The Internet for Creative Folks – Part 1

One of the – many – great things about the Internet is how it removes barriers. At the library, we want to help people harness these online technologies to achieve their personal goals.

There are many websites available to help authors, artists , musicians, craftspeople or a whole new kind of sculptor both create their work and find an audience. You don’t have to be in Toronto, New York, Milan or Paris anymore.

For authors, there are several sites that allow you to publish your work. Most require a fee but our favourite, Lulu.com, lets you create both e-books and print books without any up-front expense. It’s a fairly straightforward process and you can use the built-in tools or something like Aviary, also free, to create your own cover art.

For e-books, you have the option of applying Digital Rights Management, (DRM), which prevents your book being copied without being paid for. For free books, such as ones that a company might create to promote their business, leaving the DRM off will make it easy for the book to be shared.

You can also use Lulu to sell your books in online bookstores, including Apple’s iBookstore, Barnes &Noble and Amazon. (Speaking of Amazon, their Kindle Direct Publishing program lets you upload your manuscript and make it available for Amazon’s Kindle device, and Kobo is just about to launch a similar program, all at no charge).

For physical books Lulu uses a print-on-demand model. Once you’ve uploaded your manuscript, Lulu will tell you their production cost. You then decide your profit margin and set your own price.

The real beauty of Lulu’s print-on-demand model is that you don’t need to pre-order any copies – unless you want to. A copy of your book is printed only when it’s ordered. Lulu takes care of accepting payment, printing and shipping the book and cuts you a cheque. If you do want some copies, you just pay Lulu’s production price, not the retail one you set. And of course, the library will be happy to consider your book for our collection.

Lulu also creates an Author’s Spotlight page where all of your books can be featured, giving you a single web address where you can direct purchases.

Once your work is available online, it’s available around the world. To reach an audience anywhere, you can create a free website with Wix or Weebly. And a Facebook page is always a good idea. There are almost 300,000 Facebook users just within 40 kms of us so there’s bound to be some fans to be found there.

If you’re thinking of selling your books yourself, there’s a very exciting tool that’s recently been launched in Canada. It’s a small device that plugs into a smartphone’s headphone jack and allows you to process credit card payments on the spot. PayPal’s Here, Intuit’s GoPayment and Payfirma’s mobile solution are all available in Canada and more are coming. Your sales are no longer limited to the cash people have in their wallet.

At the library, we’ve got all kinds of resources to help you learn about the web, marketing or just getting inspired. Our E-Services Specialist, Peter Atkinson, is also available for one-on-one sessions and can help you with anything mentioned in this article. To make an appointment with Peter, call St. Thomas Public Library at 519-631-6050.

-PA

Coming Soon – Part 2 on how the Internet can help Artists, Artisans and Craftspeople

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