Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Publishing System Revamp; Tooth-to-Tail Ratio.

The old front matter.

Louis Shalako

“Reason is not automatic. Those who deny it cannot be conquered by it. Do not count on them. Leave them alone.” > Ayn Rand.


Here at Shalako Publishing and Long Cool One Books we’re sixteen days into a massive revamp of our publishing system.

While many of the changes are behind the scenes or otherwise invisible to readers, (metadata or changes in formatting for example), there are a number of new cover images and we have refreshed or otherwise breathed new life into half a dozen older ones. We’ve punched up the blurbs a bit and just tried to think things through with the clarity of twenty-twenty hindsight.

Not always a pleasant experience, but sometimes a good thing to do.

Setting aside an entire month might have seemed excessive to begin with, but that might turn out to be simple wisdom.

<A brief report ensues.>

We found two or three missing titles on Amazon, we found half a dozen missing titles on OmniLit, and probably the same number on Google Books. We even found one or two that had never been published on Smashwords.

Simply by trying to get the maximum number of titles up on (or in) the maximum number of stores, we’ve probably added a few horsepower to our publishing machine.

Thinking in terms of passive discoverability, the more titles in more places means, theoretically at least, more sales.

This whole rebuild is geared to passive discoverability.

It’s massive-passive, a phrase I just coined.

New front matter with internal navigation.
We have upgraded and enhanced the front matter in all titles. It’s nicer-looking, it’s easier to read. It’s a better product. We have upgraded virtually all cover images, although there are one or two that I for one would like to find a better image for.

Until that happens, we’re stuck with the one we got.

In terms of front matter, I was frankly shocked when looking at something I had personally formatted back in 2010 when the world was still young and I was just setting out.

The new layout is much better.

The strange thing was, the book probably made it into the Smashwords Premium Distribution Catalogue and consequently, that would be why I never thought about it again.

But it’s a good idea to schedule another rebuild, or at least another quality control audit, for sometime in the future.

After working at this for a solid month, I reckon it will be time to move on.

We went over the blogs and the websites to ensure that all images are current. Moreover, we took another look at the buy links. If a platform isn’t a big seller, love or loyalty should not be enough to induce us to link to them all the time.

In terms of passive discoverability, it makes more sense to lead readers to an iTunes as opposed to someplace where I might have sold three books in the last twelve months. Let’s say I’m only selling three books a month on iTunes. A good point, but why not try to make it four a month, as opposed to four a year?

Bear in mind that you’re sending the exact same amount of traffic to either store…why not make it a more effective store?

All of this is cumulative over time. It builds on itself, (or at least it’s supposed to, and it seems like it is sometimes) but all of that was being hampered by unprofessional presentation.

What the hell, eh? There is a learning curve to everything, and I did not come from any sort of literary or publishing background. It was all learned the hard way, from the ground up.

Looking back, I guess that kind of shows, especially in the early works.

I have no real regrets about that, ladies and gentlemen.

I just wanted to see how it worked or something. But if it really is a machine, then there is nothing that I can’t learn about it or understand about it.

It doesn’t work by magic after all.

I guess that’s one good reason to take it all apart.

When I put it all back together, it will run better and be a little more efficient.


A customer that follows a link to your book on any given store is more likely to be presented with one of your books in the future. The customer is more likely to have an account, and to buy books, on the bigger and more famous platforms.

Those bigger platforms have more browsing customers who might see the ‘the last customer who looked at this book also looked at this book’ and (insert your name here) comes up as a suggestion. I even found a link on my website leading to the now-defunct Sony Ereader store.

That’s simply unnecessary, and useless to a prospective reader.

The point is that iTunes has a zillion times the traffic compared to some other outlets.

The even bigger point is that one or two of my books had never sold a copy, for example on Amazon. When I looked at them this time around in the previewer, the font size in them was like thirty-six point. It should be twelve, and they had the old front matter as well. It probably looked fine on Smashwords when I downloaded epub and Kindle versions, and so I just loaded it up on Amazon. But there would be a reason why that book never sold. Any customer who previewed it would just move on.

Passive discoverability doesn’t work for a badly-formatted book, or one with a bad cover. Giving away large numbers of bad books doesn’t help much either.

Also, there were issues with the tags, and the categories, in fact one book had no tags at all entered on Amazon.

One title had the last letter left off the author’s name…the list goes on. Some were listed with the author as publisher, some said Shalako Publishing and others said Long Cool One Books…

The list goes on.

If it takes another fifteen days to finish all this, that is an investment of time and effort that might have a surprisingly long tooth-to-tail ratio.

There's something to be said for peace of mind as well.

We can only speculate as to tooth-to-tail ratio.
Because I got to be honest about one thing, all of the little screw-ups undoubtedly had a long tooth-to-tail ratio in the negative sense..I mean, really long.

Also on the list for this revamp would be getting fourteen or so titles on Createspace into the last free distribution channel and out into the big catalogues. There’s some time involved there.

Also, wouldn’t it be nice to clean up some of these folders on the old PC. I could get rid of a bajillion duplicate files and make things easier to find. Also, when you do make a correction or revision, it would sure be nice to be able to quickly pick the most recent one to work on…rather than something from four years ago. I know I’ve made that blunder somewhere along the way.

Other than that, writing a quick little blog post sure was a nice break from what could be sheer misery if one was in the wrong frame of mind about it.

So far we’re doing fair to middlin’ with the mental challenges.

Yup. As it is, I have ‘thorough’ inked with a ball-point on the back of my left hand, and ‘patience’ on the back of my right.

What’s kind of interesting is that I started off as just some guy who wanted to learn how to write.

All of this other stuff is the result of setting off down that trail over thirty years ago, if you can believe it.


So what does all this have to do with Ayn Rand?

Not much, I guess.

Sorry about that.


I suppose that’s almost too much information, and that will have to do for now anyways, ladies and gentlemen.



Here is my Author Spotlight on Lulu, where clearly Redemption needs a new cover and my original Case of the Curious Killers 4 x 7" POD is looking tired as well. I can't publish Heaven Is Too Far Away because it's 966 pages and the limit for a 4 x 7" POD on Lulu is 740 as I recall.

That involved resizing 5 x 8" POD files and using a resized .jpg. Simple enough, but finding the files took some time.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please feel free to comment on the blog posts, art or editing.