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by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

There are several reasons why I have my printed books available through print on demand distributor IngramSpark.  For one, it’s a cheaper option for international readers than KDP Print (formerly CreateSpace).  For another, I like to have a print distributor for bookstores (if a reader requests a book from Barnes & Noble, for instance).  I also like a print distributor for libraries (and the option for my books to be in hardcover). Here’s an excellent article from Debbie Young on why authors should use KDP Print and IngramSpark together.

There’s another reason why I like using IngramSpark.  They offer the ability for a printed book to be available as a pre-order on Amazon.

KDP Print doesn’t offer a pre-order option, but you can set your release date on IngramSpark and, if the release date is in the future, it will show as a pre-order on Amazon (and the book will be delivered at the release).

I have quite a few readers who still prefer print and I like to be able to offer them the same opportunity to pre-order that my ebook readers enjoy.

There is more of a learning curve with IngramSpark, but I think it’s more intuitive than people say.  You will need an ISBN to be on IngramSpark (and you can’t use the free one you received from Amazon).  I’ve never had a problem using the same PDFs of the cover and text of the book that I used at Amazon with Ingram, but your mileage may vary.  There is also a set-up fee at Ingram, but I don’t believe that I’ve ever paid it because they run promos frequently (be sure to sign up for their newsletters). The current promo (until March 31) is NANO17.

Important things to remember when using both Amazon and IngramSpark (as listed in Debbie Young’s ALLi article linked above):

  • Use your own ISBN on both platforms – if you start off by using a free KDP one, you won’t be able to use it on IS, because it belongs to Amazon, not to you. (For more advice about buying and using ISBNs, click here.)

  • Use the same ISBN for the same book on both platforms, otherwise it confuses the system and throws up error messages. It doesn’t matter that the platforms are different – what matters is that you are creating the same product. Equally, if you were having a short run printed at a local printers, you’d use the same ISBN there too.

  • Choose carefully where to order your author copies, for the sake of time and cost. You can order one or more proof copies from either service before you publish (but only the KDPP proof will be marked clearly as such on the cover so won’t be resaleable). Speed and cost of delivery depends on where you live, as author copies may or may not be printed in your home country.

Are your books in print? Have you branched out from KDP?

Using IngramSpark for Pre-Orders:
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Elizabeth Spann Craig by Elizabeth Spann Craig - 5d ago

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

Twitterific writing links are fed into the Writer’s Knowledge Base search engine (developed by writer and software engineer Mike Fleming) which has over 48,000 free articles on writing related topics. It’s the search engine for writers.

Have you visited the WKB lately?  Check out the new redesign where you can browse by category, and sign up for free writing articles, on topics you choose, delivered to your email inbox!  Sign up for the Hiveword newsletter here.

The Top Writing Links From Last Week Are On Twitterific:
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Elizabeth Spann Craig by Elizabeth Spann Craig - 1w ago

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

There are a variety of things that can slow you down as you write.  I’m not sure how many writing sessions in the past have been derailed by really simple things.

Here are some of my most-likely culprits and how I manage to move past them:

Timeline.  I just used the word ‘yesterday’ to refer to something earlier in the story.  Was it yesterday, or was it earlier?  Solution: Note it in one separate document.  I call mine “Things to Fix in ______ (Story Name).”  It’s a completely separate Word document that I keep in the same folder as the manuscript.  One entry for my current WiP is this simple: page 95….was it yesterday morning?

Names.  Oops.  This character doesn’t seem to have a last name.  Solution: put an asterisk in the manuscript to point out the issue and fix  later.  When you’re ready to work on the second draft, just do a search for asterisks in your document.

Loose ends that I suddenly remember.  Did Myrtle leave a casserole dish with Nell?  Solution: note it in my ‘Things to Fix’ document.

Plot holes.  Myrtle left a car dealership driving a car.  How did she get there (she doesn’t currently own a car)?  Solution: note it in my ‘Things to Fix’ document.

