Fresh from the mailbox courtesy of CreateSpace.
I am quite pleased with the design for the new cover of the second edition of my book. Is it perfect? It's close. It sets the right tone for the audience of my book. Remember that this is non-fiction reference. Lots of school listings, general information about online high schools, and some about how to choose an online high school. Also, this cover fits in nicely with what other books in my field look like.
I had it designed at eLance. I have had good luck with the designers there and the price, $55, was certainly reasonable. In addition to this front cover graphic, I had it designed in CreateSpace format, Lightning Source format, and e-book format.
Importantly, if you are going to use someone else, be sure that you are capable of going back and forth to get it just right. We did a lot of that; that's the expectation. Don't assume that a designer will get it right the first time.
I do know that there are people out there who design their own covers. Mostly, I'm not a fan. A few are quite good at it, but most are not. Could I have done the cover to the right? Let's just say my skill set goes in a different direction.
Notice, by the way, the logo that is included on the front cover for my Best Online High Schools website. Books and websites should be synergistic; feeding off of each other.
My philosophy has always been to work toward my strengths. This is why I don't ship books; I let Lightning Source and now CreateSpace do that sort of thing for me. I don't do things where my skills are lacking and I don't do things that are so time-intensive that they take away from the importance of writing and selling books.
When last I posted here, I assumed that I was within a very short amount of time of finishing both the text and the database (from which to insert the school listings). Alas, it was not to be.
So where do things stand now?
A week ago, I finished the text in totality. A day after that, I finished the database. I then exported from the database (an MS Access db, if you are interested).
After some editing, I now have a complete book.
I have been considering next steps while I am waiting for the cover to be designed. As usual, I am using eLance to design the cover. My next post will be about the cover and the design.
Really, one of the more important locations is Barnes & Noble's website and I can get that done in either place. The difference? If I go through Lightning Source, B&N will likely discount the book on its website which means that Amazon will as well. If I go through CreateSpace (which is owned by Amazon) and get listed on B&N, it's unlikely that Amazon will ever reduce the price. That reduced price is key to sales.
So I may just do both.
Yes, I know that it sounds rather odd to think about an app when you talk about writing or publishing, but I can tell you that this app has changed the way that I do all of this.
What is it?
It's DropBox. What does DropBox do? It allows you to sync information across devices. So, for example, I am currently working on a book that makes great use of a database. In my DropBox folder, I have deposited both the front matter (the text) and the database. I have DropBox loaded on my iPad 2, on my netbook, on my Android phone, on my computer at home, and on my computer at the office.
From any of those devices, I can access my files for the book. Any changes I make on any of those devices syncs out to all of them as soon as I log on to that particular device.
In addition, it's an easy way to create a back-up. Once you have dropped your files into the DropBox folder, those files actually live in the cloud.
One thing to remember, though, is that when you are working on your book, make sure you are using the version in the DropBox. It does not sync to your desktop. You want to make sure that you are using the most-up-date version.
Things continue to move forward. I received confirmation today from Lightning Source that my book will shortly no longer be available. It is my understanding that they have to wait until there are no orders to be filled and then they shut it down.
It seems odd that for a very short period of time I will have no books for sale anywhere. My three Ten Speed Press books are no longer available on Amazon except from outside sellers. At one point, I had four books all selling on Amazon and in bookstores. And then there were none.
Which is fine. By the summer, I will have at least five books and/or related products for sale on Amazon and elsewhere. That works for me.
I got the database back today. It is in even better condition than I would have hoped. It will be very helpful moving forward. That being said, I will be spending much of the next three days doing little else besides working with it. While all of the listings are in there and much of the additional text, I now must look at each of the close to 300 records and make adjustments where necessary. Some of those adjustments are editorial in nature and some are technological in nature.
I am excited about how this is all coming together!
As I noted yesterday, the second edition of Complete Guide to Online High Schools will be available within the next couple of weeks. This availability will include both the print and digital versions.
So what am I doing now?
Yesterday I sent an email to my rep at Lightning Source letting her know to suspend availability of the first edition. I don't want any further print copies sold now because I would prefer that people buy the new version. It will be better and more inclusive of the number of available schools now.
Part of the reason for closing down Lightning Source early is that there are sellers on Amazon still selling my book (although you will note that it is no longer available from Amazon). Where do they get the book from? From Lightning Source, for the most part. Some copies are used. I want that stopped because it is now all about sales for the second edition.
I also went to Payloadz.com to suspend sales of the digital version of my book. Truth be told, the second edition will never make its way there. It will start on Amazon in Kindle form and then, in a few months, I will push it out for sales elsewhere.* The world has changed a great deal since I began using Payloadz. To my thinking, there are now better ways to do digital. More on that later.
No turning back now.
I am within just a few days of publishing the second edition of my Complete Guide to Online High Schools book. The first came out in 2007 and the theory was that it would not take this long to come out with a second edition. And then life intervened.
I have mentioned more than once on this blog that the new book would be out soon. Now we are so very close to that point. The text is done. I am just waiting on a few minor changes to the database, so that I can drop the school listings in.
That new database is key. The changes will allow me to export the information in many different ways. Those different ways correlate directly to specific print and digital versions of not only this book, but a number of others. As I have said before, one product does not a publishing empire make.
In the case of what I publish, it makes perfect sense to have multiple products. What I needed was a way to create the school listings easily and quickly for those multiple products. Today I saw Version 1 of the new database. By tomorrow, Version 2 will be done and it will be ready to use.
Over the next several weeks, I will be giving you a regular look into the choices I have made with this book that are so very different than what I did the last time around.
I am not a big fan of writing for free. You certainly see many opportunities out there for you to do so. These nice folks are going to "help" you build up writing credits by writing for free. Usually, this is not a great idea. Beter to spend your time writing things that will sell.
That being said, I just wrote an article for free. Why did I do it? Simple. The website asked me to write an article and so I did. However, first I checked to see the site's Alexa and Google ranks. This is a big-time site.
You can see my article, How to Choose an Online High School, by going over to the About.com site. About.com is owned by the New York Times. As part of the deal, I get a bio page where I can set up inbound links to my online high schools website.
Those inbound links are anchor text (like you see above in those hyperlinks). That is exactly what you want if you are hoping to increase your page rank. Page rank means more money.
I guess what I am saying is that, if opportunity comes knocking, you may want to consider the ramifications.
So I am not done with the database, but I did get an amazing amount of work done. It should be done by the end of the week and that works for this project. Considering that there are hundreds of listings with quite a bit of information on each, this is a time-consuming project.
One of the things that I discovered was that I need to get some work done to the database. I have a couple of ways that I would like the data to export that it is not now capable of doing. That's the sort of work that I can get done cheaply on eLance.
I am spending this long weekend working on the ever-elusive database. The rest of the book is done. However, the challenge with the database is:
1. Making sure that I have all of the schools that I can find and that are a good fit; and
2. Creating the text that goes with each listing. The listing information (address, telephone number, etc.) is relatively simple, but I do need to have a couple of sentences for the listing as well.
But this weekend I am ploughing ahead. I will let you know Sunday evening how it all went.