Tag Archives: publishing

Pronoun, Smashwords, and Draft 2 Digital — The “Other” ebook sales sites

where to sell your ebooks

Many authors have uploaded their ebooks onto Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing site to reach readers. Amazon is a great place, and some authors even choose to be exclusive there, in the Kindle Unlimited program, through KDP Select. However, if you choose to distribute your books widely, here are three options for getting them into many sales avenues at once. Each one has a slightly different distribution range, and the requirements and procedures vary somewhat too, so here we go.

Pronoun is the site I most recently began to work with. It is one of few (or maybe no others do yet) that distributes to Amazon. It also gets you into Apple iBooks, B&N, Kobo, and Google Play, as well as library distributors Overdrive and Bibliotheca. It does not allow you to use their distribution for sites your books already appears on (unlike Smashwords and D2D) so I am just using it for Google Play, Overdrive, and Bibliotheca. The last two are means of getting your books into libraries, so that is a good thing. I was a little conflicted about Google Play, since I have heard Google doesn’t always respect author copyrights, but since I just began putting our books there in June and already have three sales, I am hoping it is worth the risk.

Here is the link to the Pronoun site https://books.pronoun.com. Take a look at the author agreement, which seems very simple and straightforward. If you allow Pronoun to post your titles that are already for sale on Amazon, it will send you rankings and other information that you may find useful. It will email you when you get sales or let you know about any distribution problems you may encounter. When you are choosing the categories and keywords it makes suggestions and gives rankings for past use in searches, so you know better, perhaps, if you have chosen good ones.

An image inside a file can’t be over a certain total pixel count, so don’t put your full size cover into the file, and you must have a TOC in the front, linked or not, and a working ebook NCX (the digital table of contents that automatically displays in an ebook reader), even if your chapters aren’t named, and even if it’s a short story. Yes, if you have just Chapter One, Chapter Two, etc., you still have to list them in the front. I make my own epubs to upload, and if you do that, be sure the title in that metadata file matches your book title.

It is my understanding that they take less revenue than some other sites. They take you through everything step by step and the process is pretty easy. If you are just starting to publish this may be a good site, since it does get you on Amazon along with other well-known retailers, and potentially into libraries.

Draft 2 Digital is a very easy site to upload to, and distributes to

  • iBooks
  • Barnes & Noble
  • Kobo (including Kobo Plus)
  • Inktera (formally Page Foundry)
  • Scribd
  • 24Symbols
  • Tolino
  • Playster

There is no style guide or special requirements. You can just upload a Word document and they say it will become a beautifully formatted ebook. I have not done it this way, but may authors are happy with their results and love how easy it is. You can also get a book formatted for print in PDF format from this site. Here is the link to the site: https://www.draft2digital.com. It does not matter if you already have your books on sites they distribute to. They don’t demand exclusivity.

Smashwords is a more difficult site to upload books to. You can give them Word docs but they have strict requirements for formatting and if you don’t follow them the book will be rejected. Many authors have given up trying to submit to them. I persevered and got our books on there. They do have file size limits — 10 megs for a Word doc and 20 for an epub. Here is a post I wrote simplifying formatting requirements for your book.

https://elkjerkyforthesoul.wordpress.com/2014/05/10/smashwords-formatting-its-not-no-sweat-but-its-also-can-do/

It’s a little harder to pin down where your books are actually distributed by Smashwords, since they list sites they don’t yet distribute to, even on the author dashboard for tracking sales. Some I am fairly sure about are Baker & Taylor’s Blio.com, Library Direct, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Scribd, Kobo, /Inkterra, and txtr. Tracking your sales is much more difficult, also.

Both D2D and Smashwords recently changed their policies so they now pay each month instead of quarterly, no matter the balance owed. Pronoun also pays through Paypal. That goes into the Paypal account you set up with them.

 

 

 

 

 

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Step by Step and — Published!

send a white rose 9 6 2015 ebook 25

I recently made a list of the steps involved for publishing on Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing site. This was for a new author whose cover I designed and whose book I edited. I thought it might be helpful to others who don’t know it’s actually not that hard to publish your own book.

Pictured above is Send a White Rose, the one I think is my first book published. (It’s a tossup between this and Benny and the Bank Robber.) Helping this new author made me think back to my first time setting up our KDP account. If we can do it, you can too!