Ideas that I want to incorporate into past chapters.  Solution: Again, this goes into that ‘Things to Fix’ document. Or, sometimes, I’ll note the ideas in Word’s Track Changes.

Veering off the outline.  Or a POV change.  Any major departure for the story.   Solution: mark it with an asterix (or put a comment in Track Changes) and start writing from the new POV, etc., from that point in the book, on.  Make the changes after the first draft is finished.

Issues realized.  I don’t have enough clues to point to the murderer.  Solution: note the fact in the ‘Things to Fix’ doc.

Although the temptation is to fix the problem immediately, I’ve found that I stay focused on my story and make more word count gains if I just note the issue and keep going.

Do you run into these types of speed bumps in your story?  Others?  What’s your approach toward them?

Speed Bumps that Writers Encounter and Tips to Deal With Them:
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by David Wogahn, @Wogahn 

It is simple to figure out eBook royalties because there are no “manufacturing” costs. But the formula for calculating your royalty for a paperback book printed by Amazon KDP Print is another matter. That’s because we have two mouths to feed:

  1. The printer, in this case Amazon KDP.
  2. The retailer—online and brick and mortar—adds their mark-up or selling commission.

The retailer’s commission is relatively easy to figure out because it hasn’t changed much over the years. It is typically 40% for the retailer and in fact that is Amazon’s share when you use KDP Print.

(As an aside, you give up an additional 20% when or if you make your book available for expanded distribution, which for KDP Print is handled by Ingram. Meaning, you receive 40% of your book’s retail selling price less the cost to manufacture it.)

That leaves manufacturing (printing) costs as the great unknown. In this post I’ll share the three ways to calculate KDP Print manufacturing costs.

I’ll also include an example of what happens if Amazon decides to sell your book for less than your suggested retail price.

Calculating KDP Print manufacturing costs

The primary factors that affect costs are:

  • The country where your book is sold
  • The number of pages in your book
  • Whether you are printing the interior in color or black and white

There are 3 ways to calculate your KDP Print printing costs:

  1. Upload your files to KDP Print and their calculator will give you a cost.
  2. Use Amazon’s pricing tables. See below for Amazon.com (other countries are different).
  3. Download the KDP Print Excel spreadsheet print cost calculator.

The chart below was pulled from this page where you’ll find prices for books sold in other countries. Trim size, bleed settings, and cover finish do not affect cost of printing.

Also on this same page you’ll find a download button for the KDP print cost calculator available as an Excel worksheet. (Click the subsection: How we calculate printing cost.)

Calculating Amazon paperback selling commission and your royalty

Now that you have the cost to manufacture your printed book you can compute the sales commission. This is easy: your royalty is 60% of your list price minus printing costs.

  • (list price x 60%) – printing costs = royalty

Returning to our client’s novel, Trials and Trails, it looks like this:

  • Manufacturing cost: (278 PDF pages * $0.012 per page) + $0.85 = $4.19
  • Royalty calculation: ($14.95 x 60%) – $4.19 = $4.78

KDP Print minimum and maximum pricing

Of course, you can’t sell your paperback for less than it costs to print it, so Amazon calculates that number for you. The formula for this is:

Printing cost / 60% (royalty rate) = minimum list price. As you see above for Trials and Trails, that number is:

  • $4.19 / 60% = $6.98.

The maximum price of your paperback must be no more than $250 (no math required!), 250EUR for the European marketplace, or 30,000 Yen for Japan. Also, your price must not be higher in any other sales channel. For example, if you sell your book on your website it must match the price you list it for on Amazon. (And yes, Amazon can undercut your price.)

Expanded distribution royalties are lower

Expanded distribution is when Amazon makes your book available to other online retailers via their relationship with Ingram, the parent company of IngramSpark. This is optional, but it can’t already be distributed by another company (typically, for self-publishers, this is going to be IngramSpark).

