Can Everton Jones find out how his father stole Emperor Bokassa’s diamonds and, more importantly, where he hid them; before the world and his brother get there first?
Click on the picture link in the sidebar to read an extract of my first novel, which was published by Paradise Press in August 2012.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

How to find the page rank of your website

The ‘pagerank’ of a website is a mysterious number between zero and ten used by google and others to decide how far up their search results to put your website. It is obviously an important number. If you have a book or an e-book and want people to find out about it, a google search is probably where they will start, and it’s no bloomin’ good if your website/blog is right at the bottom of the last page of results.

So, what does ‘pagerank’ mean, how is it calculated and how can I find out what mine is? Taking the last question first, there is a useful resource here: http://www.vampirestat.com/. Just type in the URL of your website and it tells you a whole bunch of useful information, including your pagerank. Here’s what happened when I entered www.rshelton.org:


First out, check the unique visitors and daily page views. Looking at the ‘Stats’ for my blog (design/stats in blogger), the pageviews figure of 56 a day seems about right. But the pagerank figure of just ONE is a bit disappointing, given that the maximum possible is TEN. However it doesn’t seem to impact too badly. If I enter ‘Bokassa's Last Apostle’ into a google search the secreen is full of links to posts on my blog. Even entering ‘Rod Shelton’ provides a hit to my blog on the first page of results. However those searches assume the person doing the searching knows what he or she wants to find in the first place. Enter ‘gay novel’ and you would have to go a very long way down the results to find a reference if any to my book. I don’t suppose there is anything I can do about that.

Then there are the 206 ‘google indexed pages’. I don’t have 206 published pages, and so I can’t get my head around this statistic. However it clearly is of importance. Google doesn’t just go through the entire world wide web every time I do a search to retrieve the results. It would be far too costly and take way too long. No, programs called ‘spiders’ are patiently crawling around the web in server farms all over the place quietly indexing the internet. Once they find a new website they decide whether it would be of interest and, well, ‘index’ it. Then they come back later and index any pages which that website links to. Google uses the index to generate search results. Eventually the spider creates a pagerank for the website according to the likelihood that a user blindly clicking on links on other webpages would land on your website. This is the pagerank and it determines how far up the list of results your website will be.

The key thing here is that it is the links to your page that are used to determine the pagerank. A link from another website to your page is called a ‘backlink’ and the search I did on vampirestat reveals that there is just ONE google backlink to my site. What website is that backlink on? Can I find out? The answer is ‘yes’. All you need do is type ‘link:www.yourwebsite.com’ into a google search and hit return. This yielded the unsurprising result that the one backlink to my site was from my publisher, paradise press, whose website has a pagerank of three. The Paradise Press website in turn has two backlinks, from websites with pageranks of four and five. And this is the other part of the pagerank equation: the pagerank for your website is weighted by the pagerank of the sites which link to it. Paradise Press has more backlinks from higher ranked sites and consequently a better pagerank than mine.

Now I’m not going to stress too much about this, although many people spend a lot of time and energy trying to improve the pagerank of their websites. This is the fabled ‘search engine optimisation’ or SEO we hear so much about. The simple message is that the more links to your website, the better your pagerank ought to be. But it is, as always, not quite as simple as it sounds. If others are using any means fair or foul to improve their pagerank, so google and others are also working just as industriously to make sure their searches give users the information they want, not links to sites with artificially inflated pageranks and no useful content. Reading around the subject, ill-informed efforts at SEO can backfire, leading to poorer, not better pagerank.

Take my backlink from Paradise Press for example. I have linked to Paradise Press from the outset, yet there is no backlink from my blog to Paradise Press credited by Google. However I did go to http://www.alexa.com/ where I found out that one of the ‘alexa backlinks’ to my site is from Bristol Gay Men’s Book Club, which DOES have a link from my site. Theoretically, reciprocal website links should work in this way, helping BOTH websites’ pagerank. Note though that the link from the Bristol Gay Men’s Book Club to my site hasn’t generated a google backlink, just an alexa one. Given the efforts being made to manipulate the system, Google and others are understandably loth to share the detail of how they index and rank pages, keeping the SEO companies guessing. So … anyone wanting to link to my page is very welcome to do so, and I will return the favour. We all have scratchy backs!