Remember, this author had her book professionally edited and formatted, and a professionally-designed cover. So don’t skip the outsourcing to make your baby the best, if you’re not a very good do-it-yourselfer. But to keep track of your sales and make updates to your book, you need your own Amazon KDP account. So here’s how to do that.

List of steps to upload your book to Kindle Direct Publishing

1. Copy and paste this link into your internet browser window and hit enter to go to the site:
https://kdp.amazon.com/
2. If you already have an account at Amazon, you use the same user name and password to set up your author account. If not, set up an account by choosing a user name and a password. Be sure to write them down somewhere so you don’t lose access.
3. Once you are in the KDP account, you will see your “dashboard.” This is a screenshot of what the top looks like. Yours may be slightly different, since it will be a first-time publishing, and we have over 50 titles.
kdp dashboard screenshot 1
4. Click on the box that says, “Create New Title.”
5. Look at the screenshot below to see the beginning steps for uploading your book.

kdp select screenshot 2
The blue shaded box describes the KDP Select program. There are also lots of helps every step of the way and answers to most questions. If you wish, click the little box that says, “Enroll this Book in KDP Select.” There’s lots of information to be found about using KDP select during the 90 days a book is in the program so take advantage of as many of the features as you can!

6. Now you can start entering your book information and getting ready to upload it.
The first section tells you how to enter your title, author, and so on. If something does not apply, just skip it. (like the “series” part). If the publisher is the same as the author – just put in your name. The description is just that – about 300 words that will make people want to read your book, sort of a sales pitch that doesn’t give away too much but helps “sell” the book. If your book is a short work or novella, be sure to include that fact. People are sometimes disappointed by shorter works and you want to make it as clear as you can if it is not a full-length novel.

 

7. It’s okay if you have no ISBN for a Kindle book. You don’t really need one. Just skip that.
8. Here’s a screenshot of the next part of the form:
screenshot 3 kindle publish options
9. Click “this is not a public domain work” – because you wrote it.
10. “Add categories” will give you choices about how to tell people what kind of story it is. You’ll want to choose “fiction,” or “nonfiction” and then you will see a menu of sub-choices. Then you can add a second category.  You can skip the age range and grade range parts unless it applies.
11. “Search keywords” are words that computers read and store about your book, and that people can use to look up books by subject. Separate each search keyword with a comma. These can be more than one word, and there is a limit on total number of characters, but be as detailed as you can to help your book get found.
12. Next you’ll select “I am ready to release my book now.” Pre-order is something where people can buy the book before publication, usually at a discount. If you had other books that might be a good idea but since this is your first, I’d say wait for the future to do a pre-order.
13. Upload your full-sized cover. I give quarter-sized samples for approval before the final purchase, and some new authors get confused and try the small version. Amazon won’t take anything under 1000 pixels on the smallest side. Click “browse for image” find the cover file, click “open” and the cover will appear in the box that currently says “No Cover Available.”
14. Upload the book file – it can be word doc, mobi version, or even epub.
15. I suggest you choose “Do not enable digital rights management” because DRM can make it hard for some people to open or read your book, and they can’t move it from computer to kindle to phone – they can only have it on one device.
kdp screenshot next
16. Click “Save and continue” at the bottom of the first page to go on to the second page.
17. On page 2, select “Worldwide rights.”
18. I suggest you price very short works at 99 cents. That’s the lowest price KDP allows. As a first-time author, it can help you get noticed to price low. You may also get Amazon promotion in short stories and hot new release categories. Enter the price as 0.99. If it’s full-length, $2.99 or $3.99 still seem to be the best prices. You might even entroduce it at a sale price and raise it later.
19. The royalty for 99 cents is 35%. A book has to be at least $2.99 to qualify for 70% royalties. Check the little boxes beside each country in the blue shaded box area to be sure your book goes to all countries Amazon publishes in.

screenshot KDP publishing page 2
20. “Kindle Match Book” refers to having both a print and ebook version. You only have the kindle version, so ignore that one.
21. Allow lending means once people buy your book, they can let a friend “borrow” it for free. You want to check the box to allow it. Word of mouth is good publicity and letting people share your book means more people will read it. The borrow only lasts for 2 weeks and then the person who got it for free no longer has it on his/her kindle and the owner gets it back.
22. Click the little checkbox in the “save and publish” section first, so they know you understand all the KDP info, and then click the yellow “Save and publish” box to the right, also.