As noted above, Trails and Trails is ineligible and that’s because we used IngramSpark to offer the book for pre-order. The book remains there for distribution to other online retailers.

Books that are eligible receive a royalty of 40%. Ingram needs to be compensated for making your book available to their network of retailers (BN.com, for example). Again, this is for paperbacks, not eBooks.

The cost to buy author copies of your book

As an aside, the cost for you to buy copies of your own book is the printing price ($4.19 in this example).

What if Amazon is selling my book for less than my list price?

This might be the most common pricing question we get from new self-publishing authors. The answer is your royalty does not change, subject to Amazon’s terms and conditions here on their Digital Pricing Page or here on their Print Pricing Page.

Much of the time Amazon is simply trying to meet or beat a competitor’s price. Below is an example of a deeply discounted paperback, Off the Couch.

Amazon decided to sell the book at a loss—I can confirm the author did get her $4.86 royalty even though the selling price was $4.52. The price has since been increased to $10.76.

How do you price your print editions?

I can think of three ways to arrive at a retail price for a print book.

  1. A few authors I’ve worked with just assume Amazon will discount the price of their book. Then they add 10-20% to what they feel is a reasonable price and hope Amazon doesn’t let them down.
  2. Others will research comparable books and use a composite of those numbers.
  3. The third option is to figure out the cost to print and sell their book and aim for a profit margin.

How do you price your print edition?

David Wogahn is the author of three books including Register Your Book and The Book Reviewer Yellow Pages and is an author for LinkedIn Learning. His award-winning author-services company, AuthorImprints, has helped more than 125 authors professionally self-publish books using their own publishing imprint.

How to Calculate Amazon Fees for Printing Paperbacks Using KDP Print (by David Wogahn @Wogahn ):
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Elizabeth Spann Craig by Elizabeth Spann Craig - 1w ago

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

Twitterific writing links are fed into the Writer’s Knowledge Base search engine (developed by writer and software engineer Mike Fleming) which has over 48,000 free articles on writing related topics. It’s the search engine for writers.

Have you visited the WKB lately?  Check out the new redesign where you can browse by category, and sign up for free writing articles, on topics you choose, delivered to your email inbox!  Sign up for the Hiveword newsletter here.

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Need reviews for your work? Find out more about Reedsy’s Discovery program here.

The Top Writing Links From Last Week Are On Twitterific:
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Elizabeth Spann Craig by Elizabeth Spann Craig - 2w ago

by John Kerr@themaltesetiger 

Can we talk about F. Scott Fitzgerald? Author of The Great Gatsby, that American classic we all read in high school. Without a doubt, one of the most acclaimed American writers in history. But, did you know that his follow-up novel, Tender is the Night, was panned by critics?

The book was so ridiculed that Fitzgerald was driven out of the literary world. He fled to Los Angeles looking for success as a screenwriter but found none. Once thought of as a rising star, Fitzgerald was considered a has-been by the end of his career. He died believing he was a failure.

But he was wrong, and today we celebrate him as one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century. Which brings me to my point-

Rejection happens to all of us.

Add it to the column under Death and Taxes. You can’t let it cripple you, though. You must learn from it, and move on. But, how do you move on from something that can feel so personal and cut so deep?

Well, that’s what I’m going to talk about. So, here are a few tips on…

How to Handle Rejection

First off…

Don’t take it personally

Easier said than done, right? After pouring your soul into a story it’s hard not to take rejection personally. But it’s never an editor’s intention to hurt you.

Keep in mind that editors don’t know you from Adam. They’re professionals and they’re not out to get anyone. Their job is to find work that fits their publication. And they get a lot of submissions.

They only have time to read a few sentences. If you don’t hook them, they’re moving on. They aren’t trying to send you a message-

Give up now! You’ll never be a writer!

In short, they don’t care what you do.

Rejection from an editor can only tell you one thing- your story wasn’t right for them. It happens, and it’s not personal. It’s business.

So, move on.

