With so much going on, don’t lose sight of what’s happening to your books. Not everyone agrees that having free books going out *freely* is bad for writers, but you at least need to be able to choose. Victoria Strauss again reports on the Internet Archive and its copyright infringement via its “Emergency Library”—now being challenged in court by major publishers. Her post on Writer Beware lists a number of past posts and resources. Check it out.
Category Archives: ebooks publishing and selling
I’ve also found that members of one of my writing groups struggle with this distinction between publishers, packagers, and distributors from Sarah Bolme. There’s also some great information about Amazon’s imprints. Enjoy!
I am surprised by the number of indie and self-published authors who tell me that the publisher of their book is Amazon, Kindle Direct Publishing, or IngramSpark.
It is clear to me that these authors do not understand the difference between an author, a publisher, and a publishing platform.
Authors and publishers have distinct jobs. These jobs are as follows:
- Write a manuscript
- Engage in marketing to assist sales
- Edit the manuscript
- Create a cover
- Lay out the book
- Secure a printer
- Assign an ISBN
- Access distribution for sales to retail and other channels
- Engage in marketing to ensure sales
Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is neither an author or a publisher. It does not write, edit, lay out, or create a cover design for your book. What KDP offers are services.
They offer a cover design template, an ebook conversion program, printing, distribution for sales, and…
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Here’s Chuck Wendig’s take on the decision by Internet Archive (as he points out, already on the hook for stealing and distributing copyrighted work) to provide books for free even if they are, indeed, copyrighted because people need books more than ever now. Wendig’s piece provides not only his take, elaborating on a comment that aired in a show on NPR, but also links to a response from the IA, so you can decide what you think. There is also at least one comment that takes a different stance.
I first became aware of IA’s activities through Victoria Strauss’s indispensable Writer Beware. I tracked down one of my books on IA and sent a takedown notice; supposedly they honored my request. I shared my experience on this blog (link below), then subscribed briefly to a service that promised to find all such theft of my work.
Let me tell you, that was a waste of time. The app found instance after instance. In every single case I tried to track, it was impossible to file a takedown notice. There would be no contact information, no claim of ownership, no one to protest to. Possibly, with stronger computer skills and oodles of time, I could have found the culprits. Some of these sites had takedown-notice forms, but when I sent them, they returned error messages. Long story short, I gave up.
However, one notable outcome was an exchange with a poet who is print-disabled (in his case because of vision issues), who told me about the Marrakesh Treaty, which allows “allows authorized non-profit sites to post—without permission—works for “blind and print-disabled” persons.” This was new information for me, as I suspect it will be for others.
This link will take you to the one of the later posts in my sequence about Internet Archive and book piracy, back in early 2018; there’s a link in the post to the Marrakesh Treaty, and you can read the comments from my reader. All the posts are filed under “Copyright for Writers” and can be accessed by searching for “Internet Archive.”
In any case, I also found myself consoled by an argument from Neil Gaiman that book pirates are really just helping you find readers for your work. If that claim raises eyebrows, well, maybe it should. Or not. The post contains links to several back-and-forths on whether we should be up in arms or opening our arms.
This is a fraught issue in this time of the cholera, as Wendig’s discussion shows. I probably will adhere to my non-action process for now.
If only those freebie readers would leave reviews. . . .
Wow! I’ve been waiting for this information for ages. Join me in trying it, and let me know how it works for you!
Have you ever noticed that some books seem to be in lots of Amazon categories, and not just the two KDP allows you to choose when you publish your book?
Did you know you can add your book to more categories simply by contacting KDP support? You can have it in up to 10 categories, making it much more likely people will come across it when they search their Amazon site.
But why would I want my book in more categories?
Put simply, the more categories your book shows up in, the more people will see your book on Amazon.
Your book will show up in every step of the category pathway, for example, if one category path for your book is:
Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks>Science Fiction and Fantasy>Fantasy>Action & Adventure
your book will show up in each of the categories mentioned. Ideally, you want your book to…
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Well, maybe that title is just click-bait. Hope it gets some clicks!
More accurately, my title should read, Why I’ve Quit Worrying about Book Pirates.
Here are a few links you can check out if you’ve heard horror stories (I sort of have some), and/or if you’re interested in this debate:
- Neil Gaiman making claims about why having his books pirated is the best thing since adaptive cruise control (love it in my new car).
- D. G. Kaye on why you SHOULD worry about book piracy, and what you can do about it.
- Robert Kroese at The Creative Penn basically saying there’s nothing you can do about book piracy, so stop wasting your time.
