The Hollow Bunnies

The second anthology has passed the first hurdle. It’s over 100 pages which is the minimum to make it worth putting out in print. Print On Demand means there’s no back stock to worry about but the unit price depends on the number of pages. That’s why Hugo Stone’s ‘Cultish’ is expensive in print. It’s quite a tome.

There’s a base price too, so go much below 100 pages and the price stops dropping. Basically it means if it’s below 100 pages of 6×9 inches (trade paperback) then it’s not going to be cost effective in print. It can still work as an eBook because, naturally, there are no print costs. Even Hugo’s massive tract of depravity can be reasonably priced as an eBook.

Tales the Hollow Bunnies Tell has passed that hurdle and will be in print and eBook in time for Easter. The stories are edited and formatted (only one author prevents it from coming out right now and I have to hold my hand up to that one). The front cover is ready and looks like this –

Yes, Roobeedoo helped with the editing again. She’s on her way to being a permanent member of staff, even though we’ve never met.

There might be some adjustment to the cover lettering. Otherwise it’s done. The back cover is not done but photos of pastoral scenes are not hard to come by around here. I’ll take a camera out tomorrow if the weather permits. I do have a particularly creepy driveway…

There is still time to send in another Easter-themed story. I plan to finalise this around the 27-28th of March and I’m on target to make it. Easter is later than usual this year so I have a little leeway but for once, I intend to actually meet a deadline.

Author contracts and then payments will go out soon. If I don’t have an ‘About the Author’ bit from you I’ll be asking for one – and if you want to update yours, you can do that too.

As usual, if you want payment in books rather than cash I can do that. Postage is ‘free’ which means I pay it, not you, but it’s a legitimate business expense so it’s tax deductible. If I get to the point where I’m sending a ton of books every month I might ask for postage but it’s small stuff so far.

I won’t have a final unit price on the book until I have it completely assembled and ready for print but I expect it to be roughly the same as the last one. If so you can take £10 per story or two books per story or any combination of those. It might change so don’t hold me to this – I might yet get a novella sent in that makes it a real biggie!

Although I think a story that’s over 100 pages in itself would be a separate book, with a separate contract.

Anyway, I have been looking into the process of marketing using my management manuals featuring someone called Dilbert.. There seems to be a lot of drinking involved.

So far, so good.

Writing day

Longrider’s novel is done. All editing, formatting and cover work is finished. I sent it back to him at three minutes to March for a final once-over and then it’s publishing time. Yeah, I missed the end of February deadline but not by much and I’ve left time to get the second anthology ready for Easter.

There are enough stories to make this one worth doing so the second anthology is a ‘go’. Could do with a few more authors – there are only four of us so far – but then Easter is a tough topic. Still, we have nine stories so far and some are long ones. It’ll be big enough to be worthwhile.

For the Longrider fans – yes, Morning Cloud is in it again.

And I’m bringing back my favourite demons, Foras and Bifrons, for this one too. I’m also working on a Dume tale that might or might not make it in time. If so, that would be ten stories.

There’s still time to think up a quick story or two. This one will pay at £10 per story plus a copy of the book, or all in copies of the book if you prefer. I can’t keep up the pay rate I had for the first one or I’ll go bust.

I have also started working on a cover. This is at the draft stage, all might change although I do quite like that title. I’ve gone for pastoral and cute, as you see. Well it is Easter…

cover2smallNo last minute rush this time. I’ll work up an intro and all the fiddly bits well in advance. It all comes with practice. Four books done under the Leg Iron Books banner and I’m finding out where the bottlenecks are. Mostly, it’s me  😦

I have always has this tendency to try to do everything myself. To the extent that I spurn instruction books until I get past the first few disasters. It’s been labelled ‘male pride’ in the past but it’s not that. It simply does not occur to me to ask for help. There is also an element of perfectionism bordering on the OCD. There were only ever two technicians who could work with me and that’s because they were just as picky as me. I didn’t have to check every detail of their work.

Not one PhD, M.Sc. or any other student ever failed when I was supervising. Some ended up utterly despising me but they all got their qualifications. There are some who will never speak to me again but they passed and that was what really mattered.

Okay, my one man show means everything gets done exactly as I want it done but sometimes – as with the rhubarb incident I’m never going to be allowed to forget and several others that have, to my relief, been forgotten – I have attempted a two man job on my own. I always succeed but rarely without some kind of minor injury.

Lately I have begun letting people help. Roo B Doo helped a lot on the editing of the first anthology but now she has a real job again, I am reluctant to ask her to help on the next one. It’s a lot of work and I can’t pay much. Hugo Stone (the author of ‘Cultish’) helped with the editing on Justin Sanebridge’s ‘The Goddess of Protruding Ears’ and without that help the book might still not be out yet.

It took me over half a century, but maybe I should consider letting other people help out once in a while.

Maybe next year.

Who let the underdogs out?

The first Underdog Anthology is now a real thing. Thirty-two stories by nine authors in 200 pages. It’s available on Amazon as a paperback, also as a Kindle eBook and there is a hardback copy available for those with far too much money.

