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Wednesday

Publish Your Ebook - Best Routes to Market

The ebook revolution is nearing the end of the beginning, with ebook sales value due to exceed printed book sales any time now. Of course, ebooks are much cheaper to buy, so unit sales are already well beyond print. Certainly, the cost of production gives ebooks an enormous edge over print. Once the book is written and the cover designed, then production and distribution costs are essentially zero. Add widening availability and the adoption of innovative business models and you have realities like the first (printed) bookless public library recently opening in Texas. And since no books are being printed on paper, using chemical inks, transported around on smelly trucks and generally returned to the publisher for pulping (this happens to maybe 90% of printed books), ebooks are environmentally sustainable.

And the benefits for authors have been beyond revolutionary, with commission on sales of 45-75% the norm, compared to 10-15% from the traditional publishers. Going indie gives authors complete control over the whole distribution process and it's so fast - once the manuscript is finished, the cover designed and metadata (descriptions and keywords) defined, your book can be onsale worldwide in minutes, with complete global coverage in every key market within a day or two. This is phenomenal! And ebook sales are scalable, which means that once the work is done, it can generate revenues for the rest of your life, without the need for any further blood, sweat or tears. Best of all, writers want to be read, so independent publishing allows them to reach readers, without having to go through the 'filter' of the mainstream publishers who, let's be real, publish an awful lot of shit. (Most of which, as has been said, people don't want to read, so gets pulped.)

As well as fiction, ebooks are an excellent route for distributing non-fiction to a global audience, as you can include images and internal and external links. Businesses can also use this route to tell their stories to customers and potential customers, to be read on ebook devices from iPhones to Kindles, independent of wi-fi access.

So, you're sold on publishing an ebook though the indie route. Now, how do you go about it?

Smashwords.com
Mark Coker and Smashwords have been championing indie publishers since the revolution began, and have given us powerful tools, letting the smallest operator - author, agent or publisher - compete at the highest level. Key to Smashwords is its direct distribution route into all Apple iBookstores. The bulk of my ebook sales are through Apple, and Smashwords has made this not just possible, but easy. Apple's new iOS upgrade, due later in 2014, will incorporate their iBook reader and ebook store access into every iPhone and iPad - at the moment you need to seek it out - so expect phenomenal growth in ebook sales after this game-changing development.

To distribute through Smashwords, you'll need a properly-formatted MS Word document, all formatting to meet the specs in Mark Coker's fabulously useful ebook, Smashwords Style Guide, available free here. You'll also need a professional quality cover image and a gripping description. Think of the purchasing decision you make when buying a printed book - cover, back cover description, opening paragraph - then realise that all these have to work in ebook format. Additionally, your SEO - Search Engine Optimisation - has to be strong, and your cover needs to look good when represented as a tiny icon.

Once you upload your files to Smashwords, their system will convert your files into all the most popular ebook reading formats, as well as PDF and online reading. Once you pass this process, your book is instantly for sale on Smashwords, though you can choose to distribute for free if you like. Then your book is checked - by a human! - to see that it meets the demanding specs for premium distribution. This is key because, once you get premium approval, Smashwords delivers your ebook to Apple, Barnes & Noble and Kobo, as well as into new subscription services Scribd and Oyster. Further, Smashwords will send your book to library distributors Baker & Taylor and OverDrive. You will need an ISBN for this, but Smashwords supplies these for free.

With Smashwords, you get daily sales reporting, payment every quarter (via PayPal), the ability to generate discount coupons (for use in Smashwords store only) and space for an author interview.



Amazon Kindle Direct Programme (KDP)
Amazon is currently battling the big traditional publishers, many of whom want to charge more for ebooks than printed books! Amazon will win in the end. It's been stated that the only person essential to the publication process is the author and this is true. Amazon's KDP programme offers powerful tools to the indie publisher, including virtually instant sales graphs, the ability to preview ebooks on different reading devices, content spellcheck and age targeting. Amazon also offers the KDP Select programme, whereby authors who offer their ebooks exclusively on the KDP platform can share in a fund whenever their book is borrowed.

