One Knight’s Return

One Knight’s Return, a new medieval romance release from my alter-ego, Claire Delacroix, is now available.

One Knight's Return, #2 of the Rogues & Angels series of medieval romances by Claire DelacroixKnight and crusader Quinn de Sayerne vowed never to return home while his villainous father drew breath. Twenty years after his departure, he is notified of his father’s death and summoned by his liege lord to claim his family holding. But his overlord has a stipulation: Quinn must wed Melissande, the beauteous heiress of neighboring Annossy. Quinn hoped to make a match based on more than mutual animosity, but he is resolved to win the heart of his lady wife, at any cost.

Melissande cannot believe that her liege lord has not only compelled her to break an old betrothal but wed her to a ruffian—and granted the seal of Annossy to him, despite her expertise. It is the dream of Quinn’s father brought to fruition, for the holdings will be merged just as he long schemed. But her overlord cannot be defied and she finds herself the chattel of this rough knight, despite her every protest.

Can Quinn win his lady’s reluctant heart? Or is he doomed to lose Melissande forever when her betrothed returns?

An earlier version of this story was published as My Lady’s Champion. What’s different? Ha. Pretty much everything – except Quinn, who I still adore. 🙂 The book has been completely revised, and there are new scenes linking the company of Rogues & Angels to the story. Tulley has a niece now, too.

Download a free sample from BookFunnel

Buy One Knight’s Return in ebook:
Amazon.com
Apple
KOBO
Nook
• GooglePlay
Books2Read Universal Link

Buy One Knight’s Return in print:
• Amazon
• Barnes & Noble
• Indigo

Dragonfire Triumph Available Today!

Dragonfire Triumph, the fourth Dragonfire digital bundle including Serpent's Kiss and Firestorm Forever of the Dragonfire Novels series of paranormal romances by Deborah Cooke Dragonfire Triumph is the fourth and final digital bundle in The Dragonfire Novels: The Complete Series and includes the books that include the final victory of the Pyr in the Dragon’s Tail Wars between the Pyr, dragon shifters pledged to defend the treasures of the earth, and the evil Slayers, dragon shifters bent on destroying both the Pyr and the humans they protect.

In Serpent’s Kiss, Thorolf is targeted by the Slayer Chen to complete an ancient spell, and caught between love and duty. According to Chandra, his destined mate and a known thief, Thorolf’s partner Viv has lied to him and is allied with Chen. Worse, Chandra insists that the solution lies in Thorolf’s past. Can he trust the firestorm to guide him to the truth, even if it means bonding with a goddess?

In Firestorm Forever, Sloane, the Apothecary of the Pyr, is determined to save humans and the earth from a deadly plague brought into the world by the Slayer, Jorge. His only ally is Samantha, a researcher who hates the Pyr because her son was killed by the virus. When the firestorm sparks between them, can they move beyond physical attraction and their own emotional wounds to work together to save the world? The big finish to the Dragonfire series includes two more firestorms—those of Drake and Marco, the Sleeper—and the combined efforts of all the Pyr to defeat the Slayers forever.

Dragonfire Triumph, the fourth Dragonfire digital bundle including Serpent's Kiss and Firestorm Forever of the Dragonfire Novels series of paranormal romances by Deborah CookeBuy Dragonfire Triumph:
Amazon.com
Apple
Nook
KOBO
• GooglePlay
Books2Read Universal Link (for international stores and other Amazon stores)

Schedule Updates

Some Like It Hot, book #7 in the Flatiron Five series of contemporary romances by Deborah CookeI’ve been moving my schedule around to accommodate the new publication date of Bad Case of Loving You. I also want to start some new projects.

One of the results of this reorganization is that Some Like It Hot has been moved to a February 2020 publication date. That will take my contemporary romance publication schedule back to two titles a year. (Theo and Lyssa messed me up, but in 2020 we’ll be on track again.)

Under the Mistletoe, a contemporary Christmas romance and #4 in the Secret Heart Ink series by Deborah CookeThe contemporary romance after that (summer 2020 pub date) will be a Coxwell book. I also want to set some romances at Flatiron Five West, and will be attending RWA National in San Francisco in July 2020 with the plan of doing some research there.

I’m planning to finish up Under the Mistletoe and publish it this fall, so it will be my 2019 holiday romance read. First, Theo and Lyssa, then Chynna.

Unicorn Bride, a medieval romance by Claire Delacroix, 2019 new editionAs for Claire’s books, there will be One Knight’s Return this month, which has proven to be another one of those little republication projects that ended up taking a huge amount of time. (The second half of the book is all new and the first half has significant changes. It would have been faster to just write a new book!) Then there will be a republication of Unicorn Bride in August, which really will be a republication and very close to the original.

That’s where we stand!

The Wingspan Shawl

If you’ve been conscious over the past two weeks in the knitting world, you’ve probably seen the Wingspan shawl. This is an incredible design that looks like a bird’s wings. The original is very striking because it’s knit in a hand-dyed ombré yarn that shades once over a colour progression in 800 yds or so. The kit went on sale last Saturday at the Knitter’s Frolic in Toronto, and the pattern went on sale on Ravelry the same day.

