Tag Archives: self publishing

23/09/2017 – #SelfPublishMe workshop + dialogue on self-publishing books in South Africa #SBIncubator

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poster - Self Publish Me - Bula Buka - 23 Septermber 2017

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Frequently Asked Self Publishing Questions

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Bula Buka is an international publishing services provider based in South Africa. We service and provide relieve to authors, publishing houses and various entities around the world with the following services:  eBook conversion and distribution to premium online bookstores (Amazon, Apple iBookstore, Kobo, Barneys & Noble and others), editing, cover design,  marketing, book layout design, printing and varied consultations.

Which bookstores can sell on my book on? Which book stores do you distribute to?

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Publishing a Book in South Africa

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By Tiisetso Maloma

I heard a rumour that traditional publishers take something to a year before they publish a book if not more (I’m not sure), rumours are seldom detailed.

Anyway, I went the self publishing route because I’m almost a born free (I missed it by a few great notches), this technology makes us impatient. It took Amazon about 12 hours each to review and publish my book on paperback and on Kindle (Amazon’s popular ebook reader).

1.     Introduction: South Africa

South Africa and the rest of the African continent are slow players in the ebook industry. This maybe due to that we are a developing continent, internet infiltration is low (not for long) and it is beyond the majority’s affording-base. Though some online retailers like www.kalahari.net, www.exclus1ves.co.za and www.littlewhitebakkie.co.za have taken it on.

But given the quick and mammoth penetration of smart devices (smart phones and tablets), ebooks in SA will soon make (almost) TD Jakes kind of publishing money. 50 Shades Of Grey what?

www.littlewhitebakkie.co.za? Why such a name, it jumps the shark a bit, your shock-sharks go on a pause just from hearing it. It kind of sounds like it’s owned by an Afrikaner, but then Afrikaners do not like little bakkies. Kool name nonetheless.

2.     Fascination or should be fascination with ebooks.

Fortunately or unfortunately, ebooks operate different from traditional analogue (hard copies) books. The reader is in control of the ebook’s font and font size (therefore page numbers are irrelevant), allowing the reader to adjust per his comfort.

Business and entrepreneurship thrive on adding efficiency to the consumer. It doesn’t matter if authors or publishers do not like ebooks, it’s about the consumer, they buy what they like and how they like it. The consumer is ever ready to pay money for efficiency. Give them better ways of buying what they like and they will adopt (progress). Give better ways of consuming what they like, they will pay and therefore adopt.

Going where there money is includes following innovation. Or else be the innovator, and then the money will follow you.

eBooks are usually cheaper than hard copy books and it’s a phenomenon that keeps improving. Hooray to cheaper books.

3.     Facts for your lungs

I’m not a big fan of presenting and analysing stats; progress and innovation are not dictated by stats. But the stats below will give motivation as to where the world is going, in relation to the internet and electronic-books.

I’m happy that I’m not the one researching any stats.

  • In 2010 (PASA – Annual Book Publishing Industry Survey Report 2010), South African estimated annual total book industry income values by industry-sub-sector where R3 444 098 000 (this is a billion). eBooks per the report were 0.00%
  • But in 2012, I’m told ebooks amount to 1.5% of the total book industry income turnover. Probably the income in 2012 has reduced, nonetheless, 1.5% of R344 098 000 is R51 661 470. So surely ebooks account for over R40 million of the book industry income turnover in 2012.
  • As bigger screen smart phones like Samsung, Nokia, HTC, Huewei and iPhone infiltrate the market, ebook reading will populate.
  • In 2010, South Africa’s internet use population was 16%.
  • In 2011 it grew by 25% (says Wide Worx).
  • We grew from 6.8 million to 8.5, that’s a whooping 1.7 million.
  • The estimation was that by the end of last year (2012), we would have crossed the 10 million mark.
  • Internet penetration is over 20% of SA’s population.
  •  To come think about it, Blackberry’s BIS innovation has done Africans good.
  • The undersea internet cable to SA processed 2.69 terabits per second by end 2011. The estimation in 2012 was that it would jump to 11.9 Tbps by the end of 2012 and would double end of 2013. This means more and more South Africans are spending more time on the net (Wide Worx).
  • Although cellphone networks try to stay expensive, competition, economics and globalisation are forcing them to our advantage (reducing prices).
  • Apple has sold over 205 000 tablets to South Africans since the devices were launched in 2010 April. Not good for doctors, but I see Apple users overdoing this one Apple a day thing, or lets hope too much of something doesn’t make one an obsessed addict. But Steve Jobs keeps them coming.
  • Steve’s bank, FNB, has sold over 35 000 devices.
  • Apparently Samsung sells around 20 000 Galaxy tablets per month in SA.
  • Well Samsung makes big phones (big enough for proper ebook reading); they are now the world’s biggest smart phone sellers in the whole entire world.
  • Samsung makes use of Android technology, which holds 72.4% of total smart phones sold (122 million devices), followed Apple iOS at 13.9 percent. Kindle has an app for all these systems.
  • Disclaimer: At any point, in no way was I wearing the stats SA yellow mascot costume/suit, made famous by Statistician General Pali Lehohla.
  • 7,9-million South Africans access the Internet on their cell phones. 2.48 million access it only on cellphones. The remaining 6.02 million access it through computers, laptops, and tablets. However, 90% of the 6.02 million also access it on their cellphones.