PS: I found some blogger widgets to display the pagerank on your blogspot blog here: http://www.getrank.org/google-pagerank-display-widget-for-blogger/, although I’ll have to think long and hard about whether I want to advertise my own paltry pagerank of ONE.

TinyURL for this post: http://tinyurl.com/nelp845

Sunday, 20 October 2013

A milestone, of sorts ... ?

A surge of interest in my blog today turned up a peculiar milestone: 666 unique visitors from BOTH the US and UK:

How peculiar is that?
tinyURL for this post: http://tinyurl.com/l5ytsuz

Treehouse Press

Back in November 2011 I was at the London literary salon ‘Polari’ to see if fellow Paradise Press author Timothy Graves would win the ‘Polari First Fiction Prize’ for which his book Homo Jihad had been shortlisted that year. In the end James Mayfair won with Auto Fellatio and I’m sitting on my hands trying to avoid making any cheap cracks about the title so hard they’re losing circulation! NB Polari the Literary Salon should not be confused with Polari the online queer journal.

As part of the evening’s entertainment there was an appearance by Shaun Levin, the founding editor of the now sadly defunct London-based queer literary magazine Chroma. He was giving a very entertaining talk about ‘how one becomes a top/daddie’. But the reason for this post is that in his introduction, the host, the wonderful Paul Burston, mentioned that Shaun had started his own indie press. Following the unfortunate demise of Gay Men’s Press any news of another queer imprint being born is good news. One of my intentions in this blog is to list and describe gay publishers, bookshops, writers etc., so I duly took note. This is my first post on this subject.

Finding Shaun Levin and his press online wasn’t hard, despite a spelling mistake in the notes I made at the time. The press is called ‘Treehouse Press’ www.treehousepress.co.uk. (Careful to distinguish it from www.treehousepress.com, www.thetreehousepress.co.uk, www.treehousepressinc.com, www.treehousepublishinggroup.com and no doubt many others!)

Looking at their website, Treehouse Press have eight publications to their name at the time of writing. I don’t want to get into the politics of labelling things as ‘gay’ or ‘queer’, but it was noticeable that Treehouse Press doesn’t make a big thing about publishing gay books. In fact of their eight titles just two are identified as ‘gay’ (and one of those was about queer women, for which I found the ‘gay’ label misleading). From the website I gather that Shaun Levin has a day job teaching creative writing and so I suppose it came as no surprise, or at least was understandable, that two of their titles are anthologies of writing arising from courses I presume he taught. More of a surprise was the absence of a ‘gay’ label for Shaun Levin’s own book, Snapshots of the Boy, a collection of ‘sixteen short lyrical pieces’. In fact almost the entire output of Treehouse Press consists of collections of one sort or another. The only title which was a single piece of extended work was a graphic novel by a lesbian writer and again it was labelled as ‘gay’ rather than ‘lesbian’ on their website’s homepage.

Treehouse Press’s website doesn’t have a ‘submissions’ link, which I suppose reflects their slow trickle of titles, but I would have thought they would be fairly easily tracked down via the Treehouse Press facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/treehousepressuk.

For the record, here is a list of their publications to date:


Snapshots of the Boy (1 Nov 2009) by Shaun Levin. Thirty-two pages including 16 photographs. Each photo has a ‘short lyrical piece drawing meaning and memories … from the author’s childhood in South Africa and adolescence in Israel’.


The Joshua Tales (27 Sept 2009, 64pp) is a sequence of poems by Andra Simons.


Words Made Flesh (20 Nov 2010, 206pp) comprises twenty-one short stories and novel extracts from participants in the ‘Complete Creative Writing Course’.


The Hex Artist (25 Oct 2011, 60pp) by Lou Dellaguzo is the winner of a ‘three-in-one Chapbook contest’ organised by Treehouse Press and promises three great gay love stories.