You know I bought both. 🙂

Here’s the Wingspan pattern on Ravelry.

Here’s the kit at Blue Brick Yarns.

There’s (predictably) a backlog on yarn orders – this pattern has gone viral – so I cast on the shawl in Briar Rose Sea Pearl, a yarn in my stash which comes in an 800 yd skein of fingering, just like the specified yarn. This is a handpaint, not an ombré, so the wings won’t shade. Sea Pearl is 50% merino and 50% tencel, so it has a shine. This skein has always made me think of a bird’s feathers, so it seemed the perfect choice. I’m not sure what colourway mine is as it’s not marked on the tag and there seem to be a few contenders on the Briar Rose site – if they even dye this colourway anymore. My skein has been well-aged in the stash.

Here’s the skein before I caked it up:Briar Rose Sea Pearl

And here’s my progress on the shawl.

Wingspan shawl knit by Deborah CookeYou can see that I’ve finished the second row of feathers. (There are four rows altogether.) I’m really pleased that there’s no pooling of the colour. My beads have arrived (they’re pewter with silver linings) so I’ll be adding them to the rest of the shawl.

This is a really lovely knit. It’s quite addictive. Although the instructions are written, not charted, once I got the hang of what is going on, I didn’t need to read every line anymore. (I’m not sure that this pattern could have been charted.)

What do you think?

A Little Bit About Publishing Contracts

I was asked recently by a new author to have a peek at a contract offered to her and thought that a general post about pitfalls might be welcome. I’m not a lawyer, but I’ve read, rejected and signed a lot of publishing contracts. I’ve made some mistakes and learned from them. I’ve also learned from some generous people who are very experienced in publishing contract law.

Many authors actively express their dislike of contracts. While contracts are not the most riveting reads, I like them – they document the expectations of each party in the relationship. Sometimes you learn things about your proposed partner in a contract. Contracts also specify how the relationship will end and what happens in pretty much all eventualities. They’re maps, in a way, and I love maps.

The first and foremost thing you need to do is actually read the contract. Yes. Read it. Read the whole thing. Then read it again. If you don’t understand any part of the contract, then ask what it means. Research it. Know what you’re signing before you sign it. A contract isn’t like the Terms of Service at a portal – contract terms are negotiable. Everyone doesn’t get the same deal. You need to understand the terms of agreement.

Publishing contracts are negotiable – although how much the house is willing to negotiate with you is affected by how much they want to publish your book. The first contract offered by the house is called the boilerplate: this is the best deal for the house and the worst deal for authors. If you have an agent, he or she may have already negotiated an agency boilerplate, which is offered as a starting point for his or her clients, and is already a better deal. Whether you have an agent or not, there are probably places where you can make improvements to the boilerplate by negotiation. I’ll focus on some areas where you’re most likely to have success. This is by no means a substitute for asking questions and having more experienced individuals look over your contract. It’ll just give you an idea of some things to look for.

A publishing contract begins by listing the parties who are agreeing to do business together. For a book contract, this will be the publisher and the author. Notice that while you as author might be an individual, you’re probably making an agreement with a corporation, not the individual editor who is presenting the offer. If your editor leaves the publishing company, your contract will stand, because it’s with the house. (The same is true with an agency contract, unless your agent is a sole proprietorship.) Be sure that the contract is between the publisher and your legal entity – it might be your name, if you’re operating as a sole proprietorship, and it might be your corporation. If you are incorporated, there might be a rider that stipulates that you specifically will create the work.

The Grant of Rights is usually the first section of the contract. This part can be quite long as it defines what rights you as author are surrendering to the publisher for the duration of the contract. It’s pretty characteristic for a boilerplate contract to list all rights here – all territories, all languages, all formats and all subsidiary rights – even though in many cases the house only intends to use world English in ebook and print. Ideally, you will narrow the grant of rights to those rights the house actually intends to use. If they want the others later, they can always offer for them then. Any advance payment is, after all, calculated on the basis of what the house plans to do – if you surrender more rights than they plan to use, they’re essentially getting them free. You might make a strategic choice of letting the house “pave the way” for you in new markets – maybe with audio – if they have a strong record of doing that and doing it well. In that case, you might leave audiobook rights in the deal, even though the advance might not be increased. This is a personal choice and you can see an example of that at work below. FWIW, I never leave performance rights in a book deal. The vast majority of the time, they aren’t exercised, but when they are, there’s a lot of money involved and if/when that happens, I’d like control.

The work is defined in the contract, whether it’s one book or a series of books, in terms of length and genre/sub-genre. There will be delivery dates specified for each book, as well as the mechanism for delivery, and an editorial process should be defined, too. The publication date may be defined but more likely, there’s a window defined for publication, such as “within eighteen months of delivery of the book manuscript”. If it isn’t specified, it should be.

