the best seller charts. So here are a few ways you can market your book.

Get Reviewed

This is the most effective way of getting people to talk about your book. Getting reviews for your book is easier that most forms of marketing but it is the credibility of the reviewers that matter. Aim first to get them reviewed by the best reviewers. This can be very difficult unless you have common contacts. Good reviewers are wary of taking on first time writers and this is because of the deluge of books that the market has been flooded with. And a major portion of these books are by first time writers. Since the quality of most of the books in terms of content is questionable, the good reviewers stay away from them.

The next step should be to target publications that have readers whose interests make them a likely target audience. Book reviews by actual readers of the book also matter. So, if you know someone who bought your book, then get in touch with them and ask for feedback. Tell them to blog about it or put their reviews on the online bookstore’s site. This usually works since prospective readers/customers are limited in their ability to search reviews from varied sources themselves.

Get into that bookstore

If your book has been published by a traditional publisher, then getting your book to the bookstore is not your headache but if it has been self-published or through POD, then it is the author’s responsibility of exploring that option. Nowadays, POD service providers provide distribution services as well for bulk orders.

Authors should build relationships with bookstore owners. Get in touch with them; bring up the topic of getting them to stock your book. If it needs, tell the owners/managers that you will do a book reading or book signing session. You will have more influence and success in independent bookstores, since chain stores work with wholesalers and distributors.

Get back in touch

So what if the last college you attended was 10 years back, you are still an alumnus. Your alma mater still needs you and so do you. You have written a book and you are proud of the fact so why not let your college know about it, not with the intention of selling the books but to get the word around. The current students of your college could well be your future buyers.

This applies to all your previous companies as well. Unless you fought before you left the company, they too would be proud of your achievements. Let them know about your book.

Personal Promotion and Social Networking

Internet marketing has changed dramatically in the last 3-4 years, with many new applications and tools. Create a personal website which needn’t be fancy–just enough to present information about your book and create a buzz. In addition to describing the book, you can post reviews and offer a free chapter to readers. This will create that interest that you are looking for. The eyeballs to sales conversion rate increases dramatically if the prospective readers/buyers can find all the required information about you and your book all at the same place.

Social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter Myspace etc can be excellent marketing tools for your book promotion. Book marketing through social networking sites take time and effort, so you can’t give up after only a few days.

As a first time author, your main objective is to hammer your name and the name of your book into the public consciousness. Use all your creativity in such a way that not only does it increases sale for your current book but will also improve your chances of successful marketing next time.

There are many other ways of marketing your book. An author just needs to use his/her imagination to tap into some unexplored marketing goldmine. Always remember, there is nothing called overnight success. It might take you years to achieve that overnight success. At the end of the day, you will become very tired but very enlightened. Believe me; it is very satisfying to see all your hard work pay off.

Pijush Gupta is the author of “Have a Pleasant Journey” published by CinnamonTeal. He blogs at www.pigtale.co.in