The Kindle publishing interface is quite straightforward. As with Smashwords, key requirements are a Word doc with similar formatting to Smashwords, a cover image and metadata. Amazon also offers Author Central, a bio page in many key marketplaces. This is certainly worth completing.

KDP payments are directly into your bank account, monthly, though you need to reach a threshold before payments in currencies different to your own can be made.



Google Play
Google are new to the market for ebooks on Play, and it shows. The registration and upload interface is quite tricky and sales reporting is poor. You need an Epub file to upload your ebook to Play, which should help you to reach readers on the Android platform. Luckily, you can download a perfect Epub file from your book page on Smashwords.


My overall advice:

  1. Get your ebooks into all three distribution routes, in the order shown above.
  2. Don't bother with exclusivity on Amazon.
  3. Make sure your ebook content is properly proofed, edited and formatted.
  4. If you can't design a professional cover image yourself, get help.
  5. Think long and hard about your metadata, looking closely at search volumes and book categories.

Good luck and Up the Revolution!



For more help with publishing your ebooks, contact gary@webtimesten.ie, tel 087 249 3051.

Friday

New #Ebook Release - Thriller Box Set by Gary J Byrnes

THRILLER BOX SET by Gary J Byrnes, now on sale in every good ebook marketplace. Excluding Kobo*. Find it now:







Fabulous value Thriller Box Set. Three full-length thrillers at an unbelievably low price (US$0.99), for a limited time only. Your summer holiday reading problems are solved with Gary J Byrnes’s bestselling novels, now brought together for the very first time.

Pure Mad: The Dagger Award nominated crime thriller, set in Ireland’s bubble economy, when cocaine, gang wars, dirty money and dangerous sex were a way of life. Join private detective Charlie Doyle on a mindbending journey into the dark heart of a country gone mad. 

The God Virus: A forensics expert near London is given DNA proof that humans evolved from stardust, that God does not need to exist. When his wife is murdered, he’s the prime suspect. Dark forces will stop at nothing to silence Dr William Bunk in this globespanning conspiracy thriller.

The Death of Osama bin Laden - An Alternative History: A detailed examination of the birth of Al-Qaeda, as told by one of bin Laden’s most trusted lieutenants and a heartstopping vision of what might have been.

Thriller Box Set by Gary J Byrnes, author of number one bestseller, 9/11 Trilogy. Download it today and get your summer holiday reading sorted.

*I do not distribute my writing through Kobo, including online stores such as Eason which are fed titles by Kobo, as Kobo is owned by Japanese ecommerce giant Rakuten, which is the world's biggest online marketplace for elephant ivory products.

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Find out more at www.garyjbyrnes.com

Stay in touch on Facebook at www.facebook.com/garyjbyrnesthrillerwriter

Saturday

The UN Must Investigate Ireland's Catholic Past and Save Us from Ourselves

President of Ireland, Eamon de Valera, kissing the episcopal ring of Catholic Archbishop of Dublin John Charles McQuaid at the turning of the sod ceremony, University College Dublin, 1962. Photo: UCD Archives
Dublin City Councillor Mannix Flynn has called for the United Nations to be brought in to investigate the horrors of Ireland's mass graves. As well as investigating the undocumented burials of hundreds of vulnerable children, the UN should look at all the abuses committed by the Catholic Church in Ireland and identify the politicians and civil servants that facilitated them.

What's brought us to this sorry point in Irish history? Ireland is a Catholic-controlled country, governed by a tiny elite which has always bent the knee to the Catholic Church and the global capitalist elite, whether they are in New York, London or Brussels. Yes, there was a blip from 1916-21, when a small number of genuine republicans managed to wrest independence from the British Empire. But after a vicious Civil War, 1921-22, our best and brightest were slaughtered by their fellow Irish, leaving the conservatives to define the new Republic. So they kept the Empire's control systems in place and allowed the Catholic Church to define the nation's morality, even to the extent of the Church taking complete control of Ireland's education and health systems. we have had investigations and we have concluded that the Church abused tens of thousands over decades, much of the twentieth century.

