Ladies and gentlemen, the day I’ve been babbling on and on about for the past year has finally arrived. That’s right — not four hours ago, I officially sent in my cancellation form to iUniverse. Once they process it, Imminent Danger And How to Fly Straight into It will officially be a free agent!
Okay, I might be a bit excited. And terrified. But mostly excited.
So, what’s next? Well, it will take iUniverse a few days to take the book down off their website. Then they have to send out the message to Amazon, B&N, Chapters, etc. It will take them 30-45 business days to take down the book. And once the book is officially down from all those sites, I can put the new version up on Amazon/KDP!
In the meantime, I get to play around with something that I think’s going to be a lot of fun for everyone involved — my IndieGoGo campaign. I’ve mostly got it set up — basically, I’m trying to raise a few hundred dollars to repay the costs of the new cover design. And then the prizes range from eBook copies of Imminent Danger to cover art cards to bookmarks to print copies with the new cover (my personal favorite), and then lots more fun stuff.
I’m hoping to start up the campaign in the next week or so (gasp!), so keep an eye out for that. And until then, live long, prosper, celebrate my emancipation from iUniverse, and enjoy the unrelated media!
The topic of self-publishing and taxes is something I recently learned about, as I finally filed my income tax yesterday. First off, note that I’m a Canadian, so this post may not apply if you’re American. Secondly, note that the H&R Block rep I spoke with was absolutely awesome, so much so that I ended up giving him a copy of my book, which he promised to read and tell all his friends about. Yay networking!
Anyway, I’m Canadian, and the assisted publishing company I went through to publish my book — iUniverse — is an American company. Last year, I made approximately $500 in royalties off my book (feel free to gasp in awe or shake your head in pity, depending on your own self-publishing experience). I figured such a small amount would be easy enough to do taxes for. I was wrong.
So I went to H&R Block, which is one of those accounting firms who set up booths in the mall and do basic tax returns for good prices. Fair enough — I have no idea how to do my own taxes, and my return wasn’t particularly complicated this year. Or so I thought. You see, if you’re Canadian, and you need to file foreign income, the rate for the return goes way up. We’re talking double the price. Gah!
Now, I don’t know how this changes if you do your taxes yourself, or go via a professional business accountant (the ones who charge obscene rates by the hour). But it’s something to be aware of!
So the take-away from this post is:
If you’re self-publishing through a foreign company, you’re going to have to claim foreign income on your tax return! Dum dum dummmmmm!
That’s all for today. Have a lovely Wednesday, everyone, and enjoy the unrelated media below!
Now, let me preface this post by stating that this is an extremely tentative plan, cooked up in the shower yesterday, and now delivered via the magical power of the internet to your computer screen!
Step 1: Finish writing Chasing Nonconformity
This is the most important step, as this sequel is the pivot point around which the rest of the plan turns. I’m about halfway through the re-write right now, and will hopefully get it done by the end of February. Then begin the rounds of editing and beta readers and general headaches … so I’m hoping that if I buckle down and really put my nose to the grindstone, I can maybe eke out a finished manuscript by September?
Step 2: Get covers for Imminent Danger and Chasing Nonconformity
Of course, I already have a cover for Imminent Danger, but that cover is technically owned by iUniverse, and I don’t really feel like paying them several hundred dollars to come into possession of a cover to which I’m not particularly attached. The plan, you see, is that I’m going to re-publish Imminent Danger on my own (i.e., not through a vanity publisher), which will give me much more control over the fate of the book. So I’m going to need covers for both books 1 and 2.
I was in talks with a cover designer last year, but things didn’t really work out — I didn’t know what I wanted, and the designer had a particular style that, while lovely, just didn’t mesh with what I had in mind (despite me not actually knowing what I had in mind). See the problem? Indecision abounds in my world. Anyway, I’m now messing around with cover design on my own, and have tentatively acquired a new designer … more on that story as it unfolds!
