Sunday, March 30, 2014

Ebook Industry Changes and Distributing in New Zealand

Joy Findlay in all her Petal the Owl hat glory!
Hi and welcome to our Self-Publishing blog. If this is your first time to our blog please take some time to check out our various links and posts on how you can self-publish from New Zealand.

These last few weeks have been very busy for us here at Findlay Books – actually, just at home in general. We are moving house! So if you don't hear from us for the next little while, then you'll know we forgot to get out internet transitioned in time and we are still trying to get connected...

I though I'd do something a little different this week. We have had loads of changes in the children's ebook industry over the last few years and I wanted to let you all know of the changes that have taken place with self-publishing kids picture books.

Don't worry, it isn't all doom and gloom! We've also added a few tips to self-publishing here in NZ and a few lists that will help you get to where you need to go.

I might point out here that self-publishing in NZ is still an exciting time with many changes happening that favour self-publishers. Just this last week Storylines have announced their Storylines 2014 Notable Books List and there a few familiar names on the list! Congrats to our fellow self/hybrid-publishers!!!

OK, so some things I've noticed from self-publishing kids picture books over the last 6mths.
*Amazon's free promotions do not bring in any notable boomerang sales any longer.
*Paying for advertising on ebook promo sites for 'Amazon free promotions' doesn't work any more either.
*Paying for a $0.99 promo does work a little, especially with the bigger sites like Daily Kindle, Book Bub and Pixel of Ink, but it is now much MUCH harder to get your book onto their lists due to everyone else doing it too and it costs upwards of $120.00USD.
*Selling on other platforms like Kobo, NookBook etc, still doesn't bring anywhere near the sales that Amazon brings in.
*Staying with Amazon's Kindle Select Programme is still better than not - they seem to penalise those who aren't in the programme.
*Releasing a book a month is still one of the best ways to get noticed as your book has a chance at hitting the 'released this month' list.
*The Kindle Countdown Deal were useless for large file books as you still have to pay delivery costs - I made absolutely no money on this promo tool over Christmas.
*Amazon's Matchbook is only worth it if you sell heaps of paperbacks - but children's print books doesn't really seem to sell many print versions.
*Prices of books determine sales in a major way. Picture books over the 99 mark don't seem to sell much now, unless it is part of a compilation but even then it doesn't seem to work much over 99cents. You used to be able to ride the pricing trends but with so many more books set at .99cents it is best to sit at .99cents now.
*Blog hops and author interactions doesn't really bring any more sales at all now - everyone is doing it and readers don't read these blogs - authors do.
*Facebook ads and Google word ads doesn't make sales - just awareness and 'likes'.
*Self-publishing children's books costs loads in illustrations and advertising/promotions, more than actually publishing the book.
*Not many authors are making their money back from picture books, but they are still trying, but unfortunately the quality of kids picture books is dropping still and the market is flooded, which is causing trad-published books to look far superior and they sell more and get better rankings because of this.
*I know in New Zealand the self-publisher is getting a better reputation as they keep working on the quality of books here, which is a necessity when there are less and less publishing firms to turn to.

So what is working now for self-publishers in NZ?
*Getting your ebook into Wheelers ePlatform is a great way to get your book into library ebook databases.
*Print books seems to be the way to go at the moment but it is more work and possibly more up-front costs, but it seems to pay off better than ebooks at the moment.
*Getting your print book onto Neilsen's Database is a great way to get your book into libraries.
*Print-on-demand via Lightning Source for cheaper delivery costs – they get printed in Aussie and cost way less in postage than CreateSpace.
*For quality PoD use Lightning Source over CreateSpace.
*CreateSpace distribute to Book Depository in the UK now – free worldwide delivery – great for one off prints.
*Distribution in NZ is difficult if you don't have a contact at a distribution firm. You will need to approach all the indie book stores yourself – list provided – and go into your local kindy's and schools etc.
*There is a lot of leg work needed to get your book into schools and kindy's and doing school visits is a great way to start. If you have a great product, a good reputation and a fantastic school presentation, you could charge for your time as well as send the school your order form before your visit.
*There are a few book festivals that would be great to get into, but most of these do not want you selling your book at the table you are promoting from. I do hope this changes in the future to help us self-publishers make money.

List of Indie Bookstores in NZ:
Booksellers has a whole list of indie book stores in NZ that you can find postal address and email addresses for. Their site is great for learning more about the industry in NZ, found here:

List of Printers other self-publishers have used in NZ:
This is the list on New Zealand Society of Authors website for printers who specialise in book printing. Make sure you get at least four quotes for books and princes for 50, 100, 500 and 1000 units. Found here:

Two lists of Illustrators here in NZ:
These are a couple of lists of NZ illustrators. These are professional illustrators and artists. They will charge at professional prices. Sandra Morris Illustration Agency (NZ)
FBI Illustrators (Fabulous Bureau of Illustrator)

List of Editors here in NZ:
This is the list on New Zealand Society of Authors website for Manuscript Assessors and Editors, found here:

Hope these help.
Have a fantastic week!
~ Joy Findlay

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Weekly Links March 17th.

