Tuesday 30 December 2014
Saturday 27 December 2014
Tuesday 9 December 2014
Thursday 4 December 2014
Enter AY63P at the the checkout.
Sunday 9 November 2014
Friday 31 October 2014
Saturday 11 October 2014
Tuesday 7 October 2014
Friday 19 September 2014
I was looking for a more flexible replacement for a piece of kit I'd worked to death over the last five years. My use of portable electronics started with a Palm T/X PDA, linked to a Freedom Universal Keyboard; a full size folding Bluetooth keyboard. With five years of work under its belt it was showing its age and when I switched to Android phones and tablets I needed a replacement. I wanted a device that would keep the on-board keyboard display tucked out of sight and leave more of the screen available to see and work with.
The Freedom Keyboard worked with a dedicated driver tied to the Palm and in spite of numerous attempts I couldn't divorce the pair. Hence the scouring of the internet and computer stores for something more flexible.
I knew what I was looking for, it had to be small and lightweight, yet physically big enough to cope with the size of my hands. (My weakness in texting boils down to predictive text, small keys and large-ish fingers - the results can be cringe-worthy and hilarious by turns) It had to be adaptable enough to work with multiple devices, switching it from the phone to the tablet and back again was not an option.
Starting locally, a visit to the nearest Maplin's led me to Maplin Mini Bluetooth keyboard, by Cerulian Technology; at 218 x 92 x 22mm ( 8 1/2 x 3 1/2 x 3/4 inches) and weighing 215g it was larger than I was ideally looking for. There is no hinge to make it more compact it will fit snugly into a bag.
The manufacturer claims a keyboard life of 10 million strokes and the device is well constructed and solid to the touch. The Bluetooth connection is straightforward with Android and Apple devices and once the pairing code has been entered on the keyboard the link is positive and with a quick response. The Full 78 key QWERTY layout is clear and angled slightly and four rubber feet give it a good grip while you type. The keyboard, lacking any hinge mechanism is solid enough for lap typing and has a working range of 5 metres between the keyboard and the connected device. The keys click slightly when they are struck but respond quickly and the effort required is not great, this makes the keyboard suitable for prolonged use; much easier and therefore more practical than using the on-board keyboard.
Powered by a Li-ion rechargeable battery with a considerable working life between charges and supplied with a retractable USB charging cable it retains its functions while being charged. The cable is a charging cable and cannot be used as a USB connection to a PC or laptop. The Cerulian is compatible with Apple iOS, HID and Android 4.4
|Periboard 805 (Top)|
Cerulian Bluetooth Keyboard
As an interim it was a reasonable buy, but not what I was really looking for, so the search continued on-line. That brought me to the Perixx Periboard 805. This was more like it; compact flexible,, and like the Cerulian, powered by a Li-ion battery. The Periboard is a Bluetooth device, and again, like the Cerulian cannot be used through a USB connection. The dimensions, folded, are 146 ( 290 opened) x 96 x 17mm and weighing 253g.
The Periboard is compatible with Windows XP/Vista/7/8, supports HID, Android up to 4.4, iOS and with IBM and compatible PCs.
It had what I was looking for; folding, Bluetooth, lightweight and with large enough keys to avoid Fat Finger, the rechargeable battery has a long working life between charges. The key strokes are responsive and comfortable, a keyboard for long bouts of writing, ideal for churning out the word count for a dissertation or a novel in relative comfort. There is no click, the sound of the keystrokes is soft making little noise at all. On the downside; there is no support behind the hinge so lap typing is not possible. The Periboard 805 needs a firm surface underneath. That aside, the advantages far outweigh that consideration. It is lightweight and compact enough to be genuinely portable. The folded dimensions make it roughly the same size as a Moleskine pocket notebook and about 50g heavier.
|Moleskine notebook and Folded Periboard 805|
Choosing between the too, The Cerulian and the Periboard, comes down to portability the Cerulian is good, but lacking the fold it is too bulky for a pocket Good for a bag or a briefcase, but the folding Periboard has the edge. Genuinely pocket sized and portable.
Saturday 6 September 2014
Wednesday 27 August 2014
Was any of it real; the virtual office; a working space in a shared address, secretarial cover and mail forwarding; emails go direct. The postal redirect could be as basic as the clerical cover opening the mail, scanning it and emailing the scanned documents (A small publisher using this system would accept only email submissions) and the originals would be stored for a limited time or shredded depending on the individual arrangements.
