Barnes & Noble PubIt Changes to Nook Press, Too Late?

Nook Press logoPubIt is now Nook Press. Smart move for Barnes & Noble, or is it too little too late? Amid speculation that the Nook ship is sinking, or at least taking on water fast, this move to enhance the self-publishing indie author platform feels like a last ditch effort. My opinion: I hope it works but should have been done long ago. Here’s the email they just released (note some cool new features and some serious concerns below):

Dear Publisher,

Over the past two and a half years, our working partnership has made PubIt! a resounding success. Because of PubIt! publishers like you, we’ve been able to offer millions of NOOK® customers exciting new content from independent authors.

Our success is your success, and we’ve been working hard to bring you a platform that takes our partnership—and self-publishing—to the next level. Today, we’re pleased to introduce to you NOOK Press, our new and improved self-publishing platform!

NOOK Press is self-publishing made simple. With the NOOK Press platform you can write, edit, collaborate, publish and sell your eBooks all in one place—at no cost.

The NOOK Press platform features these exciting new tools and services:

  • NEW! One-stop Publishing Solution: Write, edit, format and publish your eBooks in our web-based platform, instantly reaching millions of NOOK customers within 72 hours.
  • NEW! Easy ePub Creation and Editing: Upload your manuscript file and make changes directly in NOOK Press. Editing and previewing in one session saves you time and effort.
  • NEW! Integrated Collaboration: Collaborate with editors, copyeditors, and friends, allowing them to review and comment on your manuscript without ever leaving NOOK Press.
  • Visual Sales Reporting: Our new visually-enhanced sales report makes tracking your sales progress even easier.
  • NEW! Instant Chat: Live Chat customer service is now available to quickly answer your questions Monday through Friday between 9am-9pm EST.
  • Pathway to Passionate Readers Everywhere: Publish once and reach millions of customers using NOOK and NOOK Reading Apps in the US and UK and more coming soon.
  • Same Great Terms: Our favorable PubIt! business terms and commitment to a transparent retail partnership remain unchanged.

NOOK Press Presents
Our booksellers are currently hand-selecting titles for a new merchandising program: NOOK Press Presents — Our Top 100 Picks for Summer. NOOK Press Presents will be an ongoing merchandising channel for independently published content that comes to NOOK through NOOK Press.

Once you moved your existing PubIt! account to NOOK Press your titles will be considered for this program, which will promote books across the NOOK ecosystem.

Get started with NOOK Press today! Click here to be guided through a quick, one-time account syncing process. Once completed your PubIt! account, sales, payment, and title information will automatically appear in NOOK Press. To find out more about the changeover to NOOK Press, see our support page here.

We’re excited to turn the page together on a new chapter in self-publishing!

The NOOK Press Team

Like many indNook Press my titlesie authors, I’m really wanting this to work. We need more avenues for sales than just Amazon and the smattering of others including Smashwords, Apple, Kobo, etc. If you’re already selling there, switching a PubIt account to Nook Press is simple. This was my screenshot after doing so, and it asks which titles you want to offer for sale–then viola, it’s done.

The sales and payments page is also better, with all the information on one page and a graph of sales. You can also create a profile now (yeah!), something that was seriously lacking before. All information for payments automatically switches from the PubIt account, so no worries to reinsert bank account info, addresses, etc. It’s really simple. The ability to work on their site, collaborate with editors, friends, cover designers sounds intriguing–will have to report back on that.

Now for the serious concerns. Once an ebook is listed for sale, changes can’t be made without dumping the existing project and losing the reviews, ranking, etc: NOOK Book Details can be changed after you put your Project On Sale as a NOOK Book, but at this time, the NOOK Book itself cannot be updated or replaced. To update or replace a NOOK Book that is currently On Sale, you would need to take the Project Off Sale, download the ePub from the Project page, create a new Project, upload the downloaded ePub or create a new Manuscript in that Project, and then put that new Project On Sale as a NOOK Book.

Once you click Put On Sale, there will be a period of time of approximately 24-72 hours before your Project goes On Sale as a NOOK Book. During this interim period, you will be unable to edit your NOOK Book Details. Once your Project is On Sale as a NOOK Book, you will be able to edit the NOOK Book Details again. If you choose to change or update your NOOK Book’s title, please note that the NOOK Book will lose any existing customer reviews, sales ranking, star ratings, and links to other products with the previous title. The only NOOK Book Details you cannot change after your Project goes on sale as a NOOK Book is whether your NOOK Book is encrypted with DRM.

This makes me moderately happy. Like other indies, we all just want to sell ebooks. Back on the Nook bandwagon? Perhaps.

What are your thoughts?

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Big Tease from Nook Pubit Barnes & Noble

pubit nook Barnes & NobleJust when the thought of life getting more suspenseful seemed impossible, Barnes & Noble sent me this email:

Dear PubIt! Publisher,

We’ve got some exciting news on the horizon, and as an integral part of our self-publishing community, we want you to be the first to know! Stay tuned for an upcoming announcement on our next chapter in self-publishing. We appreciate your partnership and look forward to an even stronger relationship in the future.

