Self-Publishing and Early Birthday Presents

How exactly is Self-Publishing related to early birthday presents?

Allow me to explain. I’m sitting here with a 3-cd box set of the Monkees that was a birthday present from my sister. It is not, however, my birthday for another week. So why do I have a birthday present already?

Monkees

Mostly cos I love presents and have a really cute puppy-dog expression going for me. And as I sit here with my fantastic 3-cd box set of the Monkees, it occurs to me that my approach to publishing is much the same as my approach to presents.

I want it all, and I want it now.

(I also really like guessing what wrapped presents are, which isn’t at all helpful to this analogy but I think is telling as to my character.)

Self-Publishing is the instant gratification of the publishing world.

I mean, it isn’t really, but it kinda is. Think about it. If you’re traditionally pubbed, there’s roughly a year spent in finding an agent (if you’re not amazingly talented or amazingly lucky). Then there’s something like a 6 months-1 year while your agent finds an editor who wants to buy your book (again, unless you’re amazingly talented or amazingly lucky). Then there is the year or maybe even two years while your MS is sent to structural-editors, line-editors, proof-readers; put in line for the publication catalog, switched around a bit; has its pretty little cover designed (which you probably won’t get a say in).

Once I know the present is there and wrapped, I WANT IT.

I’m not a patient person. I’ll work until I’ve made things as good as possible, but when I know my books are finished and ready, I want them out yesterday. I don’t want to wait for an agent to give me the ok. I don’t want to wait for an editor to give me the ok. I want to be able to make decisions about what characters are cut (or not cut) and what POV my MS is written in. I want to be the one with last say on what my cover looks like.

And I love being able to set my own publication dates.

I know Self-Publishing isn’t for everyone, but as I sit here with my 3-cd box set of the Monkees, I’m feeling pretty good about it.

monkees 2

Maybe it’s just that I’m in the happy post-MS haze for THE FIRST CHILL OF AUTUMN, but I don’t see myself losing my love for the Indie form of Publishing.

Maybe one day I’ll be a Hybrid author, but for now, I’m happy just sitting here listening to my Monkees box set.

Getting the Most out of Your Royalties

I’ve been doing some nitty-gritty work this past week.

Mostly it’s been stuff like (finally!) getting the new cover of MASQUE onto a paperback version (after updating the inner to have pretty graphics and a new font). I got the proof back a couple days ago, so I’ll be able to approve it today (yay!) and you’ll all be able to purchase the new paperback!

Apart from that, though, I’ve been trying to find a better way of managing Amazon royalty payments.

If you’re not a US or UK citizen, you can’t get payments via EFT. In other words, we Aussies (and several other nationalities as well) were finding that we had to wait months on end for a cheque to finally arrive in the mail. But, yanno, they finally did arrive, and hooray!

Payday!

Not quite. You see, after that, we would have to take it to the bank. The bank would then offer you a rate of conversion (which was guaranteed not to be anything like as good as the actual rate of exchange); after which they would charge you $15-$40 for the trouble of receiving your deposit (depending upon which bank you patronise).

By this point, your $100-$150 cheque is now looking an awful lot smaller. Still, payday, right?!?

Not quite. Because now your bank will make you wait anywhere from 4-6 weeks (?!?!) before you get your money.

What can you do about this if you’re an Aussie like me?

Up until today, the short answer would have been ‘Nothing’. You’d just have to accept the fact that the royalties you earned half a year ago won’t actually be accessible as money until half a year after you earned it. Or, of course, you could go through the insane annoyance of setting up a US based bank account (Payoneer or the like) and accept the fairly hefty charges that apply (for ex. $30-odd per year to keep the account, a fee of 1% of every deposit, a fee of 3% of every withdrawal, at the very least). You’d get your money faster, but you’d still be paying through the nose for it. And when you start making real royalties, that 1% and 3% that doesn’t seem so much now? Yeah, it’s gonna hurt.