Fiction is our business, the making it up stuff and no resemblance to the living or dead is grist to the creative mill but what happens when the people you are working with in the real world edge toward fiction. A prestigious address may be money in the bank, your money in their bank. Scratch away, type in the company name followed by "complaint" and look at the results. View it from any angle you can think of and add the results to your list.
Check everything, work through the links, use all your tools and if you're curious about where they are, street view is a handy piece of kit. The little orange man can drop you on the street where they live and check out the neighbourhood. Unscrupulous, straight up, decent and honest, the hunch could
lead you to any of these. Tread carefully.
Sunday 10 August 2014
Friday 1 August 2014
You can help me with something, do you have any experience of working with mailchimp, or any similar service? Drop me a line through the comments, I'm interested to discover more.
Saturday 26 July 2014
People ask me questions all the time, an intrinsic part of my daily life is answering questions, and some have to be given time to reach an answer. A friend (and a reader of The Grange Novels,) asked me earlier this year, what does NaNoWriMo mean to me?
The smashwords interview asks about my choice of eReader. I have a Kobo mini, a slim pocket sized device, inside a sleepcover and the most frequently read book is Chris Baty's "No Plot, No Problem," the guide to surviving NaNoWriMo. I read it at least once a year, especially in the late summer as preparatory reading.
NaNoWriMo means a lot to me, it's an unbridled release of creativity, a raucous adventure of clacking keys, word counts, hit and missed targets for the day and at the end of all the fun; 30 and fifty thousand completed with no excuses. It is about letting go, chucking the rules out of the window and having a ball; why do it if you don't enjoy it?
Now all I need is a story - no problem!
Saturday 19 July 2014
A couple of the questions made me think, asking me to reach back into the recesses of my memory for the first story I wrote and the first book that had a major impact; I tweaked the answers, I honestly don't remember the first story I wrote,and so many stories have made an impact it is difficult to choose the one which made the greatest.
The idea was kicked around and played with for the best part of twenty years before Iceline was written and back then Steel wasn't Steel and Josie was someone else too. Bill Jardine appeared with the house, and I really must find out how he came to be there. It feels like that sometimes, that the writing process is based on an interview with the characters, and every so often a new one appears, like a guest arriving for the week-end.
Saturday 12 July 2014
I often work on a 7 inch Acer Iconia tablet loaded the with software for Kobo, Kindle, Nook, Aldiko, 'txtr, FBReader and Diesel eReaders (the Diesel eBookstore and Sony readerstore closed March 2014) Most of them require an acccount; usually a simple process of creating an account name, adding an email and providing a password. With the exception of the Kindle, all are linked to sites where my books are available. As Iceline is permanently free they all have copy downloaded from Smashwords.
That may be true, but my reality is difficulty reading the small print. Peering over the top of your glasses at something close to the end of your nose looks and feels wrong and this is where the eReader comes into it's own. The choice of font size, background colour, day or night setting all swing into gear and ease the process.
Saturday 5 July 2014
The strongest myth is that self-published books are by default of inferior quality to traditionally published. That may not be a given truth anymore, Yvonne Hertzberger made a comment to a blog post on Indies Unlimited that the standards of traditional publishers are falling, and now expect authors to arrange their own editing and proofing. Leading to a decline in standards and the likelihood of sub-par volumes hitting the bookstore shelves.
There are three particular strands that intrigue me; the first draft is always rubbish; the first book is always bad and that the longer you spend on a book the better it is.
Taking the last first; it is true that Iceline went to publish ten years after I sat down to write, so I could say that I spent ten years working on it. Sorry, honesty outbreak coming up; nothing like that; a year, maybe a year and a half actually working on the manuscript, editing and proof reading, then it sat on file for a couple of years before I had another look at it.
Working in a literary environment it is easy to take things literally, we forget that we also spend our time making it up, fiction is not lying it's more about being creative with the truth.
By all means spend the time polishing but bringing out the best needs one crucial piece of knowledge; knowing when to stop. It is as easy to under polish as it is to over polish. Taking a moment to stand back, or put the manuscript back in the file may be the moment that reveals the polish is at its best, the lustre at its most luminous.
The first draft is always rubbish, sorry, that's rubbish. We all have a natural talent for storytelling, it is a basic human trait, the variation comes with the degree and the ability to entertain that comes with it. Think about your favourite subject, how, long can you talk about it for? Five, ten, fifteen minutes, half an hour or can you rabbit for hours; long beyond the point where you're listener has crawled into a room somewhere in the back of the mind until it blows over.
