Strange world facts

I got another flag from Google search on my book Castle Falcon. As is often the case, it’s someone out there putting my book online without my permission.

In this case, the website had the country code location “.tk”

That was an unfamiliar code, so out of general curiosity and boredom, I looked it up.

It’s the “nation” of Tokelau, a tiny atoll in the south seas, technically a self-governing state in association with New Zealand. It’s official head of state is still the Queen of England.

Apparently, about a sixth of its entire economy involves handing out internet domains on favorable terms, which makes it very attractive to outfits like bookleggers. It’s almost like the Pirate Kingdom of the Internet, largely because of third-party abuse, not the islanders themselves.

Additional fun fact: Tokelau is the only nation on Earth which is 100 percent renewable energy, with 93 percent photovoltaic, and the rest from burning coconut oil. They need the oil from around 200 coconuts for this every day.

Below, Tolekau, and the Tokelau solar farm. I don’t know where they burn the coconut oil. I wonder if there’s a scientist there somewhere working on a Q-Bomb.

“Pirate” booksellers

There are a number of websites out there that have been selling digital versions of my self-published book, Castle Falcon.

I discover these because I have a general Google tracker set up for the book title, in the fond hope that some review or other reader response will someday show up. What usually shows up is some obscure website that is selling my book in PDF or ebook form.

The most recent one is a site called KissLibrary, which is more sophisticated than most. My book, nicely presented, was for sale for five bucks. I did a quick check to make sure it wasn’t one of the Smashwords channels (it’s not).

I dithered over how to deal with it. The site has a DMCA form available, which at least shows a willingness to be corrected on their placement. I wondered: should I leave the book site up? It’s no real skin off my nose since the book hasn’t been selling anyway, and if someone buys it, at least it might get read.

I finally decided to file the DMCA form. I’m no legal expert, but it seems to me that if you let too many of these “bootleggers” go, it might actually put a legal crimp in your own copyright. Kind of like brand names that aren’t aggressive enough about other people using them generically, and then wake up one morning to find out that their brand actually has become legally generic.

I’m not sure how these books get into the “wild.” Smashwords is the only distributor I use that routinely offers a PDF format for books sold by them. I suspect it would be easy for someone to buy it legally from Smashwords and then reproduce it at will.

Kindle’s Direct Publishing’s new paperback option

Up until now, self-publishers who went with Amazon usually used Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) to produce Kindle books, and Createspace to produce paperbacks.

I did this with Castle Falcon, and it worked quite well.

Now Amazon is pushing an option to produce a paperback from the KDP interface, bypassing Createspace.

I’m quite happy with my Createspace edition, and too many of the KDP paperback features fall under the “not yet” category. That, and I never, ever, use the “beta” version of anything. I think it’s likely that Amazon will eventually phase out Createspace in favor of an integrated e-book/paperback KDP, but I’ll deal with that when the time comes.

Sending an updated Kindle edition to previous customers

I created a new edition of my book, Castle Falcon, including a new map. While updating the book was simple enough in both Kindle and Createspace, I was hoping I could convince Amazon to provide free updates of the improved book to previous Kindle purchasers.

Guess not. From their Help section:

“Some examples of corrections that don’t justify sending updates to customers who previously purchased your book are:

•   New Content Added: Chapter(s) or page(s) added, deleted or revised; new images added; bonus chapter added.”

Oh, well.

For the record, there is a list of changes that do justify an update to Kindle customers at Amazon’s help site.  Mostly they involve major mistakes.

Switching to a new edition on my book’s Amazon page

After I officially published the new edition of Castle Falcon (under the new Golden Spider Books imprint), there were two paperback editions for sale at Amazon.

With some excellent guidance from Createspace support, I managed to gently ease the old edition off the book’s page at Amazon.

The first step was going to the Createspace production site, and my dashboard there. I opened the old edition up, and went to Channels (under Distribution). There I just unselected all the channels, and the old book went off sale.

A request to Createspace support then “retired” the old edition. Everything on the page survived the switch, and it was basically effortless.

tableset

The old edition still survives under the surface: if you click on “all 3 formats” on the book’s Amazon page, the Kindle and new paperback edition come up. Opening a dropdown under “paperback” shows the May 2012 edition, still available as a used book from four vendors. That’s okay by me.

For a short time after the switch, when I did a general title search, the Kindle and old paperback popped up, but that got fixed. Only thing I’m waiting for now is for the preview to update. I’ll keep an eye on the Amazon book page to make sure everything stays sorted out.

Self-publishing: creating your own publishing company

After having had my book Castle Falcon on the market for a few years, I decided it might look a bit better if it had a company as the publisher instead of just me.

Of course, this doesn’t make any real difference in how things get done, but I think that a book gets taken just a bit more seriously if there’s an imprint on the copyright page. Okay, maybe not, but I still thought it would look better.

