My Babelcube Experience (part 3) Translated Paperbacks with CreateSpace

Babelcube CreateSpace paperbackThe plan for part 3 on Babelcube was scheduled for sales, but translated paperbacks just became an option deserving a look. It’s a logical step since Draft2Digital is their main distributor. D2D has included the choice of a CreateSpace paperback on top of ebooks to retailers. It also makes sense because ebooks aren’t mainstream in many nations, so having a translated print version might be wise. Sales will be pushed to part 4 while we talk paper now. (also see Part 1 and Part 2 on Babelcube experience)

Using the automated system, making a paperback with CreateSpace via Babelcube is an absolutely bare bones experience, nothing like making one directly through CreateSpace yourself. The current system has a long way to go if it wants to produce quality looking paperbacks, but there is some good news which we’ll get to.

(Save 92% Format MS Word for CreateSpace)

The problem with the automated system is because Babelcube and D2D simply upload the ebook version formatted for print with a program that is below reasonable expectations, so the opening page of the print book is likely to be a Table of Contents and it continues downhill from there. Page 2 of my TOC was numbered with the author name in the header as you can see in the photo below.

Babelube CreateSpace translations

Their system makes choices for trim size, font, layout, you name it, not allowing for personal preferences. Here’s another example below where the conversion process oddly assigned a page break after a first line that translates to Part 2, then was followed by a couple paragraph returns, then the chapter title and then the chapter text, which are obviously missing.

Babelube CreateSpace translations 2

That page should have looked like the one below, which is from my formatting.

Babelube CreateSpace translations 3

However, the good news is you can supply and upload your own PDF interior and cover files, which is clearly the way to do this. You will need to be familiar with formatting interiors and covers with CreateSpace beforehand because you won’t have access to the CS digital previewer through Babelcube.

My advice is to first create the book yourself at CreateSpace, even as a mock draft, so you can use the digital previewer and order a physical proof if you want. You won’t be legally allowed to publish it that way since it would be against Babelcube’s terms of service. But at least you’ll feel confident once you do submit those interior and cover files to Babelcube, which will hand them off to D2D which will hand them off to CreateSpace which will publish them into paperbacks and place them on Amazon. As soon as it’s available, order a copy and double-check it matches your original.

What do you think, is this worth the effort especially without being able to use the CS previewer? For the right author and the right book, perhaps. Please share any comments.


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CreateSpace Digital Proof Streamlined

Love what CreateSpace has done for the digital proofs of books. Gone are the days of waiting on snail-mail to see what a book will look like pre-publication (although that can still works wonders for editing, etc). Now you can get a feel for everything online thanks to the new design. Here’s a video showing the digital proof process in real time.

What are your thoughts?


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New Enable Distribution with Amazon Europe for CreateSpace Books

CreateSpace has just added a new distribution option for paper books: Amazon Europe. If you already have POD versions of your books for paperbacks and/or hardcover with CreateSpace, you’ll want to check this distribution option through your CS dashboard.



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CreateSpace Offers Proof Skips for Limited Time

CreateSpace by Amazon logoFor a limited time, now until May 27, 2011, CreateSpace is offering experienced authors the option to skip the proofing process and just upload live POD books which can be purchased by the public so long as they pass initial inspection. If you’ve been waiting to update your Print On Demand paperbacks with them, now’s the best time. From their announcement;

As an experienced CreateSpace author, we need your help. In our continual effort to improve the book setup process, we want you to try a new option in your account. When you upload files from now through May 27, you can choose to order a book proof or skip the proofing process altogether.

As part of this limited trial we’ll ask you to complete a survey about your experience. Your feedback is important, and it will help us decide if we should keep this option and invite more authors to try it out.

We look forward to hearing what you think!

Warm Regards,
CreateSpace  

What does this really mean? Okay, normally when an author makes a paperback book with the free, no assistance beyond the forums, do-it-yourself style of CreateSpace, Amazon’s POD (print on demand) publishing company, there are few steps to the process. Steps 1 and 2 are uploading proper formatted interior and cover files in pdf format. Step 3 is submitting those formatted files for review. If your files pass inspection, step 4 is normally ordering a proof copy. The proof copy gets physically made as a paperback and mailed to the author at cost including shipping, which typically runs around $10. Step 5 is either approving the proof copy (which means you like it and want it on sale now) or disapproving it and starting the whole process again with corrected files. (The first couple of times I did this, it was a real chore! Now it’s very familiar and much easier.)

In essence, CreateSpace is saying, “we trust our experienced authors to know if they’ve done the process correctly and would like to avoid the $10 and the week of waiting.” It probably came about from the veterans getting tired of going through the whole process every few months when they fixed a few typos pointed out by readers.