That story is always a good one, thinking as you go and supplying the details as the story unfolds: now apply that to your first draft. The beauty of NaNoWriMo for me is the release of the mental brakes and the constant looming of the deadline versus the word count forces me to think on my feet and allow the story to develop a natural flow, often surprising myself in the process.
Writers talk about the characters taking over, of pushing the story in a way not envisaged at the planning stage. Who are they, where do they come from, but how often do we ask where are they going. Once they are released into our conscious world, where might they go from here?
With an inherent ability for crafting a fascinating tale on the go, why should we ever accept that our first draft is rubbish. There is a good solid argument for making the first draft the best you can; it reduces the amount of subsequent work required to achieve the desired level of polish.
The first book is always a bad one, OK, if we accept that the first draft is bad (No!) then the first draft of the first book must need work far beyond our capabilities to make the grade, whatever that or the grade setter might be! Sorry guys, I don't buy it!
Are any of these myths true? Do they hold a truth within them, or are they simply retold stories about how the odds are stacked against the independent and self published. Fairy tales to frighten the children and make them behave, to follow tradition blindly or the bogeyman will get you!
So what are your myths; the odd stories that tap into your psyche when you switch on and attack the keyboard?
Tuesday 1 July 2014
Saturday 28 June 2014
The Internet revolution in self-publishing has changed the landscape as much as the introduction of the printing press. Small independents are laying the foundations of more than a game changing situation. This is digging up the sacred turf and carting it away then dismantling the stadium and rebuilding it, and that is what they are doing. Independent authors/publishers are doing the groundwork of a whole new way of reaching the public and giving them what they want; good quality writing, equal to any.
Thursday 26 June 2014
A small step in the right direction and veering away by degrees, rather than closing in. There is still a long way to go.
Saturday 21 June 2014
"There is no stigma to success" is RjCrayton's call in her recent blog on publishing, a self-published author who enjoys success will be hunted by the traditional publishers (You are probably already familiar with the roll call of Hocking, Howey, Locke and others). She also comments that "There is a stigma to slow sales in traditional publishing," but definitely not in self-publishing. As a self-published author you have control, time is your ally not an opponent. The dearth of immediate post publication sales will not see your work remaindered or pulped.
There is time to reflect on what worked and what didn't, and the marketing doesn't have to be complicated or expensive. I carry business cards, contact details on the front, book links and a discount code on the back. Vistaprint has some good designs and ideas, or you can upload your own image or book cover. Originally supplying business cards they now offer a range of materials. Brian Marggraf offers a few pointers and an encouraging post about guerrilla marketing, a low key approach fuelled by your ingenuity.... after all, you are the best advertisement for your book.
Sunday 15 June 2014
Saturday 14 June 2014
The new domain .uk came online on the 10th of June and cheekyseagull.uk was waiting in the wings to make an entrance and heralded by the biggest welcome sign in the world at Heathrow Airport "Welcometothe.uk" made an entrance. Among the first to take up the shorter domain name was the tech savvy Stephen Fry, entertainer and twitter legend, and this brings dear old Britain into line with our continental cousins in Germany (.de) France (.fr), and others as Stephen so delightfully points out, we are all three key strokes closer.
Open Office is a full office productivity suite, available as a free download able to produce Microsoft compatible documents and with the Write2epub extension the document can then be converted to an ePub.
Sigil and Calibre, offer ePub generation and conversion respectively, Sigil is an epub editor with the option of working with HTML or WYSIWYG depending on how comfortable you feel. Unsure of how to use it, video tutorials by Unruly Guides can be seen on YouTube, step by step instructions on how to work with Sigil, set this alongside Calibre and you have a pair of useful tools. Calibre enables you to manage the formats of ePub and convert it to specific types compatible with ereading devices, both are available as free downloads.
The manuals are available, but work with the manual and the video, put the two together and take time to work out the glitches, and don't be afraid to ask for help. Being an independent is about regaining control over what happens to your work,it does not mean you have to do everything yourself. Not unless you really want to; there are artists out there in social media who are looking for an opportunity to be creative, and among them are some amazingly talented people.
Give yourself a break, them too...you never know where it will lead you!
Saturday 7 June 2014
The situation regarding the self-publishing arms of the big traditional publishers show them in close formation with the Vanity Presses, and with Author Solutions, owned by Penguin Random House in a pincer movement to grab the best via the traditional path and shuffle the rest towards the shearing sheds of the Vanities.