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The Cost of Self Publishing

One question that is often asked by authors contacting us is that related to the cost of publishing. I have attempted to answer that question here although it is nearly impossible to give an exact figure considering the fact that almost every book is unique in some aspects. What follows is an approximation.
Please note: These are approximate costs charged by CinnamonTeal Publishing. Rates at other publishers/printing houses may vary. Rates will also vary depending on the specifications of the book you choose to publish.
a. Editing: Assuming you are done writing, the first step would be to have the book edited. In fact, at CinnamonTeal, we insist on one round of editing. This service costs Rs. 85 per A4 page (13 Garamond with 1″ margins) for copy editing and proof reading, Rs. 65 per A4 page for proof reading alone and Rs. 125 per A4 page for substantive editing. Assuming a manuscript of 35,000 words and 350 words to an A4 page, having the book edited and proof read will cost Rs. 8,500.
b. Cover Design: The service costs you Rs. 5000/-. You get three unique covers to choose from and three iterations to improve the cover you have chosen.
Total Cost so far: Rs. 13,500
c. Interior Page Design: The service costs Rs. 20 per page for text-only pages. The above word count translates roughly into 150 pages of A5 dimensions (i.e 5.83″x8.27″). Interior page design will therefore cost Rs. 3000/-
Total Cost so far: Rs. 16,500
d. Printing: A single copy of the book, having specifications mentioned as before and with only black and white pages, with perfect binding will cost Rs. 157.50. For the sake of this article, assuming 50 books are printed, the cost of printing totals Rs. 7,875
Total Cost so far: 24,375
e. ISBN: While the ISBN and the associated barcode is provided for free, government regulations require that a copy of the book be deposited at each of the four national libraries. The cost of four copies totals Rs. 630 while postage and paperwork costs Rs. 300. Hence the cost of printing and sending these books totals Rs. 930.
Total Cost so far: Rs. 25,305
f. That’s pretty much it. There are no setup costs, no fulfillment costs (except the cost of printing the book and postage) and no “manuscript changing cost”. One might decide to have a website designed and we charge Rs. 5000 for that service. 
So we are still talking about a total cost of Rs. 30,305.
Roughly translates into US $ 700.00
You might also consider the cost of the time you will spend marketing your book and tracking your sales. While the amount mentioned above is definitely not a small one, it is an investment in yourself. The time and effort you have put in while writing your book and fine-tuning it is definitely the single-largest investment you have made. This later investment just sustains it.
Note: If you choose the “do-it-yourself” route, you could save on most of these costs. The only cost you’d have to bear is that of printing. Assuming you choose to print 50 copies, that cost would amount to Rs. 7875. Roughly $180.00
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The end of the book as we know it?

The definition of a book might soon change.

While we are all used to it’s current definition as “a written work or composition that has been published (printed on pages bound together)”, advances in technology and increasing expectations from readers may converge to ensure that that definition no longer holds or, at best, is only partially true.

There’s no denying that customers want to be in charge and have a say in all interactions they are a part of. One-way communication is just too passe. They want their foods tweaked a little, decide which channels to watch on TV, even decide who wins the next edition of American Idol. It’d be pretty dumb to assume, therefore, that they would be content reading a book without a part to play.

So imagine a situation where Snow White is warned that the apple may contain some poison. Or one where Thomas Friedman is grilled on his notions of a Flat World. All while reading the book.

Technology may just make that possible. Discussions are already happening through instant messaging and other collaborative software. With the emergence of the broadband and improvements in content delivery, it won’t be too far away when the book is not just a static collection of words and pages but a dynamic discussion forum. Real time collaboration may make it possible for authors and readers to communicate and offer stories, plots and explanations tailored for the reader. If the book is indeed a source of knowledge, then such an incarnation of the book might indeed allow people to communicate and collaborate and put their minds together in the pursuit of knowledge. Ideas can be debated and discussed threadbare. Nuances can be emphasized.

Interactivity will be key. The book will indeed be a social lubricant.

Any thoughts?

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Impending Doom or Misplaced Fears?

There is much debate on whether the printed book will survive the onslaught of its electronic counterpart. With newer devices being produced almost everyday that make e-books easy to access, it seems like e-books are here to stay. While many publishers are apprehensive of the impact of e-books on their business models, it will be, nonetheless, interesting to see how things pan out here in India.

Even today, many Indian villages remain inaccessible because of the poor quality of roads and last mile delivery of goods remains a huge challenge. Primarily because of this, and because literacy levels associated with the rural hinterland are considered abysmal, books hardly make it to the villages in the numbers that it should. This means that those who actually want a good book to read cannot get one. The Government has made a feeble attempt to introduce libraries but barring that and a few mobile libraries that are introduced by well-meaning individuals, finding a good book to read is long shot off.

