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Mousehand

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

More Hands at Mousehand

We have seen an increase in independent publishers coming through our doors since over the past 8 months. This necessitated the growth of Mousehand to accommodate all the authors looking to make the most of their writing. Enter Lauren Smith.

I am proud to officially introduce Lauren as the latest addition to the Mousehand Team. She join us at the beginning of the year and has settled in quickly, learning the publishing system and getting into our authors’ hearts. Coming from a background in advertising and design, she is embracing publishing in leaps and bounds.

We would like to share a snippet from our interview with Lauren…

Mousehand: Lauren, we know that you have recently been studying design, so you must have a favourite artist or style. Where do you find inspiration?
Lauren: I like to design with a clean approach in mind with minimal fuss. I never start a design before coming up with a solid concept. I am inspired by other designers, illustrators, photographers and artists. I also love typography; to me, there is nothing better than design that uses just the right font.

Mousehand: Tell us a bit about your design career to date. How did you get into design in the first place?
Lauren: I always knew I wanted to do something in the design field, and art has always been my passion. I started working for a function decor company when I was 16,  and once I had matriculated, I was offered a full-time position designing decor for corporate events and weddings. In 2007, I decided that it was time to study and further my knowledge of design. I enrolled at The Red and Yellow School of Logic and Magic and completed  a 3 year course in Graphic Design and Art direction. I was awarded a Loerie for a TV advert that I created in my 3rd year–very exciting to receive that!

Mousehand: What do you believe design can do for a book?
Lauren:
A well-designed cover can set the right mood or tone for the book, most people will tell you they won’t pick up a book unless it has a good cover. A good interior design and layout will help improve a book’s readability and can add value to the content. Most of all, design will enhance a book, making for an overall polished, good-looking project. I see it as the finishing touch to a well-written book!

Lauren has now been with us for 4 months and is already producing breath-taking cover designs, which we will feature on this blog. Lauren is “very excited to be part of the team”, and we are very happy to have her here, too!

Kvetch all You Like, Self-Publishing is Here to Stay, Says Bernard Starr

Publishing industry watcher Bernard Starr has a bone to pick with those who continue to treat self-publishing as “pesky second-class stepchild” of publishing, and wants to clear the air on some of the assumptions people make about the practice.

First on the list is the “Anything Goes” argument. A lot of people are skeptical about the idea of making other people’s “junk” more accessible. But, says Starr, the same can be said for traditional publishers, who also publish a lot of less-than-desirable books. Also, this worry underestimates the discernment of readers, especially younger ones, who know what they want to read and what they don’t want to read and are not easily duped.

Self-publishing is also not a “last resort”, as many would have it. Tanya Wright serves as a good example. A well-known actress and star of the HBO hit show True Blood, Wright has written, directed and financed her own screenplay titled Butterfly Rising, which she is currently turning into a novel. After doing some investigation, Wright decided to go the self-publishing route even though her celebrity status and impressive resume would make her an easy choice for one of the traditional publishers. But for Wright, it was the wrong choice: “I’m one of the new breed of artists who are taking control of their lives.”

Read Starr’s article:

Since the publication of my Huffington Post article on the merits of self-publishing in December 2010, I’ve received mostly positive — and appreciative — comments. But some friends and others in the traditional publishing world still dismiss self-publishing as a pesky second-class stepchild that they believe will always remain in that status — and many wish it would just go away. They are unimpressed by recent developments that have ratcheted up the status of self-publishing: reviews of self-published books in Publishers Weekly and elsewhere, marketing and distribution services, listings in traditional distributors’ catalogues, prospects for listings in foreign publishers’ catalogues, and much more. Instead they focus on a single objection — that self-publishing is a gateless portal that gives new meaning to the Cole Porter tune “Anything Goes.”

Yes, there’s lots of junk among self-published titles. It may be something that self-publishers should attend to by creating different tiers. Let’s be honest though. Traditional publishing also releases a lot of pollution. There’s an old adage in traditional publishing: “If it could sell they would publish a ham sandwich.”

Amanda Hocking: Self-Publishing Success Story (Plus: Video)

In a recent post (Self-Publishing: A Global Audience Could Mean Big Sales), we wrote about Amanda Hocking, who sold more than 450 000 copies of her nine self-published young-adult paranormal books, of which 99% were e-books.

Watch a video aired on the KTTC news channel in which Hocking discusses her self-publishing success:

YouTube Preview Image

Eli James of the blog Novelr has also caught wind of this success story and writes that even though Hocking has never been traditionally published, she sold 100 000+ copies on Kindle’s e-book store this past December. He also lists other indie authors who are doing exceptionally well according to Kindle’s monthly sales list.