Lost Souls (14 Sept 2011, 56pp) by Becky Mayhew is a collection of three short stories about three different women.


Zakkum (15 Aug 2011, 54pp) by Beldan Sezen is a graphic murder mystery with a glimpse of gay life in Istanbul. The interview with the author identifies her as a queer woman.


Writers in the Crowd (30 Jul 2013) is an anthology of writing by those participating in the ‘Write around town’ courses. The Treehouse Press website says this is the first in an annual series. Doing a bit more digging I discover the second anthology is planned to be called Writers in the Crowd II and that there is a course running from 19 October to 7 December this year (2013), which would suggest a publication date in 2014.


Things that have Happened (20 Nov 2012, 70pp) is a collection of stories by five different authors.

Treehouse Press’s facebook page says that Belden Sezen has another title: Snapshots of a Girl in progress.

TinyURL for this post: http://tinyurl.com/oeeh64l

Thursday, 3 October 2013

The OTHER Paradise Presses

I must have too much time on my hands, because in an idle moment I googled ‘Paradise Press’. To my astonishment, it turned up a multitude of hits including EIGHTEEN OTHER PARADISE PRESSES. The first one was my publisher, ‘Paradise Press UK’ www.paradisepress.org.uk. So nothing too much to worry about, and a quiet pat on the back for having got our SEO about right. But I did think it would be fun to see what all the other Paradise Pressses out there are up to:



www.bohemianparadisepress.com is a new venture. The founder hails from Bohemia in the Czech Republic, which explains the name!
So far their website offers just one e-book (Nennen Sie mich Ausländer, cover extreme left below) which is planned to be translated into Spanish and Russian. They also have plans to release a collection of short stories by the same author, another collection of shorts by the Spanish Jesus Ricardo Felix Rodrigez and a collection of poetry by Josef Straker. The website does not make it clear whether any these new titles will be e-books or physical books.


Their website lists six collaborators in Germany, Spain and LA.




www.paradisepressprinting.com turns out to be a printer in Clearwater, Florida.



The next search result was www.susanking.info/Paradise_Press/home.html This website turned out to be harder to understand. The owner, Susan King, has a limited edition book of her artwork, a paper sculpture and a subscription to a series of postcards on sale. From this photo of her paper sculpture, she is clearly a very talented graphic artist:
She also offers mentoring at $150 a day for aspiring artists. She says she established a ‘Paradise Press’ in LA but is vague about the date. Reading between the lines, this must have been before the 1990s. Here: http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/awhhtml/awrbc4/literary_works.html I found a reference to two books: Women and Cars (1983) and Georgia (1981) both published by ‘Paradise Press’, Los Angeles.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

The People’s Book Prize

Bokassa’s Last Apostle has been entered for ‘The People’s Book Prize’ www.thepeoplesbookprize.com. This is a competition in which the readers vote for the winner. It was set up to find work which hasn’t been backed by the publishing industry machine, but which people simply wanted to read. True to this aim, most of the entrants to date have been from small independent publishers. The organisers say that books have to be entered by a publisher, rather than by the author in an apparent attempt to rule out self-publishers, although a close reading of the entries suggests a number have got through any net which might have been held out to catch them. They hold quarterly contests, the current one ending on 30 November. There are three categories: Fiction, Non-Fiction and Children’s books. Each publisher is allowed one entry per category, although they can enter books from their backlist. Five ‘finalists’ per quarter are announced based solely on how many votes each book has received and then an overall winner in each category is awarded each year. It is unclear how they weight the votes from each quarter to take account of the total number of votes cast, if at all.