The PubIt! Team

Any guesses what it could be? I’m scratching my head–I’ve literally got nothing.

Let’s just say sleep is going to be challenging until the announcement comes. Hopefully the news is that Barnes & Noble is really going to embrace and promote indie authors in a method similar to Amazon. Because that would be exciting.

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Barnes & Noble Nookboards Forum

Most Indie authors sell ebooks at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, as well as the other major retailers like Apple, Sony and Kobo. What’s noteworthy, one venue will often result in far better sales than the other. Why? Not sure, but many authors talk about this discrepancy and it’s true for my books; they do far better at Amazon. For example, How to Make, Market and Sell Ebooks All for Free sold over 60 times as many copies in July of 2011 at Amazon than it did at Barnes & Noble. It’s also currently gathered 49 reviews at Amazon and only 1 at Barnes & Noble. Other authors have just the opposite results: far more sales at B & N. Again it’s easy to ask, why?

Perhaps the book sales get rolling at one venue and snowballs from there. Readers buy it, share it with others and write reviews while browsers see higher sales ranking/reviews to feel more secure in a purchase. And thus the cycle begins. This is just a theory. The main problem with it is that readers tend to talk about good books with others who own all kinds of devices.

barnes & noble nookboardsAnother idea that comes to mind are the forums. Both venues have dedicated meeting grounds for readers and authors. Amazon has dozens, including the main Kindle Forum and the Meet Our Authors, designed for Indie promotion. Barnes & Noble has the umbrella name of Nookboards and many sub-forums within, which (in my opinion) is less familiar to most authors but fast becoming an important one to know.

How can forums help?

Many independent writers spend a fair amount of time using social media to network, promote and simply get the word out. This includes forums, especially Amazon Kindle forums, since Amazon currently sells more ebooks than any other retailer and since there are typically many readers frequenting it. But to sell ebooks successfully, an author should make use of every means possible. As my example shows, it’s not enough to just have a book listed at Barnes & Noble. To really get the sales ball rolling, some forum presence is probably required, which will also spread my time in cyberspace a bit thinner.

A few years ago it seemed like B & N was completely lagging in the ebook arena and with Indie authors. (The latter may still be true.) Because B & N has done such a great job improving the Nook with color and touch screen abilities, sales have recently skyrocketed. Now might be the best time ever to get acquainted with Nookboards. 

So what are the big differences and how can one make the most of Barnes & Noble forums?

At first glance the Kindle forum seems easier to navigate as the most current discussions constantly “bump” themselves to the top. Although there’s a common complaint: not having a handy list of all possible forums or feeling like you’re stumbling around in the dark while attempting to find the Politics forum, for example. It is nice that Nookboards labels most discussions by topic, where people can choose categories like what they’re reading, Nook accessories, or contests and freebies as opposed to the way Kindle forums handles this by basically lumping all of that into one main forum with subcategories for genre preferences.

barnes & noble nookboardsThere seems to be approximately 17 different forum thread topics. Most of these just have a few new posts each day. For example, the Author Nook thread is the place for Nook authors to talk about and promote their ebooks. Granted, the number of participants is far fewer than at Amazon. This Nook thread had 7 posts so far for the day when checked at 10am PST. The comparable thread at Amazon, the Meet Our Authors forum, had 75 posts by the same time.

The differences between Amazon Kindle forum and Barnes & Noble Nookboards are large to put it mildly. When checking the stats at Nookboards today on the Who’s Online page, it mentioned 477 guests and 27 active (registered) users in the past 123 minutes. (Yes, 123 minutes seems like an odd amount to keep stats for.)

On the other hand at Amazon Kindle forums, while it doesn’t report stats, during the same 2 hour period there were well over 200 topics either posted or replied to, with many of these topics involving a dozen or more participants. This is a rough guess, but it appears the Kindle forums have around five to ten times the number of users, which explains why Indie authors probably prefer it. But due to recent Nook sales, Nookboards might be getting ripe to establish an author presence.

Some cool things you can do at Nookboards but not at Kindle forums:

  • You can embed files and upload avatars, even animated avatars (cool).
  • You can also embed photos and videos to forum posts. (Due to these extras, Nookboard administrators must be more active checking in with potential abuses.)
  • You can choose not to see other people’s animated avatars and signatures. (Amazon has an ignore button, but it’s hardly the same thing.)
  • You can add active hyperlinks to posts.

My experience on Nookboards is extremely limited, would love to hear any comments from regulars. The main point is this; if your ebook sales are much slower at Barnes & Noble than Amazon, you might want to get more active with Nookboards, getting to know the people who buy from B & N and read on their devices.

