ABC of self-publishing

Overview and introduction

Here is my ABC of self-publishing.

It is my story on why and how I became an author, publishing two books: “Toxic Capitalism” and “Laugh And Get Wiser”.

ABC of self-publishing

late nights… trying hard…

The first book was done through a “Vanity Press Company”, a bad experience that led me to go “indie” and do self-publishing totally myself. That required mastering a software “SCRIVENER” and enrolling as an author with Amazon.

See the challenges I encountered and how I succeeded to publish on Kindle and in print. It took me three extended stays in a nice hotel in Phuket to find the right and motivating environment.

There are three very different roads to publishing: the traditional publishing companies, the vanity press and self-publishing (such as through Amazon, the giant in that field).

Read all details in these posts, as a guide to publish YOUR book. And learn the jargon of this business. Consider it your ABC of self-publishing.

Why self-publishing

See: https://www.damulu.com/2019/01/03/why-self-publishing/
Topics covered:
– Why I write;
– Why choose self-publishing;
– The 3 challenges when publishing your book;
– Some good books and websites to learn the details.

How to self-publish

See: https://www.damulu.com/2019/01/03/how-to-self-publish/
Topics covered:
– Why to become an “indie” and how;
– The three choices explained: traditional publishing houses; the vanity press; do it yourself (read: go the indie road).

The giant of self-publishing

See: https://www.damulu.com/2019/01/03/the-giant-of-self-publishing/
Topics covered:
– Why Amazon?
– The first step to publish on Amazon: you need to register as an author.
– The challenges I met to register as an author, being in China.
– Can you publish a book in Chinese on Amazon? Supported languages.
– Why not use Amazon China?
– Uploading my Kindle e-book on Amazon: challenges I met.
– My books are on Amazon!
– Does Amazon ship to China?

Using Scrivener

See: https://www.damulu.com/2019/01/06/using-scrivener/
Topics covered:
– What is Scrivener software?
– How to learn it, the way I did.
– Why a print version is the first step.
– Amazon Kindle: you need a Table of Content.
– How to get your book in print?

How I wrote my books

See: https://www.damulu.com/2019/01/06/how-i-wrote-my-books/
Topics covered:
– Everybody and every book is different
– My first book “Toxic Capitalism”: using MS Word and deliver the file to a “vanity press”.
– Running away from my normal environment.

Using external help when going indie

See: https://www.damulu.com/2019/01/09/using-external-help-when-going-indie/
Topics covered:
– Using external help when going indie is mandatory for two tasks: the cover design and professional editing.
– Why you need to finish first the format of the print version.
– How I did the cover page in two outsourcing steps.
– For my second book I did exceptionally not use an external editor: why?
– How much did my book cost to get it published in e-book and print?

More considerations on writing and Amazon

See: https://www.damulu.com/2019/01/10/more-considerations-on-writing-and-amazon/
Topics covered:
– Are you focused in your genre? Building a following.
– Amazon and shipping.
– Amazon world-wide shops are not connected.
– BISAC codes: what they are and why it did not help me with Amazon.
– Publishing in Chinese.

Frank Gallo received my book

Meeting an old friend

On 12 December 2018 Frank Gallo received my book Laugh and Get Wiser, over a dinner in Legend Beer.
Frank moved from Beijing to Guangzhou but when visiting Beijing we try to catch up on gossip and books. Frank is also a well-known author.
Frank wrote the back page of my first book Toxic Capitalism, see:
Frank Gallo and my book

Dinner is served

We had a number of beers and several nice dishes, the duck head obviously ordered by my friend who also tried some snooker to run away from our chitchat.

Come back again soon Frank!

My book in China Daily article

My book in China Daily

Finally: my book in China Daily article, published on 28 March 2019:
http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/201903/28/WS5c9c7c5fa3104842260b3194_1.html
Yes, “Laugh and get wiser! Jokes and witty wisdom for adults” got featured with an introduction as supplied by me.