An obvious difficulty arises from the need for the users of their website to have read the books in question. I would neither want nor be able to buy each of the 483 fiction titles in the current competition! There IS a sample online, strictly limited to the first two chapters. (A salutory reminder of the often-repeated advice to get the reader hooked early on in the story!) And readers of this blog will know that there is a longer sample available here. But, to ensure that as many people as possible can read my story to the end I have slashed the price of the e-book by half to £2.74 for the duration of the competition. So if you are among the 400+ odd people reading the sample of my book online per month and want to know what happens next, now is the time to get your hands on a cheap copy of the kindle! Or, if you have read the sample and liked it, why not go to the People’s Book Prize website, create an account and vote for it!

tinyURL! for this post: http://tinyurl.com/k88wm9l

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Radio Interview

On Tuesday 19 March, yours truly was interviewed on Out in South London (Resonance 104.4 FM) by Rosie Wilby. Click below to play a recording of the show.

please update javascript to see the mp3 player widget



TinyURL for this post: http://tinyurl.com/cc6bufh

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Bokassa’s Last Apostle SHORTLISTED for a major literary prize!



I’ve been too busy getting press-releases out to share this until now, but Bokassa’s Last Apostle has just made the shortlist for the prestigious Lambda Literary Awards book competition in the USA in the ‘Gay Mystery’ category!



OK, so there were only 20 entrants in that category and, yes, I took one look at the (much longer) list of ‘LGBT debut fiction’ contestants, one of which was published by Penguin and ran a mile. But the category I entered for was for ESTABLISHED authors, some with many titles to their name. So I am very pleased to have some recognition at last for all my work.

Don’t get me wrong, the story is plotted to death and the dĂ©nouement doesn’t come until the penultimate chapter. It definitley qualified as a ‘mystery’. But it wasn’t quite in the same vain as the other entrants, which were for the most part more muscular ‘cop’ stories. The two American character’s dialogue in my book is phoneticised, which could have pissed off US judges. Seemingly not! I took great care to make Kash’s dialogue sound like he was from Atlanta and Oliver’s dialogue sound like he was from Texas. Looks like I succeeded. Fuck! It took me long enough to work out how to do it! Then the setting is in London and there is dialogue in French AND Polari (which the US judges might not know about). It was altogether a difficult pill for them to swallow. But swallow they did!

I have no illusions about my chances, shortlisting was all I was hopeful of. But the competition is less linear than my book. Heck, It's a ‘mystery’ category. I paced my story like a thriller. Only time will tell.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Putting a Wowslider Slideshow into my Blog

UPDATE: 10 April 2014: I have published a new post on this topic which walks you through creating a free website, saving your wow slider slideshow on there and then how to view that slideshow in a blogger blog. Please click here to view this post

The post below does not provide a fully working solution. On looking closely at the javascript code I found a line which had this in it, amongst other things:
logo:"engine2/loading.gif"
This indicates that the folder engine2 has to be physically located in the same directory as the file with the code for the slideshow. In my method outlined in the previous post, the folders engine2 and data2 were on the paradise press website, and the code for the slideshow was on my blog. As a result the slideshow, whilst it worked, failed to display the captions (for some reason I can’t divine). So I put the slideshow into a file in the root directory of the paradise press website, called wowdemo.htm. Also I put the folders engine2 and data2 in the same folder. NB Wowslider generates the folders and a file called index2.html. I just copied the contents of index2.html to wowdemo.htm.
So how to get the file on the remote website to display on my blogger blog? All I had to do was to create a new post and edit it in html mode. I inserted an iframe using this code as the only text in the post:
<iframe src="http://www.paradisepress.org.uk/wowdemo.htm" width="399" height="388" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" marginheight="50" marginwidth="50"></iframe>
The page on my blog now looks at the page on the remote site and shows it in the iframe as though it was on my blog. Note the border of 50px I included. The slider format I chose has a neat ‘burst’ effect which extends beyond the edge of the graphic, so I gave it 50px of space to ‘burst’ into. The effect can be seen below. NB chosing a different set of options in wowslider lets you have an infinitely looping slideshow.

NB: the additional text in the post has been edited in after I got the slideshow up and running.

PS: Remember to update the remote file if you make changes to your website!