Or better yet…

Learn from it

You can learn a lot from rejection.

Was it a form letter?

You didn’t hook your reader! The editor only read of few sentences before deciding to pass on it. If you receive several form letters that could mean your story needs an overhaul. Stop submitting and revisit the piece. Ask yourself- can this story be fixed or should it be shelved?

Was it a personal rejection?

A personal rejection is great! It means the editor read your story. Well, most of it. It’s a sign that your story works. It’s just not a good fit for the publisher.

Pay attention to personal rejections. Sometimes editors will give you tips on how to sharpen your writing. You’re basically getting a free professional critique! Which brings me to my next point.

Celebrate Small Victories

Let’s say you got a personal rejection from an editor. That’s huge! That’s amazing! You hooked them. They read your story!

Editors have a keen eye. They can spot bad writing from miles away. If you’ve got a personal rejection from an editor it means your story may not be perfect, but it works. It just didn’t work for them.

Or, maybe you got a dozen form letters. That’s great! Now you know something is wrong with your story. You can spend your time fixing it or writing a new story. But you learned something valuable.

Celebrate!

Writing is a journey, sometimes a grind, but never a burden. We get to do this. Take a little joy, a little satisfaction from these “near misses.” You’re on the right track, you just haven’t gone far enough.

Learn when to Let Go

Rejection can be illuminating. It can save you from a lot of wasted nights of editing a fatally flawed work. So, if your story has been rejected forty times take the hint. This story isn’t working. Let it go.

Bad stories aren’t wasted effort. They are necessary for the learning process. Every author has dozens of bad stories they have to dig through before they get to the good stuff. The pay dirt.

So write your bad stories. You won’t recognize them, but rejection will help you spot them. Then you can write another bad story, and another, and another. Until one day, you’ll start writing the good ones.

Process and Move On

Rejection is a good time to take stock of your work and answer a few questions-

What kind of rejection was it?

A personal rejection?

  • Can you make the changes that the editor suggested and resubmit?

A form letter rejection?

  • Is this the first one? Keep submitting.
  • Add it to the pile? Revisit your work.

Find good beta readers. The best proofreaders are strangers because they’ll be honest with you. Look for an online community where you can share your work and get honest feedback.

Be Patient 

Success takes time.

We hear a lot of stories about writers finding success overnight. But that’s not the normal experience. Most writers toil in obscurity for years, sometimes decades before they get any recognition.

Your first story went nowhere? So what. Write a new one. Sometimes, you haven’t found success because you haven’t sacrificed enough time. You haven’t written enough, you haven’t read enough, you’re not ready.

But, with time, you will be.

Kill your Ego and Find your Purpose

Ego can be a good thing for a writer. Without it, you might not have the confidence to get your story out into the world. But, too much ego will hold you back.

Ego can trick you into believing that your instincts are always correct. That you’re destined for greatness.

I hate to say it, but the only thing we’re destined for is the grave. Any success that comes before that is the result of a lot of hard work and plenty of failures.

Replace ego with a drive to create. Ask yourself why you want to write. Find a purpose. Something that will sustain your writing. Something meaningful.

I write because I love stories. I love reading them, finding their hidden meaning, discussing their secrets with like-minded companions. If someone wants to publish one of my stories, well that’s just an added bonus!

Once you find a purpose, rejection won’t feel like a personal affront. You’ll see it for what it is. A meaningful step in your journey as a writer.

Rejection is a universal experience and it can be useful. So, take it in stride and whatever you do…

Don’t stop writing!

John Kerr is an amateur author and professional junior high English teacher. His work has been published in Helios Quarterly Magazine, The Wifiles, Listverse, and The Texas Writers Journal. You can find his blog at TheMalteseTiger.com where he talks about story and fiction writing.

8 Tips for Handling Rejection from @TheMalteseTiger:
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Elizabeth Spann Craig by Elizabeth Spann Craig - 2w ago

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

Twitterific writing links are fed into the Writer’s Knowledge Base search engine (developed by writer and software engineer Mike Fleming) which has over 48,000 free articles on writing related topics. It’s the search engine for writers.