The door to self publish remains open.Yes; despite every negative thought and dismal sage advice about how many, or few, self-published books sell well; your readers are waiting, but you need to be careful. I've loosely touched on the issues regarding Vanity Press in general; and Author Solutions and its many subsidiaries in particular XLibris. (Xlibris.co.uk is the local branch of this multinational conglomerate) and a couple of days ago I nipped across to David Gaughran's blog Let's Get Visible and his latest piece The Case Against Author Solutions, Part 1 The numbers, looks at the methods and figures involved in the operation of this scammy company and how they saturate the internet with cleverly baited traps to snare the unwary writer. Thankfully, the majority of writers who stumble on the shiny new toy adverts look deeper and see what lurks beneath the surface, but not all. Some go down that road, at their peril and great cost. The way the adverts are designed and located is to catch the writer before they look further and find the many stories with unhappy endings at the hands of this Hydra like company.
I touched on the same point a couple of weeks ago in Come into my parlour... with my variation of the six degrees game, clicking the links and finding Author Solutions long before the count reached six. It was where I found the adverts, pumped out through GoogleAds, and sliding onto the screen with the Oxford English Dictionary and the Gutenberg Project among so many others that seemed unexpected at first, put then the GoogleAds follow their own track. It's the saturation level that is startling, the number of places the ads must be placed to proliferate at this level. David Gaughran explores this too.
The trick is to be very wary, it is a cliche that anything that seems to be too good to be true usually is, yet the independent author has tricks and traits tucked away. Observations picked up by Jim Devitt over at Indies Unlimited earmarking five distinctive traits found in many indie authors, have a look for yourself, and take them to heart, work with your imagination, check where you are in your journey towards publication and see what's around the corner you were going to walk past. Check out a website,, and then look at a handful covering the same area.
I am currently working on the draft revisions of What You Ask For, as well as completing The Obedience of Fools, and further down the list is putting Iceline into print, and the search is to find a way of doing this without breaking the bank.
Starting with 'book publishing' as the search parameters, as simple as that, and a number of options pop up, some are more helpful than others. A few offer a free quote (this may involve providing an email address, not always) based on the size, the type of book, number of pages, hard or soft cover and the sort of finish you want on the cover. The prices on the quotes can be wildly different but they give an idea of what price you can pass on the book to the customer and calculate your return on the investment.
The precise details vary from printer to printer, depending on whether they put out print run or print on demand. A UK based website that offers print on demand and distribution is FeedARead. A publishing platform funded by Arts Council England where you can sign up and publish for free, have it available to purchase through the site or for a distribution fee make it available elsewhere. Click the link and have a look for yourself; yes, there is a fee involved to cover the administration costs to set up your book for distribution. The end product is a good quality paperback, well made and a match for bookshop quality. FeedARead is available to writers of all nationalities, not just UK based.
Similarly, Completely Novel, is a print on demand service offering a variety of options for the publishing author, well laid out website with a free quote option and a series of reasonably priced packages starting with Free (and able to sell through the Completely Novel website) and monthly subscriptions offering access to distribution on line and through Bricks and Mortar stores. The finished product is good quality, suitable for a bookstore. The benchmark is that degree of product quality and the reader, quite rightly, should expect no less a quality product from the Independent author than any other source.
Shaun Allan over at Flip and Catch is looking at Print On Demand and brings CreateSpace, Lulu, Ingram Spark and Lightning Source to the list. As with FeedAread and Completely Novel each one has its own criteria for accepting a novel and adding it to thei list.
CreateSpace is part of Amazon, offering a Print On Demand platform for authors and content creators in other media and offers distribution through Amazon.com, Amazon Europe, CreateSpace eStore and ebook for Kindle, and working with on-demand printing, means that your book is always available and ready to ship. I am hoping to explore the details offered by the print on demand companies (If you have any information that might be useful why not drop me a line either through the comments box here or through the contact at www,cheekyseagull.co.uk, I would love to hear from you,) then put the comparisons together in one place as an easy reference. That may take a couple of weeks, in the meantime I'll stick with my comparisons with the packages offered by the Vanity Press.