It was mentioned recently on the ALLi FB group that there has been a slight change in the KDP payment options. I, of course, went to check it out and found that it was quite true–there is now an option for Aussie authors to receive wire transfers directly to their banks for amounts of over $100.

You heard that right, my fellow Aussies. We can get our royalties in mere days instead of months. I checked on Commbank’s website to see what sort of fees were associated with receiving an international wire transfer, and found that it was just $11. ELEVEN BUCKS. Less than it takes to deposit a foreign cheque and I get my royalties almost straight away?!?

Honestly, it seems like the best of both worlds!

Okay, so it’s early days yet. I still have to find out if there are any hidden fees/costs attached, but in the mean-time, I’m tickled pink! Keep your eye on the blog over the next couple of months, and I’ll update you with my findings when I have some to report.

If you already knew about this, move right along now. Nothing to see here…

If you want to know how to change your settings, read on!

*Go to your KDP dashboard

*Select [Awesome Self-Publisher]’s Account from the top right-hand side of your window

*Scroll down to Amazon Marketplaces

*Select Wire from the first drop-down list

Screenshot (92)

*Select your home currency from the second drop-down list

Screenshot (93)

*If you’re already set up with a bank account in your home Amazon store, it should auto-populate. Just make sure you check that it’s all fine.

*If you’re not already set up, you’ll have to enter the details from the account you would like your royalties wired to

And that’s it. That’s seriously it. Go ahead and enjoy your hard-earned royalties!

I’ll update this post when I’ve confirmed that the fees are exactly what I’ve been told they are.

Self-Publishing vs Trade Publishing

All right, hold onto your hats, people.

Hold onto your hat

Things are about to get serious. (Not really. I just like to wind people up.)

Last week I saw a blog post on self-publishing by Agent Janet Reid. As with every other time Janet talks about Self-Publishing, I disagreed totally with almost everything she said. I find Janet a great source of wisdom and fantastic hints, but I think she’s completely off when it comes to self publishing. What she says simply doesn’t match up with my experience or with the experiences of most of those self-publishing around me. That’s to be expected: she’s an agent, not a self-publisher. Her expertise–and it’s a vast and immensely useful expertise–is in an entirely different area. I didn’t comment on the blog post because I didn’t want to waste my breath or annoy Janet by disagreeing with her on her blog. I simply had a bit of a chuckle and moved on.

However. I got an email this evening.

It was a nice email, a thoughtful email from another reader of Janet’s blog, mentioning the blog post and asking what I thought of it. He added that not many self-publishers had commented upon the post. He then linked to another blog post on the subject and asked my opinion on it. This is the blog post: it’s great. Thoughtful, questioning, and interesting. It brings out some fantastic points.

It made me think again about why I self-publish, what I think of the self-pub vs trade-pub question, and what battles I think are worth fighting. I’ve spoken before about why I love to self-pub: things like control of my own work, rights, and author brand; plus a (much!) better cut of the profits; my own publishing schedule (that means I can publish 4-6 times a year instead of once every 2 years); etc., etc….

But most of all it got me thinking about one thing.

In this quickly changing and vast world of publishing, I have noticed one thing happening again and again. Self-pubbed authors working hard, making it big (to either a great or decent extent), and taking a trade-publishing deal along with their self-pubbed work. Then I see the exact same thing, but in reverse: Trade-pubbed authors who have already made it big (or who have been midlist and want more) going self-pub on the side, and making it rich. So in the end, it really makes me think that the best thing to do as either a self- or trade-pubbed author is to be flexible. There’s no one way to do it, and Hybrid-pubbed authors are beginning to spring up everywhere.

So there you have it.

I’ve decided absolutely nothing. Self publishing is best for me, and I fully expect to be writing full-time within five years, but that’s not going be the path for everyone. Some authors are going to be more comfortable trade publishing. Some of us aren’t. I could do with a little less of the smug attitude and pitying glances from the direction of trade publishing, but in the end, who really cares? So long as I’m making a living, they can look down on me as much as they choose. Officially, I recommend self-publishing, but you have to go into it with your eyes open, knowing what to expect. It’s going to be a lot of work, and you may or may not succeed. On the other hand, I could say the same of trade publishing. So again, I’ve not really decided anything.