A guidebook for our Chinese friends

I quote:

While at a first sight the book may not be interesting to Chinese readers, due to the cultural differences, it is a nice tool for our friends to learn about typical Western humor, as well as to learn a different vocabulary. Also, for those who deal with Westerners, here in China or when abroad, they might surprise their foreign friends by serving them some jokes they can appreciate.
Most Chinese are totally unfamiliar with the Western world of jokes, they are puzzled or even shocked. They wonder why there are so many about the (“dumb”) blondes, the Irish, the Scottish, as well as the many references to domestic situations, such as between married couples, the hilarious comments from kids, and of course the many references to the human anatomy and intimacy. As it turns out, exactly those are highly rated by the readers of my book.
It is an efficient tool to get acquainted with Western society and the way people entertain each other in a relaxed atmosphere. It also helps to understand some of the American stand-up comedians who deliver jokes I did not dare to include in my book!

Choosing some sample jokes

China Daily had requested some sample jokes. Sigh. Auto-censorship has no limits these days. So this one was a “NO NO” for our prudish friends:

Lady visits the doctor
The doctor examines a lady. He tells her, “Your blood pressure, heart beat, lungs are all fine. Now let me see that cute little thing that gets you ladies into trouble more than often.”
The lady starts taking off her dress and panties.
“No no, says the doctor, I meant your tongue!”

So I had to supply the most watered-down ones. The following ones were not published:

In the bathroom
One blonde asks her friend to give her a shampoo.
Says her friend, “There is a bottle right in front of you!”
“Yes but it’s for dry hair and I just made mine wet!”

The billionaire and his wife
A sixty-years-old billionaire walks into the bar with his attractive twenty-five-years old wife.
The friend asks him, how he got her.
The billionaire: “I lied about my age.”
Friend: “You told her you were forty?”
Billionaire: “No, I said I was ninety.”

Don’t ask
Just before sleeping, a just-married asks his wife,
“Darling, did you have other lovers before me?”
No reply and a long silence. The husband whispers,
“Darling, are you sleeping?”
“No, I am still counting.”

Back from school
Johnny comes back from school and tells his mom it was a great day. They learned to make explosives.
Mom says “Schools do interesting stuff these days. So, what’s up in school tomorrow?”
Johnny: “What school?”

Wanna read the other jokes? Buy the book!
One link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B07H291Z61

 

More considerations on writing and Amazon

Focused?

When considering writing books, some more considerations on writing and Amazon.

To be successful, authors should build a “following”. That however requires to focus on and remain in a specific type of literature: e.g. fiction, romance, philosophy, name it. The more focused, the better.

My case is pretty hopeless as all books have nothing in common and I am working in more than one genre. “Toxic Capitalism” is a comprehensive study of environmental issues; “Laugh and Get Wiser” is a collection of (English) jokes; the next book will be a political manifesto. While the third book will use some of the themes of the first one, the three definitely have a different audience. A possible fourth book might be a collection of professional experiences; the other titles are still too far away to put a sticker on it.

dreaming of big sales?

The idea is that  when readers like your book they might want more of the same. So in my case, pretty hopeless…

Amazon can be a bit “complicated”

As mentioned earlier my book “Laugh and Get Wiser” has a mention for me that it does not ship to Beijing. It actually does…

Some of my friends complain that when searching for it on Amazon UK it somehow gives strange feedback, like “Exclusive for UK clients” – it is widely available on all Amazon sites (except China of course).

The comments posted on Amazon sites are disconnected. If a friend posts a comment of my book on Amazon Italy it does only stay there and does not appear on Amazon USA. That is bad for the author as it gives an incomplete picture of what readers said about the book. Also, the author has to register on each Amazon site separately to introduce himself even if the book is available on that site. In my case till now I registered on the USA and UK sites.