23. It can take 12 to 24 hours for your book to appear but usually it’s sooner. They will send you an email to the address you gave them when you set up your KDP account. IT will have a link where you can find your book.

24. To set up your account to get paid when people buy your book, click on the top right of the screen, in the blue band, where it will say, in your case, “Joan’s Account.” You will have to log in again, and it will take you to a page like this:

account screenshot

Yours will be blank, of course. Fill out your information. There are lots of helps along the right side to answer questions all through this process.
25. Next enter your bank account information. KDP pays royalties, no matter how small, about 60 days after the month in which you earned them.

bank account snip
This may seem difficult, but take your time and follow the steps and you’ll figure it out. Wherever you are in the publishing process, you can look for other posts here on our blog for suggestions about writing, editing, formatting, cover design, and promoting to get help making your book sell.

I wish you all the best! — Post by Mary C. Findley

 

 

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Decision time Is Here! — Post by Mary C. Findley

decision time is here

We at the Christian Indie Author Network want to help you make a very important decision. We want you to decide to join us at our first ever Indie Author Conference. It will be held July 30-August 2, 2015, at the Radisson Quad City Plaza Hotel and Convention Center, 111 East Second Street, Davenport, Iowa, 52801.

We have come up with three reasons why you may still be undecided and we’d like to deal with them one by one to relieve your mind of some of the decision-making responsibility.

questions

I still have questions
Please ask. If we don’t have an answer right now, we’ll get one. Our conference pages do have lots of answers already, though. We hope you’ll stop by the site and take a look around. We’re only an email away if you don’t find what you’re looking for. Check out our sessions or our full conference schedule. Look at the facilities, accommodations, and vendor possibilities. Don’t just keep saying “I don’t know,” or “I’m not sure.”

money

I don’t think I’ll have the money
Many CIAN members are struggling with finances right now, as are many Christian indie authors. We are believing God for finances, praying for each other, and seeking all the financial help we can get, to find vendors and supporters. We look at this as a need. God’s writer people have to help each other learn, grow, and have an impact in publishing. We declare 2015 to be the Year of the Indie. Come meet us, pray with us, and become inspired and informed.

fun

Not sure what our plans for the summer will be
Make sure. Set aside this date and this place and come join us. If you are concerned about Davenport, Iowa being a boring or pointless place to spend precious down time, family time, or vacation time, please keep in mind that the Quad Cities area is a major cultural center not that far from Chicago and other cities. The host hotel has a major jazz festival at the same time as our conference and the hotel is already fully booked beyond our specially discounted and reserved block of rooms. Check around for yourself and see that we’re not asking you to drop into the middle of a cornfield.

vendors title

This post applies to vendors as well. We need swag and swag bags. We need cover designers, on-demand publishers, small presses, editors, writer software providers, marketing experts – Indie authors make their own choices about what services and products they buy. Help them choose you by being there where they can see you.

readers

We haven’t forgotten readers, either. You are welcome, and more than welcome. We need you! Come and see our costumed story characters. Meet authors you know and authors you’ll be glad you discovered. Find nonfiction, children’s and young reader selections, romance, historicals, YA, scifi, fantasy – yes indeed, we write it all! Learn about the diversity that is the Christian Indie Author Network!

CIAN Website/Conference section
http://www.christianindieauthors.com/cia-conference.html

Facebook group
https://www.facebook.com/groups/818894711513293/

YouTube Video (made by Debby De Quilettes-Alten of Alten Ink)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hLdzIkr5jR0&feature=youtu.be

who or what wait

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Cover Samples and other graphics I Can Do — by Mary C. Findley

I can make you a pretty nice book cover using the large number of stock images, textures, and fonts that I own. I can apply metallics, leathers, fabrics, stone — some very cool backgrounds, text, and objects. If you wish to use an image I don’t have or can’t find for free, you can purchase it and send it to me, so that you own it, not me.

did we win 10

I made this sample with free images I found at various online sites. The background is flames, and the title is a photo of a broken window I applied as a texture. I have quite a few “free” people I can use.

I can provide an ebook cover that meets the larger file size requirements of iTunes and Amazon, in jpg and tiff formats. The one shown above and the others on this blog are 10% of their actual size, and all my covers are 300 DPI so that they look their best and translate into print covers without a problem.