- And Katy Guest at The Guardian on the scope of the problem of book piracy and why you probably can’t do much to protect yourself (horror X5).
My quick take—and my reasons for copping out on the anti-book-piracy crusade: Like some of the responders on Kaye’s post, I tried the beta Blasty service. I found myself on sites where I didn’t have the technical knowledge to identify the site owners (Kaye offers some tools to help with this). No address to which to send my own DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) takedown notice. Some offered their own DMCA form—but every one I completed returned an error notice.
And after I’d spent a whole morning uselessly following Blasty’s leads, I got yet another massive list of all the places where my books could be downloaded for free.
Blasty offered paid services that would send the notices for me. There are other such services; comments on the various articles I’ve linked to above provide some sources, if you want to pursue this route.
But if you read the Guest piece, you may, like me, come away with a sense of “what for?”
“The legal and tech aspects of book piracy prevention are complex and fast-evolving, but those in the know describe it very simply: it’s whack-a-mole. One of the most persistent ebook pirate sites has been taken down multiple times, only to pop back up again under a .com, a .net and a .org domain name. At least 120,000 take-down notices have been issued against it already, involving web crawlers, lawyers, its domain host and the Metropolitan police. But that website is back regardless, complete with some intimidating legal language of its own, addressed to anyone who plans to complain.”
I have read, in more than one place, that many of the “free” sites don’t even have copies of the books they’re selling; they just want people’s credit card info. A lot easier way of taking people’s money than actually scanning books and repackaging them, I suspect.
Who knows? If the big publishers are really losing a lot of money to piracy, maybe they will finally figure out a way to protect their property. And maybe some enterprising soul will pirate their methods and share them with us (in a user-friendly form). Maybe even Amazon will catch on and act. In the meantime, I have other wasteful uses of my time that are a lot more fun than hunting down all those links and filling out a new version of that form ten times a day.
I’m thinking, in fact, about making more of my work (I really do have WsIP!) available for free. The truism Kroese and others offer makes sense to me:
The biggest challenge facing a new author isn’t piracy; it’s obscurity.
So from one so-far obscure writer to others, I’ve quit worrying about people stealing my books. When you read one you like, just be sure to tell your friends.
Chris shares some frustrating news, but it’s information we should probably all be aware of–if only so that WE don’t end up buying pirated books. Check out Victoria Strauss’s account of her interaction with Internet Archive. But Derek Haines tells us that Amazon is just as guilty—and indifferent (no surprise).
on Just Publishing Advice:
Counterfeit books are still a big issue on Amazon
I can only write about the ongoing problem with books.
But Amazon has taken so little action, there could also be a problem with other counterfeit goods.
You could think that identifying counterfeit books would be easy. If you publish a book on Amazon, surely Amazon could at least check for plagiarism when pirates copy your text.
The problem is not new. I have been writing about pirated ebooks and books for a very long time.
Third party sellers are making a lot of money from pirated, fake and counterfeit books.
More importantly, so is Amazon.
Yet again, on a Facebook page for writers of fiction, someone asked about a clear vanity press scam. Page members quickly jumped in with the appropriate answer for such a query: RUN!
But what amazes me is that I see so many of these kinds of questions. I’m not a particularly patient soul myself, so I had to throttle my immediate response: Don’t you have a computer? Don’t you know how to Google? Shouldn’t basic research be the first step for someone thinking about publishing? Doesn’t it occur to folks that in this day and age, How-To is there for the asking? All you have to do is look.
I consider the answer I composed reasonably tactful (for me):
These days, when we all clearly have access to the Internet, it surprises me that people don’t actively search for information on “how to publish a book.” Of course, a search like that will turn up lots of scams and vanity presses, but it will also turn up many useful sites that offer advice. Everyone who is thinking seriously about publishing should be compiling a personal list of the most helpful FREE sites that lay out the ins and outs of today’s publishing options. A search for “best websites for writers” would yield a ton of these. Yes, you will get some conflicting opinions–some people love Amazon, some hate it–but you’ll begin to get the lay of the land. After a while you begin to get a sense of which bloggers know their business and which don’t. In my earlier comment, I listed Jane Friedman and Victoria Strauss (Writer Beware): invaluable. I also recommend The Book Designer (Joel Friedlander). You can buy books by the carload that will walk you through every step; most are cheap enough as ebooks that you can buy more than one and get a wider set of options. Takes a little time, yes, but not nearly as much time as you have devoted to writing your book, and this basic research will save you many hours by helping you make the best choice for you. Chris the Story Reading Ape also offers regular links to excellent advice. I found these people by Googling, attending conferences, and searching Amazon. Don’t put less energy into this than you would in buying a car!