One of the things you should be looking for when you read the contract is ways that this deal could be stretched out and leave you in limbo. You’re going to be working with this publisher for several years at least, but if the relationship isn’t a successful one, you don’t want to be stuck in it forever.

There may be a non-compete clause and these clauses always deserve a close review. A non-compete may stipulate that you can’t publish a work elsewhere featuring the characters or the world in this work; it might stipulate that you can’t publish anything under the same author brand, regardless of content; it might declare that you can’t publish anything elsewhere under the term of the contract. This can be a pretty unreasonable condition, especially if the house is offering to publish one book and is paying no advance. If it’s a standalone book under a new pseudonym and you think the fit is perfect, that’s one thing – if it’s first in a series under your main author brand set in a world you intend to spend many books exploring, this clause is probably a deal-breaker for you. The non-compete might give the publisher control over your fictional world and/or your characters even after you deliver the work specified in this contract, which isn’t a concession to make lightly.

It is much cleaner to have an option clause. An option clause gives the house right-of-first-refusal on the next similar work, the next work under the same pseudonym, the next work set in the same world or featuring the same characters. Ideally, what’s due under the option clause should be tightly defined and limited to a single work. (There are perpetual option clauses out there, which allow right-of-first-refusal forever.) There should also be a date for the delivery of the option (within 30 days of the publication of the last book on the deal, for example) and there should be a date stipulated for a response from the house (30 or 60 days after submission). It should be clear that if the house declines to offer for the option book, you can publish it wherever and however you choose. The non-compete and the option clause can certainly work together to protect both the house’s investment and the author’s intellectual property. How much control you want to surrender in exchange for whatever they offer is a personal choice.

The advance will be stipulated in the contract, as well as how and when it will be paid. If there is an advance, there can be some wiggle room here, both in increasing the amount and speeding up the payments. I’ve seen a lot of contracts lately which offer no advance in exchange for all rights and would advise you to seriously consider what a house offering this kind of deal can do for you and your book.

An advance is an advance against royalties, so the contract will define how royalties are calculated and when they will be paid. This can be a huge section that allows for tiers of payment and deep discounting as well as various formats and territories. The big thing to look out for here is “net receipts“. There’s a very old bit of advice to authors that they should always negotiate to be paid out of gross sales when making a movie deal, not net sales, because even blockbuster movies don’t always make a profit. (Scroll down to Author Controversy on the Wiki page for Forrest Gump, for example.) Print royalties are usually calculated out of gross sales – for mass market editions, the author might get anywhere from 4% to 8% of gross sales. It’s common for digital rights to be paid according to a percentage of net receipts, though. At the very least, net receipts should be defined in the contract – are expenses deducted or not? If so, which ones? Even so, it’s much cleaner to be paid out of gross sales (although you may have a battle to get that.) Net receipts is often explained as “you’ll get X% of whatever we get”, but again, this is squishy. I got caught by this recently in a distribution agreement that I signed to get my work into libraries. It turned out that one of the portals delivering content to libraries was owned by the distributor with which I had the contract. On roughly $1000 of gross sales, the subsidiary reported net sales of $10. My share came out of the $10, i.e. “you’ll get X% of whatever we get”. I don’t do business with those people anymore.

When you create a work, you automatically hold copyright in that work. Copyright carries a number of rights for the creator, including the right to reproduce and sell the work. A publishing contract is essentially a licensing of that right for that work to a publisher. The contract should stipulate that the publisher will register your copyright in the nation of first publication (often the US) on publication, and it should stipulate what name will be used in that registration.

The contract should also define how and when this license ends, which is the moment that the rights to reproduce and sell the work revert to you. This is called the reversion clause. When your rights revert, you can license them to another publisher, or you can publish the book yourself in a new edition. There should be a precisely defined trigger for the reversion of rights. They might revert automatically in a specified number of years after the deal is signed. Foreign language rights tend to be handled this way: they’re often five-year licenses and at the end of that term, the rights revert without any paperwork. Once upon a time, reversion was possible when a book was “out-of-print” but with print-on-demand technology, books are never really out-of-print. OOP is intended as a measure of demand, so a better reversion clause defines out-of-print by sales volume- i.e. rights can revert when unit sales in all formats drop below a defined threshold per year. The goal, of course, is to make this number higher so reversion occurs sooner. Some houses stipulate that reversion can occur when a certain period of time has passed since the house’s last exercise of rights. This used to be the case at Harlequin, because they did very actively produce foreign editions. When I signed with them in the 1990’s, they did buy all rights, but they used them. As a result, when I went to Bantam and Warner, I already had audience in Germany and Italy and other foreign-language markets. The Harlequin editions “paved the way”, even though I didn’t make much money from them in the first place.