And as for the poor unmarried mothers and their kids? They were to be punished, that was God's Will. And punished they were, as the recent discovery of a mass grave of perhaps 800 dead children in Tuam, County Galway attests. These children, born out of Catholic wedlock, through no fault of their own, were brutalised, starved and mistreated by the nuns who took control of them with the blessing of the State. They were, essentially, murdered by religion in the name of the Irish State. And we must assume that there are many more such mass graves throughout this septic isle.

So how can we find justice for these children? Can the Irish Establishment, which continues to allow the Roman Catholic Church to dominate education and health and is more concerned about our bond prices than the growing inequality in society, can this gilded, aloof cluster of grey men in grey suits truly grasp the horror that lies in Ireland's dark heart? Unlikely. So we must hope that external forces, ideally in the form of the United Nations, comes to save us from ourselves, by unearthing (literally) the truth so that we can learn from it and aspire once more to the genuine ideals of our first republicans.

The timeframe for the investigation should begin in 1937, the year we adopted Eamon de Valera's Constitution which, in its preamble, states:


"In the Name of the Most Holy Trinity, from Whom is all authority and to Whom, as our final end, all actions both of men and States must be referred,
We, the people of √Čire,
Humbly acknowledging all our obligations to our Divine Lord, Jesus Christ... "


...giving a green light to Catholic priests and nuns to act above the law as they carried out their dastardly deeds.

Ireland is a truly rotten state. We are in a downward spiral to malaise, melancholy and madness. This cannot go on.

THRILLER BOX SET by Gary J Byrnes, now available for pre-order, release date Friday, June 13, 2014.

Thriller Box Set by Gary J Byrnes

THRILLER BOX SET by Gary J Byrnes, now available for pre-order, release date Friday, June 13, 2014.




Check your local ebook supplier territory.

Fabulous value Thriller Box Set. Three full-length thrillers at an unbelievably low price, for a limited time only. Your summer holiday reading problems are solved with Gary J Byrnes’s bestselling novels, now brought together for the very first time.

Pure Mad: The Dagger Award nominated crime thriller, set in Ireland’s bubble economy, when cocaine, gang wars, dirty money and dangerous sex were a way of life. Join private detective Charlie Doyle on a mindbending journey into the dark heart of a country gone mad. 

The God Virus: A forensics expert near London is given DNA proof that humans evolved from stardust, that God does not need to exist. When his wife is murdered, he’s the prime suspect. Dark forces will stop at nothing to silence Dr William Bunk in this globespanning conspiracy thriller.

The Death of Osama bin Laden - An Alternative History: A detailed examination of the birth of Al-Qaeda, as told by one of bin Laden’s most trusted lieutenants and a heartstopping vision of what might have been.

Thriller Box Set by Gary J Byrnes, author of number one bestseller, 9/11 Trilogy. Pre-order today and get your summer holiday reading sorted.





Thursday

Voteman, Ireland, Europe and the Illusion of Democracy

Voteman - "Vote or I will destroy you!"
I was shocked to learn that the nation's councillors have cost us €52 million over the past two years. I don't buy the line that this is the price of democracy, as recent council votes in Dublin have not reflected the wishes of the people. I refer to the decisions to keep the toll on the East Link bridge and to reject the opportunity for the electorate to choose their mayor. And Irish local democracy seems to be defined by an X Factor-style popularity contest, with thousands of hideous posters of really alarmingly ugly candidates hanging on every lamp post in the land. I would like to see some of the candidates hanging on lamp posts - especially the tired old fucks who've been around for years, and the members of political dynasties that have been screwing us over since 'independence' - but probably not in a way that they'd like.