Okay, I get it that posting questions to Facebook groups is a step in this process. But Facebook friends can’t offer the kind of education we writers need. Learning about style and grammar and showing-not-telling are basic skills, but so are the fundamentals of the business you are thinking of entering. For example, one respondent said she couldn’t afford to self-publish! Facebook friends can’t possibly slap up a full explanation of why this comment is unfounded. They basically have to say, “Go look it up!”
So that’s what I’m saying: Want to be a writer? Go look it up.
Am I completely off base here?
Part 2: Proofreading Slips You Can Find and Fix in Minutes
Fact: You will miss things when you proofread your manuscript. Your eyes see what they expect to see.
Fact: A little creative use of Find/Replace, in Word or your preferred program, can find these hard-to-spot slips for you—and fix them with a keystroke.
I’ve split this post into three subposts, so you can use what you need when and if you need it:
- Part 1: The Secrets of Find/Replace
- Part 2: Easy fixes you can do in minutes (You are here)
- Part 3: Fixes that take a little more effort but are still faster than reading the whole darn book for the 1000th time.
These posts are based on Word, but most of the notations are universal. You should be able to apply them in any program you use.
Minute Fixes Using Find/Replace
Again, these are problems that are easy to miss if you’re eyeballing. Find has much better eyesight than you do!
In each case below, I will
- List the problem,
- Show you what to type in the Find bar in the Find dialogue box
- Show you when to eyeball if context is important
- Show you what to type in the Replace bar
- Tell you when to click “Replace all” or when to eyeball before clicking Replace
Do NOT type “+” in the Find or Replace bars unless you are actually searching for the “plus” sign. I am using it below to indicate “then type.” There should be no spaces between symbols in the bars unless you are specifically searching for a space.
Problem: Double periods
- Find: period + period (..)
- Replace: a single period (.)
- Click: Replace all
Problem: Comma + period or period + comma
- Find: Either ., or ,. (Do one at a time)
- Eyeball: The punctuation you need depends on the context
- Replace: Minimize key strokes by doing all the ones that can be replaced with a period, then coming back and doing all the ones that can be replaced with a comma. Type either a period (.) or a comma (,).
- Click: Replace
Problem: Extra spaces
Used to typing a double space after periods, and HATE being told that’s no longer preferred? You don’t need to remember to single-space. Do what you like. Then:
- Find: Tap the space bar on your keyboard twice. (You will see nothing in the bar but the cursor will move.)
- Replace: Tap the space bar once.
- Click: Replace All.
Do this twice just in case you accidentally typed in three spaces here and there.
If you’ve posted to Kindle or Smashwords, you know that tabs are NOT allowed. You’re encouraged to do all your formatting, including first-line indents, with Styles. But even if you apply a perfect Style throughout your manuscript, any tabs you haven’t removed will still be there, creating all sorts of formatting glitches.
- Find: ^t (the ^ mark lives above the numeral 6)
- Replace: leave blank
- Click: Replace All.
Problem: Extra Returns
Make sure you didn’t accidentally insert a space between paragraphs.
- Find: ^p^p
- Replace: ^p
- Eyeball, since some of your double returns will be deliberate, for example, to mark a scene break.
- Click: Replace when appropriate.
Problem: Manual Line Breaks
These are those funny little arrows that sometimes show up when you’ve copied and pasted from an odd source, like an email. They won’t format properly when you upload.
Do you want the lines to combine into a single paragraph, or do you want a paragraph break?
Paragraph break: Do this first, then do each affected paragraph as a separate chunk (see “Single paragraph” below)
- Find: ^l (lower-case L)
- Eyeball: Locate places where you want a paragraph break; select only those.
- Replace: ^p.
- Find: ^l
- Select the lines you want to combine.
- Replace: space (tap space bar once)
- Eyeball: Have you created double spaces? If so, replace double spaces with singles (see above).
Problem: Double hyphens to em dashes
Double hyphens (–) are a clumsy substitute for the more elegant and correct em dash (a long dash). On a Mac, you can create an em dash in your text by typing Shift + Option + hyphen, but on a PC, you have to “insert” the special character. So being able to type double hyphens and replace them with em dashes in one fell swoop can save a lot of time (you could actually program Autocorrect to do this if you want).
- Find: — (2 hyphens)
- Replace: Open “More,” then “Special” in the Find box and click on “Em Dash.” The appropriate notation will appear in the bar. (The notation for an em dash appears to be different depending on your version of Word.)*
- Click: Replace all.
*If any of the notations I’ve given you don’t work properly, use the Special list to figure out the correct one for your program or computer.