4.     Who to publish with internationally? And it’s free.

The key phrase even in 2013 is “content is key”. The ebook phenomenon adds to a trend where consumers search content specific to their needs, use, category or liking rather than author popularity. Unknown authors do have a chance of selling worldwide.

Ebook reader community is growing at a rapid speed, given tablets and mobile smart phones.

The internet adds freedom to commerce; it breaks down conventions and adds an awesome meaning to globalization. We are no longer forced to buy what is available in physical book stores only.

Amazon?

Amazon is the largest online book retailer (physical and soft), sales wise, and their e-reader app, Kindle, is the world most used.

Kobo, iBookstore and Barnes & Noble (BN.com)

Kobo is an American ebook retailer, having its own ebook device and ebook reader app. They have opened a South African branch, www.kobo.co.za. I’m told their devices are available at Pink N Pay.

Barneys and Noble (BN.com) has over 2 million ebook tittles on their store shelves, its second to Amazon in terms of sales and it leads the rest: iBookstore, Kobo and others. In 2010 Amazon had over 950 000 ebooks, BN still leads.

iBookstore is fast coming up. Make sure your book is on these stores.

Thee aggregators

It seems Lulu and Smashwords are the world’s popular ebook aggregators. Important stores they distribute to are: iBookstore and Barnes & Noble, and many others.

They both use the universal ebook format, ePub. However, Smashwords then converts ebooks to other formats such as PDF, RTF, PDB, MOBI, LRF and TXT.

Comparatively, Smashwords distributes to more online stores than Lulu. Like Amazon, Lulu also does print on demand.

All this stores provide you with steps on how to format your word doc manuscript, to then be accepted by their respective converters (doc to ePub).

I’m not aware of any South African book aggregators.

Which South African stores to publish ebooks on?

Above I mentioned a couple of retailers to publish ebooks with: www.littlewhitebakkies.co.za, www.wxclus1ves.co.za, www.kalahari.co.za. There are others you can find. It’s interesting to wait and see if these many others will make us become aware of them, and how.

5.     Prices – ebooks and devices

With a quick audit, SA ebook stores tend to be a tad expensive than your internationals like Amazon, Kobo and and.

As for the devices, Apple and Samsung tablets are damn expensive, both over R2500 each.

I’ve seen cheaper tablets under R1500 by Huawei. I’ve come across this other one called Edu Pad used by my sister’s school. It costs around R800. They both run on Android (super kool, assumingly super quality).

If you are that desperate for a tablet, go for something that runs on Adroid, as Android is reputable.

I would encourage you not to buy an ebook reader device specifically, but a cheaper tablet like Huawei, and then get an ereader app for it.

6.       Formatting

At first it seems easy, but man did I pour many unexpected hours into formatting my book. Maybe due to that it was my first time or that I’m a bit slow upstairs. My advice is that give the task to someone who does it everyday. We have actually added this service to At large Communications.

Kindle, Lulu and Smashwords all require their own formatting, however they are not that different, and no major adjustments when building from each.