Step 3: Break from iUniverse and re-release Imminent Danger via Amazon KDP
So this is actually two steps in one. Basically, I kind of like the idea of trying out the Amazon KDP program, but that of course means I can’t have my book for sale on other websites. Since iUniverse is currently distributing Imminent Danger to every website under the sun, that will mean that I’m going to break from them at some point. I don’t know when, but … it’s definitely going to happen. I mean, unless I can find a way to re-publish Imminent Danger on Amazon KDP and still leave the iUniverse version up and available … maybe call the new version the “Deluxe version” or something? If anyone knows about this sort of thing, by all means send your wisdom my way!
And then the second part of the step is, of course, to re-release Imminent Danger on Amazon KDP. I don’t know that I’ll stay in the KDP program forever, but it seems a good way to start. My tentative plan for this is to re-release the book sometime in September. I’m thinking of doing the Kindle Countdown Deals program for the first three months, and then switch over to the 5 free days option just in time for …
Step 4: Release Chasing Nonconformity for Christmas!
This is, of course, assuming I’m actually able to come up with a finished manuscript by the fall, which is … let’s just call it an extremely optimistic plan. But I’m nothing if not optimistic! So assuming everything goes according to plan, I’ll release Chasing Nonconformity around the start of December … and at that point Imminent Danger will have gone into the “5 free promo days” program, so I can offer it for free for a few days in December/January to drum up interest and encourage people to give the series a shot.
I am obviously a complete “n00b” at marketing, so any thoughts/comments on my plan are greatly appreciated!
… by buying a copy of my debut novel, Imminent Danger And How to Fly Straight into It!
That’s right, folks, it’s shameless self-promotion time! For all my lovely readers who haven’t yet read my book, why not give it a shot this Christmas? Or if you have read it and loved it, how about grabbing up a copy for your friends, daughters, sons, nieces, nephews, alpacas, rutabagas … whomever in your life you think might enjoy a little science fiction fun!
Click the gigantic book cover in the sidebar to get links to all the various online retailers that carry the book. Or just click here to go straight to Amazon.com.
Now, sadly I can’t actually offer any discounts, because iUniverse controls the pricing, not me. I know, I know, I’m working on it! In the meantime, while I can’t offer a price drop on book, I can offer a signed copy (sort of) if you buy a softcover or hardcover. Basically, I’m using this newfangled contraption called a “bookplate” (also known as a “sticker”). The idea here is that you buy the book, you send me an email letting me know you want a signed bookplate (along with your mailing address), and then I send you a bookplate free of charge, along with some Imminent Danger swag (bookmarks, stickers, personal thank you note for supporting me, etc.) Here’s a picture of a hastily done up bookplate that I totally didn’t just make five seconds ago:
I promise I’ll get a better gold marker so it isn’t all fuzzy looking. And if you want me to address the bookplate to a certain individual, or write a custom message or whatever, just let me know.
Anyway, that’s my shameless self-promotion for the Christmas season! If you’ve got a spare minute, please consider spreading the word about this whole “bookplate” thing … or just about my book and how awesome it is in general. And if you already bought a copy and want a bookplate, shoot a message/email my way and I’ll hook you up!
Unrelated media of the day:
As always, I can’t remember if I’ve already shared this or not, but either way, enjoy!
Ladies and gentleman, I’m pleased to announce that I have officially received my royalty report from iUniverse for the months of January-March. The report came in on June 7th … a full week after it was supposed to … but still, it’s here! Huzzah!
After cross-checking my meticulous book sales records (a Word doc bullet list), I have determined that the royalties they’ve reported are correct. So props to iUniverse for their accurate accounting department!
I shall now divulge the sales stats for my first three months of sales under iUniverse:
Softcovers sold = 68
Hardcovers sold = 56
Amazon = 33
B&N = 3
Kobo = 6
Tada! My sub-par yet inspiring stats for January-March. I’m pretty sure I have you guys to thank for those ebook sales, so thank you!!!
