Most of the technological advancements in publishing have occurred during the last decade. The shift from print to digital, from brick and mortar stores to online marketplaces and from computer-based storage to the Cloud bode well for self-publishing authors who are interested in getting their work from pen to fans quicker and with greater ease.
Cloud-based systems are SaaS (software as a service) and are hosted by third-party service providers. They often don't require an IT department to customize or to keep them updated, and for indie writers they are less expensive to acquire.
Previously, only available to traditional publishing houses, today we talk to Steve Wilson, founder and president of FastPencil, whose cloud-based platform addresses the independent writing community’s needs.
Instead of creating projects in several different formats, writers can actually commence their work from scratch in FastPencil making it available in multiple formats. "FastPencil creates eBooks in various formats (Mobi, PDF eBook, EPUB) in order to satisfy all of the popular and relevant sales channels," notes Wilson.
"Once published, an author's title will be available within 2 business days on the FastPencil Marketplace, and typically within 1-2 weeks on third-party channels, such as Amazon(Kindle), Apple, B&N, Kobo and other channels."
Like Widbook, authors can add up to 5 collaborators to work on the project if they so choose, where they can accept/reject revisions, track changes and revert to previous drafts.
When ready to publish, the author simply clicks the 'setup publication' button, which allows them to access a wizard to add their metadata. This collection process includes Title Page Info, a Description, Formats (Print and/or eBook), Cover Setup, Pricing, Proofing, and more. This metadata—important for SEO (search engine optimization) purposes—is then paired with the book upon distribution.
Differing from Widbook and some of the other self-publishing platforms, authors using FastPencil can create their books in both Print and eBook formats. "We offer books in both print and electronic format, which is unique – many self-publishing companies are strictly eBook these days—(with us) it all happens under one roof," says Wilson.
FastPencil offers 3 publishing options:
1. Private Edition = Publish FREE. You only pay for at least one copy of your book or, if eBook only, the cost is $9.99.
2. FastPencil Marketplace = Publish FREE. You only pay for at least one copy of your book or, if eBook only, the cost is $9.99.
3. Wide Distribution = $299 for 2 formats or $249 for one format, and the publication is distributed to the FastPencil Marketplace, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBookstore and Ingram Digital (hundreds of domestic and international channels).
With FastPencil's POD (Print-On-Demand) business model, self-publishing authors do not have to pay for or store their book's inventory.
Partnering with Libraries
Libraries have traditionally been a destination to borrow hardbound books. With a new program developed by Fastpencil and Recorded Books, FastPencil’s robust technology can now provide libraries with an end-to-end publishing network that helps authors write, manage and convert their work. Having access, libraries can then store and post these books for immediate use by library patrons.
"Our Partnership with Recorded Books opens up our technology to the 5,500 libraries that are already a part of the RB network. “The patrons of those libraries will be able to login to the RB Digital portal and access the library version of FastPencil’s self-publishing platform, which is one of the licensed versions of FastPencil," notes Wilson.
Do You Have a Best Seller in You?
The company just announced their partnership with World’s Best Story to uncover the next big blockbuster story via a social contest. Aspiring authors will be reviewed and voted by a community of readers, and, ultimately, hand-selected by a panel of best-selling authors. The grand prize winner will have his or her title published by FastPencil PREMIERE platform. Interested authors can register here.
Head in the Clouds
FastPencil went from a startup in 2008 to winning the Book Expo of America's IDPF (International Digital Publishing Forum) Innovation award. From a writer's first thoughts to door-to-door delivery, Fast Pencil eliminates the need to seek out any other software. As Wilson puts it: "The ability to go to one place to write, collaborate, design/format, publish, distribute and sell for both print and eBooks. . . makes FastPencil the most complete, end-to-end platform for authors."
Up till now, Cloud computing for self-publishers has received minimal attention. Going forward, with platforms like those developed by FastPencil, this space should be of great concern as more and more services are developed specifically for the Cloud. Writers no longer need to be tied to their hardware. As easy as it was to pick up pen and paper while on-the-go in the past, by having access to the Cloud today, you can virtually continue to write no matter where your travels take you.
Readers & Writers: I look forward to your feedback, comments and critiques, and please use BookWorks.com as your resource to learn more about preparing, publishing and promoting self-published books. My blogs appear bi-weekly on the 1st and 3rd Fridays of each month.