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Family and Friends is my everyday journal. Captain's Log is where I pontificate on religion and politics.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Comparing Create Space with Lightning Source.

Fellow Wayland Alum and chess master, Terry Austin, sent me what it would take to publish on Lightning Source. Thought I'd do a comparison.

Lightning Source (Underlining mine)
Professional Cover Design - $150-175
ISBN - $25 if you buy 10 at a time or I think $100 if you want just one.
             Not a bad price if you're publishing ten books. Initial out of pocket would be $250.00.
Print Set up - $37.50 for cover and $37.50 for interior
Printed Proof (if you want to see one) - $30.00
The cost of each book is calculated according to size:
·        $0.15 per page
·        $0.90 for cover
A 200 page book will cost you $3.90 plus good discounts if you buy quantities.
Lightning Source lists the book on Amazon and other sellers and take care of all order fulfillment for them. They send you a check every few months for those sales.
Create Space:
Professional cover design starts at $250
ISBN - three choices:
  • free, but Amazon has publisher rights and marketing rights
  • $10.00, author has publishing rights, Amazon has marketing rights
  • $99 author has all rights.
 Print Set up: Free for cover and interior
Printed proof, I've now purchased two at $3.00 + $3.59 S&H = $6.59 each.
Cost of Fan Plan: 180 pages minimum purchase price is $5.03 so I set the selling price at $5.99.
Lightning Source                                                           Create Space
$25.00 ISBN                                                                  Better choice for ISBN
$70.00 print set up.                                                        Print set up free
$30.00 for printed proof                                                 $6.00+ per book
Initial set up $125.00                                                      Initial set up price of printed proof
Long term $4.00/book beats $6.00/book. It would take purchasing 60 books to recover the initial set up costs of Lightning Source. I'm not sure I'll buy that many books. I'm thinking of around 20 or 30 to have an inventory for book sales. There's less temptation to give the books away if inventory is low.
Lightning Source does have wider marketing with more outlets than just Amazon, and Kindle. The $99.000 ISBN lets you expand marketing. Amazon does offer wider marketing, but at additional cost.
The real decider is shipping and handling costs. If Lighting Source has a better purchase discount for authors and equal or lesser S&H then it might be the better choice. Right now Create Space looks like the better choice.

Here's a reply from my friend:

I saw your blog post last night and had a couple of thoughts if you are going to compare Lightning Source and Create Space. Since you currently design your own covers, you will not have the $150-175 cost of cover design. Lightning Source does not design anything, that is simply what I pay for a professional designer. If you are simply interested in selling enough books to get your money back, here is the scenario with Lightning Source.
·        Pay approx. $100 for setup ($37.50 for cover, $37.50 for interior, $12 for catalog listing)
·        Purchase an ISBN $55.00 (Bowker has a plan for independent publishers)
·        Pay $4 per book (you really don’t want to use a font smaller than 11 pt if you want people to read the book).
·        Set the retail price at $15 (or $14.99 if you wish) so you will make at least $10 per book sold.
·        You have approx. $150 invested
·        Sell 15 books and you have your money back.
It’s a pretty scaled down model but it does allow you to get your money back quickly. Also, there is nothing to keep you from selling more books. Unlike Publish America or Create Space, you own the book totally, Lightning Source is simply a printer, you have complete control.
Thanks Terry for sharing.

What intrigues me now is that using LS over CS I'm free to e-publish at any price I want. With CS I can put it on KDP which goes out for free to those on Amazon Prime, but it can't be published anywhere else. The e-book and paper book have to be priced the same, I do get a bigger royalty off the e-book. But why pay the same for an e-book? Most of the cost in a paper book is in the materials. E-books are electrons.

