Traditional Publishers

What are the advantages?

There are big advantages to getting an agreement with a traditional publisher. Here are some of them (not listed in any particular order):

  • Very wide distribution to book stores, libraries and online markets worldwide.
  • A huge boost in credibility. Suddenly you will find that radio and TV hosts are keen to have you, whereas without a book you stand no chance.
  • Searchability on all the BookFind systems worldwide. This allows your book to be found by the clerk at the book store counter, for instance.
  • No risk to yourself, although we do of course recommend that everyone should read the fine print on any contract before they sign. Traditional publishers take on all the risk involved in publishing your book. Publishing is a complex business and mistakes can easily be made, some of them quite costly!
  • You get a professional product without risk which is widely distributed throughout the world. Very often traditional publishers can keep the retail price low, qhich will help the sales of your book

Right now (March 2022) the book market is very tough due to the challenges that the last two years have presented.  A tough market like this, results in wafer-thin profit margins, so traditional publishers have become more and more risk-averse. They are especially resistant to taking on debut authors, preferring to stick with existing Names who are sure winners. However, they remain open to offers by independent publishers who can prove good sales.

To sum up: .getting a contract with a traditional publisher is the number one prize, but that is not likely for a debut author.  I will be covering the roles of other publishing models such as vanity, self-publishing and subsidy publishers in upcoming blogs. I will be setting out the pitfalls and advantages to them so that you may make an informed choice.

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Big changes at Kima Books

Nadine and I have some big announcements to make.
As usual, there is bad news and good news. Let’s start with the worst first and get better from there.

Back in May of this year the professional typesetting and design program that I have been using for years gave up the ghost and despite all efforts by our technical people, could not be fixed. I do have the latest Indesign program which most typesetters use today, but it would be a steep learning curve for me to learn it, which I am not quite up to and not in the mood for. I have searched for teachers but without success. They are mostly focused on image design and know nothing about typesetting.

Then, in the first week of July this year Nadine and I were walking on the cat walk in Fish Hoek without rain gear when we got caught in an icy torrential downpour and were far from our car. I was frozen to the bone, but eventually we got home and warmed up. Shortly after that I became ill with what I thought was the flu and struggled for a few days.

However, I took two nasty falls, landing on my coccyx both times. Nadine dragged me back to bed both times. Shortly thereafter Nadine found me unconscious, called the paramedics who checked me out and found that my oxygen level was down to 74%. (death occurs at 72%). They summoned an ambulance and took me to our local False Bay Hospital. It was pneumonia, but they labeled it Covid.

To cut a long story short, I ended up spending 10 days in three different hospitals. The doctors definitely saved my life, but the conditions in the hospitals are appalling. Nadine rescued me from there by demanding that I be discharged which the doctors reluctantly agreed to. I came out so weak that I was unable to stand unaided and with bedsores. I have been recuperating under the wonderful care of Nadine and our local homeopathic doctor and now am able to spend a couple of hours a day in the office.

As a result of all this we have decided to make some big changes as to how we operate so as to reduce the work load. Circumstances demand it.

No more new physical books

  • We will no longer be accepting physical books for publication.
  • We are just beginning to have discussions with a European publisher who is keen to have Kima Global’s book list on their platform. If we are successful it will mean an extended life our book list. We will also be able to take on new titles. We see this as a very positive development.

List to be trimmed

  • We will be trimming down our listings for physical books on the international book shops catalog during the course of the next few months. Those books which have not sold a single copy in the previous six months will be cancelled from the list. Every listing costs us a catalogue fee so we cannot continue to pay this if we have no sales.  Local South African authors may still order copies from us.
  • If you have a new manuscript to offer we will gladly guide you through the self-publishing process. There will be no charge for our existing authors.

e-Books to continue

  • We will not be cancelling any e-book currently platformed.
  • We will continue to publish new e-books as and when the opportunity arises.

New web site

Our current web site does attract traffic, but it is not cell phone friendly.

  • We are going to be building a new site during the course of the next couple of months using a modern site builder and cart.
  • All the physical books currently active globally will be listed as well as all the e-books.
  • We are no longer distributing for overseas publishers, so we will be simplifying both the appearance and the way it works. There will no longer be a need to choose your country and currency. One list, one currency (probably USD since most of our sales are there.)