7.     South African self publishing reality: It costs, a lot.

Uncompetitive and harsh

Anyone (individuals and publishers) can publish on Amazon, Lulu, Kobo, Smashwords and iBookstore (but with iBookstore, individuals can only publish via aggregators such as Lulu and Smashwords), importantly for free, without hustles and paperwork.

I haven’t published on any South African ebook store thus far. I was disappointed to learn that to publish with the all South African stores (wish to be proved wrong), I have to go via a book distributor (e.g On The Dot, Booksite, Blue Weaver and others). And there is paperwork, calls and emailing involved (I hate paperwork in cases where it should be avoided).

My journey of publishing on international stores meant doing everything online without paperwork, calls and emails, which is fantastic and awesome.  No wonder Kobo (American ebook retailer with a South African outlet) said they would own 50% of the South African market within 1 year.

I’m published with Kobo.co.za as it’s free and easy to set it up on their site.

I find it tedious and costly as a self publisher to publish locally, 1st the retailers take in region of 30% to 45% per sale, then the distributors who also take between 30% to 45% of what’s remaining.

The major reason local retailers use distributors as agents is because they do not have systems to host the ebooks on their servers. It’s something to that, just I cannot put it technically.

South African ebook retailers are keen to be play in the ebook sphere, but at the same time are not prepared to be fully competitive. The next thing Amazon will open shop here, taking a bigger pie of what should be theirs.

Sadly, for South Africans writers who would like to go the self publishing route, publishing on local sites means giving up a bigger pie if royalties.

One company that assists self publishers is www.feathercommunications.co.za; it comes recommended by book distributors and book stores. For a fee and a percentage retainer, they list your book with book distributors, who then get you on most local ebook retailers.

Therefore, publishing an ebook with native ebook retailers costs you a retainer with: ebook retailers, distributors and/or with self publisher agent (who on top comes with a fee).

8.     BUSINESS MODEL PERSPECTIVE

Reality

Either you are a consumer, publisher and author, you can’t ignore ebooks, they are your next reality (if not already).

An opportunity to read more of what we like

Ever since catching up with the internet, I’ve become a frequent reader. Ever since I’ve owned a Blackberry (boss ke BIS), I’m an avid reader. Its not that I read a lot, it’s just that I read what I like a lot), which happens to be easily ever available on the net, especially through my phone, via following people on twitter, Facebook, Quora and Linkednin. They dish out my favourite content.

These blogs serve my favourite content (Forbes, Techcrunch, Business Day Digi, Venture Beat, Entrepreneur Mag), so they influence the books which I read or will read. Get it? These in reverse is how you market your book. Through a press release, relate your book’s relevancy to that publisher, customize it.

Marketing

Build a database of publications that could possibly feature your book (online, print, international, local). Each of these media outlets has their own content genre. Categorise them by e.g entertainment, lifestyle, pro women, business, health etc. Now think of how your book can be of relevance to each category of publications. Send your press through and offer free copies for their readers (competition). Do the same for TV and radio shows.

Revenue

Let’s assume you do the above, your product is out there, 50 000 people notice it via the press releases and reviews, and because of that you manage to sell 2000 copies. Again assuming you got R35 per sales, your book could have been sold at a retainer of 10% to 30%, R35 multiplied by 2000 units is R70 000 (seventy thousand Rands). This figure isn’t hard to imagine.

Trend in the movement of money

The stats above show us that money is going to electronic devices. Everyone wants a smart device, those that don’t, seldom use the internet or computers. Don’t forget those of us who want smart devices for status.

You can’t ignore print

Definitely you can’t. The e-book phenomenon doesn’t mean you should ignore print books. People have choices, if they want e-books, give them ebooks, and if they want print, give them hard copy books, do both It’s all about embracing consumer platforms. It is not which reading medium is more important, the weight lies on how to best serve both print and ebook enthusiasts.

eBook self publishing retailers are needed in South Africa

The current ebook retailers need to make it free and hustle free to publish with them; otherwise Kobobooks is here, others multinationals are coming.

Or maybe a new great South African entrepreneur will fill the gap.