Conclusion: I'm already committed to CS for Fan Plan. I like the ISBN options better here. I may revise Human Sacrifices and Vander's Magic Carpet and have LS print them. Something to think about anyway.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Proof book

Book cover submitted, final edit submitted, Create Space offered a free pdf for proofing or I could buy a printed copy for a little over two bucks, but with their shipping it came to a little over six. Here's a picture of me holding it. When I checked the picture I used for the cover it was copyrighted. So I came up with a new cover from pictures I've taken myself.
First thing I noticed was the print was way too small. I normally use 1.0 reading glasses and I had to use my 2.75 reserved for reading pill bottles. It was rather easy to proof on the hard copy and then make corrections for resubmittal, which I did today. Create Space will get back to me most likely tomorrow and I hit the final submission buttons for it to become a living breathing novel in both hard copy and e-book. I upped the font from 9 to 10 adding 40 pages and upping the price from 4.99 to 5.99. I really wanted to keep it at five bucks, but the print was just too small. It doesn't matter with e-books because the readers let you change the size of the print. I don't expect to sell a lot of hard copy's, but this book is special and I wanted a hard copy of it along with the ones of Optimus.
I'm thinking about turning Human Sacrifices and Vander's Magic Carpet into hard copy too now I've figured out how to get published this way.

Monday, August 12, 2013

A Tale of Two Publishings part three

I started writing The Fan Plan in 2011. The story just took off in my mind and I had fifty thousand words in a matter of weeks. I knew that this was a story that deserved to be in hard cover. I thought about using PA again, but didn't want to be nickeled and dimed like last time. I looked into Create Space when I first started e-publishing, but decided against hard copy for Vander's and HS. There is also the problem of the same price being set for hard copy and e-book. This never made sense to me. I mean there's a printing cost and material cost for a 6X9 paper book. Why charge the same price for something delivered by and read by electrons? The advantage of e-readers is that you don't have to pay 3 to 5 bucks in shipping costs.
I asked around to the other writers at Southwest Writer's Workshop and Writer's 2 writers concerning other POD companies. Many seemed to be better than PA because they will release the book on e-format with the publishing, but again e-book and paper are same price.
I then thought about simply going to a local printer and paying them print the book acting as my own publisher, but they all need a volume of from a hundred to a thousand copies which is way beyond my budget up front.
So wanting this novel to be in paper I started the process with Create Space. It is much more complicated than PA.
I set up an account and started doing their steps. I submitted the manuscript for their review which says takes 2-3 days before they get back to you, but is usually ready in a day. They came back with format problems. I had to download their template and copy and paste from the Smashword's template onto theirs. It makes sense because you're downsizing from letter to a 6X9 page where the left page has narrower margins than the right page. If threw o
ff all the indentations and other formats. At this time the story was 120 thousand words. Going through the story to re-indent and paragraph led me to do a little trimming to move it out of the R rated category to a PG.
They also had me download instructions on making the books cover. Their instructions were for Adobe IP. I downloaded and could use this program for 30 days. It costs $400. I really do hate instructions that say if click on this then this screen should pop up then click on this link, because guess what, when you click on the this the screen they say should pop up doesn't and you can't go on! I did through trial, error and multiple temper tantrums turning my poor German Shepherd into a quivering mass of jelly came up with a book cover complete with spine and back page. All to be told when submitted that the pictures didn't have enough pixels. I've made three other covers using different pictures in HD 1141X1000, it still says not enough pixels. I give up and am using the last cover. My thirty day trial was over by the third try but I've had Microsoft Publisher since it was free for taking an Intel Teach to the Future class ten years ago. I worked with it and came up with the latest cover. When I looked at their pdf of the cover it looked fine to me. The pictures were clear, not blurred as they said it would be.
Cover entered, reworked story entered I submitted them and got to the part about pricing. It calculated the printing of the book at $4.77/copy and I could price it at anything above that. $4.99 makes sense, but that only gives me 23 cents per paper book and a buck thirty seven per e-book. I downloaded a pdf proof copy, but instead did another edit trimming it down a hundred pages to 98,000 words. This cut out a lot of back story, but after a good run through makes the plot quicker. I'm still setting the price at 4.99, but the publishing cost is down to 4.37.
Everything is now re-submitted. I have a pdf proof copy and purchased a hard copy today. The proof copy was 2.62 +3.59 shipping and I will have it in a week. I'll wait to do the proof on the hard copy then transfer them to the pdf for resubmittal. I'll also be able to judge the cover to see if it looks good enough.
All in all I'm happier with Create Space than with PA. They offer professional editors and cover artists, but at way too big a price for a retired educator. I can see how other authors getting tired of paying agents and being pushed around by traditional publishers would go this way. It gives more control over the integrity of your story and affordable pricing.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

