IBPA’s new Code of Ethics

Logo - Independent Book Publishers AssociationI am presently the member of two Australian trade associations (APA, SPN), and one international (the Independent Book Publishers Association).  Now, professional associations generally have two conflicting mandates, firstly they have a responsibility to act on behalf of their members, a responsibility which will often have them acting like a cartel or a labor union (trade union) for the members of the profession, though this description is commonly rejected by the body concerned. Secondly professional bodies often act to protect the public by maintaining and enforcing standards of training and ethics in their profession. (Source Wikipedia). One of the primary methods by which this second is achieved is by the development, maintenance, and enforcement of a code of ethics for its members.

Without a Code of Ethics it is difficult for an organisation to discipline or expel a member for acting unethically, as without a code it often difficult to determine whether someone is a fit and proper person to be a member. This is because the question of fitness will differ across occupations, and the matter will often end up in court. With a Code of Ethics the question is simpler, as the expectations of the behaviour of its members is set out in that Code. While the matter may still end up in court, the fact that the Association made a determination against a code of ethics specific to its occupation and membership will make its decision to discipline, suspend, or expel a member is much easier to justify. And personally I can definitely confirm that it makes sacking an unethical employee so much easier.

Which should make it of concern that until recently none of these three associations appears to have had a code of ethics, although this has now changed with the release of IBPA’s first Code of Ethics. Continue reading

How people chose what ebook to read – Part 2

Click Image to Enlarge Image Source: AuthorMarketingClub.com

Infographic - why people buy books[p2p type=”slug” value=”how-people-chose-what-ebook-to-read-part-1″]In my last blog [/p2p]I discussed a poll conducted by USA TODAY and Bookish, a website designed to help people find and buy books. The poll found that a majority of those surveyed (57%) cited their own opinion of the writer’s previous work as the major factor in creating interest in a particular book for them. Opinions of a relative and friend (publishers call that “word of mouth”) came in second at 43%. Lower on the list of major factors: professional reviewers and other writers (each 17%), the book cover (16%) and Internet opinions by non-professionals (10%).

This week I wanted to share with you the results of another recent survey by ebookfairies which  confirms many of the USA today survey’s results. The ebookfairies survey was conducted from June 1-30, 2013, via Survey Monkey, and as many as 2,951 people replied to most of the 44 questions formulated by more than a dozen authors.

Some of the more relevant information from the survey include: Continue reading

How people chose what ebook to read – Part 1

USAToday - logo

The availability of online bookstores, and particularly the arrival of eBooks is starting to transform how  people discover the books they may want to read. The traditional place to do that was bookstores. You’d go in to buy one book and discover another.

Officials at Amazon and other book websites argue that clicking can replace browsing, but is that just a vague and nebulous hope, or are people actually selecting the books they’ll read in different ways? A recent poll  conducted for USAToday and Bookish, a website designed to help people find and buy books, asked readers what factors create interest in a particular book for them. Continue reading

To illustrate or not to illustrate? A question.

Frontier IncursioRecently we nominated Leonie Rogers’ Frontier Incursion for the Independent Book Publishers Association’s Benjamin Franklin Digital Awards. The Awards were established to honour the best in Digital Book innovation with nominees being judged on 5 criteria:

  1. Content,
  2. Use of Platform and Technology,
  3. Innovation,
  4. Design, and
  5. Overall Reaction.

As a publishing award rather than a literary award we knew it was a bit of a long shot and unfortunately we weren’t successful. What was interesting, however, was the feedback we received from the judge about how they believed the book could be improved.

When I launched Hague Publishing it was with the intention of producing well edited eBooks, with a fast load, and a clean appearance. A book where the words did not get in the way of the story, but in fact supported that reading experience. Despite the failure to win the Award, it reassuring to have the judge recognise that the goals I had set myself had been achieved. It was also pleasing that the judge had enjoyed the story, particularly liking ‘the plot elements of genetic engineering and people-cat empathy’.

However, the suggestion that the book would benefit from the addition of internal illustration is not one that I would necessarily support. From a purely publishing perspective the use of internal illustrations would significantly add to the costs of production. While from the reader’s perspective illustrations would slow load time and chew up valuable storage space if they are like me and tend to leave previously read books on their eReader. It also raised the question of whether it would actually add any benefit to the reading experience.

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eBook covers: part 3 – The developmental process

In the final part of this series on eBook covers I want to get a little bit ‘arti’ and move away from the technical stuff I’ve been talking about to date. So in this blog I want to walk you through the process we followed in getting to the final cover.

Firstly the artist. David Lecossu, a French freelance Concept Artist/Illustrator who worked for the videogame company ‘Gameloft’ and who works now for clients like Applibot Inc, Fantasy Flight Games and Catalyst Game Labs. David approached us in February 2013 to see if there was any work. At the time there wasn’t but when we were looking for an artist for Shelley’s “Lights Over Emerald Creek” we approached him to see if he was still interested.

The original specifications I provided him were slightly more detailed than usual, see the following

Shelley was imagining a highly realistic, but magical pic of a girl sitting in a wheelchair. We see her from the back. Her long blonde hair hangs down her back. It is night. The wheelchair is on the banks of a creek. Tropical palms can be seen, and in the distance, blue-black shadows of mountains are silhouetted against a starry sky. Above the girl’s head is a ball of weird, magical light. It’s about the size of a football but the glow is much bigger. It is a brilliant blue/white and radiance drenches her. The light is a portal, but at the moment of the picture, all we can see is that some unearthly light is over her head. Further along the creek, two smaller lights, the size of tennis-balls, one blue and one orange, hover just over the water.

We then had to negotiate over price. Our initial offer was for $150 but David’s base rate started at $300. Given his credentials we decided to pay his rate. We have since increased our base rate to $250.

Continue reading

eBook covers: part 2 – Appearance and typeface

Last week I blogged about what size you need to get your artist to provide you to meet distributor requirements. This week I’ll be talking about the additional requirements you need to consider, including how it displays as a thumbnail, and ensuring that it works in black and white. I will also be supply a helpful html page that you can download to your computer to see how your cover works at various sizes.

This time I’ll be using the cover of Frontier Incursion by Leonie Rogers. The design is by talented Australian artist and illustrator Emma Llewelyn.

The first picture shows the cover of Frontier Incursion in all its glory. The typeface used for the text is Vani. Looks good doesn’t it.


Frontier Incursion Colour 200x300

Frontier Incursion Colour 200×300

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eBook covers: part 1 – Where size (and ratio) matters

When I started Hague Publishing I thought all we needed to do was to contract an illustrator to do one cover that we could use for the eBook, publicity, and for the cover for a Print on Demand if sales justified it. Unfortunately I was quickly disabused of this because of the wide variety width to height ratios that distributors, and the publishing process requires.

However, I have now come to the view that one size will fit all, so long as all the main elements are contained within a centred, smaller, specified area. Read on as I walk you through why I have come to this view, and what size you should be requesting from the illustrator.

But first of all, what actually is the problem, and here I think two pictures are worth a thousand words. The first picture is how ‘Bonnie’s Story – A Blonde’s Guide to Mathematics’ is displayed on Amazon.com (ie 152 x 239 pixels).

Sized for Amazon.com

Sized for Amazon.com


However, if you simply use the same picture on Google (229 x 289 pixels), or Apple and Barnes & Noble (260 x 336 pixels) you get the following, which is frankly quite uncomplimentary to Bonnie’s hips.

Continue reading