WWBB on Facebook!

You are invited to post your book links, blurbs, snippets on WWBB's Facebook page. Follow me on Twitter and use @louise_wise for a retweet.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Torc of Moonlight by Linda Acaster, plus her thoughts on POD and ebooks.

Torc of Moonlight by Linda Acaster
Cross-Genres Embracing New Technology


Linda Acaster is a three-times mainstream published novelist and writer of over 70 short stories covering an array of genres published in the UK, USA and Europe. Her latest novel, Torc of Moonlight, she indie authored as a POD paperback, and has subsequently published two of her rights-reverted backlist novels as ebooks. I asked for her thoughts of the process of becoming a POD and an ebook author:
Torc of Moonlight is a contemporary thriller with supernatural overtones, what my past agent and various publishers’ editors described as a cross-genre novel. No matter how they applauded the writing, it wasn’t going to find a UK publisher because it didn’t fall neatly into one of the industry’s pigeonholes. Such is life for the UK writer. Writers in the USA don’t have this problem. Cross-genres are embraced by a plethora of publishers, large and small, with the best novels coming across to the UK under licence and given the sort of publicity budget and self space that leaves Brit writers breathless.

But new technology is starting to level the playing field. Print On Demand paperbacks have been around for a while, but like all new technology its costs were high. In 2008 the first of the lo-cost POD publishers started up, and in 2009 Legend Press opened a POD arm, New Generation Publishing. Torc of Moonlight was sitting in a drawer, so I submitted it.

Lo-cost POD publishers work by leaving typesetting and editing to the author. They claw back their investment when a novel sells, much the same way as does a mainstream publisher, and the royalties paid to authors are similar. ‘Typesetting’ is simply a case of following instructions. Editing is a whole different matter and why self-published fiction, either as POD or ebooks, is still fighting suspicion.

I’m lucky in having a lot of experience in this field, and in being a member of a local authors’ support group which pulls no punches. However, there’s little excuse for any writer being slap-dash – it’s all down to a careful eye during proofreading. But if your writing skills are in the early-medium stages of development it could save a lot of heartache later to pay for an analysis now. No editor can make a silk purse from a sow’s ear, so handing over a full script for ‘editing’ can be an expensive flop. Sending the first 50 pages for a critique, rather than an edit, will show up flaws, and armed with that knowledge a novelist is in a better position to make future decisions. Websites such as Authonomy.com offer something similar via peer evaluation, but your writing might be at the mercy of a peer at the same stage as yourself. As a first step, though, what is there to lose?

Torc of Moonlight came out as a paperback at the end of 2009, and because it had been allotted an ISBN number it was listed in the major distribution channels: Amazon (UK and USA), Waterstone’s, WH Smith, Book Depository, but getting it onto bookshop shelves, even in my own area where the novel is set, was no easy matter. The amount of effort in gaining publicity in general should never be underestimated, a problem faced by authors of mainstream published books as well.

In January 2010 Amazon USA announced that it was opening its indie authoring ebooks scheme to those living outside of the US, and with rights already reverted to two historical romances I began the research to bring these to new readers using new technology. The Kindle e-reader uses Amazon’s proprietary AZW format as well as its own ASIN numbering system. Other formats, most notably e-Pub on its way to becoming universally accepted, are catered for by Smashwords.com which will issue a free ISBN number so a novel can be included in its premium catalogue for e-readers such as the Nook, Sony e-reader, and Apple’s new iPad. Formatting and editing is again down to the author, and the same advice as above applies.

So why an ebooks and not POD paperbacks? Hostage of the Heart, my Mediaeval Romance, won an award when it was first published; Beneath The Shining Mountains, set among Native Americans in the 1830s, sold just over 30,000 copies. Both remain very decent reads as reviews are beginning to attest, but readership patterns have changed, and continue to change at an accelerating rate. I’m no longer aiming for a reader who indulges in an easy afternoon browsing the shelves of a bookshop, but one who logs on, chooses a read, and expects it to arrive either on a PC or direct to an e-reader within a minute. This is why many indie authored ebooks are priced for impulse buying, $3 or less. Torc of Moonlight will follow in October and the good reviews I’ve gathered for the POD copy should help promote the ebook.

Amazon is accelerating its rollout of the new generation Kindle and its UK ebook store has been open since the beginning of August. The UK iPad store is open for anyone who can fathom its use, and Waterstone’s online has been selling e-books for Sony’s e-reader for a while. At the moment I read both e-Pub and Kindle formats on my laptop via the free PC applications, and they are so good that an e-reader will be on my Christmas list. And I won’t be the only person doing that, which means that my prospective readership is growing all the time.

And sales for the Historicals? Slow, but I didn’t expect otherwise as I’m in a learning curve with publicity. However ebook readers, like POD book readers, embrace cross-genres. They are looking only for a ‘damned good read’, not a publisher’s stamp of pure-genre approval. And Amazon allows an ebook to be listed under five of its categories, more than enough for any cross-genre novelist.

Torc of Moonlight -What happens when a Celtic past reaches forward to a disbeliving present with determindation, resoursefulness and sexual avarice? First in a trilogy set in univeristy cities aruond North York Moors.

