Silly Saturday – Who Needs Numbers?

Who needs nuWho needs numbers?

Not writers, they use words, except for page numbers…

rWhen I published my first novel seven years ago on Amazon Kindle it was a miracle; I didn’t even possess a Kindle myself and had to ring our friend, who had helped initiate us into the process, to tell him it was live so he could download and see if it had ‘come out’. It was quite difficult explaining to people that my novel did not exist on paper. Of course independent authors were already self publishing real paper books by various means and with varying degrees of success. But I was not going to do anything that involved outlaying money, being conned or ending up with box loads of unwanted books in the garage. A writers’ magazine claimed that soon we would be walking into book stores, plugging in a memory stick with our novel on it and returning to collect a printed book an hour later. This hasn’t happened, but what the Amazon Elves do at their printing press, hidden somewhere in Magic Mountain, is print on demand. You can order one copy or a thousand.

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Two years ago I published my first paperback at Amazon Kindle and was pleased with its appearance, now I could send a real book to my mother in Australia! Since then things have moved on and we can order author copies at cost price. I ordered one copy of ‘At The Seaside…’ it looked good, I posted it off to Australia and ordered more, gave a couple to friends, but it was not until I took a copy round to our writer friends that bad news was revealed… by the time I got home there was a message on my phone  did I know there were no numbers on the pages? Not surprisingly the others in the batch also had no numbers… Did the elves not check before the books left Magic Mountain?

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This poses the question, do we need page numbers?  Cyberspouse helpfully suggested that I just put a bookmark in each copy. Books on Kindle don’t have page numbers, the pages themselves are pretend. If you change the size of the font the page alters. The bottom of the ‘page’ in the novel I’m reading on my Kindle Paperwhite tells me I have read 85% and have 45 minutes reading time left. There is a location number 3629, but I would probably forget what it was if I nudged the screen and lost my place. With real books we can see our progress, but do we notice the page numbers? It is handy if you can recall which page you were on if you lose your bookmark or if you want to look up a particular chapter.

Back at Tidalscribe Publishing House we downloaded the novel again in what we hoped was the right format, the preview showed page numbers, I ordered one copy and waited nervously…

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In the meantime I took the remaining copies to writers’ group and offered them free, with the chance they might become valuable editions if I ever became famous…

…the very rare 2019  numberless edition… what am I bid?

The new version arrived in the post the other day and it did have page numbers.

Could you read a  book without page numbers?

 

Silly Saturday – Surviving Self Publishers

Survival guide for friends and relatives of Indie Authors

How many of us recall being waylaid at the school gate by other mothers with Tupperware party invites or the friends for whom Amway cleaning products became a religion? Do Amazon Kindle Self Publishers pose a similar threat?

Spare a thought for friends and relatives of Indie Authors…

You probably were not even aware your friend or aunty was an Indie Author; you weren’t listening when they were telling you about their writing, or when they mentioned modestly that their first novel was available on Amazon Kindle. So here is a survival guide.

  1. Never reveal that you own any electronic device larger than a postage stamp.
  2. Never ask ‘How’s the writing going?’

If it is too late for the above, the following excuses may be helpful.

A. I’ve lost my Kindle charger.

B. I left my Kindle on the train.

C. WiFi not working.

D1. I’m going to buy your book when I go on holiday.

D2. LIE. I have downloaded your book and will read it when I’m on holiday.

E. I like to buy my books at the charity shop.

F. I have to finish reading the book for my book club.

G. I have an iPad, but don’t know how to download books and have to wait till my son/daughter/nephew comes round.

H. My Kindle is full, I already have 5,000 free classic novels by dead authors on there.

I. I’m just waiting till pay day. (This last excuse could be seen as rather feeble, especially if they are selling their book for 99p.)

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Good luck, but don’t think you have escaped. Did you get an invitation to tea and cake round at your friend’s house, wondering what a Pop Up Bookshop is? Your local Indie author has now learnt how to create paperbacks on Kindle Direct Publishing. After eating some delicious cakes they expect you to wipe your sticky fingers and look at the pile of lovely new paperbacks that just arrived on the doorstep. They belong to Amazon Prime and get free deliveries, so they have saved you the trouble of ordering from Amazon yourself and there is the bonus of getting your copy autographed by them. …and if you don’t buy their latest novel you will probably get it for a birthday present.

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Reinventing The Printing Press

The printing press was invented nearly 600 years ago, Gutenberg credited with the birth of mass communication; but of course the written word goes back much further. Has the invention of the E-book been as important as the invention of the printing press? Not in terms of mass communication; radio, television and the internet surely qualify for that.

Have Kindle books revolutionised our reading habits? Real paper books have survived radio, television and the cinema so are unlikely to suffer a demise. But e-Books have brought new delights; reading in bed in the dark still gives me a wicked thrill when I recall my childhood self trying to read with a torch under the covers without being caught. Packing one slim item for holiday reading, or on the commuter train with nobody knowing which book you are reading… But people still love the feel and colour of real books and I never dare take my precious Kindle on the bus or to the beach hut, paperbacks still have their use.

But for the Indie writer Amazon Kindle provided a tempting doorway into self publishing with a worldwide audience, not necessarily translating into world record sales, but with the opportunity for your aunty on the other side of the world to download your wonderful novel onto her Kindle in seconds.

Self publishing is not new; famous writers in history have published their own novels or pamphlets of poetry. In the modern world unknown writers must first find an agent, who in turn must find a publisher who in turn may let months slip by and still reject the precious manuscript. No wonder lots of writers have turned to what used to be called vanity publishing. They have the advantage of real books to show friends and take to local bookshops for signing events. They may be very successful or could end up with boxes of books in the garage.

Print on Demand is another development which is an attractive proposition. When I first started reading writing magazines one editorial suggested we would soon be wandering into bookstores with a memory stick and downloading our novel, returning later in the day to collect a printed book. That hasn’t happened, but recently Kindle Direct Publishing announced that authors could now create paperbacks as well as e-Books for free. Of course the publishing costs come out of the book sales, but at Chez Gogerty Publishing House it seemed an opportunity too good to miss, as I was just editing a collection of short stories, Tides and Times. Even if we only produced one real book to give my 91 year old mother it was worth a try.

Cyberspouse is always willing to face a technical challenge if it involves no financial outlay. After several attempts at downloading his own  cover design, the book was accepted, then we had to wait for it to go ‘live’, then we ordered one copy…

We were not disappointed, it looked and felt good, we ordered five more. One of the reasons why Amazon is so successful, why we can’t help using them for everything under the sun, is that they always deliver in all senses of the word; they tell you it’s on it’s way, they tell you when it will arrive.

After four years of extolling the virtues of Kindle books to my writers’ group, mostly to no avail, the five copies were snapped up. So now to finish writing my next book with renewed vigour and to turn my back catalogue into paperbacks.

How does all this work? Obviously by magic. In a mountain cave somewhere are lots of little Amazon Elves beavering away at a printing press. I just hope there is not an international scandal involving zero hours contracts and mistreatment of Elves, so that we are all expected to boycott Amazon and sign petitions on Facebook…