Publishing is not rocket science.
When my old computer was dying, and I knew I had to get a new one, it was obvious that there would be a transition, some kind of learning curve, if and when I got a new one.
Everything worthwhile in life has some kind of learning curve. For example, my brand new program has metric for the margins and page sizes, headers and footers. I’m used to measurements in the old English system. In the short term, I fiddle with the measurements when making a print on demand paperback. When I find something that works, I jot it down, even though the measurements for a 250-page POD are irrelevant for a 440-page POD. With my new program, I have published a handful of ebook titles and one or two PODs.
The thing is quick. When I perform an operation, there is no waiting around, no going into the kitchen and setting some eggs on to boil for egg salad sandwiches.
It’s a learning curve, and over time, looking at it often enough, it will become as natural as breathing.
I won’t even be able to explain it.
My new program wanted me to work in the cloud. The interface was tiny. I was so pissed-off when I saw that, it practically made me sick to my stomach. I was throwing hissy-fits, I kid you not. I was spitting mad. With a remote session with my tech guy, I can now create a document on the desktop and keep it there where the interface is similar but cleaner than the old XP version.
(In a bit of a side-bar, going blind is not a fucking joke.)
It used to take my old machine anything up to thirty seconds or more to open an email.
It took a second to see what it was, and then thirty more seconds to delete it and open up the next one….
Life’s a lot easier, even though there was a bit of a panic session when I went to print something and discovered the machine didn’t want to do it. When I hooked up my printer, the thing went directly online and downloaded the program, so I thought that was it. The disc is in a box somewhere, and it took quite a long time to load on the old machine. But the fact was, I had to hack around a bit to learn that the thing won’t print until ‘OneNote’ (another cloud aspect of this program) had been opened at least once.
You have to sign into your Microsoft account, but then I did that to activate and validate the new software anyways. Short story made longer, now we can print.
And the whole game is like that. You pay as you go and learn as you go, and you can push it as far as you want.
As the reader knows, we like conducting experiments. Recently we went on Smashwords and opted out of Kobo distribution for five pen names and something like a hundred titles.
Then we went to Kobo and opened an account. We uploaded the exact same titles to Kobo. We don’t give a shit so much about the royalty rate. But in the entire year last year, we sold a grand total of three books by using the Kobo distribution channel through SW. If you’re not selling any books the royalty rate is irrelevant.
What is important is thinking clearly.
We’ve sold three books this year, in about two weeks. What’s really different is that we can see free books being downloaded. This Kobo channel information is unavailable from SW. It would be nice to know which titles are going for free on Kobo. This way we would know what sort of material to produce more of.
They have to see your book before they can take it for free. For all we knew there was no one looking at our books on the Kobo site—judging by the data provided by SW. Yet we know that’s not true now.
As to whether that was true or not, we simply don’t know based upon zero information, however, we can safely say that we have distributed 480 + free titles through Kobo since the experiment began just a couple of short months ago.
Later today, we will take our half-dozen latest titles down from SW on the Kobo distribution channel. The fact that we left them up when publishing simply made our day simpler. We’ll stick them up directly through Kobo. This means that our titles will pop out on the just released page twice, and we will now have more control over prices on each individual platform. We can set a book for free on Kobo, and it won’t affect the price on Barnes & Noble, iTunes, etc.
At some point in the future, if we get bored enough or disappointed enough, we’ll sign up for iTunes, go through the whole ITIN/tax withholding rigmarole, and upload directly to them for greater control over pricing and availability. It is irritating to upload a fresh cover and then on some site or other, discover that they’re still using something from three years ago.
It would be interesting to see what sort of metrics and analytics we can get off that site, and it would also be interesting to fiddle with the site and see if we can move a few more books.
This is no big reflection or criticism of Smashwords, but it is a logical extension of our knowledge and our capabilities.
Other than that, things are going along about as well as expected. At some point in the future, for example when I get the new machine paid down a bit, we can purchase Adobe Photoshop and learn how to use that too.
It’s all part of the constant learning curve that is modern digital publishing.
That is our basic method and our most useful tool: a willingness to experiment, and one would think a willingness to learn the job and to do the work.