Available from most online bookshops including Amazon UK and USA, and the Book Depository for free shipping worldwide, or to order from your local bricks and mortar retailer.
- Amazon UK http://tinyurl.com/39jpmlf 
- Amazon USA http://tinyurl.com/38qyyhq
- Book Depository http://tinyurl.com/39oqlxv

To read the first chapter visit http://www.lindaacaster.co.uk/

Beneath The Shining Mountains – Historical Romance set among the Apsaroke people of the Northern Plains of America in the 1830s
- Amazon US Kindle http://tinyurl.com/35sfkhq
- Amazon UK Kindle page http://tinyurl.com/27trs49
- Smashwords https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/18144
-  Review 5 wings Classic Romance Revival http://tinyurl.com/2wodfco

Hostage of the Heart – Mediaeval Romance set on the English-Welsh borders in 1066, dealing with battle hostages.
- Amazon US Kindle http://tinyurl.com/3a2dyz5
- Amazon UK Kindle http://tinyurl.com/24xbekn
- Smashwords https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/14120

Both Historicals are available from Kindle stores Amazon UK and USA, and for other e-readers from www.smashwords.com/books/view/18144

To read the first chapters visit http://www.lindaacaster.blogspot.com/

Amazon Kindle app http://tinyurl.com/28zbaf8
Adobe Digital Editions app http://tinyurl.com/28drft2

Do we ignore the history so close beneath our feet because it is dead, or because we fear it might rise again?

Torc of Moonlight
out NOW

12 comments:

  1. Hi Linda,
    Greetings from Australia.
    Very informative blog. I certainly think e-books and POD are the way of the future. Like the UK, Australia hasn't whole heartedly embraced the idea as yet, but I sincerely hope that they will.
    Good luck with all your ventures.

    Regards
    Margaret

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Margaret, good of you to join us. Considering all the hassle Oz seems to have in getting out-of-country print books, the sooner it does the better, eh? I hope you are enjoying your winter!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Linda, very interesting and thought-provoking post. For some time I've been thinking of converting my POD novel, Breaking Faith, into an ebook. With your encouragement, I shall make that a definite. In fact, with your injunction about editing, I'm already checking the POD text for errors before I commit to ebook format. So, thanks for this.

    ReplyDelete
  4. LINDA--I am impressed by your knowledge and success. Congratulations on all your releases. This post added to my growing knowledge of the Independent author and the publishing opportunities out there for enterprising writers. Good for you! Celia

    ReplyDelete
  5. @ Stuart: I have to laugh. "...with your injection about editing..."
    Yeah, right before I make a gaffe in my posting! Thank goodness it wasn't in a POD novel.

    Best of luck with yours.

    @ Celia: Good of you to come across from the States. Indie authoring, on whichever platform, is a huge learning curve. Blithely I thought I could bring out 'Torc of Moonlight' as an ebook and go away on holiday. Not a good idea, so it is being postponed until I get back.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi Linda, Having read all three novels, I can well attest to your writing skills and those of Stuart Aken, too. What a shame that Brit publishers and agents seem so hidebound by 'rules' which are so restraining. I loved Torc of Moonlight for the depth of layers and symbolism. Beneath the Shining Mountains is simply a beautiful love story encompassed by a thorough knowledge of the native American Indian way of life that puts the story firmly in place.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Ooh, fans! Thanks for dropping by. I know what you mean about UK publishers being so shackled to what they perceive as readers' comfort zones, but what can we authors do? Publishers didn't want the first Harry Potter because 'who'd want to read about a boy wizard?' Yeah, right. And in these hands rest our publishing industry.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Great advice in here. I'm now looking forward to the UK Kindle. I saw an early version a couple of years ago and wasn't much impressed so glad to learn they've got it together for the new one. Yours will be the first books I buy!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thank you Linda for appearing on my blog, and thanks to everyone else for stopping by.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Linda, I can not resist a well thought out and informative posting. Margaret Tanner another Aussie commented that we haven't whole heartedly embraced the e-book and POD avenues as yet.

    Maybe not to the marriage bed level, but we are definitely beyond the holding hands stage. I would anticipate a large upswing around the Christmas period {Our Summer}. Several discussions I have had with Authors indicates that the fact that postage costs are so exhorbitant, especially from my lovely Island to the rest of the known universe: paperbacks as gifts are rapidly being replaced by E-books, or Gift vouchers to the big suppliers, to purchase E books.

    It will be interesting to take a close look at the percentages in January. I feel December is going to be an eye opener for all those that are beginning to question traditional markets.

    Again, thanks for a great article.

    ReplyDelete
  11. As a voracious reader, I welcome e-books. A combination of instant availability and experimental, cross-genre fiction promises delights in store.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Well, e-readers haven't been wholeheartedly embraced in the UK yet, either. Do you buy a coat without trying it on? Of course not, but the only ereader I've seen has been hidden away behind glass needing a shop assistant to set it free and then stand over me (presumably) while I decide whether to buy it then and there, hardly a golden way to get me interested. However, with the prices falling (Sony Lite now £99 here in response to the new Kindle coming soon at £109)and much more info available, more people will give them a go.

    Many thanks to all who dropped by, and to those who left comments. It is much appreciated, by me and by Louise.

    Thanks, Louise for hosting.

    ReplyDelete