James says that self-publishing can be very profitable for an author, especially when publishing e-books, since you only need to pay for the cover and book design and there is no traditional publisher that takes a big cut from your sales.

Self-publishing companies like Mousehand offer services such as editing, book design and distribution via online retailers like Amazon.com and Kalahari.net

Meet Amanda Hocking. She’s been in the news for quite a bit now, and I’ve been meaning to write about her since January (or really, to write about the phenomenon she represents – and what it means for web fiction). But if you don’t already know of her, allow me:

Amanda Hocking is 26* years old. She has 9 self-published books to her name, and sells 100,000+ copies of those ebooks per month. She has never been traditionally published. This is her blog. And it’s no stretch to say – at $3 per book1/70% per sale for the Kindle store – that she makes a lot of money from her monthly book sales. (Perhaps more importantly: a publisher on the private Reading2.0 mailing list has said, to effect: there is no traditional publisher in the world right now that can offer Amanda Hocking terms that are better than what she’s currently getting, right now on the Kindle store, all on her own.)

Print On Demand and Digital Push (Self) Publishing to New Heights

Thanks to print on demand (POD) and digital publishing, more books are being published worldwide than ever before – including more self-published books.

According to Nielsen Book, more than 15 000 new titles were published in the UK in 2010, which is 14% more than the previous year. And self-publishing and POD is growing, while output from traditional publishers is decreasing, according to Bowker in the US.

So what is stopping you from self-publishing your book, if so many others are doing it? Mousehand can help, with book editing and designing services, print on demand solutions and distribution through prominent online booksellers like Kalahari.net. Want to go digital? What’s your flavour, PDF or ePub? Talk to us: we’re the ebook experts.

Here’s more on the self-publishing push in The Bookseller:

Print on demand, digital and self-publishing are continuing to push up the number of books published in the UK and overseas, according to new output data issued by Nielsen Book. The statistics also reveal that the number of publishers has risen with 2010 seeing 3,151 new publishers registering for an ISBN, the highest for 10 years.

Nielsen 2010 book output figures show that 151,969 new titles were published in 2010, a leap of 14% on the output number given this time last year. The figure is derived from the number of ISBNs Nielsen issues over the year. However, the 2009 figure, of 133,000, has since been increased to 157,039 because of the late addition of digital titles in that year, a factor that may also further increase the 2010 figure. It means that year-on-year book production fell 3.2%, though the trend shows that output has soared: since 2008 it is up 13%, and since 2001, the market has risen by close to 40%.

Image courtesy CalTech.edu

Self-Publishing: A Global Audience Could Mean Big Sales

With self-publishing it is possible for any author to make his or her book available with little or no upfront cost and reach a global audience, Russ Grandinetti, vice president of Kindle Content for Amazon told USA Today.

Many authors are making use of the new technology and are finding it very beneficial. Amanda Hocking can attest to this. By January this year, Hocking’s nine self-published young-adult paranormal books sold more than 450 000 copies, of which 99% were e-books.

Mousehand not only helps authors self-publish expertly edited and well-designed books, but also makes sure that they reach a global audience, by organising distribution through online retailers like Amazon.com and Kalahari.net.

Fed up with attempts to find a traditional publisher for her young-adult paranormal novels, Hocking self-published last March and began selling her novels on online bookstores like Amazon and Barnesandnoble.com.

By May she was selling hundreds; by June, thousands. She sold 164,000 books in 2010. Most were low-priced (99 cents to $2.99) digital downloads.

Self-publishing Puts the Author in Control

Anna Malczyk, the content manager for the Random House Struik Creative Writing Course, says that in the harsh world of publishing only a tiny fraction of all submitted manuscripts are ever published. But there is an accessible alternative that puts control back into the hands of the author, namely publishing an electronic version of a book, otherwise known as digital self-publishing. Self-publishing companies like Mousehand offer services such as editing, book design and distribution via online retailers like Amazon.com and Kalahari.net:

One of the biggest factors that demotivates would-be novelists is the harsh reality that only a tiny fraction of all manuscripts submitted to publishers are ever picked up and professionally published. For those who don’t just want to write for the sake of it, but who actually want to share their works with the world, this thought could be enough to stop them writing altogether.

However, an exciting and accessible alternative is opening up for these writers – digital self-publishing. Traditional self-publishing has always been considered an exclusive, vanity-driven niche since the associated costs are so high and willing publishers are so few.