As for the softcovers/hardcovers, I know what you’re thinking — Gosh, Michelle, over 100 sold! That’s pretty darn good! Maybe print books aren’t dead after all! Now, that would be true, except that 100 of those were bought by me, for the purposes of re-sale/giving away. On the plus side, that leaves 24 print books unaccounted for — which I think is pretty darn cool!
Are these sales amazing? Goodness, no. Compared to some of my fellow bloggers, who complain when their sales drop under 50 a day, these stats are just pathetic. But hey, that’s cool! First book, crazy fluctuating ebook prices, wrong genre classification, questionably genre-appropriate cover, overpriced print copies, no up-to-date sales records for marketing analysis … I’m quite satisfied with the results thus far. Huzzah!
It does make me wonder how my sales would be if I’d not gone with iUniverse, and instead done something like KDP through Amazon. I suppose I’ll find out soon enough, though — now that Chasing Nonconformity, the sequel to Imminent Danger, is well into the editing stages, I’m starting to make plans to self-publish the sequel, as well as re-release Imminent Danger through KDP. This will likely necessitate splitting from iUniverse, something which I’m trying to feel sad about, but … somehow the emotion just isn’t there. Hehehe …
Anyway, for anyone wondering how I was doing, sales-wise, above is all the information I have. This info can also serve as a benchmark to my fellow self-published writers — if you’re selling better than me, clearly you’re doing something right! And if you feel like letting me in on what that something is, please, by all means, feel free. Live long and prosper, blogosphere!
I present to you now, “Dirty Cash” by BigBang, who are arguably the most popular boy band in South Korea. (To KPOP fans — I said arguably! Put away your weapons!) As you will gather when they sing the chorus, they don’t want your dirty cash. They’re quite firm on this point.
With our three-week guest post experiment now over (I think it went pretty well, don’t you?), it’s time to get back on topic — namely, ME!
Ha! Kidding. Except not actually. I think I vaguely mentioned this a month or so ago, but I have in fact scored a book signing at my local Chapters (big Canadian bookstore). In case you’re wondering how such a thing is possible, I shall give you a brief history of how it happened:
A brief history of how it happened …
So the iUniverse package I bought puts 8 copies of my book in a local Chapters store for 8 weeks (I think the 8 weeks will be ending at the start of June). I went into the store on April 1st (first day the books were supposed to be on the shelves), only to discover they weren’t on the shelves. After a half-hour-long search involving several wonderful Chapters employees, we located my book on the shelving manager’s desk — apparently she didn’t know what genre to file the book under, as the back of the book says Young Adult (as it’s supposed to), but it’s listed in their system as Children’s Lit (thank you, iUniverse!). Anyway, it all got figured out, and the book was placed in the teen section. But during this search, I came into contact with one of the floor managers, who was just amazing — when he found out I’d written the book, he asked, without even being prompted, “Well, have you set up a book signing here yet?” And of course I was like, “… um, no. Is that even possible?” And he was all, “Sure! Let me give you the store manager’s email!”
And the rest is history.
So the moral of the story, I guess is either:
Ask and you shall receive, or
My local Chapters is unbelievably awesome
So the book signing is happening tomorrow, from 12-4 in the afternoon. My best friend and accomplished photographer Rhiannon Barlow will be on-site to manhandle people over to my table, and also to take pictures and video record the event so that all you lovely people can experience the (hopefully) joys of my book signing. Here’s a picture of the aforementioned BFF/photographer:
So sassy! That’s my new favourite word. I apply it to many things — awesome people, tangy foods, snazzy convertibles, etc. Anyway, she’ll be prepping all sorts of excellent media for me to conglomerate together and share with you next week. Woo!
Back to the signing …
Chapters ordered in an extra 30 copies for the signing, so fingers crossed I manage to convince people to buy at least half of those. One of the big problems is that iUniverse fails at pricing books cheaply, so the book retails in Chapters at $24. For a softcover. Stupid, right? I asked them to lower their prices to a level that actual humans might pay, but no dice. I’m hoping people will be able to overlook that price in favour of supporting a local author, but … only time will tell, I guess.