Have you visited the WKB lately?  Check out the new redesign where you can browse by category, and sign up for free writing articles, on topics you choose, delivered to your email inbox!  Sign up for the Hiveword newsletter here.

The Top Writing Links From Last Week Are On Twitterific:
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by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

Here’s a quick tip today for cozy mystery writers.

Is your cozy mystery too short?  Do readers (or beta readers) say that they were able to figure out the murderer too soon in the story?

The answer to both of these problems may be something very simple.

How much are your suspects giving away in their interviews with your amateur sleuth?

There’s a temptation (at least, there’s always been for me) in giving away a little too much information in each interview.  I want the sleuth to have some material to work with, of course, and I want the story to progress: I don’t want my amateur’s investigation to stall out or for the book to be boring for readers.

And that’s all very important. But it’s equally important to make sure that the suspects aren’t making things too easy for the sleuth, and for the reader. Cozy readers are experts at solving these cases.

Maybe, instead, your sleuth is gaining information from some of these interviews, but it’s the wrong information.  Maybe your suspect is trying to redirect your sleuth away from something that might make him or her look guilty.  One thing I like to do to ensure a good pace for my mysteries is to have each suspect tell a lie and a truth. That means you do give clues to the reader, but you’re also providing red herrings to send them (and the sleuth) on tangents.  Sally says that Jim was fired from his job…and the victim was his supervisor.  But she also says that she hasn’t seen the victim for the last few weeks (a lie).  Later, another suspect can disprove this information and say that, in fact, Sally and the victim engaged in an argument not long before the victim’s murder.

Maybe your suspect is only hinting at information.  Sally says that she heard that Jim was fired at work, but she doesn’t know why (or she prefers not to say).  This gives the sleuth a lead to work on and maybe leads her to find another source of information…perhaps someone that Jim worked with.  An interview like this can lead the story in a variety of different directions: maybe Jim was fired unjustly and because he knew the victim was engaged in something unlawful. Maybe Jim was fired because he was pilfering from the company and he was desperate to cover that information up.

Cozies don’t need to be overly complex to the point of reader frustration.  But if the story is too linear or if the suspects are unloading everything they know on the sleuth, the mystery itself could be in trouble.

For more information on cozy mystery writing, see my full series here. 

The same goes for other genres, too.   Have you read books where the author has front-loaded the story with too much information and eliminated surprises?  As a writer, do you try to make sure you don’t give away too much too early?

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Elizabeth Spann Craig by Elizabeth Spann Craig - 3w ago

by Zoe M. McCarthy@ZoeMMcCarthy

If you don’t backload a satisfying ending to your story, readers may not buy your next book.

We’ll look at tips for a satisfying ending scene(s). When I say ending scene, I don’t mean an epilogue.

Tips for a Satisfying Ending* Tip 1: Don’t Rush the Ending

The reader will feel like the author wrapped up everything quickly to meet a deadline.

In a romance, you might be tempted to hurry the heroine to agree to an engagement or say “I do,” at the altar. Perhaps you could slow the ending down by wrapping up a minor subplot. Maybe the heroine has wanted a place to call home since the beginning. Without belaboring the ending, maybe you could bring this idea full circle before or after promises of love.

Tip 2: Don’t End in a Flurry of Conflicts and High Emotions

Cutting off the story when actions and emotions are intense is like characters sprinting to a cliff with bad men in pursuit and the reader turns the page to find “The End.”

Readers need to come down from the emotional frenzy and witness what the characters feel and do when they’re in their more normal state. In a legal thriller, after a highly emotional court drama and verdict play out, a short scene occurring on the next day might follow. Over breakfast in a diner, the defending lawyer shares with the released defendant how at the last moment he obtained the one piece of evidence that saved the defendant’s life.