Publishing digitally removes almost all of these barriers, and it keeps the control in the hands of the author – though it does come with its own challenges. Here is a quick rundown of everything you need to know.

Catherine Ryan Howard’s Twelve Steps To Self-Publishing an E-book

Catherine Ryan Howard offers a handy little checklist to self-publishing an e-book on her blog Catherine, Caffeinated. The twelve steps that she mentions include, among others, preparing your manuscript, designing a cover, deciding on your price, formatting your e-book and preparing listing information.

Mousehand can make this process even easier and help you distribute your e-book through prominent e-book sellers such as the Kalahari.net e-book store. If you’ve got a novel, memoir or other work that you want to get to market, read Howard’s advice, then give us a call for the heavy lifting!

1. Prepare Your Manuscript

Get your manuscript reviewed by a professional. Depending on where you are with it, you might want to get your book overhauled – a full, structural edit – or just proofread (a copyedit). This is the one place where you’ll have to spend money. And it’s cliché o’clock at Catherine, Caffeinated, because I’m going to say that you have to spend money to make money. So spend it here.

At the very least, have a few trusted individuals read over it to check for errors. People tend to be more angry about typos when they’ve paid $2.99 for the privilege of finding them.

Yashivan Govender Provides Young Entrepreneurs with “Short and Punchy” Advice

The Fun Side of Being SeriousEntrepreneur Yashivan Govender is the Founder and Director of Operations at FirstStep.me and the author of The Fun Side of Being Serious. He says that a lack of adequate information is one of the main reasons why young people find it so hard to establish a career path after school. He was recently interviewed about his company at CEO Magazine:

“Through FirstStep.me we educate and market ACCA programmes, as we believe that a lack of adequate information is one of the reasons for youngsters experiencing difficulty to decide on a career path after school,” says Yashivan Govender, the Founder and Director of Operations at FirstStep.me.

Govender says careers can be divided into the mainstream LAD careers (Lawyers, Accountants and Doctors) and Pop Careers (mostly the more entrepreneurial careers involving more risk and dynamic people). “The irony of these careers is that they need each other in order to facilitate a sustainable economy. Guys like Richard Branson and Mark Shuttleworth definitely need an accountant to do their books,” he adds.

“The key lies in the fact that people should be themselves and establish a career which will work for them. This is where we come in: to provide the youngsters with short and punchy, yet substantial information to assist them in making such a decision,” says Govender.

Govender started FirstStep.me in 2004 during his final year in Marketing Management at university. He says tongue-in-check that even he succumbed to his father’s demand to become an accountant, but realised in his first year that he was destined for more.

Book details

Taking the Plunge with Self-publishing

The developments in the digital world have re-invigorated self-publishing. But knowing how to navigate the world of self-publishing can be tricky. For example, a writer needs to know how to market the book and how to choose an appropriate graphic layout. But a growing number of “contract publishers” – companies that offer the vital marketing and design services for self-publishing authors – help make self-publishing an attractive and viable option in the modern age.

Mousehand is a local company that specializes in this very business: they typset your pages, design covers and distribute books via online retailers like Amazon and Kalahari.

Not so long ago, the way to get a book published was clear: Submit your work, twiddle your thumbs, get back the manuscript, send it out again. Eventually, if you were very good, or very lucky, a publisher would bite and, eventually, you’d be holding a book, no longer a mere writer, but an author.

Today, the digital world has ignited self-publishing, changing everything. Why wait for New York when you can plunk down your money and get a finished book in just a few months?

Make no mistake: It will be your responsibility to market it. Many reviewers and bookstores won’t take you seriously. And you may never earn back your investment, which could be as high as $20,000. Is it worth it? Apparently, it’s at least worth the risk. In 2007, about 134,000 books were self-published in the United States. In 2008, that rose to more than 285,000 and in 2009 soared to more than 764,000.

How Digital Publishing Can Help You Self-Publish

Anna Malczyk explains how the changes in digital publishing can be used to help writers who are hoping to self-publish their works. With the help of ebooks, publishing your own book is extremely easy:

One of the biggest factors that demotivates would-be novelists is the harsh reality that only a tiny fraction of all manuscripts submitted to publishers are ever picked up and professionally published. For those who don’t just want to write for the sake of it, but who actually want to share their works with the world, this thought is often enough to stop them writing altogether.

However, an exciting and accessible alternative is opening up for these writers – digital self-publishing. Traditional self-publishing has always been considered an exclusive, vanity-driven niche since the associated costs are so high and willing publishers are so few. Publishing digitally removes almost all of these barriers, and it keeps the control in the hands of the author – though it does come with its own challenges.