A Createspace Experiment--Print on Demand


I've been curious about Createspace's print on demand book publishing options for some time now (It's just one of the many arms of the Amazon). Since my novel Megiddo's Shadow was out of print in the US, I decided to use it to try out Createspace. It is a relatively easy way to self publish a book. All you need is a word file. They provide a template that I just copied and pasted my novel into (there were a few hours of fussing a fidgeting to get things right, but I expected this).  The actual book cover design system is also very easy to use. They have a variety of covers and styles that you can use. Since the novel is inspired by my grandfather's experiences in WW1, I decided to use his picture. Again this took me at least an hour of fussing--if I had better design skills it probably would have gone faster. And finally I submitted all the files and ordered my proof. It arrived a month later (there was some odd delay and when I informed them that it had been a month Createspace immediately sent new copies of the books to me).

Here's what it looked like when I got the books:


Overall I was quite happy with how the book turned out. The font is perhaps a little small for my ancient eyes, but the whole process cost me less than $30.00 and now people in the US & UK can order physical copies of the books for $8.99. Which means I still make $2.41 for each copy sold. I don't expect to sell many copies, this was just an experiment to see how it worked. I also hope that it will actually help sell more ebook copies of the book because the ePrice looks better by comparison.

Am curious to hear anyone else's experiences with Createspace or other print on demand systems.


Whoa! Year Three of Selling Ebooks!

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...well back on February 5th of 2011, I launched my novel DUST as an ebook.


 I just wanted to experiment with this new fangled book form called Electronic-Books-That-Aren't-Printed-On-Paper! Read about the beginnings here:  beginning. By this time last year I'd sold 8406 copies of my ebooks. This year my grand total is 9383 books. That's less that 1000 books sold in this last twelve months. In the business we call that a big drop off in sales. I see this as a sign that the sales in the ebook world has slowed down (at least for me). Everyone's ereader is stuffed with books. It's not the wild west anymore.  Here are the sales from the first 7 months of 2013.

In total I brought in around $1000 for my bottom line. Since I didn't have to do any extra work selling these books, it's a pleasant amount (but nothing like the year before when I made $6000 from ebook sales). My sense is that sales will continue on in this vein, making it a comfortable addition to my income, but not a game changer. I did decide to take my Northern Frights books off of the ebook market and sell the rights to HarperCollins (who will be putting them out soon). This is mostly because YA books still sell the majority of their copies in paperback. Kids are reading paper books! Those rebels!

I did write a book intending to release it as an ebook but at this point am holding on to it to see if there is a better option for me.

Tune in next year when you'll hear me say: I didn't see that coming*


*what "that" is, I don't know at this point.

Here are the requisite clickable links to my books, including the two "grown up" books I've published under the name Stephen Shea. If a book isn't available in your area as an ebook, it's because I'm still negotiating the erights for that book.


Modo: Graphic Novel Kickstarter

Well, we're kicking off our second crowdfunding campaign for Modo: Ember's End. And after just over twenty four hours we've already raised half our funds. Whoa! Feel free to join the team. igg_page_book

The book is inspired by my Hunchback Assignments series--steampunk set in the wild west. Honestly, we can't wait to get this book out. The artwork that Chris has been cooking up has been just excellent along with the work of our two colourists... Here's a sample:

Did I mention we can't wait to get this book done? I do feel like a kid again working on this story. And that's a good thing.
Take care everyone,

We hit our Goal! $15000 towards the Modo graphic novel

We've made out funding goal! Thanks to everyone who participated! As of this writing there are still a few hours left to join in on the steampunk fun--just click this amazing link: http://igg.me/at/modo/x/2317118

One of the traditions when you make your funding goal is to have "stretch" goals. These are new perks for people if you make a certain amount beyond your original goal. We don't have enough time to do a campaign for a stretch goal (only 13 hours left!), but I thought I'd share the stretch goals that we had in mind:

 If we hit $100,000 we would have given all contributors a steam powered eye You can both see out of it and make tea at the same time. Zounds!