I expected to be really nervous about the signing, but for some reason I’m cool as a cucumber. Could be because it hasn’t sunk in yet. Perhaps tomorrow morning I will have a mental breakdown. I should schedule that in, just in case. Does 10:13 AM work for everyone?
Anyway, you’ll be hearing all about how the signing went next week, so there’s no point in me blathering on about it now. Have a fantabulous weekend, stay cool, and wish me luck!
Unrelated media of the day:
Today’s unrelated media features a blast from the past.
So now that I’ve finished the first edit of Chasing Nonconformity, it’s time to start seriously thinking about the future of my series — namely, what I’m going to do with it. Obviously I will not be publishing the sequel through iUniverse (ha!), so it will definitely be self-publishing for me. I’m thinking of going KDP Select, at least for the first few months, because that sounds like a really cool program and I’d love to see how it works out.
Now, this brings us to the question of what I do about Imminent Danger. I don’t remember the specifics of my contract, but I believe I can basically opt out of the contract with iUniverse any time after the first year by giving them 30 days notice. So then after 30 days they would de-list the book and it would disappear from assorted websites (well, probably not the print copies, because apparently online retailers like to keep listing books years after they’re de-listed, but whatever).
I’m thinking of de-listing with iUniverse a month or two before I release Chasing Nonconformity, which would give me time to format it and re-release it with the sequel — and I would probably offer it for a lower price as well, to try and get people interested in the series. But all this rambling is not relevant. What is relevant is …
Cover Art for Teen Books — Simple, or Fancy?
I guess what I’m really trying to figure out is what direction to go with my cover art. The cover art for Imminent Danger I have right now is fine, but it’s not really … exciting, you know? It’s got the space thing going on, which is cool, and then it’s got the silhouettes, which don’t actually look anything like my characters, locked in a passionate embrace … but that does nothing to capture either the “imminent danger” part of the title, nor the humorous element implied in the “and how to fly straight into it” part of the title.
So clearly I will need a new cover (not to mention I’ll have to pay iUniverse $700 if I want to buy the rights to their cover). Which leads us to the question: for a YA/teen book, what’s better — simple, or fancy?
Here are some examples of simple covers:
And here are some fancy covers:
So, as you can see, two very different styles. Now, if you consult this list of the best YA book covers, you’ll find that the vast majority of YA covers feature the female protagonist in a pretty/cool outfit doing something dramatic. So there’s another point to consider. But then, Twilight and Hunger Games are both insanely successful, and they have super simple covers, so … yeah.
Another thing I’m considering is hiring an artist to do an illustration for the cover. I’m thinking either just Eris (the protagonist), on a starry background, floating dramatically toward something just off-screen, perhaps shooting something with her laser gun. Or possibly Eris and Varrin (the space pirate) doing something that bespeaks their romantic relationship while at the same time being exciting and awesome. I don’t know. I spoke with an artist yesterday who will do the cover art for Imminent Danger and Chasing Nonconformity for $800 each — which I thought was a lot, but apparently (according to my mother) is quite reasonable for such a thing.
OR I could go the stock photography route and do it myself. OR I could hire a cover designer to do it for me. OR I could … I don’t know … sacrifice my teddy bear to the graphic design gods and hope for a miracle.
As you might have noticed, I have absolutely no idea how to proceed. So, any and all thoughts / opinions / suggestions / graphic design god contact tips would be greatly appreciated. Ooooh, I should also make some polls, because clicking buttons is fun. One second …
Notice that I didn’t put the teddy bear sacrifice option on the poll. That’s because this is a serious matter, darn it! Plus, I need my teddy bear to guard my apartment from looters and vagabonds, so sacrificing him should be a last-resort option.
… “last chance” being because the Giveaway is ending today, not because a giant asteroid is going to come crashing down on our heads, obliterate Mongolia, and engulf us all in a dust cloud that will blanket the world for three years, stop all crop growth, and starve us into extinction. Stop panicking! Good grief. You people are kind of paranoid, you know that?
