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Publishing to Apple iBooks

This week I have been investigating publishing with Apple Books. This is now possible even if you don’t have an Apple device, and I have included a link to a very helpful article on this topic in the comments, with some links in it to other related articles.

Apple Books for Authors: Now Open to Everyone

How to Use Pages to Publish on Apple Books

However during this process I discovered that authors based in Australia need to be registered for GST (Goods and Services Tax) in order to be able to sell my books in the Australian iBooks store.

Here in Australia, businesses do not have to be registered for GST unless their turnover exceeds $75,000 per year. And it costs $70 to just register for GST.

After doing a little more research, I learned there are two options.

If you register, Apple will be happy and you’ll have the headache of extra admin and GST reporting and your books will appear on the Australian store.

If you don’t register, Apple may or may not offer your book on the Australian store BUT if they do, the proceeds from all sales will be withheld until you register for GST.

I found another article which explained the plight of Australian authors trying to sell on the Apple iBooks store, explaining the situation in more detail. 

Australian authors, iBooks and GST

I hope this information is helpful for you. For now I will be sticking with sales from my own website, and from Kobo and Google Play Books.

Happy publishing!

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Letting Go

Last week I discovered the libraries here on the Gold Coast hold an event called ‘Writing Fridays’, a structured day of writing using the Pomodoro Technique. Writing Fridays have been on hold since the libraries closed, but they recently announced that Gold Coast writers could now join free virtual Writing Fridays sessions every Friday from 10am to 4pm. So Friday has officially become my writing day. No publishing, just writing. Today I’ll be working on the second draft of my upcoming short story ‘Bedouin Boy’.

Like many other creatives, 2020 has been challenging for me. For the most part I think I’ve done alright, and I’ve been using the extra time at home to move through my writing and publishing goals. I have been working hard to keep in touch with my writing and publishing goals throughout the pandemic, but every now and then, I’m hit with an overwhelming sense of hopelessness, and I ask myself if there is any point to any of it. I ask myself why I am bothering to pursue any of these goals at all, especially the publishing ones.

But the pandemic is not the first time my writing and publishing goals have been seriously shaken up. It is not the first time on this journey that I have been moved to re-examine my writing and publishing dream, and challenge the picture of success I had conceived in my head.

I started taking my writing seriously around the age of eighteen. I completed a correspondence writing course that I had begun in high school, and became a member of the Queensland Writers Centre. It was around this time that I started working on my first book, a novella titled ‘The Wilted Rose’. I was also writing lots of short stories and submitting them to competitions around Australia, and getting a few wins here and there.

I decided to self publish The Wilted Rose when I was 21. I hadn’t tried very hard with the traditional publishing avenue at that stage, but I figured that I could self publish whilst also sending the book out to trad publishers. For many years I struggled to decide which channel I wanted to focus my attention on, all the while clinging to the vision of becoming the next J. K. Rowling. I read lots of articles about whether to choose trad or self publishing. Most discouraged the self publishing path and encouraged authors to try and find success in the traditional publishing world first. I was so conflicted.

Self publishing has become much more widely accessible, affordable and accepted in recent years. This certainly excited me, and I was delighted at the benefits of retaining so much more control over the publishing process. However I was still clinging to that picture of success I had conceived at the start of my writing and publishing journey. Deep down I didn’t want to completely let go of the dream of traditional success.

Then came the pandemic, and like so many other creatives I have struggled to keep my writing and publishing dreams alive. Wondering how this event has changed my ability to achieve my writing and publishing goals, in the short and long term.

Once again, I have been forced to take a long hard look at my writing and publishing dreams and goals, and to review them against the current events. I shifted my focus to setting up my eBook distribution, and put off setting up my paperbacks until the restrictions began to ease and the delivery of physical books could resume.

It has not been so much the need to review and adjust my goals in response to the pandemic that has been confronting to me. I felt like I had just gotten to the stage where I could detach emotionally from my long-held publishing dreams and goals, and to allow myself to consider new, better options. Now, even those options, and any kind of success with them, seem threatened by the pandemic.

What this pandemic has shown me is not how important my writing is to other people, but how important it is to me, and how vital it is to my mental health and emotional well-being. It has helped me detach from my ideals of success, and reconnect even more with the simple act of writing. Writing, not for anyone else, but for me.

In moments of weakness and hopelessness, I have slipped back into negative thought patterns, and wondered what relevance my books and the stories they contained have in the current state of things. People are distracted, emotionally and mentally drained. But in these moments of weakness, when the cloud of hopelessness lifts, I come back to the same truth every time. At the core, my writing is for me, and no-one else. And if in the process I can inspire others just by doing what’s right for me in this moment, then I’m glad.