The shipping charges vary considerably. I made shipments to Indianapolis, Brussels, Beijing: the cost is pretty different and goes up in that order.
If I sell hard copies myself, taking advantage of the special discount as the author (very reasonable indeed!) those sales do not appear in the Amazon overview. I sell to a bookstore in Beijing and to many friends who insist on a signed hard copy.

BISAC codes

One miscalculation: before uploading “Laugh and Get Wiser” I studied in detail the BISAC codes – the codes for the book genre, e.g.:

HUM018000   HUMOR / Form / Puns & Wordplay
HUM008000   HUMOR / Topic / Adult
HUM019000   HUMOR / Topic / Language

I thought defining focused BISAC codes was essential to the Kindle listing. I even registered as a member on their website, so I could have access to all details:
“The BISAC Subject Headings List, also known as the BISAC Subject Codes List, is a standard used by many companies throughout the supply chain to categorize books based on topical content. The Subject Heading applied to a book can determine where the work is shelved in a brick and mortar store or the genre(s) under which it can be searched for in an internal database.”
See the website:
BOOK INDUSTRY STUDY GROUP https://bisg.org/page/BISACSubjectCodes

Well, disappointed when I entered all my data for my book “Laugh and Get Wiser”. Nowhere to be found were the BISAC codes and the choice offered by Amazon was way too general. I still need to understand this…

Publishing in Chinese

As said in an earlier post Amazon does not accept books in Chinese. Guidelines are not always obvious. See the languages accepted for Kindle:
https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/help/topic/G200673300

However an English book that contains Chinese characters seems to work… But one can’t publish a Chinese book.
An alternative: Smashwords ignores (Amazon) limitations by allowing all authors from around the world and who have never heard of Steve Jobs to have the same reach. Another alternative to Smashwords would be the Draft2Digital platform.
As my wife is ready to publish her Chinese book, it is a challenge right now.

Yes we are a family of writers, each in a different world. Those are our first books. In both cases, not the best of experiences. See: http://www.damulu.com/2017/04/17/the-book-about-sun-bingwen/

How I wrote my books

Everybody and every book is different

How I wrote my books is a personal experience; everybody is different. Here is my approach.

See also: http://www.damulu.com/2017/04/18/writing-requires-never-giving-up/

My first book “Toxic Capitalism” was written using MS Word. The file was sent to AuthorHouse who did the rest, except for the design of the cover page that we (read: my daughter) did ourselves. As that book involved tons of data, sitting in my computer or in piled-up cutouts from newspapers and magazines, there was little choice other than working at my home office. It was a crazy and frantic experience. Nobody can believe the book was finished in less than six months, all while I was still involved in doing business, and having Christmas, New Year and Spring Festival making a mess of my time schedule.

I guess I emptied quite a number of whisky bottles working until very late at night in a frantic way.

late nights…

Difficult to believe when one reads the book that has far over 500 endnotes with the references to the tons of data. Somehow the whole process on how to process and organize the data had been spinning in my head for some time. Processing the pile of paper clippings and data in my digital database was labor-intensive but also systematic. OK, I swear I will never do anything alike again. I hope.

Running away from Beijing

For the second book, the jokes one, I figured out I would never get anywhere staying in Beijing where I have a rather hectic life full of diversions. Basically I had 3 issues to deal with: learning Scrivener – entering all my written notes for book no. 3 into a Word document – cleaning up and organizing the collection of jokes.

the notes

So, I ran away to Phuket, Patong Beach (Thailand). It was a good decision. During the day I did not leave my room, just a quick snack for lunch while working. By the end of the day, a dip in the swimming pool or then gym. And a dinner outside and drinks in the famous bar street, to relax. Often it rained heavily during the day, even better to keep me working in my room.

I stayed in a nice hotel to have a quiet and comfortable environment.
In 2017 I was there twice for two weeks each time. In March this year, three weeks, all mostly in Baanlaimai Hotel.

It allowed me to basically reach my three goals. More about that in next post.