I can also make full print covers to CreateSpace specifications and give you a jpg to show off and a pdf to upload to CreateSpace.

chasing print 10

This print cover also uses free images, and the font is a metallic texture using several different fonts to achieve the best effect and fitting the words together. This print cover is also 10% of the full size.

My cover package includes ebook, print book, bookmark, and a facebook cover (an image you can upload to facebook on your author or regular page) that includes your book(s) and a small amount of text with a complementary background.

latest mike author fb cover 50

This is a sample facebook cover at 50% actual size, incorporating a 2-D book image, an appropriate background for the book’s subject, and a quote from the text. Facebook does not permit links at this time.

various graphics for authors

You can also request a Twitter cover, 3D images of your books included in your graphics, and ad graphics to promote your books for an additional charge.

ebook covers for others

Here are some of the ebook covers I’ve done for clients.

print covers for others

Here are some of the print covers I’ve made for other authors.

Check out my pinterest board of cover designs for others. http://pinterest.com/marycfindley/cover-commissions-i-have-done-or-pitched-for-other/

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Author or Character Interviews, Anyone?

Microscope

Put yourself under the microscope!

If you write books for a G, PG, or PG-13 audience, you may submit a request for an author interview. Not all interviews will be featured, but I will try to spotlight authors often. Thank you!

Author Interview Questions

Answer whatever questions you wish, and you can modify the first one to fit what you write. Send them back to me at findleymcmj@gmail.com. I will let you know if/when your interview goes live.

1. Many people say that authors can’t or don’t do well with more than one genre. You have contemporary mystery, some romance, and now a western/scifi series. What do you think prepared you or qualifies you to write these different types of books?

2. What do you say to the charge that men can’t write romances that women will like, and how will you tempt guys to read your books?

3. Tell us a little about your “real” (Non-writing) life — family, job, church life. Does it give you inspiration for your writing? Does it get in the way of your writing, or are there times when you get help, from people or circumstances?

4. Tell us about things you enjoy — what you do for fun or personal satisfaction.

5. Tell us about working with any people who help you create your books — Do you use Beta readers? Hire an editor or proofreader? How do you get your covers?

6. Since you have several books out, tell us what you think works for promotion. What are your thoughts on ebooks versus print books and different ways to let people know about you and your books?

7. Have you done anything writing-related, but besides your books, that seemed to get a lot of positive response? Something that encouraged you?

8. Tell us about your newest book. Make us want to read it.

9. What is the “message” of your writing? (For example, is your purpose to encourage old-fashioned values, encourage romance, or do you have different purposes in different books?)

10. Tell us one place you visited or person you met, that made a big impression on you, and why.

11. Tell us one place you want to visit, or person you want to meet, and why.

12. Share something that makes you laugh, with just plain humor, or happiness, or because it’s so stupid.

13. Share something that’s amazing, touching, or that makes you angry.

14. What’s the worst trouble you ever had with getting a book written (plots, finding needed information, getting a cover done)?

15. What’s your next project? Tell us so we can’t wait for it to come out!

Please send images and links, including any good reviews or news you want to share about your books.

OR, perhaps you’d rather do a character interview. If so, follow the example below.

Character Interview Example

Hi, we’re interviewing Leah Masters from Mary C. Findley’s book Send a White Rose. Leah is here to tell us how a lovely young society lady from Boston ended up in territorial New Mexico, in the middle of an assassination plot against the man who sent for you to discuss marriage.

1. What do you do for a living, and how’s business?

I’ve been blessed to be provided for by my father, Senator Masters, but I do keep our household running smoothly, do his accounts, and play hostess at his dinner parties since the death of my mother some years ago.

2. You’ve been seen with some ––––––––––––––– (people, animals, illness, interesting tools, vehicles, weapons, or other things related to your story). What’s your secret to (attracting them, fighting them off, working with them, making them, whichever applies)

Yes, I’m afraid my health is not the best, and I do seem to catch everything that goes around. I can’t believe I was sick right when it was time to visit Judge Durant in New Mexico.

3. When you (took that trip, bought that object, met that person, accepted that job, fired that weapon, whatever applies), that certainly was a life-changing decision, wasn’t it?

It certainly was the most difficult thing I have ever done, but my brother Randall insisted we couldn’t put off the trip until I was over my illness. Of course, neither of us realized how hard the trip was, or how sick I really was. And how humiliating, to faint at Judge Durant’s feet and not even be able to say a word.