A Tale of Two Publishings part two

Before I get to Create Space a few words about e-publishing. When I published Optimus it was by far the best way to get published. The traditional way of publishing was to find an agent (not very easy), who would send it to an editor who would then send the manuscript back for revisions taking your hard work and squeeze all the life out of it to satisfy the cookie cutter marketing dept's demands. If they accepted it there might be a three to five year delay before it reached print and bookstores. They wouldn't accept a work that didn't merit 50,000 copies. It was that or self-publish with a 2 or 3 thousand dollar up front cost and then buy your books from them. Then came Print On Demand, like Publish America and many others. No up front costs, no large print runs. The bea
uty of this is they can print one or a thousand in next to no time. a revolution in publishing. In 2006 after two years of beating my head against the traditional wall this was a godsend. But as explained in the last post their grip on the price of the book and shipping costs kept me from being able to market it successfully.
Then I discovered e-publishing. Wow what a liberation. I wrote my first novel in 1991 for Ted Turner's Tomorrow Awards. It was gathering dust. While writing Optimus I wrote a short story with a female protagonist as an exercise in strengthening my female characters. For years I would in the evenings find a picture and describe everything about it in detail, this quickly turned into weaving the details into one to three page stories, what later I found are called "flash stories."
E-publishing let's the author set the price from free on up. Anything under 2 dollars gets a 35% royalty over 2 bucks is 70 to 75%. I sold a few stories, but at the same time I started downloading and reading other e-books. I quickly realized that free stories had lots of downloads and anything over a buck was bypassed. I am just as guilty at going for the cheap. I mean I can download on my kindle eight really good novels for a buck, why pay more?
The three anthologies I priced for free. The two novels I priced at .99. Amazon makes you price at least .99, but if you publish KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) those who are members of Kindle Prime borrow the stories for free and you get a percentage of the set amount per year they put into the kitty for every time your book is borrowed. The catch your story has to be exclusive. Smashwords sends your story to Nook, Pubit, I-books, Sony, Diesel, and through them on eight different formats. In the two and a half years since I started e-publishing I've been getting bi-yearly royalties from both publishers. I make about three times as much from Amazon, but I still submit to both. The good thing is that I have my stories being purchased in the UK, Canada, Denmark, France, and Germany. In those two years only one month was nothing sold. Usually I have three to five sales per month and around the holidays I usually have over ten. January seems to be a good month as everyone with a new e-reader starts buying.
I started taking a number of my flash stories and turning them into short stories, then publishing them. My anthologies are: Flash Stories Married Love, Erotic Flash Stories, More Erotic Flash Stories.
Short Stories are: Wife Quest, Woman on the Beach, Car Hop, Super Erotic Bowl, (Sapphire, Misty and Velda), Black is the Color of My True Love's Hair, Convert or Corrupt, Companion, Happy Triple, First Friday: Aug-Oct, Brenda's Story, Companion: Sasha's Story, Esmerelda, and Shari Sadeyes.
Amazon for some reason lowered the price on Convert or Corrupt to free and in three months I had over two thousand downloads. I didn't mind as it got my name in reader's minds.
I republished the anthologies and short stories under the pen name of Javan Tenebrae. With my novels having religious themes it was better to separate the titles. Not that these stories are all that erotic, I'd rate the stories at PG-13 or R, but because it is adult themed I felt it best to label them as erotic. Most erotic stories on amazon and smashwords are pornographic and I hate having mine in that category. The one review I received on amazon for Convert and Corrupt complained that it wasn't erotic enough.
In 2012 I republished Optiumus as an e-book. Of the approx. 140 books I bought in five years I sold maybe sixty. So far in a year and a half I've sold fifty copies in e-book. At only .35/download compared to two or three dollars per book sold, maybe not that much money, but I don't have to keep an inventory that's given away, no book signings taking up my time. Yes at this rate I'll never recover the $70 paid to PA to convert it to e-book and the $200 spent getting my rights back, but I have around ten readers in Europe that I'd never be able to reach otherwise.
The beauty of e-publishing is you can revise and resubmit the stories as you grow as a writer. The more stories or novels you put out there the more your name gets known building a fan base and royalties start adding up.
It's easier to market. Every time I meet someone socially I can give them my card and tell them go to my website (Yahoo website lets you forward to another link which is my Smashword's dashboard, so going to my website of pmprescottenterprises.com and there's my novels.) I can also tell them to look up my name on Amazon to find my books there for kindle. Not always, but after I've given my card to someone I'll get an e-mail telling me someone bought one of my novels.