What do you guys think? Self-Pub? Trade-Pub? Hybrid? Which are you?

Gratitude And The Self-Publisher

It’s a funny thing, this self-publishing business. You start out with reasonably realistic expectations–‘I’ll probably only sell a book per month at first’, and ‘It’ll take a long time to build that email list’–and you put your head down and work at the thing.

You sell your book-per-month, and you feel grateful. You’re excited that there’s someone out there every month who wants to read your book. Then it’s four books a month. After that, it’s four books per week. At first you feel delighted: your sales are growing! But the next month, when it’s still only the four books per week, a subtle sense of disappointment begins to creep in. You begin to forget that once you were happy with a book per month.

Soon you’re averaging a sale per day. Giddy excitement! Life has never seemed so good! You may not be one of the best sellers out there–or even one of the best Indie sellers–but you’re not doing too bad for yourself. And your sales are still growing, albiet slowly. Maybe you have a promotion or two. Suddenly there are spikes of twenty to one hundred sales over a day or two, and it feels great! Then you get back to the humdrum sale-per-day after the promotion ends, and suddenly it feels a bit flat…

What’s the problem here? There is no problem. Your sales are fine. Your career is fine. It’s still growing, and it’s still miles ahead of the reasonable expectations you had when you started this thing. And yet, that subtle sense of disappointment still tends to creep in when you’re not watching out for it. You have to remind yourself that a sale-and-a-bit per day is miles ahead of where you reasonably expected to be a few months ago. There are still many miles to go and many readers to reach before you find your audience.

What does this have to do with you, you may be asking? (Apart from my use of the 2nd person for the blog post, that is). To you I reply: Precisely nothing. It’s more of a reminder to myself. But for all the other indie authors out there who sometimes feel glum and disappointed at the amount of books they’re selling (or not selling, as the case may be), try looking back to your beginning as an author.  I bet you’re doing better now than you were then. And you’ve probably done the same thing I have: you’ve become so used to a higher rate of sales that you’ve ceased to be grateful for what you’ve got. Take a moment to remember what it was like when you were starting out. It helps to put things in perspective.

And maybe don’t check your sales every day. That’ll help, too.

All The Lovely Stuff

When I first decided that I was going to go with self-publishing rather than traditional publishing, there was no doubt in my mind that it was going to be a long, hard slog. I knew that I’d have to work very hard for potentially very little reward, and that success – if it came – would most likely come slowly.

I was prepared for the exasperatingly finnicky adjustments and bug fixes of preparing different formats for different platforms. I was prepared for the necessity of promoting myself (not an easy thing for an introvert). I was even prepared for the arduous gauntlet of GST, ABNs, EINs, ITINs, and every other taxation-related acronym. I knew I’d have to do a fair bit of leg work to get my books into the local bookstores, and that this would involve a lot of stammering, ums, and daft half-sentences that would lead the most patient store owner to wonder how an idiot ever managed to publish a book.

I knew, in fact, that there was a very good possibility that I would publish to very little reception, and that I might never write to an audience of more than three or four people (not counting mum and sis). I figured I could live with that, because let’s face it, I write because I love writing. Getting paid for it would be a plus, but it’s not the reason I write. Becoming famous would be awesome, but it’s not the reason I write.

I was pretty well prepared for most of what I’ve had to do. A few things have taken me by surprise: been harder or easier to do than I expected, etc. But I find that I neglected to think of one thing.

It didn’t actually occur to me that someone, having loved what I wrote, would write, email, tweet, or contact me in some way, to tell me how much they’d loved it. It seems a bit stupid of me not to have thought of it. But the first email I received, telling me that the writer loved Masque and that they were waiting eagerly for my next book, was a complete surprise. The second left me stunned and a little dizzy, and inclined to stare into the middle distance with a fatuous beam on my face. Then there were the lovely tweets, comments, and emails that followed.

