An email to Nook from a UK author

Well done Nook! You have finally begun to get your act together! It is now possible to upload a manuscript to Nook but I still cannot create a vendor account using a UK bank account. When do you think this will be possible?

You need to accept SWIFT bank codes or IBAN numbers as the ‘routing number’ is USA only. Also, you need allow the author to specify a UK tax address. Only the USA is possible at present.

Philip Dickinson

Publishing to Kobo is easy!

Now that my novel has come out of the KDP Select programme, I wanted to try and get ‘New Fire’ onto other platforms. I’ve mentioned before that Nook does not support authors outside of the USA. The Barnes and Noble decision to only allow US citizens to publish books is an odd one and I can only assume that they have no serious intention to compete for independent authors worldwide. They have either decided that the earnings from non-US authors would not justify the cost of setting up global payments, or they believe that only US citizens write worthwhile books! I leave you to draw your own conclusions.

Happily, Kobo aren’t as myopic as Nook so they are able to pay to worldwide bank accounts. The Kobo portal for authors is WritingLife. Here, like Amazon, you create an account for yourself, type in some key metadata about your book, upload it and publish. Uploading was the only bit I struggled with. The Kobo step-by-step publishing process misleadingly states that it supports the upload of Word documents. It does not. I won’t bore you with details of the dozen attempts I made, using the pitifully lean instructions, to get Kobo to accept my Word document. Suffice to say that I ended up trying a blank document with one chapter heading and one line of prose. Kobo rejected it, and so, after scratching my head for a while, I turned my attention to the ePub format.

Microsoft Word does not publish to ePub yet, something they will surely seek to address before long! In the meantime, I cast around for tools to do the job. A company called Aspose offer an evaluation tool, ‘Word Express’ which seemed to work, but the licensing agreement suggested that I’d have to pay for a full copy in order to publish without fear of prosecution. Happily, before I could get a response from Aspose on the licence cost, I found Calibre, a free tool for managing your eLibrary.

Although Calibre does not convert directly from Word to ePub, the process is still pretty straightforward. It’s described here, but the interesting thing is that I had already done these exact same steps in order to publish to Kindle. Both Amazon and Calibre need you to take the following steps;

  1. make sure all your chapter headings are styled as ‘Heading 1’
  2. and then, save to HTML

So starting from the HTML version of ‘New Fire’ that I’d created prior to my Amazon upload, all I had to do was load that into Calibre, correct the title, upload the cover and press “Convert”. Voila! The resulting ePub file uploaded without problem to Kobo.

So in a few days time, my novel will be available on Kobo! Nook will remain out of reach until they decide that non-US authors are worthwhile and I’ll only upload to Sony when they don’t force me to hand over a proportion my royalties to Smashwords. Call me ‘newfashioned‘, but I refuse to be anything other than an indie author.

‘New Fire’ on Kobo

The Kindle edition of ‘New Fire’ is live

I’m delighted to announce that the Kindle version of ‘New Fire’ has been published! In the end, I decided to do this myself. The process was so easy there was no reason to give away part of my earnings to third parties.

Click here to go to Amazon.

The paperback is being published now and should be available in about two weeks time! Hurray!

Not just an eBook

Do you think it feels the same to say “I’m a published author” if you don’t have a physical, printed book in your hands? I certainly think it would be nice to have a copy sat on my bookshelf, and to know that there are a couple of libraries in the country where someone might wander in and pick it off the shelf.

Five agencies out there have yet to respond, have yet to send me an email like this last one that I received on Monday…

“Many thanks for sending us this proposal, which I read with interest. I considered it carefully but I’m afraid on balance it just doesn’t quite grab my imagination in the way that it must for me to offer to represent you. So I must follow my instinct and pass on this occasion. I’m sorry to be so disappointing, but thanks for thinking of us. Of course this is a totally subjective judgement, so do try other agents and I wish you every success.”

[Agency Name Withheld]

Then, on Friday, I received this from Book Guild Publishing in Brighton…

“Further to our email of 11 July, we have completed aninitial assessment of the submitted sample material. We very much enjoyed the opening chapters to New Fire. The set-up is excellent, and your descriptions of the city and the activities that go on there are lucid and memorable. With vivid characterisation and a strong narrative right from the start, this material certainly whets the reader’s appetite, and we look forward to reading the complete novel. Please submit the MS to this email address.”

Now, the difference here is that Book Guild Publishing have a ‘partnership’ programme which builds a package for each author and requires the author to share some of the costs of publishing. Book Guild really seems to have grasped that their industry has changed forever and that the costs of printing no longer require the extraordinary levels of risk-mitigation that the old industry needed. In this modern, internet enabled world with print-on-demand, the barriers can be lowered a little and the readers be empowered to decide what they want to read. ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ is a fine example of a book that would probably never have seen the light of day twenty years ago. Now, fee-paying readers have the choice. It may not be a literary masterpiece, but hey, 95% of readers don’t ever read a Booker or Pulitzer prize winner.

Where was I going with all of this? Oh yes, if I can raise several hundred pounds, I might just make that physical copy a reality and stand in Waterstones all Saturday with a winning smile on my face.