TinyURL for this post: http://tinyurl.com/pq55ur2

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

The First Cheque (Check?) from Amazon

As Paradise Press treasurer, I have just been passed the following:
It represents our e-book sales on amazon.com to the end of November 2012. Just how am I supposed to transfer this dollar cheque/check into sterling, especially as it is drawn on the ‘Wells Fargo Bank’ in the USA? Our bank here says it will cost anything from £8 up and I bet we get a crap exchange rate! At least, after taking timely action (see earlier posts), was I able to avoid Amazon being forced to pay a 30% ‘witholding tax’ to the Internal Revenue.

It is not unimportant to me as a significant slice of that cheque should come to me! Never mind the inequity that we have had to wait TWO months to get our hands on it. Just how much is Amazon making in interest on the money they are sitting on? I hate to think.

If you are not based in the US, be aware that selling your e-book on amazon.com is not without its problems.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Putting a Wowslider slideshow in Blogger

UPDATE: 10 April 2014: I have published a new post on this topic which walks you through creating a free website, saving your wow slider slideshow on there and then how to view that slideshow in a blogger blog. Please click here to view this post

I have a basic slideshow to do the banner on my blog. See here for the details. Unfortunately, I can have only one such slideshow per page and also I have no real control over how it displays. Wowslider is an awesome graphical slider building programme which you can download for free from here. It is extremely simple to use if you have the pictures in a folder on your computer. It generates a file called index.html and two folders called design1 and data1. For a website you own, all you then have to do is copy the folders to the root directory of your website (the one containing your own index.html file) and then edit that file to include some code from the index.html generated by wowslider. Some goes in the header and some in the body sections of your index file.

However, you can’t do that in blogger? Can you? Well, firstly you should put the code from the header of the wowslider index file into the header section of the template for your blog. (Remember to back it up before tinkering with it!) Next, you can put the code from the body of the wowslider index file into a new post. The trick, if trick it be, is to put the folders generated by wowslider somewhere else on the web. In my case I put them on the paradisepress website. Then I edited the links in the wowslider code to point to this location. (I’ve done the same with the animated counter in the sidebar, because blogger does not support animated gifs.)

The outcome can be seen on a new blog I’ve made for paradise press which is here. For some reason, the captions on the photos in the slideshow do not display. Well, they could be edited into the photos, I suppose. Without upgrading the free version of wowslider (which involves paying them some money, although not-for-profit organisations can do this for nothing) the programme prints a discrete watermark onto the photos, which is a small price to pay. Wowslider comes with some amazing transition effects, although a simple swipe effect is favourite with me. The slideshow widget provided by blogger cannot be set to loop infinitely. One other possible way to get the pictures into wowslider might be to enter the url of a feed from flickr or some other photo-sharing site, but wowslider didn’t like the link I got from flickr.

NB since writing this I have found a snag, which is dealt with in a further post. You can view the post by clicking here

TinyURL for this post: http://tinyurl.com/bz2nkna

Friday, 18 January 2013

How to link an e-book on the i-Bookstore?

My e-book is now available on the iBookstore, thanks to a distribution deal with Troubador. (See earlier posts.) But how can I link to it? There is a link opposite, which has cost me three days to achieve. The other links, to Kobo, Nook and Kindle are just direct hyperlinks wrapped around an image. Click on the image and you go directly to the book’s page on Nook, Kobo, etc. Apple is a different story. The link has to take the browser to the iTunes store.

Googling around, I discovered that Apple has an affiliate programme. They have outsourced it to four companies, depending on where in the world you are. Details are here: http://www.apple.com/itunes/affiliates/resources/documentation/itunes-app-store-affiliate-program.html. Clicking on the European option took me to a company called TradeDoubler. I had to set up an account with them. Their website is not very user-friendly, but can be navigated with patience. Once in, you need to update your details including bank account etc. There was a bit of back and forth by email because they had a ‘company number’ field. Contrary to the information on the website, if you have no company number, this field should be set to ‘.’ (period, full-point or full stop)

Then they want to know which websites you will be linking from. Each one needs to be entered separately and verified by adding a metatag which they provide to the header. (For blogger, this needs to be added to your template – remember to back up your template before doing this!)