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Sell Ebooks on Amazon or Barnes & Noble, Formatting for Kindle or Nook

Amazon Kindle 3For Indie authors who sell ebooks on Amazon Kindle, the place the go is For self-publishing at Barnes & Noble on the Nook, it’s Pubit. Because Amazon and Barnes & Noble are the best e-publishing retailers for my books, it’s important to look good on each e-reading device. Not surprisingly, the upload process is primarily the same but there are a few important differences. Do not upload the exact same document to each book seller. Read this first.

Most indie authors work with Microsoft Word (.doc), and it’s my opinion this is the simplest way to upload for selling ebooks. If you work with MS Word (or many similar substitutes like Open Office), this advice will help format a version of your ebook for both Kindle and Nook.

Barnes&Noble Nook colorManual page breaks in MS Word documents work great on Kindle for creating new chapters (or for new pages during the title area, copyright and disclaimers, Table of Contents, etc). Manual page breaks will start a new Kindle screen and give the look of a new chapter beginning. For some reason, they don’t work the same when uploading to Pubit. For the Barnes & Noble Nook version of the same document, change all of the manual page breaks to section breaks. Unfortunately this needs to be done one at a time, since Microsoft Word doesn’t have a global replace feature for section breaks like it does for manual page breaks. If anyone has a solution for this, I’d love to hear it.

The other main difference is the size of the images. For some reason unknown to me, the same image (e.g. 3″ wide by 3″ high) will come out dramatically different on the Kindle screen as it will on the Nook. On Kindle, it will be huge, taking up nearly the entire width of the screen. On the Nook, it will be fairly small. Why? I have no idea, but because this happens to my documents in the Preview mode it’s something to take note of.

Preview mode? Yes, thankfully there’s a preview feature when uploading ebooks to both Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble Nook, so you can see what your document will look like on both devices before e-publishing. Whew, at least they don’t leave us in the dark.

My recommendation is to spend plenty of time with the preview feature at each ebook retailer. Double-check the Preview, which is how it should look on the device to a purchaser, page by page to make sure the formatting looks good, the new chapters start on a new screen as they should, and images are the proper size.

(An oddity in the Preview mode for the Nook is that it only advances one page at a time. For the Kindle you can zoom ahead to any location, which is quite handy for checking the final pages like the About the Author section. I really wish Pubit would add this feature for the Nook’s Preview.)

Another small difference is that the size of the cover you can upload to Barnes & Noble’s Nook is limited. The site says, “Please make sure that your cover image is a JPG file between 5KB and 2MB. The sides must be between 750 pixels and 2000 pixels in length.” It’s not that big of a deal, but you may have to play around with some programs to adjust your cover image as I had to. This doesn’t seem to be a problem at Amazon, although it makes sense that there must be some limits there as well, though it hasn’t affected my covers yet.

Any other things to take notice of between the two ebook retailers? Just leave a comment.

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Typos in Amazon Kindle Ebooks!

Typos in Amazon Kindle EbooksJust read an old favorite on Amazon Kindle, Dan Millman’s WAY OF THE PEACEFUL WARRIOR: A Book That Changes Lives.

What a great book to re-visit, but holy cow, there were a ton of typos. We’re not talking a few but dozens and dozens of glaring ones. How can a former international bestseller, a professionally agented, edited and published book have so many typos? Mind-scratcher.

For all the indie author self-publishers out there, this is the number one complaint from Kindle readers: typos. And it’s clearly not limited to the small guys. Big publishers also make mistakes or have conversion issues from print to electronic document, so don’t fall into the same traps.

What to do? It’s really hard to see them all yourself especially on the computer screen. For some reason, it’s much easier to see them in print or in someone else’s work. Even English majors can read the same paragraph over and over and miss their own glaring typos, so if a professional editor isn’t in the budget you must have at least a half-dozen people (hopefully brutally honest strangers from solid critique groups) read your manuscript. If any of the readers are friends and family, let them know they will only be doing you a favor by pointing out anything and everything they find, even if they don’t like certain parts or the book in general. Writers need thick skin to make books better. Get rid of the typos (and other issues) so yours will be way ahead of the average indie book.

  • Use spell check, even if it means spending a whole day going through the manuscript and ignoring things like fragmented sentences spell check so annoyingly points out. (Can that be turned off?) It’s incredible that some indie authors don’t pay attention to basic spell check.
  • Get involved with good critique groups like at Goodreads, RedRoom, Authonomy, Yahoo Critique groups or elsewhere. Savvy readers can typically identify problems in the first chapters that are likely to be repeating patterns throughout your book. Fix the problems early on and apply the lessons from there.
  • Hire a pro-editor if you can. It’s amazing what a good one can do. The forums listed above are good places to ask around. Get recommendations from other writers too.

Once you do finally upload to Amazon Kindle or Barnes & Noble Nook, remember that there is a Preview option to see what it looks like before publication. Might as well read at least ten pages checking for any typos or odd conversion glitches. If you don’t find any after ten pages, chances are you won’t have dozens of them the rest of the way.

Your thoughts or comments?

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