At $500,000 we were going to ground all those noisy jet planes and give everyone personal airships to travel in. No Hindenburgs, though!

 At 1,000,000 we would create a steam powered superman who would go backwards around the world and take us all back in time to the Victorian age and we could live in that era forever...but get this--we'd be able to bring our iPods and smart phones along. And dental floss!

Ah, the world was going to be so different!

But wait...just $84,000 more dollars and it's steampowered eyes for everyone!

Thanks for all the fundraising help!


Wot? I'm not Rich Yet? Observations on Crowd Fundraising

For the last twenty days I've been deep in the world of crowd fundraising with a project @ indiegogo.com. It's a graphic novel inspired by my series The Hunchback Assignments that I cooked up with artist Christopher Steininger.

I thought I'd share what I've learned up to now. First, in order to understand the whole crowd funding process, I followed (and supported) several campaigns, asked for advice from those campaigners, saw what worked for them and attempted to emulate that. I chose Indiegogo to do my crowd fundraising because Kickstarter is not open to Canadians (unless you have an American partner) and Indiegogo has flexible funding, which means you keep the money even if you don't make your goal. This was appealing to me as I will be going ahead with the project either way.
This is what I've learned so far:
1) It's work: Okay, I knew that going in but there is a lot of "informing" to do. I've written to my newsletter, posted on Facebook, approached family and friends directly, posted on listservs, written and sent out a press release, finished up the final details on the script, emailed those who contributed personally...well you get the picture. There's a reason why campaigns that are 30-40 days long tend to do better than longer campaigns. It's because of how time consuming it is to keep the momentum up.
2) Think very carefully about the amount you need. We've asked for $15, 000. That's almost exactly what it will cost to do a print run and pay the artist a decent page rate. But I now wish I'd only asked for $10,000. The reason is that since I'm willing to foot the rest of the bill (write offs are fun) we would make our goal earlier and look more successful (we're at 31% right now, but if I'd chosen 10K we'd be closer to 50%). Apparently more people buy in to a project when it is closer to meeting its goal (and afterwards...we all want to be part of a success story). Of course, you don't want to ask for a very low amount...
3) Be prepared to educate your buyers. It turns out not everyone knows about crowd fundraising and Indiegogo or Kickstarter. And the idea of fundraising for an item before it is created is not that common. So there might be some explainin' to do! Many of my books are sold to schools and libraries. They're not used to buying something before it's created. Clearances have to be given, etc., etc., So education is key.
4) Dream big. Deal with the reality. Yes, there are many projects that make mountains of cash. But buried back in the archives of Kickstarter and Indiegogo are the mountains of campaigns that didn't make their goal. When we started we had big dreams of fans and friends chipping in, then the social networking magic would happen, and a giant sized snowball would carry us the rest of the way--maybe even in the first week. After all, my books have sold hundreds of thousands of copies...I just have to convince about 500-1000 of those fans to pick up the graphic novel. The problem is reaching those fans. They may have enjoyed my books, but they might never hear of the graphic novel. Also remember, apparently the last week of a campaign is when the most contributions happen. Nothing like a deadline to motivate people.
5) Be Social. Of course you should do all the social networking you need to do (without becoming annoying...very hard to find that middle ground), but you should also be social with other people who are crowdfunding. Follow their campaigns, cheer them on--they're in the same boat as you. You can learn from each other and support each other's campaigns...getting the word out to more people.

There. That's most of what I've learned so far. Time to march forward into the 2nd half of the campaign.

Of course I'll add my fancy widget to this post. If you like what you've read or are interested in graphic novels and steampunk, just click on the image below or right here. Or if you just want to simply support us then hit the link and use the "Tweet" or "Facebook" buttons to tell the world. It gets the project out there and also puts the project higher in Indiegogo's rankings. Every little bit helps.

Thanks for listening,