So to everyone who has contacted me in some way to tell me how much they enjoyed my book/story/excerpt, etc: Thank you! You’re part of The Lovely Stuff about being an author. When you tell me that Thing you particularly enjoyed about my book, it delights me to know that someone noticed that Thing. Odds are, I worked very hard to make it right.

It can sometimes feel like I’m shouting into an immense void, and the occasional human touch from across the internet is very much appreciated. Thank you for reaching out and becoming a part of my life.

Jim Carrey in The Mask, sourced from http://giphy.com/search/thank-you/2

Jim Carrey in The Mask, sourced from http://giphy.com/search/thank-you/2

Behold The Beauteous Cover Art!

I’ve been very busy these last few days, finishing final edits of my MS Masque. Likewise busy has been the very talented Joleene Naylor, finishing up the cover of Masque for me.

Happy mortals, feast your eyes on the beauteous cover art! Then go ahead and preorder Masque from Amazon or Kobo. Publication date is set for 1st February, 2015. Two months, guys!

MASQUE - 2500

And if you’re like me and need a blurb to read, scroll down. Adieu. I’m off to gloat a little more over my cover art.

 

    Beauty met the Beast, and there was . . . bloody murder?

            It’s the Annual Ambassadorial Ball in Glause, and Lady Isabella Farrah, the daughter of New Civet’s Ambassador, is feeling pleasantly scintillated. 

In the library is Lord Pecus, a charming gentleman whose double mask hides a beastly face, and who has decided that Isabella is the very person to break the Pecus curse. 

In the ball-room is young Lord Topher, who is rapidly falling in love with an older woman. 

And in the card-room, lying in a pool of his own blood, is the body of one of Isabella’s oldest friends: Raoul, Civet’s Head Guardsman.  The papers sewn into his sash seem to suggest espionage gone wrong, but Isabella is not so certain.

Lord Pecus, as Commander of the Watch, is of the opinion that Isabella should keep out of the investigation and out of danger.  Isabella is of the opinion that it is her murder to investigate, and that what a certain Beast-Lord doesn’t know won’t hurt him.  . . .    

Will Isabella find the murderer before Lord Pecus does, or will she end her investigation as a bloody spatter on the parlour floor?

 

Note: I’m currently sending Masque out for review, so if you’re interested in getting your hot little hands on a free review copy, email me at gingellwrites (AT) gmail.com. I’ll send a digital or physical copy of Masque to you for the purposes of a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads, etc. All honest reviews are welcomed, and I understand that not everyone is going to love me and my books. (Odd, but there it is . . .)

Getting An ITIN

Well, I’ve been gathering together all the paperwork for my ITIN application. For those who don’t know what an ITIN is, the acronym stands for Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, and it will mean that I only have to pay 5% tax in the US instead of 30%. A moot point, you may say, since I have not in fact sold any books yet. I counter by declaring that I haven’t published any books yet, so yah boo. (As a matter of fact, I have a short story on Kindle at the moment, but I don’t count that because I like to set it as free, and I can’t really claim ‘sales’ for that.)

I’m choosing to Indie-Publish my first book with Kindle, Kobo, the iBookstore, and perhaps in time CreateSpace, with a publication date of October 1st. Naturally, I wanted to make sure that I had the ITIN before then. Because, yanno- more money. I’m beginning to doubt it’ll be done quite by then (though I think it’ll be close) since I hadn’t really considered how long it takes to research the how to, get a passport notorized, find and download the appropriate forms, fill them in correctly . . .

You get the idea. Admittedly, half the time has been due to sheer laziness and the idea that ‘Oh, I’ve filled out the form. That’s enough for today. I’ll rest until next week.’

Now, at length, I have my apostille’d passport. I have my W-7 form, filled out in blue ink. I have my letter from Amazon. I even know where to send it all, and I know better than to send it express post with signature required. I think I’m about ready to go. Wish me luck!

Oh, and if you want to read a really good blog post on how to obtain an ITIN in Australia, read MummyK‘s account. There are others, but this one was really helpful to me.