Now and again I'm stuck with the idea that writing the novel is the easiest bit, the words flow out on to the screen, paper or whatever medium you are using, they are shuffled around in the edit and proof-reading, then after final polishing the novel is formatted and published (over-simplified, but you gett the drift). Then comes the marketing, finding places to post and generally get the word out there letting the world know that your latest work is heading their way. Not as much fun as writing, but the hard work can pay off...play with your ideas, use the imagination that created your book and see where it can take you.
Dip your toe into the marketing pool and paddle around...
Sunday 1 June 2014
David Gaughran, author of "Let's Get Digital", on the question of discoverability and the reality of competition in the publishing world today. Well worth a look at...
Makes you wonder who really are the bad guys, Amazon may be a colossus astride the world, but is it the evil empire some make it out to be?
Saturday 31 May 2014
A humble stock control number, the SBN, developed for WH Smith Limited and others in the mid-1960s by Gordon Foster, Emeritus Professor of Statistics at Trinity College, Dublin. The system was adopted by the International Standard for Organisation (ISO) in 1970 as a 10 digit number (the original 9 digit number was used in the UK until 1974 and could be converted to 10 by adding '0'), the 10 digit iSBN was replaced on the 1st January 2007 by the 13 digit sequence to make it compatible with the European Article Number (EAN).
Unique to each edition or variation of a publication; paperback, hardback and ebook all possess a separate individual code, later editions may share an ISBN.
The ISBN is the key to distribution, it allows an edition to be located, ordered and shipped, ISBNs are issued through specific agencies; in the UK ISBNs are provided by Neilsen Book and Bowker carries the same responsibility for the US.
Books sold through Kindle and Amazon display an ASIN, (Amazon Standard Identification Number) having an ISBN is not a requirement; where a book has an ISBN the 13 digits will be the same,the ISBN becomes the ASIN, other companies may supply an ISBN as part of the agreement. Smashwords offers this to all authors who distribte through the company, and it is a prerequisite for inclusion on some of the channels that Smashwords distributes to. Generally, for any book to be fed into the distribution system then an ISBN is a must.
A note about the ISBN at Smashwords; Smashwords is a ebook distributor, not a publisher, however because the ISBN is obtained through them and they have purchased it from Bowker, Smashwords is listed as the publisher with Bowker in the US. A technical point which is explained in their agreement with you. Smashwords recognise you, the author of the work as the publisher.
What are the options for digital formatting and distribution?
The ebook can be formatted and uploaded to individual ebook suppliers following their own instructions and requirements, or an aggregator can be used.
Amazon, with the Kindle can reach wherever Amazon goes and the book ordered from the Kindle bookstore, there are occasions when a book ordered through Kindle cannot be downloaded because of territorial restrictions. Certain books may be available in the US and Canada, but not the UK and Ireland, depending on where the Kindle was registered.
Instructions on to get the book on Amazon can be found at Kindle Direct publishing and the instructions to help you are in How to publish on Amazon Kindle with Kindle Direct Publishing and the software for device compatible Kindle can be downloaded, so you can check out the end result.
Smashwords works through its own site and by feeding books selected for the premium catalogue to a list of ebook retailers; Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Overdive, Flipkart, Oyster and Scribd are on the list. Smashwords has its own criteria explained in the Smashwords Style guide. Both available as free downloads.
Fomatting KDP and Smashwords takes a couple of hours, and you must follow the instructions, don't be tempted to skip forward or miss anything out and the end result will be a file ready to upload; Kindle requires a filtered HTML and Smashwords asks for a cleaned up MS word Doc.file (Not a Docx.).
Once uploaded Smashwords feed the doc file into their Meatgrinder and formatted files for most common e-readers come out the other end and the book can be ready to purchase on the site within half an hour of upload. Kindle takes longer, but you can expect the book to be on Amazon within twenty fours hours.
So the book is out there, jostling for position with its own ISBN, waiting for the reader, hungry for entertainment...and the downloads begin...
Thursday 29 May 2014
Sunday 25 May 2014
Saturday 24 May 2014
There will always be someone prepared to take your money. Vanity Publishing is a sweetly set trap for the unwary and reminds me of the child catcher in Ian Fleming's story "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang," Sneaking around the town enticing the children into captivity with promises sweets and treats.
One of the accusations levelled at the Vanity Presses, and with some degree of truth is that they will publish anything regardless of the quality,and the bill can be substantial. You have to scratch the surface, check beyond the first link and weigh the pros and cons, and balance it against why you want to publish.
A frequently asked question on Silverwood books website; I'm publishing my book to make a profit - is that a good idea?