There are also a lot of repayment clauses in contracts these days, stipulating that the author must repay the cost of editing, formatting and packaging the book to the publisher in various situations. One situation might be if the book doesn’t sell sufficiently well, which is ridiculously vague, or if the author breaks the deal at any time. For me, these expenses are the house’s responsibility and not earning them back is their risk in entering the deal. After all, they’re the ones who decided to offer a contract for publication for the book. They must have some notion of how well it will sell. I think it is unfair to expect the author to repay the house for any of these expenses, particularly as there is no guarantee of how well any of these services will be done. If you are going to sign this kind of clause, be sure that it has a very tight deadline – if you break the deal before publication, for example – and that it gives you the right (but not the obligation) to use the edited book, the copy, the formatting and the cover as you see fit. (I still wouldn’t sign it.)

The bankruptcy clause is another place worth a closer look. Often in contracts with small presses, the bankruptcy clause allows for the reassignment of rights – this means that if the house goes out of business or closes or files for bankruptcy, they can sell your book rights as an asset to whoever they want. Um, no. You want this clause to say that if the house ceases to do business or files bankruptcy or closes, your rights immediately revert to you.

There are a few areas to examine in any contract that you’re offered. It’s also a good idea to just read the document through and see what impression it gives you of the company that created it (or paid for its creation). Some contracts have a bullying tone. Some contracts put all the onus for success on the author. This should be an exchange: you’re providing your intellectual property to be marketed as a book in exchange for something. Have a very good idea of what the “something” is that you want out of the deal before you negotiate. If a contract doesn’t feel right or fair to you, it probably isn’t. Trust your instincts.

If you want to learn more about your publishing contract, you can join the Authors’ Guild. Their team will review your contact and walk you through each clause. When I took advantage of this service, it was free to members – I had to pay for the phone call to New York during business hours. It was a long call (several hours) but incredibly informative. One of the classic references is Kirsch’s Handbook of Publishing Law, if you want to read more. It’s more than twenty years old, but some essentials of publishing don’t really change. Others have, so you’ll want to look for more recent information about e-rights, for example.

But first, read your contract!

©2019 Deborah A. Cooke

New Edition of Unicorn Bride Coming Soon

Unicorn Bride, a medieval romance by Claire Delacroix, in its original mass market editionUnicorn Bride was the second book I sold to Harlequin Historicals and it was originally published in June 1994. The cover on the right is the original mass market edition, with a cover painted by Judy York. I loved this book, which is set in what is now southern France, and was very pleased to discover that I still love it just as much as I did almost thirty years ago.

So, I’m very excited to be preparing this book for republication in a new edition. There are a few changes, but no so many that I think this version merits a new title. It’ll be published in August, and is available for pre-order now. The new cover is by Dar Albert and I love it to pieces.


Unicorn Bride, a medieval romance by Claire DelacroixFor generations, legend had stalked the battlements of the fortress Montsalvat. And now Alienor de Perpignan found herself promised in marriage to the man at the heart of the oft-whispered tales: Dagobert, Count de Pereille. A near-mythic being rumored to be a beast by day – and more than a man by night.

That Alienor was his true-destined bride, Dagobert de Pereille had no doubt. Indeed, with her exotic beauty and blade-bright spirit, she could be none other. But could he who bore the mark – and the curse – of ancient kings ever trust her enough to open his heart?

“Another delicious Delacroix delight!”—Affaire de Coeur

Finalist
Best Foreign Historical Romance
Affaire de Coeur

Available August 20!

Pre-order ebook at:
Apple
KOBO
Nook

Dragonfire Reunion Today!

Dragonfire Reunion, the third Dragonfire digital bundle including Flashfire, Ember's Kiss, Harmonia's Kiss, Kiss of Danger, Kiss of Darkness and Kiss of Destiny of the Dragonfire Novels series of paranormal romances by Deborah Cooke Dragonfire Reunion is the third digital bundle in The Dragonfire Novels: The Complete Series and includes the books that feature the gathering of outcasts and outsiders of the Pyr, to aid in the Dragon’s Tail Wars between the Pyr, dragon shifters pledged to defend the treasures of the earth, and the evil Slayers, dragon shifters bent on destroying both the Pyr and the humans they protect.

In Flashfire, Lorenzo has no interest in joining his fellow dragon shifters until his destined mate, Cassie, tracks him down in the hope of photographing one of the Pyr. Lorenzo makes a deal with her, never guessing that the defense of his mate will persuade him to embrace the powers he’s denied for centuries.

In Ember’s Kiss, Brandon distrusts his shifting abilities, but one look at Liz sets his dragon on fire. Liz understands the burden of a powerful legacy all too well, since she’s on the run from her own—can Liz and Brandon work together to defeat the evil Slayer who has cursed Brandon, and claim the promise of the firestorm?

In Harmonia’s Kiss, the Dragon’s Tooth Warriors return to the place of their enchantment to battle an ancient and wily foe. They thought Cadmus defeated before: will he defeat them in this fight or will they destroy his wickedness forever?

In Kiss of Danger, the Dragon Legion travel back in time with the aid of the darkfire crystal, in search of their firestorms, their mates, and their lost pasts. Alexander has a second chance with his beloved Katina, but she has secrets that challenge his trust.