I will be posting another blog when it is live.

As I wrote, I do hope that you see these developments as an effort both to survive by cutting unrewarding expenses and to thrive by giving Kima Global a new face on the internet

May I close by wishing you all good health and sanity in these crazy and challenging times. We are still here to serve you, but now in a changed capacity.

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Time to get Creative?

Author Nadine May has been working on a new series of Doodle Journals so that you can use doodling to access your soul qualities and establish a deep relationship with your Higher Self. We cannot stress how important this is at this time of Ascension. Indeed none of us can rise from our 3D existence to the perfection of 5D without a solid relationship to our Higher Self.

Each Doodle Journal is printed in full color on a spacious page size and has pages to complete a series of doodles relating to the chakra being addressed and the qualities of that chakra. There are also pages to journal your experiences and record your comments. People who have bought these have enjoyed a very positive experience. Why not begin with Volume One: The Base Chakra? 

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Is there a market for your non-fiction book?

Non-fiction book

Is there a market for your non-fiction book-in-progress?

The short answer is yes, especially if it is about your passion subject.

Having a book in print adds hugely to your credibility. You will find that you will be in demand for interviews if you have a book to offer. Those of us with a mission or a story to tell who do not have a book in publication always struggle to get interviewers’ attention.

Secondly, many who have attended a workshop either in person or on Zoom, would like to reinforce their experience by having a hard copy to read.

Back of the room sales are a winner for every speaker. They also offer an income stream which can help towards your costs. In our case we offer a 40% discount to authors who order their own books.

Having more than one book also helps people widen their knowledge of your subject and will appeal to people who already bought your first book.

Here’s a toast to the success of your new book!

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Audio Books

Audiobooks are quite a trend these days. I just read a newsletter on the subject put out by B&N.

It is revealing that they now have more than 300,000 audiobook titles on offer at a retail price of around $12.00. They see it as a huge new market for authors and they could be correct on this.

You can reach people who either don’t have the time or would prefer to fill those boring moments like when you are doing housework or the laundry, or are going on a road trip with the family.

How do you make an audiobook?

A popular audiobook creator is Findaway Voices who will offer a choice of narrator at a cost of $25.00 / 1000 words, so if your book is 75 000 words that would set you back $1900.00. (estimated). That’s quite hefty.

I always like to work out a good estimate of how many book sales it would take to recover my potential investment and in this case, it would amount to around 400 books at the current royalty rate. That is quite a lot in view of the other up-front costs in producing a physical or an e-book which also have to be recovered.

My new partners ePublishify offer a complete package (includes a physical book, an e-book and an audiobook) for only $650.00 (estimate). This amounts to a very good deal.  You may also buy a promotion package for $350.00 and that should set you up properly.

These continuous changes are inevitable due to the times we live in, however, the gradual erosion of a reading culture is very sad. Treasured memories of reading to our kids or being stuck into a good book way past bedtime seem to have gone altogether. We have been reduced to tweets and sound bites and short video clips. We have lost a lot. Our grandchildren will grow up without the magic of Charles Dickens or even the illustrative genius of Arthur Rackham.

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e-Books

Should you consider publishing an e-book rather than a proper paper book?

It is worthwhile to have a look at this form of book because it is so prevalent these days.

Firstly an e-book is not the same as a printed book. The content is often much shorter with subheadings and active links to websites and supporting research. The word count can be as little as 30 000 words whereas a printed book usually requires 75 000 to 100 000 words.

Books with diagrams and illustrations are not suitable as e-books because they are ‘flowable’ documents. In other words, they shrink to fit a cell phone in which case diagrams become too small to see.

An e-book has a lower cost to produce and can thus be sold cheaper. Development costs remain the same, but there are no print and shipping costs involved. For the purchaser, it can be very satisfying to get instant delivery rather than having to wait for some days to get your book.