But there is an alternative. It would involve sacking every councillor and giving every citizen a direct voice in local government. For a fraction of the cost of maintaining our councils, we can build and run a web-based, participative local democracy, giving citizens a real, ongoing say in how our cities and towns are managed. Our current council structure dates back to 1898. Isn't it time for a fresh look at local government?

Ireland votes in local elections on Friday, May 23rd, when we will also vote for our members of the European Parliament, which is just as pointless and deluded as Irish local government, just on a bigger and vastly more expensive scale. Europe is run by unelected people, such as Manuel Barroso and Baroness(!) Catherine Ashton. The parliament is just a talking shop, a distraction, costing EU taxpayers €1.756 TRILLION - that's €1,756 BILLION. A YEAR! I needed a sit down after discovering that figure.

The most striking thing about this vote will be the proportion of the vote secured by UKIP and other anti-EU parties. If UKIP do as well as expected, then Britain's withdrawal from the European Union becomes a real probability (it is already a possibility). That act, if it happens, will have more of an impact on Ireland than every election - local, national or European - since the foundation of the State. I fear it may end up marking Ireland's return to the UK fold (the Queen's visit here and President Higgins's visit there can be described as a 'softening up' process). Which will bring about civil war.

Meanwhile, the single best thing to ever, ever come out of the illusion of European democracy, Denmark's Voteman cartoon, was pulled just a day after release. I will vote on May 25th, as I fear Voteman will come and get me if I don't. See it for yourself, then dare to defy Voteman:

http://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2014/may/13/danish-parliament-cartoon-sex-violence-european-elections-video

Find out more about the cost of the European Parliament, straight from the horse's mouth (blood pressure warning):
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/aboutparliament/en/00059f3ea3/The-budget-of-the-European-Parliament.html
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THRILLER BOX SET by Gary J Byrnes, now available to pre-order. Find links at: www.GaryJByrnes.com


Friday

Boycott Kobo Ebooks and Save the Elephants

With effect from today, I am opting out of the distribution of my ebooks into Kobo ebook stores from Smashwords. Kobo is owned by Japanese ecommerce giant Rakuten. Rakuten made the news this week when it announced that it was ending the sale of whale meat through its websites. This is good news. But Rakuten remains the world's biggest marketplace for elephant ivory products, with approximately 28,000 ivory listings on its core Japanese site.

As reported in the Guardian (18 March, 2014), "Rakuten's ads are effectively as deadly as giving bullets to elephant poachers and harpoons to whalers," said Environmental Investigation Agency's president, Allan Thornton. "[It] must act immediately to ban all ads selling elephant and whale products, or its global brand will be irrevocably tainted with the ongoing mass slaughter of these species."

Boycott Kobo

While closing off any distribution route for my work may be commercially damaging, I don't want to endorse or profit from the trade in ivory. Ireland's biggest bookselling chain, Eason, sells only ebooks supplied by Kobo but I will forgo sales through Eason's website if it means sending a message to Rakuten. The survival of elephants is more important than the sale of my ebooks.

My ebooks will continue to be available in all other ebook channels, including Apple, Amazon and Barnes and Noble. I urge all independent ebook publishers to withdraw their works from sale on Kobo until Rakuten ends the sale of ivory products. To do this, just log in to your Smashwords Dashboard, choose Channel Manager, then click on Opt out for each title under Kobo. Save changes and your ebooks will be withdrawn from Kobo at next scheduled channel update. I also urge anyone who's thinking of buying an ebook reader to avoid Kobo ereaders (and Sony ereaders, as they link directly to the Kobo ebookstore) and instead choose an ereader that links to an ebook ecosystem that doesn't contribute to the slaughter of elephants.

Without marketplaces for ivory products, there will be no point in slaughtering elephants. In refusing any association with ivory marketplaces we, as ebook publishers and consumers, have the power to say that some things are more important than the mindless pursuit of profit.

