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.

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: 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.

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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 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!

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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 (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.

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