Friday, August 09, 2013

A Tale of Two Publishings part one

 Optimus: Praetorian Guard was published in Nov. of 2006. I contacted Publish America in August of that year, submitted my manuscript and gave suggestions for the cover, a picture of the author, bio and description in September. In October they sent a pdf galley to proof and got my approval for the cover, which was exactly as I described it. I found a number of changes which I documented and they corrected. It was published in November and I had the first two books in hand to be submitted to the Copyright office with a check for $35. I received a congratulatory letter with a dollar bill on it.
They set the price at $21.95 per book. In five years I bought 126 books from them costing me around $12 per book. I paid $70 to have them convert it to e-book on Amazon, Google Books and their site. They upped the price of the book to $27.95 even for the e-book. I bought 6 copies in hard back at $32.00 each which they priced at $35. This was for vanity to actually sell.
 Most of the books I sold were to my mother. She either gave them to friends or sold them to members of her Sunday school class, pastors and anyone she could brag to for having a son who's an author.
I donated two books to the West Mesa High School library getting my picture in the school newspaper. A few of my teaching friends bought books, even the principle. I gave a lot of them as gifts for birthdays and Christmas. For everyone I sold, most at $15 since no one would buy them for over 20 I gave away at least three. I did a number of book signings at Hastings, Bibles Plus, B Dalton in Cottonwood while it was there. I seemed to sell four books in four hours each time.
The summer of 2007 I spent in Canton Tx helping Mom with Dad while in hospice. I set up book signings before the diagnoses giving him six to eight weeks to live. Mom paid for my flights back to Albuquerque to keep those book signings. While back home I did have a few family things to take care of and get my classroom ready for the coming year. For a book that sold for twenty dollars my cut after the book store's take was three dollars. Let's see $12/4=$3 per hour. They would order ten books and I purchased at retail the remaining so they didn't get sent back. Those book signings proved very expensive.
Fred Aiken teaches a class through Southwest Writers on the business side of writing and he walks his students through how to claim expenses on your income tax. That year I had lots of deductions.
I continued to do book signings whenever a good friend like Dave Corwell invited me join him at a flea market in Tijeras Canyon or Tesuque Pueblo, even did eight hours at the State Fair. Sold books everywhere, but the fair. That's when I gave up on book signings. I started checking Amazon.com for used copies of my book and started rebuying them for around eight dollars including 3.99 shipping and handling, cheaper than getting them from PA.
All told there is about 140 copies out there. Total spent at PA was over $1300. Add the ones purchased from Bible's Plus, three different Hastings, B Dalton's and the used ones from Amazon it's still under the three thousand up front cost to self publish from a college friend who quoted me this price a little over a year ago.
Back to PA. I paid 70 dollars to get the book converted to e-book, but six months later it still wasn't converted. There was no one to contact to complain. I submitted Human Sacrifices and when the editor e-mailed me back concerning it I sent word to her that I wouldn't publish until they did what I already paid for. It was promptly converted and available at Amazon, Google books didn't get it for a year. I never published HS through them.
In 2011 they contacted me since I hadn't bought a book from them in a year letting me know they would sell publishing rights back for $200. I only needed to wait two more years until they were mine for free, but I had some inheritance money and got them out of my life. It took six months to edit and revise it to my liking. It is now available for $.99 at Amazon as an e-book and at Smashwords which sends it out to Pubit, Nook, I-books and other places.
The one real plus from Optimus was the pastor of the house church we started attending read it giving me a glowing review on Amazon. He's also an attorney and when I retired he had a case ready for trial. The first day of my retirement he called me asking if I'd like to work for him. I was retired one whole day. Needless to say P.M. Prescott Enterprises reports more earnings from legal assistance than book sales.
The next post will relate my experience in e-publishing.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Tudorian movies and shows

One of my few remaining blogging buddies Mystery Man of the Shadows has a post about a movie dealing with Henry VIII, and in  a round about way wonders why Hollywood has fixated so much on the time period. To me it's easy: sex, blood, sex, blood repeat often.
I wound up writing a longer comment than his post, which I know is a no-no, but it is my passion.