4. Did it shock you when you learned (something about another person or an important place or event in the story)?

I had two big shocks one right after the other. First, I learned that my brother had been arrested on suspicion of having tried to assassinate Judge Durant. The second was being told that that Judge Durant had left town, when I came all this way to meet him and discuss the possibility of marriage.

5. Some of us like to exercise the “ask a friend” option at odd times in our lives, but it seems especially odd that you brought ––––––– in to help you solve the problem of ______. What’s special about him/her?

It didn’t seem strange at all to me that Alethia and I would become friends. I didn’t learn until later that many people thought of her as the natural choice to be Judge Durant’s wife. She was the only one who could really tell me the truth about what had happened to Judge Durant.

6. What did you think when _________ (complicating event in the story) happened, and how did you handle it?

Governor Markham insisted he could persuade Judge Durant to see me and help work out this terribly confusing and embarrassing situation between us. I went with him to the hospital, but the judge got angry at all his friends and banished everyone. It was only by pretending to be lost looking for another patient that I found the courage to actually talk to him again. He didn’t even recognize me, for which I was grateful.

7. What was one thing another person did that surprised/angered/delighted/saddened/frightened you, and turned out to be extremely important to how things turned out?

I couldn’t believe, after all the changes for the better that my brother had gone through, that he would revert to his old ways and accuse Alethia of such a terrible thing. But there were so many things I still didn’t understand about my own brother, and what he was capable of.

8. Did you do anything you really regretted/enjoyed/ struggled to accomplish That made a big difference?

It certainly was foolish of me to just run off in the pouring rain trying to find the judge when I had so little information. I just knew that he was in danger, and I couldn’t find anyone else in time. I suppose I didn’t think about how dangerous for me, too.

9. Was there a time when you were certain things just were not going to turn out right?

More than once, certainly. There were so many complications. Even when everything else seemed to be working out, that only made it harder to try to believe that things would work out between the judge and myself.

10. Why would you refuse the marriage proposal you’d crossed the country and gone through so much hardship just to hear?

A combination of anger, humiliation, and honestly, happiness that he’d made a decision, even if it wasn’t for me. I didn’t even understand why he would ask me, when Alethia has loved him all her life.

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Part Three: Your Book, Where It Should Go, How It Will Look

Our e-publishing journey now comes to the formats and how your book will look in each one. Smashwords has great information on this topic from a mechanics standpoint. As a previous post we made on the subject said, https://elkjerkyforthesoul.wordpress.com/2011/10/19/the-hows-and-whys-of-e-books/ , although almost all devices can read the pdf format, consider that people might get your books on anything from a full-screen laptop to a pretty small smart phone. A pdf will look wonderful on that laptop screen. It’ll seem a lot like a real book, except for not being able to turn the pages. But if you try to cram that pdf image into your iPhone, the latest model brags about having a 3.5″ diagonal display, and it seems unlikely that it will look just right. Even in a traditional Kindle, pdfs do not really work all that well.

It is possible to convert a pdf into a format that the smaller machines can display. Calibre is one progam that makes file conversions. It is even free. If you have an HTML version of your document, the conversion is even easier. The question is, will a reader go to the trouble of doing that? Some will, but most will want a document that they can just open up and begin reading. So it is a good idea to make your document available in multiple formats, so that all the trouble your prospective customer has to go to is to get the right one off the internet and into his device.

This is what makes Smashwords such a great e-book creation site. You upload a simple Microsoft Word document. Smashwords runs it through the Meatgrinder and produces HTML (good for computer reading), JavaScript, mobi (Kindle format) EPub, which as Smashwords says on its site, works on “Apple iPad/iBooks, Nook, Sony Reader, Kobo, and most e-reading apps including Stanza, Aldiko, Adobe Digital Editions, others.” The Meatgrinder also churns out RTF, PDF, LRF for older Sony readers, PDB (Palm Document files), and two versions of plain text.

Please bear in mind that although you as the author can download any format of your book for free, you cannot redistribute these files on other sites where you can upload and sell your works. Smashwords creates them, doesn’t charge you anything, puts you into premium distribution, and asks in return only that you don’t re-use the files the Meatgrinder creates. You might say, “But it’s my book.” That’s kind of like an architect making plans to build one house and someone stealing and using those plans to build a bunch more houses. And you didn’t even pay Smashwords like you paid the architect. Nope. Can’t do it. Sorry.