Other big differences are:

  • You do not ever own a Kindle or epub edition. You only have the right to read it.
  • If your device comes to the end of its life you will lose your e-books unless you buy a new device.
  • eBooks cannot be re-sold since you never own it
  • Work books are not suitable as e-books.

e-Books do require a certain expertise to get a professional result. Too often have I seen badly made e-books which present with large spaces between the paragraphs and even whole pages missing. In my experience the best guide to getting it right can be found in Smashwords Guide to creating .epub files. If you have written the content in MS Word it will end up with a lot of hidden junk coding which screws up your final result when converting to .epub or .mobi. Mark Coker’s Guide to cleaning out this hidden code is simply the best.

e-Books can be used as a kind of précis and introduction to your main work and could be sold to people who want just a taste of what you offer for a small sum of money.  In that way, it is a form of advertising with its own small income stream and none of the costs. That is kind of a sweet deal for everyone.

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The Best Selling Author

A successful book signing event.

This is a status that every author wants to achieve, however, it is not that easy and requires significant effort and marketing skills to achieve.

Robert Kiyasaki stayed with a friend in Singapore while he attended a conference there. The friend happened to be offering a sales course at the time.

The next day, after his presentation, a participant asked:

 “How can I become a best-selling author?”

Robert Kiyasaki replied:

“ Why don’t you sign up for a sales course.”

“ Don’t be ridiculous” answered the author “I am a writer, not a sales person.”

“ Did you notice” replied Kiyasaki “ It always states ‘best-selling author’, not ‘best writing author?”

The short answer is that a book will only do well if the author supports it and is a good marketer (or has engaged a good marketing team).

There have been a couple of cases in recent years of books that were in fact not that good, but were supported by aggressive marketing campaigns and as a result, achieved number one status on Best-Selling lists.

This is what happens when the book market gets flooded with mediocre titles. The good titles have to have proper marketing behind them otherwise they just don’t get seen.

Most traditional and independent publishers have marketing packages to which an author may subscribe (at a cost). However this can become expensive so you have to have the finance to back your book.

Another option is to Do It Yourself, but this requires some skill and quite a lot of time. A good example of this approach is Nadine May who spends a lot of time every day posting on all major platforms including Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and of course Facebook.

A publisher’s obligation is to publish, obviously. This includes all the hundreds of tasks that ensure wide availability for your title through distribution networks around the world, plus mechanisms to ensure that your book is found at the bookshop counter. It also includes all the business side of things: collecting the money, paying royalties and so on.

An author’s obligation is to support their book (in other words to become s best-selling author.

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The Art and Science of Making a Good Presentation

If we go to a job interview, we make sure that we are neatly dressed so that we make a good impression. Similarly, a good presentation of your writing and yourself will make a huge difference to the chances of you getting a contract with a publisher, so let’s explore what you will need to do.

  • It is a good idea to find out as much as you can about your chosen publisher. This would include searches in Linked In, other social media to see what they post and what genres they prefer, and the specific focus of their publishing endeavor. For example if they are academic publishers and you have children’s books, applying to them would be pointless.
  • Do have a look at the website to find out what the criteria are; such as do they consider unsolicited manuscripts? Some publishers prefer to work with literary agents, while others are open to free submission.
  • Include a comprehensive personal biography. Mention any previously published work and if it is still in print. List your personal achievements as well, such as any literary prizes you may have won. Mention also any associations where you may be active, such as writers’ groups, or professional groups. You do this to establish your capability in your particular field.
  • Put forward your marketing plans for your book. If you are a non-fiction writer do you have established media exposure such as a You Tube channel, a blog or website? Are you planning any public lectures or workshops? Are you a member of any online group/s where you would be allowed to speak about your life’s work and your book?
  • Include a précis of your manuscript and your reasons for writing it. If you choose to submit selected chapters only then you should mention the overall word count.

All the above actions and ideas will help a publisher to make a decision to commit to publishing your masterpiece. My experience with submissions is that very few writers go to the trouble of working on a good presentation. Those that do that will make a big impression on the publisher.

We should not forget that a publisher’s job is to publish and this does not include marketing. Most publishers do offer marketing packages at a range of fees.

The author is by far the best ambassador for their book, so an enthusiastic and credentialed author can make the publishing decision easy.

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Subsidy Publishers

Fair Exchange!

Small independent publishers cannot really afford the inherent risk in untested authors. My company Kima Global Publishers have burned our fingers in the past by taking on enthusiastic authors who maybe expect instant results from no effort or risk whatsoever. After the book has been published they lose interest and do not support their book. Subsidy publishers lessen that risk by asking the author for a small contribution to cover hard outlay costs. That way they only risk losing the many hours of work they put into the whole process of editing, design, typesetting, proofing and preparing print-ready files.