It is in this context that the impact of e-books must be examined. Mobile connections cover almost half of the country’s population and a huge perecentage of the rural populace. The average screen size of the mobile has also increased. That means books, if transmitted electronically, can be easily downloaded and conveniently read. In order to cater to the needs of the vernacular market, innovations will be important. Important strides are already being taken in this direction although more work is needed.

At an important time such as this, the correct steps must be taken. It is important to realise that this need not be a zero-sum game and that e-books and printed books can co-exist. In fact it has been proposed that e-books might actually prop up the demand for the printed versions. Careful thought must be therefore applied before publishers yield to the temptation of enforcing DRM rights and other such controls on the sale and dissemination of e-books.

What are your thoughts on this? How do you think the e-book wave will play itself out in India? Or is it too early to speculate? Are e-books going to change the way publishing is perceived and books delivered? Your comments are invited.

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Riding the e-book wave!

It was already about e-books. From the Kindle to the Nook to the very unimaginatively named Sony Reader, e-book Readers were fast to come by and offer those on the move a new way to read books. e-book Readers offered a truckload of choices – from the ability to carry more than a 1000 books at once to the ability to make annotations and notes on the book as you read it.

The iPad has raised the stakes even further. It was always possible to read e-books on smartphones thanks to the likes of the Stanza app on iphones and Aldiko on Google Android phones. With everyone who is someone preferring an electronic version of the book to read, having an e-presence has now become a necessity.

Making your book available in an electronic form also has an economic aspect to it. With more than half of the world’s readers of English books concentrated in North America and Western Europe, it makes sense to cater to these readers, who now increasingly prefer the convenience of e-books. There is also the cost factor. With e-book development being a one-time charge, every additional “e-book” costs nothing to produce. You are earning from each sale and spending nothing.

At CinnamonTeal, we are doing our best to help our authors leverage this channel. We have tied up with myebooks.com and Smashwords™, both respected book channels in their own right. Our association with them allows our authors access to a large number of platforms thus making their books accessible on most devices whether on mobiles or on dedicated e-book readers. To know more about this service, click here.We also offer an e-book development service for a variety of formats.

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Not All Good Things Come In Packages

We have been often asked why we do not offer packages like many other POD publishers do. It has been common practice about POD providers to offer publishing packages that bundle together services for an all-inclusive fee. At CinnamonTeal Print and Publishing, we have consciously chosen to stay away from packages. There are reasons for this:

a. Many of the packages available on offer bundle services that might not be needed by the author. But because no alternative is available, the service has to be bought, and paid for, as part of the package. For example, in package-based offerings, a person may have to pay for cover design even if she could have done it herself

b. Some services ought to be there for free. Like the non-exclusive contract which many publishers offer as part of their basic package but which, we believe, is central to the concept of POD publishing and must be offered without any strings attached. Similarly, in India, ISBN must be issued without any charge.

c. The concept of packages flies in the face of the spirit of POD i.e. helping authors get around budgetary constraints in the process of publishing their book. At CinnamonTeal, we first encourage authors to check and see if their friends or acquaintances can provide services like cover design or editing for free or for a reduced rate.

d. Many times, authors who have bought package-based services are left out of the loop when those services are provided. Consultation is not provided for as part of these services. Hence, during crucial stages like the editing of the book, the author is not allowed to weigh in on the edited draft. Inputs are incorporated but charged as another round of editing.

e. Most of the packages offer marketing services that promise the moon but require the author to be an inherent part of the process. Nothing wrong with that except that the author is led to believe that she can stay out of the process and the marketing package she has paid for will generate sales on its own.

f. Quality isn’t assured. This follows from an earlier point made which illustrates the dangers of leaving the author out of the process. If the author is not allowed to provide her inputs to the edited manuscript, for instance, various nuances of the plot may be altered and the narrative may be lost in translation

CinnamonTeal Print and Publishing Services provides editorial, design and POD services to customers around the globe. It provides services a la carte – you pay only what you ask for.