Smashwords also gives you coupon codes so you can give copies away for free. This is useful for reviewers and for contests or promotionals. Instead of just pricing your book at free, which you can do on Smashwords, just offer a coupon, so that you know who’s getting your book. Amazon makes it very difficult, if not impossible, to get your book priced “free,” and they don’t give any copies away otherwise. You have to buy your own book yourself if you want to be sure it was formatted correctly.

Smashwords premium distribution gets you into Barnes and Noble and the iBookstore, among others. Customers can buy the mobi format from them to read on a Kindle. Even so, Amazon clearly has the largest and most successful marketing apparatus, and your best chance to be noticed and purchased is on Amazon. Many authors have chosen to pull their books from general distribution and make them exclusive under Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing Select plan. Indie authors in all the forums and discussion sites I belong to are extremely polarized about this. It is a personal decision, but the author must be sure to read and understand the agreement thoroughly. It’s not a boilerplate terms of use like we all unthinkingly agree to get on many sites to promote our books.

https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/help?ie=UTF8&topicId=APILE934L348N#Select

Please read the entire agreement carefully, and especially pay attention to these two points.

1 Exclusivity. When you include a Digital Book in KDP Select, you give us the exclusive right to sell and distribute your Digital Book in digital format while your book is in KDP Select. During this period of exclusivity, you cannot sell or distribute, or give anyone else the right to sell or distribute, your Digital Book (or content that is reasonably likely to compete commercially with your Digital Book, diminish its value, or be confused with it), in digital format in any territory where you have rights.

 

5 Your Commitment. Your commitment to these terms and conditions is important, and the benefits we provide to you as part of this option are conditioned on your following through on your commitments. If you un-publish your Digital Book, we will remove it from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, but you must continue to comply with these commitments, including exclusivity, through the remainder of the Digital Book’s then-current 90-day period of participation in KDP Select. If you don’t comply with these KDP Select terms and conditions, we will not owe you Royalties for that Digital Book earned through the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library Program, and we may offset any of those Royalties that were previously paid against future Royalties, or require you to remit them to us. We may also withhold your Royalty payments on all your Digital Books for a period of up to 90 days while we investigate. This doesn’t limit other remedies we have, such as prohibiting your future participation in KDP Select or KDP generally.

Remember, all you’re getting is inclusion in the lending program for Amazon Prime Members. In return, it seems to me that you’re giving up a lot, and taking a big risk that Amazon can deny you royalties and revenue if you don’t do exactly what they say.

But there’s nothing wrong with having your books in the KDP program generally. In fact, the Kindle is a great reader, and your books will look fantastic on it. We have both the Kindle Keyboard model and the Kindle Fire. Both are great readers and both are easy to use and look wonderful. I prefer the Kindle Fire display because it allows the full screen illustrations we have created for our two illustrated books to show in full color and full size. And the ease of buying (or getting free) the bunches and bunches of books Amazon has for Kindle is hard to beat.

http://reviews.cnet.com/2300-3126_7-10010211.html

Here is a link to CNET’s Kindle Fire review and the screenshots they show. It really does look that good. Fun to read in bed, and, though the battery only lasts about 4 hours, compared to the keyboard model’s lifespan of a month or more, it’s the perfect in-bed reader.

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Part Two: Make It Clean, Get It Out

So many people have said writing a book is the easy part. Still, it can’t be repeated often enough. New writers are cropping up all the time, while the traditional publishing contract including a marketing machine to get your word out is fast becoming downright mythological. “Do it yourself” takes on a whole new meaning when it comes to new author/new book self-creation and promotion. Check out our previous post on the hows and whys of e-book production for more on the production end.

First step after you think your book is “finished” is to realize it’s not. You have to make your book technically clean before you can seriously try to publish it. Whatever your financial abilities, get the best vetting you can to get rid of the errors. If your editorial staff consists of you, your mom, your oldest kid, and a co-worker you bribed with lunch for a week, so be it. Many author-oriented sites have sections, often called workshops, devoted to getting help from other authors, editors, or those who will take on the task free or cheap if you help them in some way. Avail yourself of them if you can, but remember that everyone, especially unpaid volunteers or friends, will take time to get through your work. They might give up and never finish. In the end, you must get someone you can depend on. Goodreads, Kindleboards, “Indie Writers Unite” and “Indie Author Group” (the last two are facebook groups) all have editors or at least people willing to exchange a read and comment in their ranks.