In Kiss of Darkness, Damien finds his mate pregnant and captive in the underworld, but Petra’s influence is just as powerful as ever. Will the heartbreaker of the Pyr risk even his own heart to save his mate and their son?

In Kiss of Destiny, Thad follows the spark of the firestorm to his mate, a nymph named Aura. He enters the realm of the gods in pursuit of her heart, but finds a greater enemy, demanding vengeance upon the Pyr. Will Aura be the demanded price? Or can Thad save her, his firestorm, and the future of his kind?

Dragonfire Reunion, the third Dragonfire digital bundle including Flashfire, Ember's Kiss, Harmonia's Kiss, Kiss of Danger, Kiss of Darkness and Kiss of Destiny of the Dragonfire Novels series of paranormal romances by Deborah CookeBuy Dragonfire Reunion:
Amazon.com
Apple
Nook
KOBO
• GooglePlay
Books2Read Universal Link (for international stores and other Amazon stores)

More Sparkle for the Hoard

Dragon pendant and earrings with blue glass made by Deborah CookeI’ve been doing some more beadwork and making shiny things for my dragon hoard. I’ll take these to Romancing the Capital in August.

Today, I wanted to show you these necklace and earring sets. I found dragon pendants that match my dragon charms, so putting them together was an obvious choice.

This one is blue glass beads that have some opalescence. I matched them with cut glass beads of light green and Czech glass 2/0 beads with the same opalescence as the big beads. The fastener is a magnet. I wasn’t sure it would be strong enough for the weight of the necklace, but it is – and it ensures that the wire doesn’t get twisted. Ha.

Dragon necklace made with glass beads by Deborah Cooke

Next is another one with glass beads. I love how sparkly this one is! The larger beads are faceted crystals with an A/B finish. They’re matched with smaller faceted glass beads with the same finish to make a glittery result. The picture doesn’t do its sparkle justice!

Third, a necklace set with fire agate semi-precious gemstone beads and black glass beads, The black beads have a bit of gold detail. There are Czech glass 2/0 beads in gold, too. The fire agate has been dyed to be a brighter orange. I like the pattern in the stone.

Dragon necklace with fire agate semi-precious gemstone beads and glass beads, made by Deborah CookeFire agate is linked with fire by those who use gemstones for healing, and so it has associations with passion and earthly desires. It is also said to be a protective stone and to be revitalizing. Doesn’t it sound like an excellent choice for a dragon?

I have some other semi-precious gemstones that I’ve been using to make these necklaces. There’s a set with lapis lazuli and freshwater pearls. Lapis lazuli is associated with tranquility, self-awareness and healing. These beads are not dyed and are a natural deep blue. I also have some labradorite, undyed, which I’m still trying to pair with something sparkly. Labradorite is said to increase the wearer’s psychic and magical powers, which also makes it a perfect choice for a dragon.

Dragon necklace made with gold and purple beads by Deborah CookeThe fourth set I have to show you today is one of my favorite combinations of glass beads with these dragon charms. There are purple glass beads with an A/B finish and gold ones with the same finish, along with some Czech glass 2/0 beads in gold with an A/B finish. I love this combination as all the beads seem to be reflecting shades of gold and purple.

That’s just four of my dragon necklace sets. What do you think?

Checklist for New Authors

Wyvern's Angel, book #9 of the Dragons of Incendium series of paranormal romances by Deborah CookeIndie Thursday is back! I’ve met a lot of authors lately who are starting out on their publishing adventure, so thought it would be a good idea to create a checklist (rather than saying the same things over and over again). This also works for new author brands.

This post looks like a wall of text, so I’ll pop in some of my book covers to brighten it up. 🙂

First, you need to make some choices.

Decide where you intend to publish your books and in what formats.
Most authors who are indie-published create digital editions of their books first. You can also create print-on-demand print editions – in mass market size, trade paperback or hardcover – and audiobooks. For each format, you’ll want to choose where to make your books available. There are two big options: exclusively at Amazon through Kindle Unlimited, or at all portals (commonly called “wide” distribution). There are marketing advantages to each choice, and what you decide will depend upon your genre, your preferences and what other authors in your genre tend to do. Following the established pattern will help you to find new audience. Some niches, for example, are very well-represented in KU, which means the readers are there. Because they are subscription readers, they are more inclined to try you as a new author if the book is available in KU. Here’s an article from another blog about KU and how it works, geared to consumers. There are other subscription services that don’t require exclusivity: Kobo has one called Kobo Plus, and there are subscription portals like Scribd that you can reach via aggregators.

Assess where your strongest market is likely to be.
For many new writers, this will be the American portal of Amazon (.com), but if you are in Canada, for example, like me, you might have strong sales in Canada. If you’re a Canadian writer and a new writer, you might not expect strong sales at Barnes & Noble/Nook which sells only in the US. If you’re a new writer, you might not expect strong print sales – unless you’re going to do a lot of booksigning events. If you write in German and live in Germany, you might expect strong sales at Amazon.de and Tolino. Every author has a unique footprint in the market and the better you understand yours, the better you can market to it. You’ll want to make decisions that ensure the availability of your titles to consumers in that territory so give this a think. At the very least, you can use it prioritize what you do first. Keep an eye on your sales as they come in and refine your idea of your strongest market, making changes to serve that market as necessary.