Gary J Byrnes, 4 April, 2014



Oscars 2014 Preview - Is This a New Golden Age of Cinema?

I don't normally get over-excited about the Oscars, considering it to be a vaguely interesting show and a masterful marketing exercise and nothing more. It says so much about the film industry and how we, as consumers, perceive it, that they can hand awards to each other and the entire world sits up and takes notice and is amazed and is jealous and goes to the cinema and buys tickets. Bravo! And this is to say little about how the 'media' sweats itself into multiple tiny orgasms, red carpet onanism, the build-up, oh, the build-up. Oh.

But 2014 looks different. Whereas we typically have a strong film or two in the nominations, along with the film that must win the key awards because of its 'worthiness', this year virtually every film that's up for the key awards deserves to win. Is this coincidence or is the film industry getting better? Is the increasing connectedness of humanity making it easier for talent to find talent? Are producers finding creative mojo, attempting to make art as well as dollars? Are we, as a species, improving at everything? Nah. It's probably just coincidence. So here's my take on what films deserve to take Oscar home (spoiler alert!):

Gravity - Gary J Byrnes's Top Tip for Oscars 2014
Gravity
This space epic is the best 3D cinema experience I've ever had. It looks incredible, the acting is great and the tension palpable. What I like most about Gravity is that it's not trying to tell us something bigger, worthier. It doesn't make us feel guilty for enjoying the ride. It's simply a story, entertainment. Tight, short and very sweet. Deserves to win best picture, best director, all special effects, sound, production design, best actress - Sandra Bullock is entirely credible and effective.

Dallas Buyers Club - Deserves to Win Best Picture Oscar
Dallas Buyers Club
Brilliant film, packed with great acting and storytelling. Matthen McConaughey is a revelation in the main role and Jared Leto makes for stunning support. The story starts off small and achingly personal but grows up big and crosses the globe, talking about the neverending struggle between small humanity and big government. Deserves to win best actor, best supporting actor, best picture.

Her
A beautiful evocation of a nightmarish future where everything looks lovely on the surface but everybody's miserable. I guess the underlying theme is that technology drives us apart. The idea of falling in love with an OS is utterly depressing and believable - it's probably happened already - but Her manages to give us a happy ending. Deserves to win best actor for Joaquin Phoenix, but he's not nominated! Original screenplay and production design, so.

American Hustle
Character-led caper movie with such terrific acting from all the main players that Robert DeNiro barely registers. Deserves to win for best hair, but isn't nominated. What's that about? Jennifer Lawrence is almost certain to win best supporting actress - the whole microwave thing is just class - and Christian Bale is certainly great enough to win best actor. Best director, best film, why not?

12 Years a Slave
Beautiful, artistic, soul-destroying, painful. Oozes emotional punch. Deserves to win best supporting actor for Michael Fassbender's star turn. Could he be the best Irish actor ever? Will likely win best picture, best actor, best director, best cinematography.

The Wolf of Wall Street
I do volunteer work at my local credit union and I have to admit it's exactly the same as Wolf of Wall Street. Only without the sex, drugs and money. Leonardo diCaprio is mesmerising and certainly deserves a lead actor Oscar. Jonah Hill is excellent in his supporting role and could get the nod on the night. Martin Scorsese's direction is perfect, but his formulaic approach could work against him as, visually and structurally, Wolf of Wall Street is similar to Goodfellas in many respects. This is not a criticism, more an observation.

Captain Phillips
"Hey Irish!" Yet another true story with Tom Hanks as impressive as always. The strong script and strong supporting actor in Barkhad Abdi could take Oscars. Good film, even though it does descend into a US military recruiting video towards the end.

Bottom line: This year, it really doesn't matter what films win. Enjoy the show!

Note: I haven't seen the remaining best picture nominations, Philomena or Nebraska, yet but I look forward to both of them.