Some people depend on an auto-editing program. White Smoke is one I have heard praised. I have not personally used one, but I have read three modern self-published books recently in which I found, consistently, the following types of errors. I will paraphrase to avoid picking on or identifying a particular work. One had, at the end of a piece of conversation, “said Robert quietly said.” The word “shudder” appeared where “shutter” should have been, referring to a window’s protective covering. The word “peak” appeared where “peek” or pique” should have in two different books (“I took a peak in the bag,” “this will peak your interest”) instead of, “I took a peek in the bag” or “this will pique your interest”). This is what an auto-editor will do for you. Not only will it not catch/fix everything, it will introduce new things. In the immortal words of Captain Kirk, “Spock, we’re all human.” An auto-editor is only human. It makes mistakes.

I asked the author of one of the books I read about her editing process when I found errors like these. She described shared/workshop readers, her own many years of experience, her training under a professional editor, and the fact that she used an auto-editor. She said she couldn’t afford or justify $5,000 for professional editing services. Another writer said she couldn’t afford such services either, that she had herself, one or two other people, what she could get from the workshop volunteers, and White Smoke. I noticed a pattern even in just these two authors. The auto-editor came last.

I am a former English teacher, editor and proofreader, and these things disturb me. I don’t want to read them in your works, please. So, from my tiny sample and admittedly narrow experience, I am going to dogmatically state, Survey says, the auto-editor should not come last. Reel ayes shield bee lest (Real eyes should be last), lest you put out wrong stuff. That being said, if you do use a “professional editor,” understand that there’s a limit to what you should let other people do to your work. One of the published authors I spoke to went self-published because she had bad experiences with editors. No one is saying editors are always wrong, either, but be careful when the changes become extensive and substantive.

It’s your story. Let them fix the typos, the grammar, the punctuation, maybe, but don’t let them say that they can tell your story better than you can, unless you or someone you trust actually agrees on the “improvement.” Editors can be very intimidating people. Don’t let them change what’s vital to your tale for the sake of marketability, not offending people, or because they disagree with what you’ve said and think they can bully you with their “professionalism.” But you have got to get the book clean, or you will annoy and chase off people even less picky than me, based on what I’ve seen. I read a book in which I am sure I found, conservatively, 5% of the content to be errors. That is oh so very much too much.

I am devoting another full post to covers, (yes, you have to have one, yes, it has to be stunning) but, once you feel your book is as clean as you can make it, refer to the earlier post called “The Hows and whys of E-Books” and get your book up on Smashwords, on Amazon, on whatever other sites you can. There is a program called Calibre, and there are others, that, if you can figure out how to use them, can convert your book to multiple formats. There’s no limit to the number of sites you can upload to if you can do your own conversions. But Smashwords premium distribution does get you on most of the major ones, B&N, iBooks, etc.

Once you are up, the sales do not, alas, automatically begin pouring in. This is when you start running the gamut of promotional possibilities. First some of the free ideas. Join forums and talk to people. I’ll use Goodreads as an example. Set up your author page(s) according to directions. Put up books you have read and review them intelligently and honestly, and keep doing that. Then go join some groups, say hello in the welcome areas, and join some conversations. Talk like you are paying attention to what people are saying. Address them by name. Quote from their posts so they know you actually read them. And read the entire post before speaking.

Meanwhile look around for other forums, appropriate groups, lists and subject areas where you can add your books. Try to engage the readers as well as fellow writers. Try to make the readers like you as a person, a thinker, maybe even a friend, and then they might make friends with your books. Don’t just spam your book or blog links at them. You might mention a blog topic if it fits in with the discussion and post a link, or they might ask you for it. Goodreads has the ability to insert a book cover with a link into a post. Do that with your book when you post. If you want to stick your post onto all the threads that say “Share your book (or blog) here” go ahead, but you’re likely to get lost in pages of the same.

Rarely do I go back and look through those lists. Participation is what gets me friends and followers and response. Don’t stay with groups that are obviously just a bunch of friends chatting and recommending mainline popular books and ignoring the Indie authors who try to interact. Don’t stay with dead groups. Pick small but active groups with opportunities to talk to living, breathing people who talk back. Talk to readers, not just writers. Writers are as broke and desperate as you are, and may be helpful, friendly, supportive and full of information you need to know, but readers are looking for books. Make them want to look for yours.