Hold off on the hardback, it should appear on Amazon in the near future and then you probably won’t have postage on top.

There will be a range of eBook formats available soon. I’ll let you know when they’re ready.

I have cut the price to the bone on all formats. I can do that on anthologies because I pay up front for the use of the stories so there are no royalties. When I put out other people’s novels there will be a royalty factor to include and that will inevitably increase the price. On a hardback that increase could be huge.

For example, a 200 page hardback selling at £16 will get me less than 50p profit on Amazon. The rest is print costs and Amazon’s cut. If it’s a hardback novel and I’m paying 10% of cover price as royalties, the only way I can do it and not go bust is to price the book at £18. If you want 20% royalties the price goes to £20 per book and so on.

The hardback is an extreme example of course but the principle holds true for paperbacks too. The only way to cover author royalties is to increase the price per book.

Take the anthology paperback: 200 pages sells for £4.99 and again I make under 50p per book. To give, say, 20% royalties on a novel that size I would have to price it at at least £6.50, to give £1.30 to the author on each sale, around 60p to me and the rest goes to the printer and sales outlet. Naturally this all increases as the book size increases and if print costs rise in future, so does the price of the book.

Someone willing to shell out £4.99 for a book might think twice at £6.50. So pushing up the royalty per book really only stifles your sales. I might not be doing this to make myself rich but I can’t subsidise it. I can run at break-even or minimal profit but at a loss, I’ll soon have to stop.

The situation with eBooks is a touch more complex because they are subject to VAT. Worse, they are charged VAT at the rate prevalent in the country where they are sold. Fortunately, the sellers take care of all the VAT stuff but it means I’d be offering royalties on the base price (without VAT) not on the actual list price (with VAT). Otherwise, again, I’d be cranking up the price to cover the royalties and VAT and cranking up the price increases the VAT… it gets into a vicious circle.

People expect eBooks to be cheap. Pushing up the price virtually guarantees no sale.

Even so, I can go with about 40% of the before-VAT price as a royalty. That doesn’t leave me much profit but it still leaves me with a positive balance and at this stage that’s all I need. As long as nothing goes into the red in the first year, it’s good.

I’m still figuring out the business. Fortunately I started with a relatively simple project in terms of sales, even if it proved complex in terms of preparation. Novel preparation is much easier – one author, everything already in one format, easy. The complex part of novel publishing is financial.

I’ll get the hang of it. In time…

Underdog Anthology is imminent

The Amazon page is up and the Kindle version will probably be available first, followed shortly by the print version.

The Kindle will be £1.99 including VAT in the UK (yes, they charge VAT on eBooks now and it varies depending on which country you buy it in). The print version will be £4.99. I make pennies per copy but as I said at the start, this first one wasn’t the ‘make me rich’ one. It’s the ‘get known’ one so the cheaper the better.

I now have four novels in process, the first of these just needs a cover, the second already has a cover and just needs my final proofreading. Those two contracts will go out in the coming weeks.

Also there will be a second anthology next year and another for next Christmas so I’ll be looking for stories again. Can’t promise the same pay rate as last time, it was generous to get the ball rolling but future books will have to suffer the oppression of reality. I won’t make a profit in the first year but I’d like to in the second.

Next, I have to prepare the anthology for conversion into all the other eBook formats out there. As long as I set it up properly that won’t take more than a few days.

Novels are actually easier…

It begins…

The Underdog Anthology is now in the hands of Lulu and Amazon and I am waiting for proofs before letting it loose. Retail price will be £4.99 paperback (200 pages). I make about 30p profit per book but the first one wasn’t about the money. It was about getting started.

Base price for Lulu’s ‘economy’ version is actually a little higher than the base cost for their bookstore-quality one. This seems to be because the economy version only ships from the USA. So we won’t bother with it, we’re just going for the good one.

Once the proofs arrive and everything is OK I’ll make a hardback version too. That will be disgustingly expensive but it’ll be there if anyone wants it.

The next job is the eBook version. It’s not hard, it just takes time to put in all the internal links.

We’re under way. At last.


The back cover – first draft

Not quite first draft, there have been a few other versions. This is the latest – again a collaborative effort with CStM. Opinions welcome.

backcover4I probably have to add a ‘not for children or the weak’ notice, to be on the safe side…


Update: The wording might be ‘Not suitable for children, Puritans, the hard of thinking or the perpetually offended.’ That should cover it.

Anthology… it’s getting very close now


That’s the cover image, first draft anyway. I have gone for a plain font for the writing. There is time, but not much, to raise objections or suggest alternatives.

Midnight Wednesday is the last chance to ask for changes to the text. After that I’ll go through it one last time and as soon as the back cover is ready (we have the image) it’s going out to print.

It’s going to be published under Leg Iron Books because if you Google that, the first hit is the previous post and the second hit… is kinky.

The Ebook will take a little longer. I have to set up lots of internal links between each story and the contents page and make sure there are no format issues. It’s not hard, but it takes time. The Ebook will have the same front cover but of course it has no back cover.

So, authors, check your section in the PDF I sent out very thoroughly indeed and let me know by midnight if anything is amiss.

Before you know it, we’ll be working on the next one.