One Knight Enchanted, book #1 of the Sayerne series of medieval romances by Claire DelacroixDecide how you will get your books to each retail portal.
You can create accounts and publish directly to Amazon via Amazon KDP, Apple via iBooks Author, Kobo via Kobo Writing Life, Barnes & Noble via NookPress and (sometimes, when they’re allowing new accounts to be opened) to GooglePlay.

You can also use an aggregator, like Smashwords, Draft2Digital or PublishDrive, to deliver your ebooks to these portals. Most authors go direct as much as possible – it means more uploading but also more control and faster changes to pricing and meta-data. If you choose to use an aggregator, I’d strongly suggest that you upload directly to Amazon at the very least. Your target market may influence your choices here – again, for an author in Canada, it’s a very good idea to publish directly to Kobo. There is a promotions tab on the Kobo Writing Life dashboard and you can’t apply for these portal-specific promotions if your content is delivered to Kobo from an aggregator. In contrast, Apple will merchandise any books in their store, regardless of how they’re delivered. If you want to reach libraries, aggregators are an excellent choice. I keep life simpler by using one aggregator for all library feeds. All three of these aggregators let you cherry-pick which portals should receive your content from them, so you can ensure that your book has only one delivery path to each portal.

Be aware that if you change your method of distribution, you may lose consumer reviews at the portal. This is especially true at Apple – they consider an ebook coming via another delivery route to be another product and will not transfer reviews between products. The other portals will link editions, so that reviews are displayed for all editions, but sometimes you have to nudge them to do it. So, it’s a good idea to choose your distribution plan and stick with it.

For print editions, many indie authors choose print-on-demand options. Both Amazon and Nook offer POD options through their dashboard (for paperbacks and hard cover editions). These editions will be available only at that portal – and at Amazon, they may not be available at all geographic stores. Another option is Ingramspark, which offers wide distribution for print-on-demand titles. For those of you in Canada, Ingrams is an excellent way to get your POD titles distributed to Chapters-Indigo – they may not order your books to stock in their stores, but they will list them on their website for sale. (Ingramspark also offers ebook distribution as an aggregator, but I don’t know anyone who uses this service, mostly because it’s all-in: you can’t choose which portals receive your content and opt-out of those you wish to reach in another way.)

For audiobooks, you can use ACX to contract with narrators, produce audiobooks and distribute them to Amazon, Audible and Apple. You can also distribute audiobooks through Findaway Voices and Listen Up, among others. This niche is expanding right now and you can expect to see a lot more options appear. There are also subscription services for audio and you can opt in (or out) of them at the various aggregators. You can also use these aggregators to make your audiobooks available to libraries.

Decide how you will do business.
If you intend to incorporate, this is a good time to do it. If you do it later, you’ll have to open new accounts (since publisher accounts are keyed to the tax information) and transfer everything over. Set up your banking and your tax identification, too. If you are a sole proprietorship, you’ll use your personal identification for your taxes. It’s a good idea to have a bank account for your writing income, to keep it separate from your personal stuff. You may need a sales tax number in your jurisdiction, too. You might want to use a P.O. Box to keep your home address more private, and if you intend to do business under another name, you’ll need to register that, as well. Get it all sorted out in advance. If you’re going to use a pseudonym, check the availability of the most obvious domain name.

Going to the Chapel, a short story and #5 in the Flatiron Five series by Deborah CookeAnd now, we get to the checklist.
1. Open accounts at the portals selected above and fill in all the forms. Supply all the tax documents. Set up all the payment information. You only have to do all of this once.

2. Buy your domain name, get your website hosted, and start building it (or hire someone to build it). Remember that domain name registration is public and can be seached on sites like WhoIs, unless you buy the privacy option. You might want to use your P.O. Box as the address. As for your website, you may want to have a blog. You may want to have a store on your site. (Okay, there are more choices to be made here.) You can set all of this up before you have a book published, and start gathering followers and newsletter subscribers. A blog is a good way to generate interest while your book is on pre-order or before it’s available – you’ll see some suggestions for that below. If you’re going to have a store, you’ll want to compare options and decide how you’ll deliver your ebooks to customers. BookFunnel offers a number of integrations to do this.

3. Choose your social media, set up your accounts and brand them to match your website. You don’t have to use all social media, but should focus on the services most popular with your target audience, or the ones that you enjoy the most. (It shows when you have fun!) Put the links on your website for readers to follow you. Some obvious choices are Facebook (you’ll want to create a page for your author persona), Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. If you have audiobooks, you might want to have a Soundcloud account, where people can listen to samples. Some authors (esp those who do podcasts) have YouTube channels. I share my Ravelry link. Your website template may have widgets to display any or all of these in the footer or sidebar. If you have a blog, you can have your posts automatically be shared with your social media. One word to the wise, here – begin as you mean to continue. It’s really easy to over-extend yourself, but you need to defend your writing time. Start small instead of trying to do everything.