Kindleboards is a rather strict, well-policed but respected forum. They demand that you participate by posting and that you post in the right places about the right things. They also have beautiful author and book pages and active link signatures and banners for you to set up. I am still intimidated by Kindleboards, but I keep trying.

Amazon, Smashwords, Goodreads, StumbledUpon, Book Junkies Library, Author’s Den, Breakthrough Bookstore, and a host of blogs like Kindle Author give you free space to promote. Absolutely make use of those and any others you can find. Almost all forum sites additionally have opportunities to purchase paid advertising. The costs vary widely. Kindleboards is frequently called the most expensive. Other sites are internet-promotion oriented but not specifically for writers or writing. FeedShark, Pingomatic, Technorati and other blog search engines and other pingbacks can drive free traffic to your blog, where your book(s) better be linked.

Try to get people to write valuable reviews of your books. I have requested and been promised several, but so far only one result. That may be something you will just have to pay for. Not sure on that one. The article from the Wall Street Journal circulating about the Indie author who has sold over 400,000 copies of her e-books says she spent under $2000 advertising and that included one paid review from a company respected in the industry. She also charges only 99 cents for her book. How you price your book is something you have to decide. You might have sales or giveaways but I am still not sure people value something they can get cheap or free. Pricing is a promotional tool, but make sure you aren’t just selling to be selling, unless that’s really all you want to do.

There is a theory going around among Indie authors that if we add likes and tags to each others’ author and sales pages we will be more visible to potential customers. Getting reciprocation on this is difficult, but if you wish to do it or set up to have it done, here’s how.

People can like your Facebook author page. Beware of going around liking a bunch of fb pages if you don’t want their blood and guts horror titles (or smarmy romances) showing up in your feed. Do what you can to support other authors, but be realistic, honest and responsible. People can like most any other author pages you have. How to do that is to find a like or thumbs up sort of button and click it. Tags are a bit trickier. You should have set up tags when you first uploaded your book, but if you didn’t, your Amazon book page is set up as follows: The book’s cover near the top, next down is editorial reviews, next is product details, next is Customer Reviews, next your Shelfari extras if you have that set up, next your author page link, and ‘way down the page, “Tags Customers Associate” with this Product. I have tried hard to have at least 15 tags. I keep a text file saved with them ready for all the sites that ask for tags.

These are picked up by search engines as subjects and matched to customer searches. Just having yours set up is a good idea. Type an appropriate subject in the box and click “add.” Once you have one in place, you will see the word “edit” beside the box. Click on edit and you will be given a larger box into which you can cut and paste or type a list of all the tags you want, separated by commas. When finished click “add” and all the tags will appear at once. If you wish to participate in tagging, other people can click in the box beside the tag word and add to its number of uses. Tell them to make sure they are logged in as an Amazon customer, to be sure that the click actually increases the number beside the word, and that they click all the tags.

It’s difficult, it’s complicated. If you belong to an author group with 700+ members and you try to tag all of them, then get a dozen or so in response, that’s the way it is. I try to tag people when I see them post and put links up, but that means nobody’s even trying to tag mine because We have a round dozen now and I can’t put them up every time I post. And I don’t give likes to things I haven’t read. But if you can, and think it helps, at least try to reciprocate.

You can create video teasers for your books using the free moviemaker programs that come on your computer. Record a soundtrack of a reading excerpt, music, sound effects, whatever you are able to do, but make sure it’s good quality. Ever see a TV commercial where the image was fuzzy, the voices and music were almost inaudible or way out of balance, the text was hard to read? Maybe you haven’t, but they do exist and they are painful to see. Don’t do that.

Do add an author image (a good, clear, and preferably casual-appearing one) and bio. Do add book descriptions. Do add cover images, and in all this image uploading, pay attention to size requirements. They vary a lot. Create banners and whatever else you can, business cards, postcards, bookmarks (this is why you should keep an image file with the elements separate).

Twitter seems to get a response, for reasons I am still unclear about. Set up to automatically tweet your blog updates if nothing else, and update your blog often. I mean several times a week. Really. Consider posting on Google Plus. I complained to another author that we joined Google Plus in the latest wave of Facebook discontent but most of our friends weren’t there. He wisely said, “Facebook is to keep track of your old friends. Google Plus is to find new ones.”

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