Tip 3: Resolve Subplots

Unless your book is part of a series, resolve all subplots. Often a series will leave one subplot open to be continued in the next book. Readers of a book series accept an open subplot, but the main plot needs to be resolved.

It’s best if all subplots are not resolved in the last scene.

No subplot should distract readers from the main plot’s resolution. Suppose in the last chapter of an author’s disaster book, he orchestrates a father and son’s fast-paced rescue from an earthquake. The last scene shows them searching for the rest of their family in rescue shelters. Resolution of the father’s and son’s differences over the son attending college would distract from the search and the joy when they locate family members.

And don’t draw out resolutions of subplots. Although the reader has earned a rest period in the ending, she doesn’t desire a fall-asleep period.

Tip 4: Show How Your Protagonist Is a Wiser, More Competent Person

The main character may not achieve the goal he hoped for, but he should be able to do something he couldn’t do in the beginning. If he hasn’t grown in some way, even if it’s to accept that he won’t accomplish his goal, readers will feel the time they’ve spent with him through conflicts and disasters has accomplished nothing. That’s not satisfying.

Tip 5: Make the Ending Unpredictable, Plausible, and Memorable

Although your ending must be plausible and must deliver what readers expect from the genre, give the reader an ending they can’t predict. For example, romance readers expect the hero and heroine to get together in the end. This is predictable. But how they finally get together can be something the reader doesn’t expect.

For example, the reader expects the couple to have it all, but for the hero to choose love, he sacrifices his desire to return to his homeland. For genres other than romance, keep the reader guessing whether the protagonist will succeed or fail at getting what she wants right up to the final moments.

Work on your last page until it leaves the reader with something that’s memorable and resonates.

Tip 6: Be Careful If Your Ending Isn’t a Happy One

If your ending isn’t a happy one, the reader must at least feel satisfied. Perhaps the protagonist chooses to do something courageous that harms him, but it’s best for those he loves. In fact, your ending may be more interesting if it contains a win and a loss.

Tip 7: Create More Than One Ending

Try different endings and see which gives the best emotional satisfaction or introduces a “gotcha.” Make sure a twist is believable, though. Using a clichéd gimmick, such as a character is alive after the reader witnessed his death, might not be satisfying.

Tip 8: Include the Title or Theme

If your story has a strong theme or a title that represents the theme well, including the theme or title may work in your story’s wrap-up. But if either feels plunked in or cheesy, neither is right for your ending.

What element might you include in your ending that would be a welcome surprise to your reader?

*Excerpts and paraphrases from Zoe M. McCarthy’s Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days. More examples of each tip are included in the book.

Zoe M. McCarthy is a full-time speaker, author of Christian contemporary romances, and blogger on writing. She’s a member of ACFW and the treasurer of the Virginia chapter. On suggestions from an agent and a publishing house editor, Zoe developed a detailed resource, Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days. Zoe and her husband live in the Blue Ridge Mountains and enjoy canoeing and spending time at their lake cabin. She teaches a community Bible study, leads writing workshops, and hosts a prayer shawl ministry. She has six grandchildren.

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Elizabeth Spann Craig by Elizabeth Spann Craig - 3w ago

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

Twitterific writing links are fed into the Writer’s Knowledge Base search engine (developed by writer and software engineer Mike Fleming) which has over 48,000 free articles on writing related topics. It’s the search engine for writers.

Have you visited the WKB lately?  Check out the new redesign where you can browse by category, and sign up for free writing articles, on topics you choose, delivered to your email inbox!  Sign up for the Hiveword newsletter here.

New Stuff:  

Industry expert Jane Friedman is hosting a webinar on Friday, March 8 (it will be recorded, so you don’t have to watch it live) on ‘perfecting your author website, email newsletter, and social network.  I’ve heard Jane speak before and she’s incredibly knowledgeable (I’m not an affiliate…just a fan of Jane’s).  The webinar is only $12 if you sign up before March 1.  More information here.

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