Serpent's Kiss, a paranormal romance and Dragonfire #10 by Deborah Cooke4. Sign up for a newsletter service, build your sign-up forms, and get them on your website. Popular options are Mailchimp, Mailerlite, Constant Contact, and Mad Mimi – among others. They all have pros and cons, and most have a free option. You’ll want to add a welcome email that goes out automatically to new subscribers, or even an onboarding sequence. You may want to offer some special content for signing up. One tip – build a template that you can use for each newsletter, with your social media links and other info. It’ll save you time. Also make sure that the branding is consistent (and appropriate) between your social media profiles, your website and your newsletter. Again, start as you mean to continue – don’t promise a weekly newsletter unless you think you have enough news to share weekly and enough time to create a weekly newsletter.

5. If you are going to use ISBN numbers, then purchase a block of them. If you are in Canada, you can get them free, once you open an account with the Canadian ISBN service. Ensure that the ISBN is in your book interior when it’s formatted.

6. Create affiliate accounts. Affiliate links pay you a teeny tiny bonus for directing a consumer to a portal’s website, if they make a purchase after following your link. You can open affiliate accounts at Amazon, at Apple, at Rakuten for Kobo and at B&N. (I think it’s run by Rakuten, too.) Again, your idea of the location of your target market will affect your choices here because affiliate codes are a bit of a pain. If you’re going to make three cents a month, you might not want to bother. Once you have an affiliate account, there will be instructions on modifying your buy links to include the affiliate. Smashwords gives you an affiliate code automatically – once you’ve published a book, log in to your SW account and scroll to the bottom of that book’s product page to find the affiliate link. Here’s Amazon’s affiliate program – if you apply for them, you’ll get a different code for each Amazon geographic store. You also can only use Amazon affiliate links on your website, not in newsletters or on social media, according to the Terms of Service. Here’s Apple’s affiliate program, run by Performance Horizon, which you can use anywhere, plus here’s Apple’s nifty linkmaker. It’s very handy for building links for any product in any territory. And here’s Rakuten’s Linkshare, which is the affiliate program at Kobo.

7. The book! Get your book edited professionally and commission a professional cover. Either buy Vellum to format your own books or hire a formatter. I love Vellum. You can use it for format ebooks and print books, and it makes it easy to update book files quickly. I did use a formatter for years, though, and I learned a lot from her. Either way, make sure your book interiors look good. You’ll also need to decide if you’re going to create generic ebook editions or tailor the end-matter to each retailer. Vellum will support the use of your affiliate codes in all links. There’s more on that below.

8. Upload your book at the portals of choice. Ensure that your metadata is consistent across all platforms. It’s a good idea for your pricing to be consistent, too. Each portal has its idiosyncrasies, but the uploading process is fairly easy. It will take 24 to 72 hours for your book to go “live” in the store if you upload directly, and may take longer if you use an aggregator. (Check their site FAQ’s for info on that.) You’ll want to add the buy links to your website for the book.

You can use your newsletter and social media to start building interest in your book. I don’t share covers until I have buy links, but you might choose to do otherwise. For a first book, I probably wouldn’t bother with a pre-order, but the sooner you can get your pre-order up for book #2, the better.

Abyss, #4 of the Prometheus Project of urban fantasy romances by Deborah CookeYou may notice that I use a service called Books2Read for links. This is because Amazon doesn’t re-direct buy links based on the geographic territory of the consumer. Apple, GooglePlay and Kobo all do, and Nook only sells content in the US. What does this mean? Amazon has a number of different geographic stores that exist as separate entities. for example, I live in Canada. I can look at the Amazon US store (Amazon.com) but it always suggests that I shop in their Canadian store (Amazon.ca) because it detects the location of my ISP. The problem is that when I follow a link to a book in the US store, Amazon might just tell me that the book isn’t available to me, instead of re-directing me to that book’s product page in the CA store. This is happening more and more often for those of us who live outside the US. I can then search for the book in the CA store, but people don’t. They want to click to the book product page. (You also can change the url, since the book will have the same ASIN in all Amazon stores – just change the om in Amazon.com to an a to get the Amazon.ca link.) Books2Read is a free service from Draft2Digital, which allows you to create a product page for your book that includes all of the buy links, including those to smaller portals. This is important for readers outside of the US. Even better, when the reader clicks the Amazon link, Books2Read will send them to the product page for that book in their geographic Amazon store. The other really nifty thing is that Books2Read supports affiliate codes – so instead of having numerous Amazon links on every landing page of my website, I can put the .com link there with its affiliate code, and let the other geographic affiliate codes work through B2R. Ha.

9. Register your copyright on or before the on-sale date of your book. (It costs more if you pre-register it.) Some authors don’t register copyright, but it gives you defense in any instance of plagiarism. You should register your copyright in either the nation of first publication or the nation in which you reside. Here’s the website of the Library of Congress for US copyright registration.