THEN you need to go back to the TradeDoubler site and click the link to verify your site. Essentially, this satisfies them that you control the site. Then, to get into the apple affiliate programme, you need to search on TradeDoubler for the iTunes programme. Once you have found the details, click on the ‘apply’ button. The website says you can get a button for your website whilst awaiting approval from apple, but that didn’t work. I had to wait a few days until I got an email from apple saying I had been accepted, and then I could make a button which worked.

Acceptance is an interesting question. The apple site linked above lists a large number of conditions your website has to meet. The most irksome was that they wanted you to have a clearly visible privacy policy on your website. I put one on the paradise press website, but forgot to do this on my blog (this blog). It didn’t matter, both were acepted.

So, how do I get the code for a button? Remember, it needs to be an apple button, which will open iTunes in a browser when clicked. Well, the procedure is not simple. From Trade Doubler, select the Advertisers/Search Affiliate Programmes menu. Enter iTunes and search. Remember to select the website you want the code for in the pop up menu. (The code will be different for each website you want a button on.) In the search results, click iTunes under ‘programme name’. You get a pop-up menu, and here it is rather counter-intuitive. Rather than clicking ‘link’ in the pop-up, you need to click ‘info’ instead. This displays a lot of guff about the programme, but scroll down to where it says ‘Basic Tools’. Just below that it has a sub-heading ‘Link Maker’. Click on the button at the end of that paragraph which says ‘Access it here’.

Given the obscure way I found this link, the ‘tip’ immediately below which suggested bookmarking the destination was very apposite!

The link directs you to a page on Apple’s iTunes website. Crucially, you will notice code at the bottom of the window which identifies your tradeDoubler account. All you now have to do is to enter the title of your e-book in the appropriate field, select ‘books’ and click ‘search’. From the search results, click on the jacket image of your book and a dialogue appears with the html code for your button.

In Blogger, all you now need to do is edit your layout and add an HTML widget and simply copy the code into it. I did think of a way to make the button bigger, but the image is not of a sufficiently good quality to be blown up without visibly pixelating.

The main reason for going through all this rigmarole is because it is the ONLY way to get a link to the iBookstore on my blog. It now takes its place among the links to the other BIG FOUR e-book retailers on my blog: apple, Kindle, nook, kobo, who, between them, have nearly 80% of e-book customers. A secondary advantage is that I get 4% of each sale referred to apple from the button on my blog. The Amazon box works similarly with an affiliate programme operated by Amazon. NB the tradeDoubler programme also has a similar facility with Waterstones and DK Books.

TinyURL for this post: http://tinyurl.com/byxnu99

Monday, 14 January 2013

A Bad Apple? Getting my e-book into the iBookstore

Soooo… Paradise Press has a new e-book distribution agreement with Troubador. Bokassa’s Last Apostle is to serve as the guinea pig. It loaded without a complaint onto the Barnes & Noble ‘Nook’ store. Apple proved a more difficult nut to crack.

It was sent to apple just before Xmas. First difficulty: they went on holiday from until 28th December. Silly me, I thought the internet didn’t sleep. Then it was sent back because it had a price on the back cover. I’m astonished that they even looked at the back cover, let alone why they don’t like the price being on there.

So I took the price off and sent it back. It came back again! This time because I had links or references to websites which offered the same e-book for sale in competition with Apple’s iBookstore. Now how on earth would anyone get to see those links on an apple e-book unless they had first purchased the thing from the iBookstore in the first place? Anyhow I can see their reasoning. Just about. Thinking it through, I had to take out ALL the hyperlinks AND references to the websites, including the Paradise Press website, my blog and, for good measure even third-party websites such as www.authonomy.com and the Manchester Sisters of Perpetual indulgence. Although this latter doesn't seem to be selling e-books, they might in the future.

I just today have figured out where the iBookstore is, apparently I have to go through iTunes. To read the apple e-books I would need either an iPhone or an iPad, and there doesn't seem to be an app I can use on my Mac, which is a bit of a lacuna. Anyhow, my e-book was there! Nook owners AND NOW iPad and iPhone owners can get my book!

