Monday, February 25, 2013

Self-Publishing Platforms

Let's talk about some of the choices I've had to make over the last couple of years as to how and where to publish Lord of the City, and what I'm looking to do with its sequel.

If you're going the traditional publishing route and have an agent and a publishing house already lined up, congratulations! For this topic, though, assume you've chosen to self-publish your novel. There's a lot of options out there, many of which I spent a fair bit of time researching before settling on some specific choices. It's worth checking out local presses - for example, I found an independent bookstore up near Seattle which would only carry self-published books if they used its press and no other. Something like this might be what you need if you're looking at specific distribution channels.

After looking at some online presses, I ended up choosing to use CreateSpace due to its tools, its pricing, and its quality. It also integrates very nicely with Amazon distribution (not surprising since Amazon bought it a few years ago!) in a way that other presses do not. Since at least right now I'm selling more online than anywhere else, this is very important for me. I was not impressed with Lulu's tools or physical quality when I tried it for a different project, nor was I tempted to try other competing offerings after poking around their toolsets.  If it takes you 20 hours to prep your book because you have to fiddle with their toolset, it simply isn't worth it. I'd like to try other choices again at some point if they improve, but for now I'm sticking with CreateSpace for City of the Lords as the project nears completion.

I would strongly recommend making an ebook available alongside whatever physical publishing choice you make. Despite several years of hard pushing by Amazon and others, ebooks are still a minority of total volumes sold ... but there's already several authors making the majority of their money on ebooks, and whether it's another year, five years, or twenty, ebooks are pretty surely destined to take over the market at some point. Why wait to prep an ebook until later?

There's pretty much two competing formats at this point, ePub and Kindle. Amazon, of course, would like you to do everything Kindle-specific. If you look at KDP Select (Amazon's "borrowing" program for Kindle books, where Amazon Prime users can borrow the ebook for free), one of the conditions is that your ebook is distributed only on Amazon.

Epub is a format accepted on every reader *but* the Kindle. This means the Nook, a Kobos reader, various tablets, etc. can generally read an ePub book with no issues. I originally made both a Kindle version and an ePub version of Lord of the City available. When KDP Select came online, I signed up for a 6-month exclusive period to try it out, which meant delisting the ePub version. Now that that period is almost up, I haven't renewed my KDP Select inclusion because of the exclusivity agreement. I'm going to try posting up the ePub again on both B&N and Kobos to see how that goes for a few months.

While there are other ebook formats out there, why would you pick a different proprietary format when everything reads ePub or Kindle format?

In other news, I've been continuing to edit City of the Lords. The first hard copy of the manuscript is sitting partially read at home and I've been trying to hit a few chapters here and there whenever I have the chance. Lots of markup so far which I'll need to enter back into the soft copy once I get all the way through.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

First draft complete for City of the Lords!

Today I finished the first draft of City of the Lords, the sequel to Lord of the City. It felt great to get through the last few chapters and tie things up. It clocks in at almost exactly 129,000 words, or about 30% longer than Lord of the City. I've already done a full revision run-through of parts 1 and 2, so I just need to crank through part 3 before I've done a complete pass on the entire text. That means I'm well on track to have it released by the end of March as both an eBook and a paperback.

If you're interested in getting an early look at the manuscript and giving comments and criticism, please contact me via email at I've done enough revision that I don't expect any major rewrites of sections between now and publication, but there's always places where I'll make grammar mistakes or continuity errors (though I've hopefully weeded those down to a minimum!).

Thanks for your continuing interest. I'm really looking forward to getting the story published and available!