Answer: Probably not... there is more to the answer that follows, but the opening remark sums up the attitude of many Vanity Publishers. They will take the money, rack up the bills and publish. The reputation as money mills churning out sub-standard products is justified. Personal experience of a purchase from AuthorHouse revealed the sections offered as a sample proof read and copy edited, and the rest of the story untouched. A serious disappointment, the story itself was good and the ideas explored were genuinely interesting but the final production values were so low the book was difficult to read.
Authors are becoming more aware of the pitfalls of Vanity publishing, but the Vanity Presses themselves are shifting their tack and re-branding themselves:Partnerships, Publishing Service Providers, Author Support Services; are a few examples.
The long and the short of it; a Press that expects the Author to stump up the money to publish is a Vanity Press, even the small independent press working on the traditional model will take the risk; that is the role of the publisher, to take a risk with their investment in the author, publish and promote their work and the see a return on the investment. The cost to the publisher is financial, but also the value of their reputation plays a part.
Reputation can be worth money in the bank, and yet it is incredibly fragile. Taking the decision to self-publish, ignoring the tempting offers of the Vanities to do it all for a price, you put everything on the line. The cost will be your own, and the price will be set by how you value your work. If you care, it will be the best you can do yourself or working alongside proofreaders and editors you are prepared to trust with your creation.
Doing it for yourself is a daunting decision and there are things that every writer struggles with, proof reading and editing, cover design, and formatting the book for print or ebook and with those aspects finding a good editor and a reliable proof-reader are important.
You've finished the text, the book exists and the copyright is yours, the moment you create the work the copyright comes into existence, in the United kingdom useful information can be found at UK Copyright Service, where you can register your copyright, but as the site explains there is no legal requirement to register, the copyright is yours - a section known as the learning centre offers information on a variety of aspects to do with copyright and a common copyright questions section. The site contains a broad compass of references to copyright law in the UK and the various international treaties dealing with the subject, including when and where to use the © symbol. Copyright is a way of protecting your investment in the created work, and as mentioned earlier is there when the work is created. Registration is voluntary, but one of the strongest assets to identify the association between the writer and the work is through the ISBN number, but more of that later.
The question of profitability, the question answered with probably not earlier on, is a matter of balance, how many items will you have to sell before the books break even and move into profit. The initial outlay is significant here, and the more significant the outlay the harder it will be to reach break even, or move beyond it. Self-publishing is about finding the most economical way and minimising the expense thereby reducing the number of books to be sold to pass the break-even point. It is the most important aspect in any successful business, and the way forward is to regard writing as your business, and approach sales and distribution with that in mind. Research your options, look beyond the gloss and see what lies behind.
Wednesday 21 May 2014
Friday 16 May 2014
The biggest, which includes Author Solutions, see their authors as customers, and the “lifetime value” of an author relationship to generate $5,000 for the company ( £2950)). Even in "partnership" with the smaller companies , the figures can climb into the thousands before the job is finished. Check the websites for yourself, and play around with the figures. Subsidiaries of AuthorSolutions, including AuthorHouse and Xlibris offer a range of virtually identical packages but not at the same; the basic package at xlibrispublishing.co.uk and authorhouse.co.uk differ by £100 ($170).
So what if we do the whole job or as much as we can ourselves, outsource where we need help? Dismantle the list, work out what we need and price up an alternative.
Friday 9 May 2014
The links gave me a clue, seldom did the number reach six before the name of AuthorSolutions or one of its many subsidiaries or partners appeared, often tucked into the copyright notice at the foot of the page, and with an email contact link occupying much of the page above.
www.findyourpublisher.com/indie_book_publishing/ the AuthorSolutions website invites you to step into their parlour and asks the question "But I have to pay to get published." Further investigation revealed the price tag being asked of the hopeful author, inviting the customer to throw significant wedges of money at their favourite project. The traditional mode of publishing where the agent sells the author to the publisher and the publisher takes the risk has shifted and the new alliances invite the author to take the risk, and when the sales indicate it is worth taking the chance then the self-published author is snapped up.
There is another way, where the independence is real, and the pleasure and challenge of publishing falls on the shoulders of the writer.
Lines and definitions are blurred, but underneath it all, the changes and the shifting landscape, independence is alive and kicking. Taking the whole thing on their shoulders are new author/publishers, often working on a tight budget where the price tag of the vanity publishers steers them along another track. to me, these are the true independents and exploring how to do it without breaking the bank is part of the challenge