 Little did H8 know his desire to sire a son would so completely change the course of history. Think about it, no divorce England stays Catholic no King James Version of the Bible. He marries Jane Seymour after Catherine of Aragon dies and when his son Edward VI dies, he's followed by Mary without the Bloody prefix and when she dies without child, Mary Queen of Scots takes over the throne. James becomes King, but as a Catholic and without Puritan interference. See what I mean? No English Reformation, No Virgin Queen, No Spanish Armada, No English Civil War, No Glorious Revolution, No English Bill of Rights, No American Revolution, No Declaration of Independence or Constitution. A Catholic England might not have colonized America until too late to build up the empire it became. A good possibility we'd be speaking Dutch or French.

Here's a list of movies and books on the time period:
A great movie that bombed at the Oscars, eleven nominations and not one statue. Richard Burton got robbed. My favorite line: Anthony Quayle as Cardinal Wolsey: The seat of power does not reside between a woman's legs!
   A little over dramatic leading up to Anne's execution, but it does make the point Henry gave her the opportunity to leave England with Elizabeth, but she chose to die to secure her daughter's claim to the throne.

Paul Schofied at his best. So many good lines:

Will Roper: Arrest him (Richard Rich),
Moore: What law has he broken?
Roper: God's law.
Moore: Then God can arrest him.

Moore: I would give the Devil himself benefit of law for my own safety's sake

Vanessa Redgrave and Glenda Jackson as formidable adversaries. The sequel by Hal Wallace using the money he made off of Elvis movies, to Anne of the Thousand Days.

Some funny scenes and fantastic performances, but no lines really memorable. Main point was Elizabeth ruled with her head and May ruled with her heart.

BBC followed this with a mini-series with Glenda Jackson called Elizabeth R based on the book Elizabeth the Great by Elizabeth Jenkins.
I agree with Elizabeth Jenkins that Queen Liz was molested as a child and witnessed Katherine Howard being arrested kicking and screaming resulting in her beheading. Sex to her meant death and she would never let a man have that power over her. this series got it right, Elizabeth and Dudley are at a chapel with a priest and she backs out scared to death.
Recently there was another mini-series with Helen Mirren, much more graphic.
Kath Blanchet starred in two movies Elizabeth and Elizabeth the Golden Age that were credible, has the Virgin Queen have an affair with Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester.

BBC had a mini-series on Masterpiece Theater names The Six Wives of Henry the Eighth. I've never seen it, maybe that needs to be corrected if its on Netflix.

TNT did a made for television version of Man For All Season's starring Charelton Heston that followed the play more closely. There are some notable additions not in the movie helping it make sense, but a few quips Schofield put in are left out
Shakespeare In Love is set in the time period of Elizabeth and Dame Judy Dench plays a great Queen Bess, but adds little to understanding the politics of the period,

Anonymous which came out a few years ago giving the Oxfordian theory of Edward De Vere being the real writer of Shakespeare's plays is interesting, but so far afield by claiming he was the illegitimate child of Dudley and Elizabeth as to ruin any credence in that theory.
Showtime's series of The Tudors was excellently done even if the actors were too thin for the time period. Like I said earlier lots of sex, blood, sex, blood, repeat often.

Good books on this time period:
Women's romance novels have had a field day in this time period. The most notable for me is My Enemy The Queen by Victoria Holt. A story told by the long suffering wife of Leicester and the mother of Exeter observing all the drama from the sidelines.
The Autobiography of Henry VIII by Margaret George is both a well written fiction with great scholarship, what can sometimes be called fictionalized history because all characters are historical.
Naked to Mine Enemies by Charles Wright Ferguson, a definitive biography on Cardinal Wolsey. I found it a fascinating read, but then I love reading history and it's not everyone's cup of tea.

This is by no means a definitive list of movies or books on this time period just the ones I can think of right now.