9.     Other international stats for your lungs

I also ran through these interesting stats tilted “The Global 2011 eBook Market Current Conditions and Future Projections”. Snippets below:

USA

  • Book market size (p+e,* at consumer prices) – Publishers’ net sale revenues = $27.94 billion (Source: AAP/BISG; data for 2010)
  • New titles per 1 million inhabitants 939
  • Ebook titles (available from publishers) 950,000
  • Market share of ebooks 6.2% (13.6% in !ction) (AAP/BISG; data for 2010)
  • Book market size  (p+e, at consumer prices) £3.1 b* PA Statistics Yearbook 2010
  • Titles published per year  (new and successive editions) 151,969
  • Market share of ebooks 6%
  • Book market size (p+e, at consumer prices) €1,352 m (publishers’ revenues) (PublishNews)
  • Titles published per year (new and successive editions) #52,510
  • Ebook titles (available from publishers) #4000

United Kingdom

  • Book market size  (p+e, at consumer prices) £3.1 b* PA Statistics Yearbook 2010
  • Titles published per year  (new and successive editions) 151,969
  • Market share of ebooks 6%
  • Book market size (p+e, at consumer prices) €1,352 m (publishers’ revenues) (PublishNews)
  • Titles published per year (new and successive editions) #52,510
  • Ebook titles (available from publishers) #4000

Brazil

  • Book market size (p+e, at consumer prices) €1,352 m (publishers’ revenues) (PublishNews)
  • Titles published per year (new and successive editions) #52,510
  • Ebook titles (available from publishers) #4000

Tiisetso Maloma is the author of Forget The Business Plan Use This Short Model and co-founder of Bula Buka. 

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10 Ways South African independent authors can market their books

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by Tiisetso Maloma

I have sold have sold over a 1000 copies of my 2013 self published book ‘Forget The Business Plan Use This Short Model’ since the start of its marketing in April 2013. This is 600 + ebooks via e-stores such as Amazon, iBookstore, Kobo and others. The other is hardcopies sold straight from me through either couriering or personal meetings.

eBook sales were mostly international. Anyway, for a self published South African, I am proud of these online sales given our ebook market in only now developing. A Kanye West like rant is deserved, so good I should spit Ultramel custard – khotha so hard. It says to me I can do much better this year, which I am hard working on.

I have helped publish a number of South African authors online via my ebook conversion and distribution company Bula Buka, and marketing advised on some.

I am going to share with you points based on what I did and what I am going to correct in promoting my book.

Why wait for publishers?

Conventions, in our case publishers, are there to facilitate efficiency to get value (books) conveniently (they have well located stores) in the hands of users (readers/consumers). In any industry these applies.

Just because they say no to facilitate your value (book), it doesn’t mean your book doesn’t deserve to get in the hands of readers. They do not dictate what value is, consumers do that. More important is ‘goal keepers’ (consumers) not ‘gate-keepers’.

It is the information age, a buyer’s market. If you believe you have a valuable and/or entertaining story to share, go ahead validate it with your market and self publish – thanks to the internet it is much easier today. Conventions will find you ahead and you will be leveraged then.

Book examples: take ’50 Shades of Gray’ and ‘I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell’. Conventions said no to them at first, then the authors self published and consumers said yes to the books (million dollar big way) – conventions came around later.

My book is getting me opportunities which weight financially more than the book sales. This leads me to say it is not only about huge book sales but advancing your career.

Let’s get into the ways to market your book..

1.     Don’t release just yet: validate

Look, books are products. Like any other products they are intended for a use. So you need to validate if anyone would use them (buy/read them) before you actually make them.

An entertaining book renders use (entertainment) to whoever is reading it.

I did validate my book’s concept and the ‘short model’ part. I validated these with a couple of entrepreneurs around me. However what I should have done was to share these validations onto public platforms (social media) before launching, so as to grab believers in how I was to solve their entrepreneurial problems.

When you are done with the concept of your book, before writing, or as you begin writing, start sharing briefly some concepts, tactics or stories to test if they stick with people. This grabs followers of your message. Those are possible buyers. They could even sway the direction of your book: they will say we can buy your book if it is like this and not like that.

Do read into these people, read how you can find them in groups and figure out ways to engage with them.

I’m sure you do get retweets on twitter; likes and comments on Facebook. It means people take note of what you are saying. Test your book in this way as well.

2.     Don’t release just yet: build buzz

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