In the fast-moving world of indie publishing, we all have an opportunity to learn from each other. Once in a while I like to dip into the mailbag and share some of the questions that have come in recently, along with the responses. Here’s another installment.
Q: I’ve got a first book, up on Amazon. A second to go this month. And a third this Fall. 300 some page novels. Here’s my question: a spate of new “experts” argue that an author platform, social media, etcetera is not nearly as important as figuring out Amazon’s algorithms. Your thoughts?
A: Thanks for your note. I find that opinion curious. No one is going to “figure out” Amazon’s algorithms and, even if they do, they are going to change quite soon. It’s a fool’s errand. Building a platform of interested and engaged readers who give you permission to market to them on your subject is the path to building a sustainable business from writing and publishing. There’s really no comparison, and I would run away from any “expert” who advised otherwise.
Q: Quick question about reprinting a previous edition or hardcover. If a book is “out of print,” if the publisher (or any publisher) wanted to reprint it on demand do they have to get the author’s permission to do that? If they can get that permission, would they then be able to reprint? What about reprinting it as a hardcover, or “cloth?”
A: Whether the book is out of print or not may have no effect on its copyright status, the two things have nothing to do with each other. You can reprint the book if it is in the public domain and, if it isn’t in the public domain you’ll need to get permission from the copyright holder, who should be listed on the copyright page.
Q: A friend of mine and I are having a discussion about dialog formatting in ebooks. He says, you don’t have to separate speakers anymore and can put them together in paragraphs. I say it is better to separate them even in an ebook, so the reader can tell who’s speaking. I’ve searched several ways trying to find any mention of this, either way, and am not finding any concrete answers. Is there an industry preference?
A: That’s an interesting question. In theory, you could run it all together, although I don’t think I’ve seen that done in books, either print or ebooks. I would advise against it, since all it will do is introduce confusion in the reader’s mind and, if it’s fiction you’re writing, that’s the last thing you want to do because it “pulls people out of the story” trying to figure out what’s going on. Publishing industry standards clearly show different speakers on different lines (just look at any book on your bookshelf) so unless there’s some compelling artistic reason you want to try this, I don’t see any advantage to your readers.
Q: If a publisher decides to print a book “on demand,” is the quality always going to look like it came from Lightning Source? Is there a way it can be reprinted/printed on demand that closely mimics the way it looked when it was originally published/in print? (I.e. same type of page, color, etc.)
A: It depends on what the original looked like, but the digital printing process used by print on demand vendors will produce a book that’s quite good, but they will not be able to provide the size, paper stock, binding, and finishing that an offset printer can provide.
Q: If my business plan has me getting my manuscript printed partly by an offset press and also partly by Create Space, do I benefit anything by using the DIY tools at Create Space first and then submitting the file to the offset printer afterwords. Put another way, you recommend hiring an interior book designer for books that will be printed on offset presses. Do you think I can get around that if I go to Create Space first?
A: Whether you print at CreateSpace first isn’t really the point. What you need to decide is whether the results you get creating the book yourself will produce a book that’s right for your market. Tools are secondary, although some tools just can’t create the same quality of typesetting as the pro-level tools used by designers.
Q: I would like to publish the ebook on CreateSpace and what to make sure the illustrations for the book will show up well in the printed book. The book is a children’s chapter book and will have 14 pencil/grey scale illustrations at this point. The artist was concerned about the illustrations not showing up dark enough in the book and said perhaps they would need to be done in pen and ink. I was wondering if I sent a copy of a sample illustration you might look at it and let me know if you thought it, and other illustrations drawn in like manner, would show up well if printed by CreateSpace.
A: The person who suggested you proof the book at CreateSpace had the right idea, no amount of reassurance from me or anyone else can substitute for that. Rather than get all the illustrations done, have the artist do 1 or 2 each in pencil and in pen, set up a “dummy” title at CreateSpace of 40 pages or so, and have them proof the samples. Even if many of the pages are blank, this is the best test and will cost you very little in time and money. Once you see the proof, I’m betting you’ll know exactly how you want the illustrations done. (To do this quickly, you might want to get one of our preformatted book design templates) to create a quick PDF for CreateSpace.
What about you, got any questions? Leave them in the comments and we’ll try to help out.