Apple’s paranoia frankly looks like protectionism to me.

More about how to link to the iBookstore coming up!

TinyURL for this post: http://tinyurl.com/az2wx9c

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

The need for a distributor.

My e-book is doing well on the KindleStore. Along with Elizabeth LIster’s two e-books these three titles ammount to more than a quarter of Paradise Press sales by voilume. I even sold an e-book in Germany and am selling well on amazon.com (well, by my standards, anyway).

But therein lies a further problem. Firstly I was looking at the FAQs on the Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing website. There was something which said ‘Important tax information for non-US taxpayers’. I clicked on the link. Damn me, it said they had to pay 30% of my NET royalties to the Internal revenue. That’s 70% of 70%, which, to my reckoning is 49% royalty. Not good. They said I needed a US ‘Employer Identification Number’ (EIN), in other words a taxation identity, and then I would be able to send them a form asking for the 30% ‘withholding tax’ to be waived under a reciprocal tax treaty fortuitously in place between the UK and the US. To get this EIN I had to put myself on hold with the tax office in the USA for 30 minutes (luckily I have skype) and then they issued a number verbally down the phone. The letter confirming this arrived six weeks later. I then sent another form to Amazon and they have now confirmed that the withholding tax rate on the Paradise Press account is set to zero. Phew! that was close!

Then just when can I expect to get paid for the sales I have achieved. Not any time soon, it turns out. That sale on amazon’s German website, for example, might NEVER get paid. They won’ pay out until the net royalties exceed 10Euros. So until I sell two more books in Germany they will sit on the proceeds FOREVER. And then they will only pay out sixty days after the END of the month in which the net royalty exceeded 10 Euros. Al least they pay directly into my bank account. It’s even worse for the USA.

In the USA, they won’t pay until the net royalty exceeds $100. And then, to my utmost astonishment, the put a dollar cheque drawn on an American bank in the post. I enquired at the bank, and was told I would have to get them to ‘negotiate’ the cheque, which would cost about £8 and, no dounbt, wouldn’t exactly be at the most favourable exchange rate. Fortunately the total Paradise Press sales on Amazon’s US site just went over $100 for the first time at the end of November and we are expecting the first cheque to be put in the post at the end of January.

And this brings me to distribution. By having by now NINE e-books by Paradise Press on sale on the Kindle Store we are pooling our sales and achieving the $100 payment threshold earlier than we would if our books were being sold by each author separately. Epub sales (the format for all the other e-readers except the Kindle), have been very poor. And no surprise, to get one you need to look on the Paradise Press website. If you have an iPad, you would go to the Apple iBookstore. And, guess what? To get onto there you need a US tax number, US bank account, credit card AND address. The only way to achieve that is by using the services of an ‘aggregator’ or distributor in plain English. And that, I realised, was a massive advantage. Quite apart from being the only way to get onto key places like the Apple iBookstore or the Barnes & Nobel Nook store, the distributor has just one account with apple etc. as well as all the others and so would be paying out to us when our TOTAL net proceeds from ALL the bookshops they sell our e-books in exceeded £10 and they would obviously get a better exchange rate than we could hope to achieve. We can look forward to more frequent payments and more sales of epub e-books.

So I investigated the various aggregators. Most offer a full service and 100% of the funds received from the bookshops, but at a price. They mostly want a flat annual fee and money upfront. With low sales volumes this is not a nice prospect. I found a French company who wanted 10% of the proceeds from each book, but no maintainence fees or set-up fees to pay. But they can’ get books onto Apple, or sell Kindles in Europe, so they were out. Finally I found an alternative, in the unlikely form of Troubador, who own ‘Matador’ an imprint for self-published authors but who seem to be getting into e-books big time. They want 15%, but that’s a fair price and they don’t want anything else. I signed us up, but have spotted a catch, their account is in THEIR name, and the Nook store listing for my e-book says it is published by Troubador, NOT Paradise Press. Well, that’s something else to try and sort out.

TinyURL for this post: http://tinyurl.com/apb972j
 
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