Sounds like a good deal to me and I hope it lasts, especially after having done 5 titles with CreateSpace (plus updates or fixing typos) and feeling comfortable with the method. I happen to LOVE this company and am very happy with their set-up, finished product, customer service, pricing, royalties, checks directly deposited to my bank account, everything. They’ve really perfected the art of self-publishing paperbacks at no cost for do-it-yourselfers like me. Highly recommended, even in my book on making and selling ebooks.

For a less experienced author, it’s probably still wise to order a proof copy and make sure you’re happy with it. Can’t wait one week and shell out $10? Better that than having a book with mistakes go out and sell a dozen copies before you realize it.

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How to Get Reviews for Your Ebooks and Paperbacks?

how to get book reviewsReviews are (in my opinion) far more important than covers. Most people read books that were referred to them. When first starting out, it can be quite a task to accumulate reviews of your book. In fact, one of my recent titles has been out for a few months with decent sales, and it currently hasn’t received even one posted review. Yikes! Great thing that it’s selling, but I sure would love to see some reviews for it.

Part of the reason is that I haven’t been overly active seeking reviews. This may be a lazy and stupid effort on my part; we’ll see in time. However, you may want to make a real effort to generate reviews, and this is often easier said than done. Here are suggestions for getting the reviews ball rolling:

1. Ask friends and family to read and write one (friends are better choice than family, and beware of family with the same last name). It’s likely some of these people have already read your book and would be happy to continue helping. Caution them not to write overly sweet and gushing reviews that might be met with skepticism from other readers. Nothing annoys an unhappy customer more than finding out a pack of misleading reviews were left by zealous friends and family. Ask them to be candid and encourage them to list items they didn’t particular enjoy to keep it realistic, not like one big pat on the back.

2. Ask members of forums to write a review. Offer a free book in exchange or offer to give a review for another author as a fair trade. Amazon Kindle discussion groups do this frequently as well as forums like http://indiespot.myfreeforum.org/. It’s easy to meet people at Goodreads and make offers like this to avid readers of any genre.

3. Dan Poynter of ParaPublishing has a newsletter with a monthly reviews wanted section. It’s how I got many reviews that ended up on my website for How to Make, Market and Sell Ebooks All for Free. Just sign up for the free newsletter and follow the submission advice at http://parapublishing.com/sites/para/.

4. There are plenty of people who can be found with a Google and forum search. Some charge money, some don’t. Many have a long waiting list while others might be available right away. Because this field is constantly in flux, you’ll need to do some searching. A member of Red Adept’s staff at http://redadeptreviews.com/ did a review of The Little Universe, but I had to apply for it and the posting came out 6 months later. (That site no longer exists, an example of how quickly this industry changes.)

5. Make a mention to readers at the end of your book that it would be greatly appreciated if they would be so kind as to leave an honest review. Let people know it’s okay to include elements they didn’t like as well as those they did. In fact, I encourage readers to do the same for my books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble or anywhere else for either the ebook or paperback versions. And if you didn’t like it, that’s okay too. I am sorry if that’s the case, but not everyone will like the same book.

6. This post was referred to me on this subject and has a list of new places that are continually looking for books to review – https://sites.google.com/site/articlemarketplace/blog/ebooks/5-book-review-sites-for-self-published-ebooks (that site no longer exists either, but plenty of new ones do).

Now comes the scary part. What if a lot of readers have complaints or simply don’t like it? Maybe they mention poor formatting, errors with grammar and typos, or that the story just didn’t work for them. Unfortunately, it’s happened to me plenty of times. I can report with good conscience that not everyone likes my books and that’s okay. This will possibly be the case for you too.

However, there is a beautiful thing about ebooks that’s not true with paperbacks (depending on the printer). Ebooks can be regularly edited and updated. If a dozen typos are discovered by readers (or you), then those can be fixed and updated immediately. Amazon usually takes about 2 days to publish a newer version, Smashwords sometimes a week or more, and these updates can happen as many times as you want.

Content of the story and other narrative issues can be harder to work out. For authors who sense that the book simply needs to be better, it will probably be wise to join some writing critique groups and work on improvements. I mentioned earlier a few forums for writers which is a good place to start, and there are plenty more with a Google search for “writing critique groups.”

http://indiespot.myfreeforum.org/ – a place for readers and authors to connect.
http://www.goodreads.com/ – all about books.
http://redroom.com/ – where the writers are.
http://www.authonomy.com/ – where writers become authors and more.

What are your thoughts?


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