Subsidy publishers such as Kima Books (now an imprint of ePublishify) offer a clever mechanism whereby an author (with very little effort) may recover their investment. We offer a 40% discount on any book orders by the author with a minimum first order of twenty copies.

In the case of Kima Books and ePushify, all submissions go through a strict assessment process and many manuscripts get rejected.  In the case of Kima Books, they preferred mission-driven authors with a good online presence who gave workshops and lectured.  Back of the Room sales are a winner, and can lead to an ongoing income stream for the author as well.

The subsidy publisher’s role is to undertake all the many tasks needed to get a book out into the world that a writer simply cannot do. This includes descriptions placed on the BookSearch database used by bookshops. They also need to make sure that a book is available worldwide through good distribution.

It is the author’s job to support sales by drawing attention to their book through marketing and social media exposure, blogs etc. Over the years we have found that the author is by far the best ambassador for their book.

Subsidy and hybrid publishers are the best bet, because they offer huge advantages for very little cost and a good chance to recover your investment.

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Self-Publishing

This is a form of vanity publishing  It is much the same as vanity because, once again, there are no quality standards applied. In this case, the author does their own layout and typesetting in MS Word or similar and then uploads it to Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble or others. I will cover Amazon in a subsequent blog.

In this case, the author is possibly even worse off than she might be with a vanity press. This is because of a lack of skills and professional software programs such as Photoshop or InDesign and a general lack of skills. Their books can be poorly presented with boring pre-designed covers supplied by Amazon for example. I have in addition often seen books with sloppy grammar and generally untidy.

Presentation is important. You wouldn’t return to a restaurant that just slopped food onto a plate. Likewise, readers are unlikely to buy a book that looks amateurish in presentation.

These authors have none of the facilities that regular publishers offer such as:

  • No distribution to bookshops.
  • No listing on the BookSearch software. This means that they cannot be found.
  • A limited market. Some authors advertise on Amazon, but in general there is very little exposure in a hugely crowded market.

I have been told by some very proud authors that they have been ‘published’, where all they have done is take files to their local printer that has printed and bound a few copies.  They have performed none of the functions of a publisher.

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Vanity, vanity, all is Vanity

Vanity Publishers perform a service for money where they will produce your book professionally. They usually deliver a professional quality product, but it can be quite expensive. The downside of this is that there is no Gatekeeper for the quality of content. Essentially, if you can pay the money then you qualify.  Standards are low because the author takes on all the financial risks.

There are no good prospects of sales because the market tends to be flooded with low-quality books and traditional booksellers usually refuse to buy titles from these ‘publishers’. Contributing to this is self-published books (covered in more detail in the next blog).

The open gates policy of Vanity and self-publishers has led to a veritable flood of titles being published. At the last count more than a million titles a year are published in the English language alone. It becomes very difficult to get noticed in such a crowded marketplace. Good marketing becomes essential.

The deals on offer vary quite a lot, so one has to look at the contract to see the details. Vanity publishers are poorly thought of in the book world, because of their open-door policy with no gatekeeper.

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The importance of Genres

A very important consideration for all authors is what genre does your book fall into?

I recommend visiting a book store to make a note of the genres as listed on the shelves.

Which one will your book fall into?

If you can’t categorise it, then the book store manager will not know where to put the book, so it might end up getting lost on a shelf where it doesn’t belong.

My company published a series of novels by one author which was categorized as Visionary Fiction. Most book shops don’t have a genre like that so her books generally ended up in Fantasy or Science Fiction, neither of which is correct.

Visit several bookshops if possible because every book shop caters to a different market.

Take a note of how many books are on each of these shelves to get an idea of your competition and the popularity of the genre.

While you are there do have a critical look at aspects like cover design and how the books are laid out.

As usual, there are trends and fashions in book design. Also bear in mind that design styles are different for every country. In the USA the popular trend has been for covers featuring fancy graphics and fonts with a small but impactful image on the front cover. whereas the UK and Europe are generally more conservative.

The United States market remains huge and very important so their influence has to be taken into account.

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