No matter how my publishing goals change throughout this global shift, one thing has stayed consistent for me, and that is the act of writing itself. As always, writing has served as a source of strength inspiration to me. A way to lift my spirits, a place to escape when the real world becomes too much. I have had to let go of so much in regards to my publishing experience and what I thought that would look like, but my writing experience remains untouched. No matter what happens in the external world, as long as I have the use of my right hand and my mind, I will always have the simple, joyful act of writing.

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Publishing an eBook on Kobo

So today I uploaded my first eBook to Kobo Writing Life, Kobo’s self-publishing tool. I am going to be sharing my 2020 publishing journey every step of the way here on my blog. This afternoon I decided to sit down and record my experience for my own future reference, and share some insights on here for those of you out there who either haven’t heard of Kobo Writing Life, or have and are yet to use it.

So, first you need to sign up for a Kobo Writing Life account. You have the option to select an ‘Individual’ or ‘Publisher’ account. I selected Individual, but still listed my publishing imprint Pineapple Publishing in the ‘Imprint’ field when setting up my title (more on that later).

Here is a video about how to sign up for a Kobo Writers Life account:

Once you have your account set up, you can start uploading new titles.

Describe the eBook

In the Describe the eBook section, I entered my own name in the Author(s) field, and the name of my imprint (Pineapple Publishing) in the Publisher name field. I also put Pineapple Publishing in the designated Imprint field, but this field is optional, so you do not need to fill this in if you do not have an imprint.

On this page you will also enter your eISBN, if you have bought one. Like KDP, Kobo offer the option of using one of their eISBNs, but if it is like KDP, that ISBN can only be used on Kobo. If you have bought your own ISBNs, you can use the same one for your eBook, across all publishing platforms.

You will then select your Categories and Subcategories (Fiction, non-fiction etc). I found the Fiction Categories offered on Kobo to be quite limited. For example, there was no Historical Fiction subgenre, so as a result I have actually had to list The Wilted Rose as a nonfiction book to be able to access the Historical subgenre, as well as a few other subgenres that aren’t available to fiction titles.

Add eBook Content

The cover and interior file upload process was fairly straightforward. One thing I discovered is that Kobo does not offer a preview of your eBook the way Kindle Direct Publishing does. For those that are not familiar with this preview facility, let me explain.

On KDP you are able to view your interior file prior to publishing. KDP opens what looks like a Kindle device on your screen, and you can view the file exactly how it will appear on the reader’s eBook reading device.

Kobo does not have this facility. You can download an ePub file onto your computer, but you need to have an app installed that you can use to view the file. I started with downloading the free ePub Reader app from the Microsoft store, but it literally did nothing for me when I opened it. A friend recommended an app called Calibre, which cost under $2 AUD. Calibre converted my file to ePub and allowed me to preview it and save the file to my computer. It was very user friendly, and I highly recommend it.

Set the Licence and Geographic Rights

Here you will be asked to select ‘Apply Digital Rights Management’. DRM locks a file so that only the person who purchased it can view it, and only on the device or app from that vendor. In other words, if the reader buys your book on Kobo, they can only read it on their Kobo eReader or Kobo app. Not only that, but they cannot share the book with others, even if they have the same device.

Readers are limited on how many of their devices they can download the same ebook to at a time, and they cannot print the book (if they can, it will have a watermark or will only allow them to print a small part of it).

For now , I have deselected this option, as I’d like my book to be available in as many ways as possible. But it is up to you what you select here.

You will also have the option to enrol your title in Kobo Plus. Kobo Plus is a monthly subscription program similar to KDP Select/Unlimited. However, unlike KDP Select where you are not allowed to offer the eBook for sale anywhere else, with Kobo Plus you can have your book published elsewhere while it is enrolled in Kobo Plus. The only condition is that your book will be available through the Kobo Plus program for 90 days.

You will then be asked if you would like to make your book available to libraries. This feature seems to be similar to the Expanded Distribution option offered through KDP. But what I found to be really cool about this option is that through OverDrive’s catalogue, I could actually view the libraries here in Queensland where my eBook title would be available.

You will also be asked to list a Library price. This price is supposed to be higher than your retail price. The retail price for my book is $2.99, so for now I have this library price at $3.99.

Set the Price

You will then be prompted to enter the list price for you eBook. For The Wilted Rose, I have set the price at $2.99 AUD (another cool feature, that I can view the retail price in my own currency). In the past I have generally priced my books at $2.99 for novellas/novels/short story collections, and 99c for individual short stories.

Now you’re pretty much ready to publish!

I hope this post has been helpful, for those of you out there who either haven’t heard of Kobo Writing Life, or have and are yet to use it. If you have, I’d be very interested to hear about your experiences in the comments!