10. Once you have one book uploaded and published, you can add some additional links to your website and your books. (Remember your affiliate links.) Claim your author profile at Author Central, in order to customize your author page at Amazon. You can include an RSS feed from your blog on your author page. Readers can follow you on Amazon and Amazon should send them a notification of any new releases from you. And yes, Amazon supports author profiles in other territories (FR, DE, UK, Japan) so if you expect to have a strong audience in Germany, for example, you’ll want to claim your author profile on the DE Author Central. (Other geographic stores will display some information from your US Author Central page.) You’ll also want to claim your author profile on GoodReadsAmazon now feeds book information to GR directly, so your book should be there – and you can add the RSS feed for your blog to that page, too. Claim your profile on BookBub, too. This is a different account than one you might hold as a reader – it’s called BookBub Partners. You can customize your author profile to some extent and check that your books are listed. BookBub will send a new release notification to your followers. Add all these links to your website. If you click on your name in the Apple Bookstore, you’ll also discover the link for your author page there.

11. Alternative editions of your book (audio, paperback, hardcover) should automatically link with the ebook edition and share reviews at all portals. When you’re starting out, though, you might need to give the portals a nudge. There are no print editions at GooglePlay or Apple, and the Kobo ebook will be linked with the print edition at Chapters-Indigo. (From Chapters-Indigo, you can see both, but you’ll only see the ebook on Kobo.) If they don’t link up at Amazon within 72 hours of publication, check that the metadata is identical on both. If it is, send a message to KDP Support requesting that the editions be linked. They’re pretty quick. At any portal, if your books aren’t linking up correctly, contact Support.

One Hot Summer Night, #3 of the Secret Heart Ink series of contemporary romances by Deborah Cooke12. When you publish a second book in a series, you’ll want a series page so that readers can find the next book in the series. This is separate from your author page. At Kobo and GooglePlay, this happens automatically if the metadata is identical. (The series name has to be spelled exactly the same.) NookPress has a series manager on their dashboard, as does Smashwords. At Apple, you have to request a series page if you upload directly. If you deliver via an aggregator, it should happen automatically. Once the page is created at Apple, subsequent books should be added automatically – again, if the metadata is identical. At Amazon, you have to request a series page. Sometimes new titles are added automatically within 72 hours of publication and sometimes you have to ask. You can share the series link on your website etc. – just copy it from the navigation bar on your browser – but remember that Amazon will change the url with every book added to the series. (Yes. Really.) Also, series numbering at all portals has to be in whole numbers. Although it’s intuitive (at least to me) to use a decimal for a short story or novella that appears between two full-length books, series pages will only accept whole numbers and the lowest possible number is 1. Remember also to go into Author Central and claim each new book you publish so it appears on your Amazon author page. You’ll want to double-check that your new book appeared on your BookBub profile, too.

13. Update your end-matter in your ebooks regularly. Most authors start out updating it with every new release, but as your list grows, you might come up with an alternate plan. You should have a newsletter sign-up in your ebook interior, as well as links to find you online. Each portal allows “neutral” links – your website url, for example – but will reject a book file with buy links for other portals. One of the nifty things about Vellum is that it allows you to build versions of your ebook that are customized for each portal. The Apple edition, then, has Apple buy links and Apple is good with that. You have to be uploading directly to use these versions, though – if you’re using an aggregator, you’ll probably want to upload a generic ePUB edition, which points back to the landing page on your website rather than product pages at retailers. The same is true of library editions. When you publish a new book, you’ll want to go back to your first book and update the file so that there are handy buy links for that second book, especially if the books are in a series.

Phew! That’s a good start for setting up your online presence as an indie author.

You can find this post again by either bookmarking it or by following the hotlink on the Author Resources page.

©2019 Deborah A. Cooke

Translations

The Beauty Bride, first book in the Jewels of Kinfairlie series of medieval Scottish romances by Claire DelacroixI’ve embarked on a new adventure these past couple of weeks – I’ll be having translations done of some of my books. This will be a huge job, since each translation will take several months. I’m starting with some Delacroix titles until I get the hang of this process.

First up will be the Jewels of Kinfairlie. I’ve contracted for an Italian edition of The Beauty Bride. There was a Mondadori edition before, but it was available only in print. This will be a new translation and it will be available in ebook as well as print. I hope it will be available by the fall. If all goes well, that translator and I will continue on to The Rose Red Bride.

I’ve also signed a contract for a Portuguese translation of The Beauty Bride for the Brazilian market. It should be available by the end of the year.

There’s a new page on the Delacroix site for Translations, and each language will have its own page there. Here’s the Italian one – the Portuguese one is in the works. Each language will also have its own New Release newsletter, in that language.

Claire Delacroix's newsletter for her medieval romances in ItalianFor example, if you sign up for my Italian newsletter, you’ll get a message whenever a new translation is published or when there’s a special offer.

Sign up for the Italian newsletter right here.