Anyhoo, my Goodreads Giveaway ends tonight (around 2 a.m., for some bizarre reason), so if you haven’t entered for a chance to win my awesome-tastic book, Imminent Danger And How to Fly Straight into It, click the link below and get hopping!
In a somewhat suspicious turn of events, my Camp NaNoWriMo attempts are going extremely well this year. As of thirty seconds ago, I am officially at 8,666 words — 43% of my goal for the month. And it’s only the 6th! Huzzah! I suppose it helps that I actually have a plan for what I’m writing — not an outline, of course, but more of a general “This happens, then this, then this.” I’m really excited, guys. Chasing Nonconformity is going to be epic. Well, as soon as I finish writing the darn thing, that is.
And I have new pictures for you! But first, let’s do a brief iUniverse update …
Remember the pricing issue I was talking about? According to iUniverse, it is impossible to solve it. iUniverse sent out their recommended sales price, and now apparently the online retailers (Amazon, Kobo, etc.) have complete freedom over how much they want to sell the books for. Grrrr. So I said, “Dear iUniverse, if you can’t control the eBook price, can you at least make the physical books less expensive?” To which iUniverse responded that they used a base print-on-demand algorithm to determine the price, blah blah blah, and that the softcover price is fixed at $21.95, and there’s nothing they can do about it. Like heck they can’t.
On the other hand, my book is now in Chapters! Check it out:
HOW COOL IS THAT???
The Chapters people have been absolutely awesome, as you can see from the above image! The only thing they were obligated to do as part of my publishing package was put the book on the shelf, so the fact that they stuck it at the front of the store, on the top shelf, is beyond fantastic. Huge shout-out to the staff up at Chapters North, London!
I’ve also contacted their general manager about doing a book signing — no word back yet, but I have high hopes!
The lovely and talented Ms. Tania L Ramos is currently rocking Las Vegas on a writer’s getaway. She brought along Imminent Danger, and took this adorable, alien-themed photo:
Okay, enough bragging for one day. Off to work! But before I go, I shall leave you with your favourite part of my posts, the …
Update: The pricing problem seems to be related to which country you’re looking at Amazon.com and Kobo from. Americans see the proper price ($2.99), and then outside the USA it ranges from $7.69 up to $12. Eek!
In the latest silliness news, my ebooks (formerly priced around $2.99) may or may not have jumped up to $9.99. Now, this may not entirely be iUniverse’s fault — shocking, I know! Here’s what happened.
So on Monday I hopped on to Amazon.com to see if I got any new reviews for Imminent Danger. Pretty legit, right? But when I got there, I discovered the kindle edition of the book is listed at $9.76. Um … what? So I checked Amazon.ca, Amazon.uk, and Kobo … all around the $9 range (well, Kobo is $7-ish). Very sketchy.
I contacted iUniverse, and they explained that while online retailers can bump your book up $2 or down $1 based on assorted promotions, it definitely shouldn’t be $9. First of all, that was news to me — I had assumed that when I listed a book as $2.99, it would stay $2.99. But apparently that’s not the case.
Anyway, further strangeness ensued when iUniverse informed me that they’d also gone to check out my book on Amazon … and found that it was listed as $4.99 — and then $2.99 on Kobo. They even sent screenshots to prove it. I don’t doubt them at all, so this begs the question … what the heck is going on? Has my computer been possessed?
If you have a spare second, please do me a favour and check out the following two links. I’m curious to know what price you see pop up on your screen for the ebooks. Is it just my computer malfunctioning, or is there some devious internet plot going on against me? So check these out and let me know what you find!
And I suppose this begs the question: would I be having this problem if I’d gone the total self-publishing route and uploaded my book to these sites myself? It’s my understanding that you completely control the price, and they can’t touch it at all. Is that true? In which case, that’s a further strike against iUniverse — not because they did anything wrong in particular this time, but just because they apparently have no control over the pricing of their books.
Educate me, blogosphere! Also, I wish everyone a phenomenal Easter!!!