Indie Publishing or Self Publishing

Hi, there are any number of conversations going on around the blogsphere and the tweet world, and I’m sure off line in that old fashioned medium of voice conversations about this subject. Sue and I have had these conversations off line, too. It comes down to why would an author choose to work with an indie publisher rather than self publish, especially e-books.

We think it comes down to quality and reputation. I have bought some e-books recently, not so much because I wanted entertainment but to research. I’m not going to name names but here are some observations.

First, I bought books from and Smashwords, to ensure I had something from both ends of the spectrum.

What did I see?

  1. Stories that hadn’t started by the time I hit delete on my iTouch. So many of the books I read gave a ton of back story.
  2. Stories that had inconsistent point of view, or a point of view that allowed the author to tell the story, not show it.
  3. Stories with lots of ‘stage direction’ – character stops the car, turns off the ignition, opens the door, crosses the lawn, climbs the stairs, takes out the key, unlocks the door, opens the door, and walks in. (I’m not exaggerating)
  4. Stories with stilted dialogue. The big trigger is to look at the grammar in your dialogue, not even English teachers speak in correct and complete sentences all the time.

When it comes to uploading your book to Smashwords or to Amazon, you can pretty much do it with a click of the mouse. If you only revised with your own opinions, you won’t have seen what needs to be done. If only your mother, or sister, or friend, have read it, you won’t have professional advice on making the book readable and compelling.

An indie publisher will work with you to make the final changes to your manuscript to make it a marketable book. The readers for indie publishers aren’t reading for enjoyment – although that’s a nice bonus – they are reading to see if you have grabbed your reader enough to make they want to read to the end, they are looking for structural issues, and the last thing they will look for is grammar and punctuation.

If you think you need to work with someone who will give you advice on story revising and polishing, check out our submission guidelines at PaperBox Books

Happy writing.


Thinking about your reader

Yes, that’s the person who reads your work, not a device. Lately our author discussions have revolved around audience. Who is going to read your book and what can you do to make your book better for them?

It is clear when you are writing for YA or children, you use specific language – or more correctly, don’t use specific language. No sex!  Entertain, don’t Preach! And your themes need to connect with what your age group is focused on. Or, perhaps the next age group up.

When you write in a genre, you must work with the conventions of the genre. No mystery reader is going to buy your second book if you don’t solve the crime. Although the bad guy doesn’t need to get punished, but the reader needs to know who did it, and usually why. And, if they don’t get punished, if the detective walks away from the final closure, you have to have a compelling reason.

Science Fiction seems to get the most buzz about conventions in story – there’s that group of readers who put more emphasis on the Science and the group the places more emphasis on the Fiction. And the group in between who want a good story with some science.

What we advise our authors is to make sure they understand the conventions of their genre or age group. Then if they need to break them, do it skillfully and with purpose. If your reader thinks you’ve made a mistake in your writing, you’ve kicked them out of the story. If you are skillful in changing conventions, they will be intrigued and captured in the story.

How do you get to know your audience?

The best way is to read what they read. If you do that, you can see the conventions and you will ride the knowledge as you write.

The second best way is to buy and read a book about writing for the age group or genre.

My advice – do both. Start with a book on how to write for that audience to see what you should be including, then read books in the genre/age group so you can see how well it’s done, or how badly.

I wish you good writing.


E Readers lower prices

Hi, I innocently went into Costco yesterday to do some shopping and ran smack dab into temptation. The Libre ereader was there and it was only $170.00 and, as if that wasn’t enough, it came with free ebooks.

Now, I’m fairly committed to waiting for the format issues to settle. And, at home I have p-books in my night stand and on my coffee table, and I have ebooks on my crackberry from mobipocket. I have three books on my Kindle for PC and two books on my Sony reader for PC.  If I could find a way to read with my laptop in bed I’d be fine.

The Libre reads PDF, TXT, FB2, EPUB, MOBI, PRC and RTF – although I’m not sure if it will read Kindle mobi (my crackberry can’t).

Cooler heads did prevail in the end. My Libre still sits waiting in Costco – I’m still going to wait a while for formating and DRM issue to work out. The good news is I thought it would be 18 months, with the pricing of the Libre already below $200 maybe I’ll be buying this year.

A few blogs about the Libre.  engadget – gizmodo

Ebooks and traditional publishers

I found this interesting post in my google reader this morning. Why publishers do stupid things with ebooks.

The information in the link Why ebook delays won’t save trade publishing is a good explanation of why traditional publishers think they have to resort to DRM and delayed releases. In short,they think of their customer as the book store and other distributors.

At PaperBox Books we know our customer is the reader, the person who will enjoy the story.

Happy reading!


Do I want a Kindle for Christmas?

I did make a decision about buying an e-reader – I wanted to wait until the platforms had stabilized and DRM had been worked out. Trying to keep out of the war about who’s toy is best. And I’m happy to read on my BlackBerry for now.

I am standing firm – okay, maybe not firm but still haven’t bought one. My strong inclination – like if I suddenly broke down and got one, is to go with the Sony E-book. It really comes down to the wireless thing. I kind of like knowing that when I buy a book it’s mine and no one will pull it off my bookshelf. Take that Amazon.

As a publisher and an author, I want books to be available in all the locations, and a reasonable income flow. As it stands right now, Amazon takes the biggest cut, and they are the largest retailer so good for them. But they only sell kindle ebooks.

Where do I buy my books. Fictionwise, why? because they sell multiple formats and they have lots of books.

Oh, and if Santa is reading this blog, if you got me a Kindle, it’s okay, I’ll settle for it.


DRM – big brother or savvy marketing

Hi, well it’s December and NaNo is over (I won!! yay). I’m having  a little problem engaging in the world where word counts don’t matter so I poked around some postings about e-publishing. I found a request on LinkedIn for a recommendation for the best DRM available.

Yikes, my eyes did the cartoon pop out on springs – boing. DRM is a hotly contested issue these days. I have to say I’m on the side of as little as possible – I hate the fact that Apple tries to control where and how I’ll play the music I bought from them.

I fall on the side of the argument that thinks of e-books as similar to paper books. If I pay you for it, I should be able to lend it to whoever I want and read it on whatever reader I have.  A paper book gets shared and donated, just because you can put rules around a digital copy doesn’t mean you should.

It came home to me when I looked into downloading a Kindle book from They use mobi format which I can read on my Blackberry from any other etailer. Surprisingly mobi is only readable on the Kindle or my PC. Hmmm, I don’t get the link between selling books and confining people to a proprietary software.

We’ll see these things change over the next while. I think we’re in the eight track v cassette or VHS v Beta stage of the hardware development and the end result will be common format and competition back to how many books get sold. I don’t know if Kindle will continue to be the reader of choice or not, I’ll just wait a few months before buying a reader.

What are your thoughts on DRM and the future.