I’d picked the publishing name a while ago. In Castle Falcon, a major character is Aurachne (yes, I spelled it that way on purpose), the Golden Spider. She loves reading. So the company would be Golden Spider Books.

I whipped up an icon, which was a lot of fun:

Spider_Icon_Text

The hard part was finding a 3D spider model online that was stylistic enough to not look creepy. As it is, I still had to delete the mandibles.

Then the work part:

Step One was creating the company. How you do this depends a bit on where you live, but here in California, you have to set up a “DBA” (Doing Business As). There’s a form to fill out for your county, and a small fee to pay to get registered. You also have to pay to get an announcement in the business section of your local paper. That’s pretty much it as far as I know, at least to get started.

Step Two was to go to Bowker, where I’d originally purchased my ISBN numbers for my various editions. I was pleased to find out that I could simply transfer my existing ISBN numbers to Golden Spider Books by request, and not have to buy a whole new set.

Step Three was going through my various editions and updating the copyright page and covers to add the new imprint and logo. Since I didn’t have to republish most of them under new ISBNs, this mostly involved updating the interiors for e-books and Lulu editions, and updating the cover image file (Createspace version below) for the latter.

Cover_Castle_Falcon_12.0_GSB_Createspace_200dpi

The Createspace edition was a bit more difficult. When I originally published at Createspace, I just ran it through using Createspace as the publisher, where they provide their own ISBN number and add their barcode box to the cover image. Most people do it this way, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

To replace this with my own imprint and ISBN number required me to create an actual new edition, a second Createspace publication. I had no problems with this, updating the interior and cover (including logo and new ISBN barcode). I’m currently waiting on a proof copy of the new version. The only visible difference is the logo on the cover and some copyright text. I also added an “about the author” page at the end.

The real trick will be shoehorning the new Createspace edition into my Amazon setup and still retaining all my links, access to my five hard-won reviews, and other information. Particularly since I probably have to take the first edition off the market. More on this later (I hope).

 

 

 

Some of the people I wish had done my book cover instead of me.

Michael Whelan:

Dragonsbane by Michael Whelan

________________________________

Mark Ferrari:

Last Light on Atlantis by Mark Ferrari

________________________________

The people at Platinum:

null

________________________________

The book cover I did, a Photoshop illustration designed for a hardcover wrap-around dust jacket with end flaps. The artwork was done with an ancient version of Accurender and an even older version of AutoCAD.

Castle Falcon Cover, dust jacket by Tom Alan Brosz

(All illustrations copyright of their respective artists)

Smashwords update

Castle Falcon was approved by Smashwords for inclusion in their “premium catalog,” and has been shipped to six new markets so far, including Apple and Kobo. I “opted out” of Amazon and Barnes & Noble, where I already had the book set up.  Again, not bad results for no fee and not much work.

The Apple version is up on iTunes already.

Smashwords: Invisible Goofies and Blue Meanies

(Part One in previous post)

Okay, so there I was. Smashwords had simultaneously translated my book to multiple e-book formats and put it up on Smashwords for sale, and I discovered that all of the text in the book was bright blue. Not just text that’s okay in blue, like the links in the table of contents–everything.

Now when you publish at Smashwords, you get put up in the “new book” section on their main page, held up in front of all the rest–for about a minute or two.  Forget “fifteen minutes of fame,” I had maybe ten, and my e-book was printed in blue ink.

If I fixed it, I could upload a new version immediately. But what was wrong?  None of the styles I was using in the document said “blue color” on the font. It was the usual “automatic” for color, which for years has basically meant “black.”

I changed the font colors for all the main text styles I was using from “automatic” to “black,” trying to force it, and uploaded the file again.  When the Meatgrinder translation came back, the text was still blue.

A frantic search through the Smashwords FAQ got me this question: “My entire book is in red font (or some other unintended color) in HTML, EPUB and MOBI. Why?” Their answer involved digging deep into the Style menus, to where the “all styles” list hangs out. I discovered there was a whole bunch of weird styles stuck in my document, many of which I wasn’t using at all.

One of these unused styles was “Body Text,” and the color was blue! I deleted it. I also deleted a red one just to be safe. This time when I uploaded the Word file and downloaded the e-book translations, the text was the proper black color. Whew.

Just another example of the infamous “Invisible Goofy,” my name for a setting or formatting glitch that never shows up in an original document, but causes havoc when you convert the file to another form or transmit it somewhere.

Minus ten points to Smashwords for making me fix this mess while my book was already “live.” Although I understand why they do it that way, it’s like standing up on a billboard fixing a big typo while everyone’s down below looking up at you and taking pictures.

But, plus fifty points to Smashwords for some really robust customer support documentation. I found out all sorts of things about formatting Word for EPUB that I never knew before, and they seem to have answers for even the most obscure issues.

Castle Falcon is awaiting review for wider distribution to other markets, but I’ve already sold one copy off the Smashwords page. Since I didn’t have to pay a nickel to do all this, I’m already money ahead!

Invisible Goofy and Blue Meanie