This last week I've been editing my latest novel and connecting with others online about their own novels. I'd really love to say that writing come completely naturally to me but as any writer knows, it takes practice, time, reading a-plenty, and a creative flare to start - and complete - a writing project. Being addicted to game apps on my tablet doesn't help either....

So my favourite website that I constantly use when writing is RhymeZone. Hope it helps you out with your rhyming and thesaurus needs!

I came across a post by Publishing Weekly on the children's book's market changes. They checked out a whole load of research that Neilsons Market Research did and what that means for children's book sales over the next year. An interesting read.

Steven Zacharius did a piece for Huff Post Books about the long gone book store. He found it really interesting that his grand daughter had never been into a small independent book store. What are you thoughts? Are book stores a dying breed?

Rachel Thompsom, an author herself, wrote a piece for Huff Post Books on the dark side of selling books. She talks of the frustration of trying to sell your books but only finding other authors to sell to - her conclusion: 'If you want to connect with readers, you need to search for and follow readers. This isn't rocket science.'

 Huff Post - again - have a piece on the 18 Things Highly Creative People Do Differently. I love this, gives me permission as a writer - and a Mama - to think differently because that is what I am good at! :D

Stephen Kings Top 20 Rules for Writers posted by Lauren Passell on B&N's site. There is some really great advice for writers here, but I love rule number 20: 'Writing is about getting happy.' 

Monday, March 10, 2014

The week that was March 11th

Wahooo! What a successful week we've had here at Findlay Books. No I didn't win any amazing giveaways, no I didn't sell a million books, and no I haven't won any glorified contests... I have finished my first chapter book! Haha, I know, I know - amazing right?!

See what you don't get is that I have begun quite a few novels, and have a bunch of them in plot structure form - completely complete, just not actually written, or finished for that matter. So today I can finally announce that I am indeed an author, if you don't count the gorgeous kids books that I've written for two years running... or the romance I wrote as a tween, or the poetry I wrote in English classes as a child...

An author aye?! How about that! Feels good to have finally finished something. I might have to point out here that the book I wrote was structured by someone else, is only 29 A4 pages long and about 10,000 word, but I did it! I finally wrote the first in a series of kids chapter books that are fairy tales re-told as steampunk tales. Oh I am so excited, I can't wait to write the rest!

So what next? Apart from writing another plot outline for Snow White and Beauty and the Beast, I now have to get quotes from editors, find an illustrator or at least a cover artist, forward it to my beta readers then get the whole thing complete. Hopefully we can get this baby off the ground, ebook published and in print by the end of April.

By the way, we've had to cancel the Writing and Illustrating for Children Workshop. Sorry for the inconvience this may cause. If you have any questions, please let us know.

It has been a great week! Thanks for reading.

~ Joy

Monday, March 3, 2014

Week that was 4th March

This week has been very, VERY busy. My other day job - no not the Mama day job - was super busy this last week and we had a lovely wedding on Friday - the day before our first workshop for the year. I really do need to plan my workshop weeks much better than I currently do!

Self-Publishing Workshop - what a blast! We had a smaller workshop this time with only 12 people attending, but I am super grateful for that because last November we taught 59 people and that was just too many people to teach all at once!

There were people from all over the city at the workshop - and two ladies came all the way from Kaitaia of all places - what a mission! Well done ladies for the huge commitment!

This week I am taking things easy - and, althrough I've run out of Findlay Books business days, I do plan on writing a few more chapters of my next middle grade book. In between school pick-ups, homework, sick kids, and cooking meals, that should be a sinch... yeah right!

Have a fantastic week everyone!


PS: Found these in a bookshop recently - what a crack up!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Weekly Links March 3rd.

Hey, welcome to our first ever weekly links - the post all about the interesting posts from other pages that I've come across that have a lot to do with self-publishing, ebooks and publishing in general or just something that I thought was funny and needed to share with you all!

I've come across some great posts online in the last few weeks. Here are the highlights:

Publishers Weekly have a great little overview on what every indie author needs to know about ebooks:

Kids Writers have a great post on publishing terms for those who are totally new to the industry *hand-goes-up*. Titled 'Publishing Terms All Writers and Self-Publishers Should Know', it is a great resource. You can find this - and more - on their website here:

Lift Education has taken over Learning Media's contracts in NZ and are now running the School Journal and all the other early reading materials for education. They have submission guidelines available for already published authors and an annual new writers competition where the winner is automatically published, but the may also publish other works by entrants of the competion and will pay competitive rates for your work. Worth reading more here:

I've been learning about writing for middle grade at the moment - that is the intermediate school age group for us Kiwi's - and I've enjoyed this article by The Working Writer's Club. This is actually a one month workshop that they offer to teach you the how-to, but I found the information in each session a great guideline for the structure of writing short chapter books for kids. Check it out here:

Sue Copsey has her book 'The Ghosts of Young Nick's Head' is going free on Smashwords using this code [ RW100 ] at the checkout, and she is asking that if you download her ebook that you please give it a review. You can find out more about Sue and her book here on:

And lastly, Dr Seuss had his birthday yesterday - or today if you live north of nowhere - and Huffington Post did a post on 'Here's What Dr. Seuss Can Teach Every Adult About Life' - worth a read: