Category Archives: Self Publishing Advice

Working With Formatters

Quite a few of my clients have come to me to have their books formatted, and then found themselves unable to update their already published works with their latest releases because they don’t have the formatted Word manuscripts on file. That’s fine if the formatter who worked on your previous books is available to do the updates. Hopefully the formatter is still in business and findable, or even alive. Things happen. If you have the formatted manuscripts, either your current formatter, or yourself, can do the updates in minutes and have the incarnations required by the various publishing platforms quickly. If you don’t then you either leave them as they are minus any future updates or have whatever manuscripts that you do have on file reformatted, which is a waste of money.

When hiring people to work on your book, here are a few things to take note of before sending your manuscript over and making payment:

Decide what you like and want in the beginning for all versions of your book. Have a look at published eBooks and paperbacks and make notes of what you like and don’t like. If you aren’t sure, discuss first to see what the formatter can offer you.

Make sure that the book is ready to be published as far as editing and proofreading are concerned before sending it for formatting. If you’ve used Word’s Track Changes for editing or proofreading, make sure that these aren’t still visible. Your formatter will know how to do this and should do it for you, but if you’d rather do it yourself it’s simple in Word. Click on the Microsoft icon in the top left hand corner.

Select PREPARE and then INSPECT DOCUMENT

Click on Inspect

Click on REMOVE ALL. Obviously you must be sure that you have totally finished with any changes before doing this, because it really will remove all. You might want to keep one manuscript with revisions still viewable for a while, and save a new document to send to your formatter.

Have all your images ready in high resolution JPG/JPEG files, and send as attachments for the formatter to insert. Nothing less than 300DPI for CreateSpace.

Have your front matter and back matter ready, together with author photo and high resolution already published cover images if you are using them.

Have a list of your links to social networks, as well as instructions on how and where you’d like to see them in your books.

Find out what the formatter supplies. INSIST on the final formatted manuscripts for both print and eBook, as well as the MOBI and PDF files that you will use to upload.

Even if you have no desire to ever have anything at all to do with formatting, make sure that you at least are aware somewhat of the process. Don’t feel that you are being rude or unreasonable by insisting on ALL the relevant files—you’re paying for them, and the final manuscript that gets converted to ePub and so on is much more important to you than the actual ePub. Anything could happen. Something might happen to the formatter, or you might decide that you don’t want to work with that particular person again, but find yourself obligated to return to them again and again because otherwise you have to format backlist books again which is an unnecessary expense.

Finally, take note that you want a formatted Word Manuscript to load up to Smashwords, and not an ePub unless you have a really image heavy or otherwise fancy book. In that case make sure that the ePub is a top quality custom design. Also take note of what Smashwords has to say about formats produced from ePub uploads:

Unless you also upload a .doc file after you upload your .epub file, we are unable to create ebook files in other formats (PDF, MOBI, online HTML, reader, etc). If you only upload an .epub file, your book will not be available in the multiple formats produced by Meatgrinder, and not available for online sampling through HTML or Javascript readers at the Smashwords Store, or available through partial sample file downloads. Our retailers, however, will generate samples. We may add partial sampling or other auto-generated formats at a future date.

Unless you have InDesign and are able to use it, you won’t be able to update those files without it, but having them will save you money in future if you need to hire someone again to tweak or change your book in any way. So, your list of file receipts from your formatter should be (even if you don’t think you will need all of them, get them and keep them):

Formatted eBook as a Word document

MOBI file for upload to Amazon

MOBI file for use as email attachment to reviewers or for gifts and prizes

ePub for use as you choose

Formatted paperback as a Word document

PDF for upload for CreateSpace (print on demand)

Formatted for Smashwords as a Word document

Smashwords ePub if required

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Self-Publishing and Formatting Quick Tips

One of the biggest challenges to Indies is getting a professionally published looking book when up against the costs of editing, proofreading, formatting and cover designs. If you can afford these services then foregoing them is not a good idea, but when you really can’t afford them they can mean the death of some really great literature. There are a couple of things that can help though.

Editing or Proofreading Swopsies

Rather than simply asking for Beta readers, offer to swop proofreading services. Writers have a different kind of eyeball when reading. I’ve just finished a Joanna Trollope book, professionally published by one of the big houses, professionally edited and put together, but so far I’ve found a couple of typos and instances of poorly strung together sentences. As far as the cover design is concerned, if it wasn’t for the fact that I was specifically looking for and wanting to buy a Trollope book I wouldn’t have been at all “grabbed” by the image on the cover. We automatically see things that “normal” readers don’t. We’re also all very busy, and generally prefer to choose what we read for pleasure, so we’re more likely to put the effort in to read a draft novel to look for problems if we know that the same service is on offer for one of our own babies in exchange. Offer something valuable in exchange for this valuable job.

Cover Design

I you’re going to have to do your own cover design
then do a bit of in-depth googling and watch how to videos about the way to go before you even try. Do not use Paint or the basic software on your computer. Download free programmes designed for the purpose and find out how they work. It’s a schlep for the not artistically inclined, but at the end of the day it’s better to have a slightly forgettable cover than one which is eye-wateringly terrible. One of the biggest ways to ruin a fabulous image is to use horrible fonts. When in doubt go as plain as possible with fonts. There are thousands of beautiful free images to be had online. Before you choose an image make sure to have a look at how many times it’s been downloaded, and that way you can be a little reassured that it won’t be something that you see on loads of other book covers. This isn’t a huge deal though. Even with traditionally published books, very popular images often seen on more than one bestseller. Again though, while not a dealbreaker for a bestselling author, this could be a problem for Indies.

Formatting

Once again, this is something that’s going to require work and hours of research on your part, but it’s work that is going to be worth it at the end of the day. Have a look at our previous in-depth articles and view a couple of videos on Youtube by reputable Indies who have gone before. Unprofessional formatting will be noticed by readers and can lead to bad reading experiences and will possibly be followed by bad reviews. Take note that formatting is totally different for different types of book. The Smashwords meatgrinder has a slightly terrifying reputation, but to be honest there are only a couple things to note with it once you have your eBook
formatted for Kindle. First is to get rid of all extraneous line spaces. Never, ever, have more than two consecutive line spaces for Smashwords. Make sure to have “Smashwords Edition” in your front matter, and load your book up as a clean Word document. Unfortunately there are lots of disappointing books about how to format, but there are a couple of good ones too. A pet hate of mine are those who say “Hire a good formatter” when you get to the formatting sections. Seriously, why on earth publish a how to book without getting to the how to nitty gritty? Make sure that you have a look at the reviews before buying any how to book. They are the best indicator.
Basic formatting isn’t impossible to do, but it’s not a magical thing that will just happen without a bit of research and putting in of the time. Good rules to remember are to not format while you write. Forget about fancy fonts, bullets, page numbers and text boxes. These are anathema to Kindle books. Type your book straight out and then once you’ve formatted your paragraph indents and spacing, save different copies for each format—eBook and paperback.

Make sure that you have a NCX table of contents
for your eBook. Regardless of the chats on forums, this is a requirement by Amazon, and even if you’ve gotten away without them in your books so far, at some point their absence will be noticed and acted on.

Formatting for paper is often the most stressful thing for Indie authors. Using paid for software definitely makes the process a lot easier, but not everyone can afford it. When publishing your first book it can all seem overwhelming, but if you take the process one step at a time you’ll generally find it doable. Here are a couple of tips for newbie paperback publishers:

Book Size

Don’t automatically go for the default 6” x 9”. Consider how many pages your book has and then think about how thin or thick the end result will be. If you’re publishing a novella or something with few pages it might be a good idea to go with 5” x 8” to avoid having a really skinny result, or go bigger if it’s a massive tome.

Paper Colour

Generally cream looks better for fiction. White is best for non-fiction in most cases.

Full Colour or Black and White Text

Full colour is going to mean expensive to buy, so unless you’re publishing a book where images are the most important thing then black and white should be good enough. Remember that even one single full colour picture means that the entire book will be printed on a colour press. You could publish two versions—one colour and one black and white. You would use different ISBN numbers for each, and if you do choose to do this make sure to let potential buyers know that there are two options in the blurb section of each.

ISBN Numbers

Using your own ISBN numbers is obviously the best way to go if you can afford them, but there is no shame in using the free ones offered by CreateSpace. The only real drawback with the freebies is that you have to list CreateSpace as the publisher.

Templates

I’m not fond of templates in general, but they really can save a lot of hair pulling if you can’t face the thought of formatting yourself. They are free from CreateSpace and the most difficult task involved is a bit of copy and paste.

Margins

Once you’ve set your book size you will see your page count. Your margins can’t be set to less than 0.25 and 0.5 is recommended by CreateSpace for all four sides. Gutter margin settings depend on page count:
24 to 100 pages needs a gutter setting of 0.375
152 to 300 is 0.5
301 to 500 is 0.625
501 to 700 is 0.75
701 to 825 is 0.875
To set page size and margins go to Page Layout in Word and click on the arrow next to Page Setup. Change book size in the Paper settings and margins in the Margins settings.

Page Breaks

With a paper book it’s important to separate sections using section breaks rather than page breaks to ensure proper page numbering. Click on Page Layout > Breaks > Next Page to insert these and make sure to remove the regular page breaks where you do put these in.

Numbering

Click into your headers and footers BEFORE inserting numbers and remove any active Link to Previous instructions in any of them where there are to be no page numbers.

Then go to the page that will have the first page number in your book and click Insert > Page Number and select your preference for positioning.

One very big tip here is that Word can play with you here and reinsert the Link to Previous instructions sometimes, so if numbers keep appearing where you don’t want them, keep calm and simply go back into relevant headers and footers and remove them again. Also double check that you have section breaks in place. Where you don’t want anything in headers and footers in certain places throughout your book, remember to click on Different First Page also in the header toolbar on the relevant pages.

With a bit of work and research you can publish fabulous and professional looking books. Happy formatting!

DRM or Not for Amazon

When you load your book up to Amazon you will get to choose whether or not to enable Digital Rights Management.


It is important to note here that this particular choice cannot be undone. Short of unpublishing and republishing this cannot be changed. Once you have some nice reviews and lots of sales on any particular book unpublishing it is not a great idea, so give some thought to this before setting it in stone. So, what is DRM?

Amazon says that Digital Rights Management “is intended to inhibit unauthorized access to or copying of digital content files”. While this sounds great in terms of combating piracy, in reality it’s about as effective in this regard as a straw hut would be at keeping you dry in a hurricane. My African Me & Satellite TV was published with DRM enabled and it is my most pirated book. Stripping DRM is the work of minutes with appropriate easy to obtain software and a penchant for theft. In all honesty DRM is more of a headache and deterrent to potential readers. While a DRM enabled book can be read on any Kindle device or on the Kindle App when loaded on to any reading device, it can’t be opened without it (crooked software notwithstanding). If you also publish with a distributor such as Smashwords DRM becomes irrelevant anyway as far as protection against piracy is concerned because they supply every form of digital copy of your book to anyone who purchases a copy of it.

With certain eBooks authors encourage the printing of them, such as for workbooks or colouring books, and supply links away from the book to download PDF copies for this purpose. On your copyright page you will state what is not allowed to happen with copies of your eBook purchased, but regardless of that it is very easy to convert any non-DRM book to PDF form and print it out for whatever your reader chooses to do with it. Most readers are unaware of this, so if you want to encourage this for any particular reason (for workbooks and so on) it’s a good idea to have instructions in your book. The main reason for not enabling DRM though is to ensure that any potential readers who have reading habits that do not include any form of Kindle are not put off from buying it. Odd as it sounds, there are quite a few people who do not have Kindle devices or apps, and don’t like reading on their computers, who still enjoy Amazon’s competitive pricing and book promotions.

When purchasing eBooks it’s fairly easy to see whether or not DRM is enabled. Have a look at the Product Details on the book’s landing page. If you see Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited there the book is DRM free, and if you don’t it isn’t.

Or Not:


If you want to check whether or not your already purchased books are DRM free, either for reading on a non-Kindle device or for printing purposes, you can use your Calibre eBook Viewer. If you don’t already have Calibre download it for free. It’s a must have tool for Indie publishers anyway as we’ve mentioned before.

Open Calibre and click on View.


Click on Open Book and then go to My Kindle Content in your Documents folder.


The books there are listed in alphabetical order by Amazon ASIN number. Search for and select the book’s ASIN (also to be found under Product Details on the landing page). The book will open if DRM free and you can either read it or convert it to PDF for printing.
If DRM is enabled it will be locked and you will only be able to open it on a Kindle device or with the app.

Or Not:


It’s a good idea to remember that most readers simply want to read the books that they buy. Some of them have fixed likes or dislikes that don’t always make sense to everyone. Some people refuse to read anything other than paper books, and we all have our favourite reading devices. I like to read most non-fiction on the Kindle app on my computer, especially any book with pictures, diagrams or recipes. Fiction I prefer to read on my actual Kindle, and generally in bed with a nice cup of chocolate or glass of wine. I have used this method to print worksheets out from workbooks where there was no link to exterior PDF copies. There is no point to workbooks published as eBooks without this option as far as I’m concerned, even though I have bought some without thinking where this is not an option as DRM is enabled. Needless to say those workbooks have gone mostly unread and unused, and their authors most definitely on my list of never to buy from again.

DRM is very, very weak protection against piracy, and I think not really a good option for any Indie publisher.

What To Leave Behind?

Should we be thinking about money when we write? This is one of those questions that scribblers like to ponder, and occasionally have heated debates about. Are we writing for the love of writing, or to earn a living? Certainly not everyone who writes fiction is going to be able to live off the proceeds. If that was the case the whole world would be reclining under an oak, holding forth to their readers and sipping absinthe. No. There is a small percentage of the planet’s population who can be considered career writers of stories, who have their scribbles pay for their homes and vittles without them having to go without. The rest depend on various things. Luck and being visible in the right place at the right time are pretty massive factors in whether or not some really genius and gifted writers ever get their amazing books read by more than their aunty and the barman. So, apart from money, what do we want to do with our writing? I mean, REALLY apart from money. I am quite serious about wanting to leave a little legacy behind. I hope to leave a scribble or two that will help, inspire, or just bring a smile to the dial of some future reader when this old bod has turned to dust and I’m swanning around with angels and Pratchetts on clouds. What scribbles would you like to leave behind that would make your future discorporeal self proud? Do you even want anyone to have access to your books when you’re gone?

We all leave footprints behind after departing this mortal coil, regardless of what we do for a living, for fun, or for no reason at all. Most people leave behind a Will with instructions as to how whatever bits we leave behind is to be divided up, and with a bit of luck during our life we have the foresight to ensure that if we were to suddenly expire, there would not be anything overly disturbing for our nearest and dearest to discover. So, apart from occasionally cleaning out our drawers and upgrading our undies, as published Indie authors we should consider the legacy we want to leave behind as well as how the spoils will be divided. I’m not going to go into the legal nitty gritty here. I suggest that you read up on it from the experts. What I do suggest though, is a little bit of thought about your actual written legacy. Your published books, blog articles, every little old thing you’ve ever posted online will hang around somewhere after you’ve moved on to that forever-after fabulous literary drinks festival waiting for you in the sky.

Writing is generally a solitary pursuit, and often some of those who are drawn to writing are solitary in every possible way. No known next of kin, or perhaps none that they particularly want to be known to. Few friends, or none in “real life”. What happens to those scribbler’s books when they die without a will? When nobody knows that they are indeed dead? When they peer over their bottomless Bellini from fluffy clouds up above, will they be happy with the way they’ve left their tales for posterity? If you don’t have any family or friends to leave your work to, even if your royalty payments never break two figure monthly payouts, should you just leave your books to fade gradually into the deepest bowels of Amazon, to be lost and finally forgotten, only ever to be seen again by accident?

That is of course entirely up to you. What I suggest is at least leaving a trail behind. Who knows, even though you won’t be physically able to participate, you might enjoy the belated readership in the spirit, so to speak. Get yourself a book. Write down user names and passwords to all of your online publishing platforms. While you’re at it, write down the same for all your social networking sites. Write down your wishes for your published books. Do you want them to be unpublished when you die? Do you want their copyrights to be given to a person or an institution? Find out where to leave these things and make it easy for whoever is left behind, rather than have them scratching their heads, or worse, giving up at the first weird form letter they get in response to their query about accessing your publishing platform.

So while I’m not going into the legal bits here, they are pretty easy to find out about online, I am encouraging all of you to consider what you’d like to leave behind. Forget about making a dollar for a moment, and consider what bits of “you” you’d like to stay here. Inspiration, instruction, laughter, excitement, all of these things are worthwhile contributions to humankind. Your books will lurk in Kindles long after you’ve zoomed on to your mansion in the sky, so while money is rather nice to have while you’re here, love floating up through the ether is probably a nicer thing to invest in for all eternity. Tweak bits. Insert bits. Forget about the rent and write for the love of writing. And while you’re at it, leave something wonderful behind, and finally remember to make sure it’s not too difficult to stumble upon.

Reading a BookImage Courtesy: Pixabay

How to Format Bullet Size

Microsoft Word is powerful software and generally the Indie author’s friend, but sometimes its intuitive automatic tweaking can cause headaches that can take days to get to the bottom of, and at other times lead to giving up on certain looks we want for our books altogether. Non-fiction books in particular regularly have bullet lists in them, and if you have lots of bulleted lists in any particular book you can end up with dodgy margins, among other unattractive changes.

It’s common knowledge among self-publishing authors that Word generated bullet lists and Kindle books are not the best of friends. The easiest ways around this are to either to manually insert bullet symbols at the beginnings of each sentence of the list, or to create the lists as images in software built for the purpose, or to use Canva or some similar online image creation site. Here’s an example of using a screenshot of a list as an image.

bullet-list-from-screenshot-paintnet
We can be much more creative with our POD paperback books  than with the limitations Kindle books give us because once the fonts are embedded, and the manuscript is saved to PDF, what you see there is locked in and will appear that way in your print book. Sometimes with bullets though, Word itself gets creative in ways that are hard to fathom or change. For instance, certain bullets mysteriously change size, leaving your lists looking patchy and irregular. There is no obvious place to change them no matter how deeply you dig into your formatting ribbons. Luckily there are ways, not only to change or regulate your bullet sizes without at all affecting text size, but also to get creative and add personalised-particularly-for-your-book bullets. Once they’re embedded in the PDF file, they will appear beautifully in your paper book. Here’s how you do it.

Firstly, to change bullet size without changing text size, simply use the Show/Hide function (Click on pilcrow emblem in the Home ribbon ¶ and these will appear where formatting is used in your manuscript). Next Highlight ONLY the pilcrow sign at the end of each item in the bullet list one at a time and change the font size bigger or smaller. This will change the size of the bullet only while leaving the text font size the same.

activate-pilcrow-to-change-size
For a bit of fun, why not try making your own bullets. Firstly apply a bullet to the page and then right click on it. From the dropdown menu select Define New Bullet from the Bullet Menu. Choose Symbol or Font, or for your own personalised bullet, choose Picture and browse your computer for an image, load it up and there you have it!

define-new-bullet-1define-new-bullet-2
If it’s too small use the above process to enlarge your bullet picture without making the text to large at the same time. This way you can make your non-fiction print books wonderfully individual to you or your book’s topic.

format-bullet-size

Next EMBED and Print to PDF for upload to your POD platform.

print-to-pdf-for-upload-to-print-platform

Embedding Your Fonts for Paperback Books

There are lots of fabulous fonts around these days for us to use in our paperback books, and I think that making them visually attractive as well as wonderful to read is a great idea. Using a plain font for most of the body text is best, but there is no reason not to create great looking chapter headings, or using old typewriter fonts to make letters or notes stand out in your stories. Some fonts are made by hobbyists and offered online free for use commercially so it’s always necessary to check that they are embedded in your manuscript when you load it up to CreateSpace or any other POD system.

embed-font
CreateSpace says,

“In order to print your book, our printing presses need information about how to properly render the fonts used in your file. Information about fonts is not always included in documents by default, and you may need to take extra steps to explicitly embed fonts when you save your file. We recommend that you always embed fonts within your file in order to have your book print as intended.”

When you’re finished your book and ready to format for paper, click on the Microsoft icon and select Word Options.

embed-save-as
Click on Save from the menu on the left hand side. Tick the box beside Embed fonts in file, and make sure that the two boxes beneath that are not ticked, and click OK.

embed-box
Regardless of which word-processing software you use, to make sure that all fonts are embedded in your final PDF file, open it, and click on File and then Properties.

embed-pdf-properties
Select the Font tab. Each font used in the manuscript will be listed there and you can confirm that all are embedded and that your book will be printed exactly as you want it to be as far as text is concerned.

embed-pdf-check

CreateSpace – Final Things to Check

So you’ve finally got your page numbers right. Check that you’ve Justified your text for your CreateSpace book. I know that some authors choose not to justify text in their eBooks (not me), but a paper book really must be justified or it’s going to look messy. Choose your font and font size. You have lots of fonts that you can use in your paperback, but it’s a good idea to stick with something plain, other than for dropcaps or chapter headings.

Decide what trim size your book is going to be and set your manuscript’s size accordingly. From the Page Layout tab, click on the little arrow to the right of Page Setup, then select Paper from the three tabs at the top of the page setup box. Change the Width and Height settings to 6” x 9” or 5” x 8” or whatever size your book will be. If your book has images in it that extend to the edges of the pages, then add .125 to the width and .25 to the height. So you would then apply 6.125 and 9.25. Apply to Whole Document.

In the same page setup box, select the Margins tab. CreateSpace requires a minimum of .25 for the outside margins but recommend .5. I generally go with what is recommended so apply .5 to the top, bottom, and right margin. Leave the left margin with nothing in it and include that in the gutter margin – makes for much less fiddling. What you set your gutter margin to depends on the page count of your book.

24 to 150 pages requires the gutter margin to be set at .375
151 to 300 is .5
301 to 500 is .625
501 to 700 is .75
701 to 825 is .875

Type in your gutter margin, and next to Multiple Pages select Mirror Margins. Apply to Whole Document and click OK.

Finally to apply your paragraph indents, if you’re having them. From the Page Layout tab, click on the arrow to the right of the Paragraph box. For my fiction I prefer indents between three and five spaces. Under Special select First Line, and under By enter your desired indent size, for example 0.5. Select the first paragraph of each chapter and select None if you prefer to start indents from second chapters only. Line spacing for printed books is generally single, so unless you really do want your book double spaced, select Single for Line Spacing. Finally in this box, decide on the space between paragraphs and type this by Spacing After. Anything from 10pt down looks good. Click OK. Save your document when you are happy with the way it looks.

Now you should be looking at your manuscript with two pages side by side rather than one at a time. When formatting your book for CreateSpace, the page you see in front of you on the right will actually be positioned on the left in the actual printed book. Chapter headings in paper books are always on the right, so go through your manuscript with that in mind. All chapter headings should be on the left side of the manuscript of your two page view. You might have to insert a few blank pages to get everything into position, but it is really worth the effort. Check your front and back matter with this fact in mind, and also insert blank pages where necessary to improve the look of the final result.

Save your finished manuscript, and then using the Save As option in the Microsoft emblem in the top left hand corner of your screen, save it again as a PDF file. This is what you will be loading on to CreateSpace.

Holiday and seasonal #BookMarketing. Some tips.

Hi all:

I don’t know if you’re like me, but I tend to find articles, books, podcasts, etc, that sound interesting in my day to day life, or in my visits through the internet and social media (much the same thing these days) and although I don’t have time, I decide to save them for later, for that perfect occasion when I’ll need just that piece of advice or tip. Yes, that perfect day rarely arrives.

Thanks to Unsplash.com for another great royalty free image
Thanks to Unsplash.com for another great royalty free image

Over a year ago (towards the end of 2015), having subscribed to Sandra Beckwith‘s newsletter (here is her website in case you’re interested. She has plenty of free content on marketing and promotions, and although she works more in non-fiction, it’s well-worth having a look), I saw that she was offering a service throughout the following year. For a very small fee (I’m not sure what it was but I think it was $1) she would send daily tips to your mailbox. I couldn’t resist and I signed for it. And I’ve been getting these tips. I decided to save them all in a document to make sure I could access them easily. Although I read them as they arrive, I haven’t done much organising and have not looked at them in depth, but now that we’re coming to a time when there are a lot of promotional campaigns being organised related to holidays and events (Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year), I decided to check her advice and share it with you. Here are some of her tips, related to the subject:

  • Remember to pitch seasonal magazine articles or news items related to your book or its topic four to five months in advance of the season or holiday. Pitch four weeks out for newspapers. (We might already be late, but worth keeping in mind for next year).
  • Identify perennial seasonal topics you can link your book to – e.g., grief at the holidays or June weddings – and pitch yourself to the press as an expert available for interviews. Write a blog post about them. http://buildbookbuzz.com/8-ways-to-pitch-media-outlets/ This sounds like a pretty good idea, and although on the surface it might seem more relevant to non-fiction writers, personal circumstances vary, and if you think about it, you might find relevant topics you hadn’t thought about.
  • Use Chase’s Calendar of Events or the quirky monthly holidays listed at the Holiday Insights website to create a promotion around a relevant holiday or special occasion. http://www.holidayinsights.com/ In this global times, when we’re pitching to an ever increasing and larger market, it’s good to be able to localize our efforts and make them more relevant.
  • This is a personal suggestion, but I can’t say if it works or not. Just because you don’t have a book in a genre specifically relevant or suited to the holiday or season (a romance for San Valentine’s day or a Christmas tale for Xmas) that does not mean you can promote  your books. Try and be quirky and appeal at other interests… ‘Can’t take any more happy ever after? Why not check my horror story? (For San Valentine’s, for example). Or, ‘Thinking about murdering somebody during the family reunions? Read a crime thriller instead’ (for Christmas). See what you think, and if you decide to try it, let me know how it goes.
  • Unsplash.com
    Unsplash.com

Thanks very much to Sandra Beckwith for her suggestions, to all of your for reading, and do like, share, comment and CLICK!

Olga Núñez Miret

http://www.authortranslatorolga.com

Quick Tips for Paperback Page Numbering

When numbering the pages of your paperback manuscript, the thing quite a lot of Indies have trouble with is that they use Page Breaks rather than Section Breaks. A Page Break is just that—starting a new page within the same section of a book. With a Section Break you can have totally different numbers and Headers and Footers for each section. The way to ensure that your numbering doesn’t bounce back from the first chapter of your book to the front matter is to get rid of all the Page Breaks in first pages and replace them with Section Breaks.

page-break
Section Break after title page, and again after the table of contents, and every other page you have in your front matter.

section-break
Then double click into your Headers and Footers up to and including the first page of your first chapter, and unlick Link to Previous. This will ensure that all your previous book “sections” remain separate.

link-to-previous
Finally, go to the page where you want your numbering to begin and click on Insert > Page Number. Choose how and where you want your numbers to appear, and then click back out again. Your page numbers will now begin in the first chapter, leaving your front matter lovely and number and header free.

different
If you choose to use the Different Odd & Even Pages function so that you can have your author name on one page and your book title on the page facing it, sometimes all the numbering on either odd or even numbered pages will disappear. Simply click in to that footer and Insert page numbers again—it will automatically use the correct numbers.

Rather than be nervous when getting stuck into formatting for CreateSpace, make a copy of your manuscript and mess around with these things a little first to build your confidence. Try different things with different sections. Play with your numbers. Put them left or right, or be really daring and use Roman numerals. And remember, once you’ve got it right once, you have a template to use for your next book if the thought of doing it all from scratch is just too daunting.

Give Your eBook as Much Love as Your Paperback

WHEN formatting your paperback manuscript for CreateSpace you can get away with a fair amount of fancy formatting. Fancy fonts, dropcaps, inserted widgets, bullets, tables, and all sorts of other things can be used. Pretty much if it’s locked into your PDF it will appear in your book. If you can’t lock it into your PDF then it won’t appear in your paperback. A Kindle eBook on the other hand should be rather thought of as an HTML page – just like a web page. The same way that when you set up a post on your WordPress blog various HTML codes are used for different things, when your eBook gets translated into HTML for publishing it will take anything that would normally be written as code and try to use that, often with disastrous results – rather than the gorgeous bullet list or laboriously tabbed lists that took you ages to get just right.

Word will insert all sorts of hidden formatting as you type, and if you ever try to convert a manuscript already formatted with all sorts of lovely things for CreateSpace you could (very probably will) end up with a nasty hot mess, especially on older Kindles. We do want our eBooks to look good rather than being merely the containers for our stories and non-fiction. Traditional publishers drop the ball with this a lot more than Indie publishers. Their print books look great, but often the corresponding eBooks seem like afterthoughts. Conformity is the way to go and maybe putting in a little extra work is worth it to make sure that both versions are a pleasure to look at as well as to read.

Just a quick by the way. Writers are surprisingly different with the way they want their books set out. For instance, among many other personal choices, some like to use an em-dash for unfinished sentences, while others prefer to use an ellipse. (Remember for modern publishing, if you do use ellipses for half sentences, to insert a space between each dot.)
bullets-4 Some are absolute sticklers for what is “wrong” or “right”. Very few readers are going to even notice which one you use, but they WILL notice if you use both in the same story. They’ll wonder what the difference is, and possibly get irritated at not being able to figure that out. So stick to the same things as you type, even if that means sitting down and writing out a list. That might sound a little weird, but if you’re in two minds about some of the smaller issues you could often find yourself banging away and then coming to an abrupt halt wondering what you used before. If this is the case, you can use the Find function to look for both options and change them later, but it will make your life easier in the long run to pick a horse and run with it from the beginning.

Let’s have a look at a couple of other things we can safely use in our Kindle books.

Dropcaps are lovely to use in your paper book, but not possible as yet to use for MOBI conversion. You can still pretty them up a little though. For some of the newer Kindles you can make your first words in chapters or paragraphs stand out using Small caps. Older Kindles will just convert to normal text rather than making a mess of these, so they’re quite safe. All you do is highlight the word or words you’d like to appear this way, and then click on the arrow to the right of the Font box. Select Small caps and click OK.

bullets-1
The highlighted word or words will than appear in the Small caps format.

bullets-2
Word lists (bulleted or numbered) might convert very well for the newer Kindles, but not for the older ones. Always remember that there are a LOT of people who use older, bottom of the range Kindles, so never leave them out of your publishing decisions – put them first. Type out numbered lists rather than use the Word auto format feature. If you want a bulleted list, simply use the Insert function, type out item one, and then insert again for each item on your list.

bullets-3

Use your Kindle Previewer to see how they translate across Kindle devices.

bullets
For scene breaks you could once again use the Insert function and use three bullet points, or asterisks. You could think outside the box too and Insert a small design as a picture between each break. Get the better of boring fonts on your title page by using design software such as paint.net or an online one such as Canva to design a nice title page “image” using any fancy fonts and images you like, and once again insert as an image.

Finally, I think that there is a lot of scope for using bright full colour pictures in fiction eBooks. The cost is too small to be really noticeable, such as it is in paperback publishing, but the effect can be fabulous. Insert custom sketches or images from sites such as Pixabay between each chapter. You’re bound to find relevant and beautiful pictures there – they have piles available to use for free.
Never try to rush your eBook along by trying to “double format”. Always work on completely different manuscripts taking into consideration each publishing format, and you’re bound to have great Kindle books as well as beautiful paperbacks.

Publishing New Paperback Editions

If you’re planning major changes to your book that will warrant a brand new paperback edition, or if you’ve acquired your own ISBN number and want to use that instead of the free issue CreateSpace ISBN, it’s not a complicated process. Unless you unpublish your Kindle book and start from scratch with that too, you won’t even lose your reviews.

So, assuming you will simply upload your updated eBook file to the currently published Kindle book keeping its Amazon assigned ASIN number, what you need to do is prepare your paperback with its new ISBN number in the front matter, the edition number, and also the new Published By information – don’t use your own name unless you really, really, really want to. Think about this before you buy your ISBN’s and call your publishing business something different. As a self-publishing author you are a publisher, and there’s no reason not to give your business a nice professional name.

When you look at the various editions of the same book from traditionally published authors they generally have a totally revamped look for each of them, so you might want to update your cover – even if only with a tweak or two, that will make it distinguishable from the first edition. Publish this from scratch with CreateSpace as a totally new project.

Contact CreateSpace and let them know that you wish to retire the first edition. This will result in an out of print notice on its Amazon page, which means that new print versions of it can’t be ordered, but that page won’t be taken down due to Amazon’s policy on the sale of used books. CreateSpace will however unlink this from the Kindle book product detail page, and the link the new edition to that instead, and all reviews already received for the eBook will remain right there. Easy as pie.

There’s no harm in revamping some of your backlist this way once you have more readers than you did when you published them. Add details, chapters, images, maps, tweak, modernise your covers and start an old book on a wonderful fresh journey. Obviously if your updates don’t include new ISBN numbers you can update without starting a new project, but sometimes especially if your first paperback didn’t do very well then beginning again could very well be the way to go.

stack-of-books-1001655_1280

Save

Fun with Filing

It’s a good idea to keep your virtual filing cabinets in good condition. Rather than having to search through a mile and a half of documents for a document whose title you forgot a year ago, create specific files and folders for specific things, and then make an effort to use them.

When you’re writing your first book you are blissfully innocent of the pitfalls that could await you when the time comes for editing, formatting, and loading onto the various sales sites. Many writers still hit the tab key for indents, and whack the carriage return button to create as much white space as they’d like to see on their title page. While this is fine for the paperback version of your book, it’s going to get promptly spat out of the Smashwords meatgrinder, and the tabs could cause some really terrible things to happen to your MOBI file. So it’s a great idea to be a little pedantic when you’ve written THE END at the close of your tale. It’s a good idea to hit a happy medium, and have a different file for each publishing format, but also not to keep every single old manuscript file “just in case”. Here are a couple of tips to retain a little bit of sanity when the time comes to launch your baby into the world.

Create a master folder for each book, and then create sub-folders within that folder. Keep your original manuscript as simple as possible. Just type it. Don’t fiddle with formatting at all. Don’t use tabs. Be gentle with the carriage returns. Just type it. Just type it. Just… You get the idea. Don’t use one manuscript to format across all publishing platforms. Trying to format a MOBI file from an already formatted CreateSpace file is a bad idea, although the other way around is not as much of a headache. The problem with Word is that it likes to assume what you’d like, based on what you’ve been doing, and Auto formatting can cause lots of glitches in an eBook, especially when you start getting into using a whole lot of different styles. Save yourself lots of future headaches and keep your master manuscript nice and pristine in its own folder. From there Save As new manuscripts for your eBook, Smashwords, and paperback formats, and work on each individually and from scratch. By trying to “save time” and simply trying to convert and then re-convert the same manuscript, you’re guaranteed at least one large headache, and sometimes the only way around such glitches is to completely wipe all formatting and start from scratch – not a fabulous way to go.

It can seem a bit tedious in future to have to visit each folder and manually update a typo found, but it’s worth it. Also remember to delete old files, and to add the latest date to the name of your most recent manuscript file. For instance “XYZ for Kindle 9 15 2016” as a file name will ensure that you don’t accidentally load your pre-proofed copy on to Amazon, a thing that happens very easily when you’ve saved every incarnation of your book file using different names, and believing that you would most definitely remember the most recent.

Even your virtual filing cabinet can become overwhelming. If that’s the case with you, then try and grab a couple of hours to clean it up. Delete all outdated files and manuscripts, and organise the rest, so that whenever you need to update or check on any of your already published works, everything is in place, and you won’t have any sort of disaster lurking and waiting to happen to you. Happy filing fellow scribblers!

Folders

Introducing a great friend of all #authors, the Story Reading Ape (@Storyreadingape) and a project very close to his heart.

Hi all:

I wanted to let you know that I’ve started working on a new project and due to deadlines I might not be around as much as I’ve liked.

I thought I’d share one of my blog posts because I talk about a great friend of all authors and his latest project, that might inspire you as much as it has me.

Here it is:
I’m sure that a lot of you in the blogosphere know The Story Reading Ape and his blog Author Promotions Enterprise. Chris Graham (a.k.a The Story Reading Ape, or perhaps, The Story Reading Ape, a.k.a Chris Graham, I’m never 100% sure) is deservedly known as he works ceaselessly to help and promote writers.

Chris Graham, The Story Reading Ape
Chris Graham, The Story Reading Ape

Let me tell you a bit what he does (in case you haven’t crossed paths with him yet… Where have you been hiding?).

He has a Hall of Fame where he shares features of authors whose work he finds interesting and also of supporters of his blog. Here is the link where you can check both features. If you’re an author but have never been featured in the Hall of Fame or didn’t know about it, you can check here how to go about submitting an article. (Yes, I am featured but I’m not going to pester you with it. If you want to find me, please do…)

If you’re interested in finding writing resources, Chris regularly writes his own, has guests and also generously shares and reblogs content he finds interesting. Go and explore his author resources!

If you’re looking for a great design service, he also provides covers, 3-D covers and videos at bargain prices (and I’d advise you to keep an eye open for special offers). Check here to see what he can do!

He also recommends other people’s services and has great content like the Monday Funnies, so I just advise to explore in general.

OK, I’m sure by now you’re wondering what any of this has to do with the new book. Chris has always said that as much as he enjoys reading and loves the ins and outs of the world of writing, he doesn’t think it’s his thing. But, he decided to do something wonderful. Enter

Agnes Mae Graham
Agnes Mae Graham

Agnes Mae Graham is Chris’s mother. She’s no longer with us but she wrote poems. In her day and age, it was difficult (well, almost impossible) to publish and there were no easy options available to everyone as we have now. Chris’s sister Lorna had kept her poems. Chris re-read the poems, talked to another great supporter of authors and great author herself, Jo Robinson, and here is the result:

My Vibrating Vertebrae by Agnes Mae Graham
My Vibrating Vertebrae by Agnes Mae Graham

We all have dreams, loves, and hopes; but what if you are a girl growing up in 20th century Northern Ireland before, during and after the ‘Troubles’?
From the poetic thoughts of our Mother, we get a sense of what it was like, ranging from humor, sadness, wistful thinking and sometimes just downright nonsensical, these are the words of one such girl.

Available from AMAZON:

UKUSACAAUS

If you want to read in Chris’s own words how the book came to be, you can check this great post, here.

My father was a great storyteller but he didn’t write. My mother is more of a listener, but I’m planning on prying a few stories out of her while she’s still with us. I love Chris and Lorna’s idea and I had to bring it to you.

Thanks to Chris, Lorna and Agnes Mae Graham for the book, thanks to Chris for all his help to writers, and thanks to you for reading, please, like, share, comment and don’t forget to CLICK and explore not only the book but also the Story Reading Ape’s site.

#Bookblurbs Any tips? What are your favourites? #amwriting

Hi all:

As you know I write (and translate) and I’m currently going through the corrections of my next novel (Escaping Psychiatry 2. The Case of the Swapped Bodies, is proving challenging, or rather the circumstances around it are. I might tell you the story some day). Although there’s still a while to go (I always publish both versions, Spanish and English, of my books at the same time, and that means multiplying by two everything, including the time it takes to get everything ready), I started thinking about blurbs. Despite having written quite a few, I always hesitate when I’m about to write another one, and check advice on it.

Escaping Psychiatry 2. The Case of the Swapped Bodies by Olga Núñez Miret. Cover by Ernesto Valdés. Any day now... well, not quite
Escaping Psychiatry 2. The Case of the Swapped Bodies by Olga Núñez Miret. Cover by Ernesto Valdés. Any day now… well, not quite

I decided to share some of the articles I found about the subject (the advice isn’t that different, but I thought you might find that the style of the writer of some of the articles connects better with you than others).

17 tips on how to write blurbs that sell:

http://authorsociety.com/17-tips-how-write-blurb-sells

The dos and don’ts of writing a blurb for your novel :

http://www.blurb.co.uk/blog/writing-blurbs-for-novels/

4 easy steps to an irresistible book blurb:

http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2013/4-easy-steps-to-an-irresistable-book-blurb/

How to write a book blurb:

http://www.selfpublishingreview.com/2015/04/how-to-write-a-book-blurb/

Writing a short book blurb:

http://www.writing4success.com/Writing-a-Short-Book-Blurb.html

The 5 core elements of a book blurb (and why you should know them):

https://www.standoutbooks.com/five-elements-of-a-book-blurb/

And after all that advice, I wanted to ask you if you had any tips or any strategies (different to those ones or adapted from them) that you found particularly useful. And also, what are your favourite book blurbs? They can be your own or other writers’. Personally, although I agree certain elements are expected, I think what will entice readers depends on each individual. As one of the articles observes, some very successful books have not-so-good blurbs. But I’m curious and I guess the best way to learn is to analyse well-written blurbs. So, please, do share! And if we get a good response, I’m happy to collect the best and share them in a future post.

Books and more books

(Ah, and a word about blurbs. It seems that in some cases, although not so much now, in the US a blurb might mean only a list of recommendations or positive reviews of a book added to the back-cover. That indeed can be included in what we are talking about, but we refer more to the short description at the back of a book in paper that tells the reader a bit about it and tries to hook him into buying and reading it).

Thanks so much to all the writers of the articles, thanks to all of you for reading, and please, do like, share, click on the articles and COMMENT!

Olga Núñez Miret

http://www.authortranslatorolga.com

Building Your Book’s Front Matter

I’ve always loved long introductions in the front matter of the books of my favourite authors. Not sure if it’s just me, but finding out more about them, their lives and thoughts has inspired me since I first started reading. What I don’t love so much these days is those same long introductions in the front matter of eBooks. I still want to read them, but I also want to be able to see the first ten percent of a book I might want to buy with a bit of the beginning of the actual story in it. It’s fine in a print book, but best in the back of an eBook with a hyperlink to it from the table of contents. Pages and pages of excerpts and reviews in the front of digital books equally get up the nostrils of potential readers “looking inside”.

The wonder of self-publishing means that we can put anything we like in our books, digital or otherwise. Indies who are going it alone look to advice from already published peers, or from examining the books of traditionally published bestselling authors. They’re not all the same, but mostly follow similar formats. So what can you put in the front of your eBook, and how should you lay it out?

Title Page
This is the first page in your eBook, and will contain the book title and sub-title if there is one, and your author name. In some illustrated books, the illustrator’s name will also go here, but not always. Contributors generally go on the copyright page. You can add a publishing imprint or logo, or even an illustration or photo. Nothing at all wrong with prettying up your eBooks. All should be centred on the page.

Copyright Page
Again, all centred, and generally in a smaller font. Here it’s important to have your copyright notice, such as – Copyright © 2016 Your Name. Also the All Rights Reserved notice of your choice. You can add your ISBN if you have your own, as well as information such as First or Second Edition with publication dates if relevant. This is usually where contributors such as illustrators, cover designers and anyone else who took part in the creation of your book would go. Many authors don’t add this information, and in the case of where you’ve purchased a cover design, not required. You can also have published by information here if you have an address for your imprint.

Dedications and endorsements can go next, but I suggest adding them to the back of the book if they’re very long with hyperlinks to the table of contents.

Table of Contents
Here you would list the book’s chapters, and noteable or important diagrams, images or tables. If you have loads of chapters you can condense the contents in the front matter by listing only sections of the book, but then link to the full unshortened table of contents at the back of the book. This is still debatable though, ever since Amazon started clamping down on those dodgy eBook marketers that put a lot of freebie links in the backs of nonsense books to get pages read for Kindle Unlimited earnings.

Forward and introduction or preface can go next if you’re having them, but again, you can place them in the back of the book with hyperlinks to the table of contents. The introduction or preface is something written by the author about the book and its creation. Those lovely long rambles by Stephen King, signed and dated in Maine. A forward is often a recommendation by someone other than the author. Often in non-fiction books by someone knowledgeable in some particular field, and in fiction, often a fan, friend, or follower of the author.

Prologue
If you’re having a prologue it obviously has to go in the front of the book, as prologues are there to get you up to speed in some way before starting the meat of the book.

Books By
If you don’t have a lot of front matter, and your booklist isn’t hugely long, then have this in the front, otherwise zoom it over to the back with a hyperlink to table of contents.

About the Author
I’ve seen this in the front of lots of books, and that’s fine. I prefer mine in the back.

About this Book
Personal choice once again, but vital for any eBook in my opinion. If it’s a long one, to the back it can go.

Disclaimer
Best in the front of a book if important.

Acknowledgements and Thanks
If only a couple of lines, then nice in the front matter.

Excerpts
I don’t think that excerpts should ever go in the front matter of any eBook. Rather have them at the end, when readers have discovered that they like the way you write and want to read more.

Whether or not to use a page break between each front matter item is also personal choice. I like the look with the breaks, but have seen many books without them that look perfectly good too. Without making it too overcrowded, do try and make the front matter of your books attractive and appealing as well as functional.

Book

Should You Buy Your Own ISBN Numbers?

Your book’s ISBN (International Standard Book Number) is the 10 or 13 digit number assigned to every published book, and identifies things like edition, publisher and physical properties. Each particular edition of any published book has to have its own unique number, so you can’t use the same number if you choose to republish an already published book. The new book must have its own new number. I have seen writers on various forums claim that they’ve used the same ISBN number for both their paperback and their eBook versions, but if they did indeed get away with that they shouldn’t have. A quick squiz at Bowker’s rules (internationally applicable) will show quite clearly that a separate ISBN number is required for each format as well. eBook, audiobook, paperback and hardback. Getting even more picky, you could have MOBI and ePub versions published on different platforms. You could end up needing a whole pile of ISBN numbers for the same book. They aren’t cheap unless bought in bulk though, and many self-published authors would rather spend that money on other aspects of publishing and marketing. So how important is purchasing ISBN numbers for the Indie writer?

CreateSpace will supply a free ISBN number to each edition of any paper book that you publish with them. The only “drawback” to this is that they are listed as the book’s publisher on its landing page. CreateSpace isn’t named as publisher in the actual paperback – all you’ll see there is Made in the USA, Charleston, SC, and the date of publication. Very few purchasers will take note of this, or have any sort of clue what it signifies. You are not allowed to list any publishing imprint if you use a free ISBN from CreateSpace. You can if you buy one through them for $99, or you can purchase and supply your own. You can purchase ISBNs from Bowker in the USA or Nielsen in the UK.

Amazon doesn’t care at all whether or not you buy and supply your own ISBN number. They use the ASIN numbers that they assign anyway. The good thing about that is that you can assign your own publisher name both in your eBook and also on its landing page while still using only an Amazon ASIN number.

It is much nicer to have your own ISBN numbers, and to be able to list your publishing imprint on CreateSpace books, but absolutely not necessary if you can’t afford it, or are just starting out in the industry. At a later date you can publish a new edition with your own number if you choose to. CreateSpace and Amazon being listed as the publishers of the book has absolutely no effect on your copyright. Copyright only has to be legally registered in too few countries around the world to mention. The Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works has us covered anyway. Unless you intentionally sign a contract handing over your copyright it is owned by you.

If you want to try and sell your books in bookstores and go for a printer like Lightning Source then you must have your own ISBN, but be aware also that books sold this way must be heavily discounted and you must make provision for returned books too, so unless you’re pretty sure of knockout sales this way, think twice.

So, the final breakdown as far as I can see is that if you can comfortably afford to buy your own ISBNs then do, but if you can’t then don’t worry about it at all. CreateSpace free issues and Amazon’s ASINs are perfectly respectable and the sort of thing that most readers won’t notice.

Books
Image Courtesy Pixabay

#Bookmarketing New and well-tried ideas by Derek Murphy (@Creativindie) Check them out!

Hi all:
I’ve had a bit of a crazy week and when I was thinking about this post it occurred to me that sometimes it’s not always about new stuff (the wheel was invented quite a while back) but about sharing something one has come across that seems to cover a fair amount of ground, both things that we might know and have tried already and others that we haven’t.

Thanks to Unsplash for another colourful image
Thanks to Unsplash for another colourful image

This article by Derek Murphy is one of those. 29 New Ways to Sell More Books Right Now (check here) goes through a variety of options, from following authors you like in Twitter, to setting up local events with other authors, from having the first book in a series perma-free to giving away book by famous authors in your genre to attract more followers.

Go and visit, follow Derek’s blog and see if any of his suggestions resonate with you. The beauty is that they are very different, and go from things that require little time investment to those that might attract those of us who prefer a challenge.

I hope you find them useful.

Thanks to Derek Murphy for his blogpost, thanks to you for reading, and if you’ve enjoyed it, like, share, comment and CLICK!

Indies Making the Most of All Opportunites

Self-publishing today isn’t anything at all the way it used to be, where “vanity publishing” was looked at as something people did after being totally rejected by traditional publishers, and deciding to try and find customers themselves as a last resort for the huge pile of books in their garage, because their writing wasn’t good enough to be offered in bookstores. These days we make the choice to do it ourselves because we have the opportunities to produce professionally turned out products, the freedom to use social media to promote our work worldwide, and with platforms like Amazon and CreateSpace we get full control of all aspects of our business, as well as great royalty percentages.

Even though readers have a tendency to buy more Indie eBooks than they do paperbacks, it’s a good idea to make sure that you do have both versions available, and make sure that they’re available to as many corners of the world’s readership as they can be. When you publish on Amazon, choose as many territories to sell as you are allowed, and when marketing make sure to supply a global purchase link. A reader is going to have to really want a book very badly to go and look for it on their home site of Amazon UK or Amazon Canada if the link takes them to Amazon.com. Copy your book’s ASIN number and zoom over to a site that will convert it into a link that will automatically take whoever clicks on it to the Amazon page that they buy from.

Also be aware of the benefits of CreateSpace free expanded distribution, and make sure that you select it. This means that your paperbacks will be available for sale online at Barnes & Noble, The Book Depository, and even in corners of the world such as South Africa from major online sellers such as Takealot and Loot, even if your eBook is exclusive with KDP Select. Grab all the opportunities for worldwide visibility that you can, even if they only translate to a couple of sales a year, you never know where opportunity lurks.

We have the ability to produce quality products, pretty much indistinguishable from traditionally published books, and often much better. Even if writers today can’t afford to pay for all the things that go into getting published, with a bit of time and effort it can all mostly be done themselves. This is a great time for Indie authors, so grab every opportunity available to you now. As the industry grows and grows, hopefully you’ll look back one day and be glad that you did, when you could.

World Map
Image Courtesy Pixabay

Rotten Reviews and Terrible Trolls

You will get bad reviews. It’s inevitable, I promise you. Take comfort in the fact that it’s a rite of passage all writers go through. Every – single – one of them, and after the first one has you on the floor, bawling your eyes out, and inexplicably trying to chew your own foot off for a while, they’re not so hard to deal with. Some are pretty funny, and some are just to be ignored. There are people out there who delight in trashing books, and sometimes the authors of books too, for reasons unknown to most decent humans. Sometimes it’s jealousy, and sometimes it’s just because they’re mean. Sometimes also these one star stabs to the soul are perfectly legitimate in their author’s hearts and minds, because they really didn’t enjoy what you wrote for reasons that do or don’t make sense to you. Whatever the reasons are for your one star clanger, you must never, ever, never, never, and I repeat, never respond to them. If you really need to share your pain then talk to a friend – preferably a writer friend, who will totally get you. I personally don’t think that it’s a good idea to respond to fabulous five star rave reviews either. “Liking” that wonderful review is good enough. The reviewer might actually not appreciate being gushed at by an unknown author, no matter how much you really want to catch a plane, find them, and kiss them on the lips. Reviews are for readers, good ones and bad ones. It’s best for you to let them be.

Now the trolls on the other hand can be some crazy scary creatures. Try and avoid them at all costs, and be very wary of provoking any. After any amount of time cruising around our dear world wide web you’re guaranteed to come across a couple. Whether it’s something you’ll read in a forum or on a blog or article that enrages you so badly you act before thinking, or a troll actually infiltrating your own sites for whatever reason, you need to throw away that pointy stick without poking that horrible hairy monster, turn around very quietly and run away. On other sites you’re better off never getting involved with these people – ignore them, and they won’t even know that you were there. On your own sites use your block, ban, and report buttons with gusto in the event of any sort of blow across your bows. I have a few times and that’s been the end of that for me personally, but I have witnessed some pretty awful trollings online that were truly appalling to see, especially on Goodreads. Have no part in these things if you can help it.

When you do get a negative review, pass it on to that part of you who is the business – not the writer – figure out if there is anything to learn from it, in which case it becomes helpful, and if not, move right along and forget about it. Don’t waste your valuable online time on trolls and hurtful reviews.

How much time of every day should you spend “marketing” online, versus how much time should you spend each day writing your next book? Writing your next book must always take priority. A couple of self-published books have gone on to be NYT bestsellers with break out first novels, but that’s not the way this author life generally works. You have to produce more than one book. A little quirk that all of us readers have is the desire to read more from a writer we love. We’ll read a book that we adore, and praise it from the rafters. We’ll look for more books by the same author, and if there aren’t any, we’ll forget about it unless something pops up to remind us about it again. So schedule your daily writing time, and try and stick to it, doing other marketing and business related projects at other times of your day.

If you want to write books and earn a living from it, you are going to have to write and publish more books. If you’re writing a series you probably won’t see substantial sales until you have a couple of books out there. Don’t panic about this though. Underlying anxiety fussing about getting this done could very well knobble your creativity and leave you staring at a blank computer screen. I read an article by Hugh Howey a long time ago, where he said that he didn’t ever bother trying to market his first book until he’d published others. It was only his seventh book, Wool, that rocketed him to fame. I took his advice and I’m glad that I did. As you publish more, you learn so much more than you expect to after that bright eyed ecstasy when hitting the publish button for the very first time. Definitely do market and advertise your first book – of course you must, but don’t let disappointing first sales put you off writing the next or let marketing consume all of your time. You need time to build a readership. Patience and tenacity are what the Indie needs to succeed.

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Image Courtesy: Pixabay

Article excerpt: The Absolute Indie

August 2016 is Write An Amazon Review Month! By @TerryTyler4 #AugustReviews

Hi all:

As some of you might know, apart of contributing to this blog and having my own blog, where I share reviews and other things, I’m also part of another group of reviewers, Rosie’s Book Review Team and one of the other members of the group, Terry Tyler, has had a fabulous idea to encourage people to post reviews. Below is the post! (And don’t forget to check both blogs, especially if you are interested in new books and enjoy reading reviews. And if you’re an author, you can also submit your book to Rosie’s site, here). And if you’re bloggers, don’t forget to spread the word and the love.

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On Monday 25th July, book blogger Rosie Amber wrote this post encouraging readers and writers alike to post a short review on Amazon for any book they’ve read and enjoyed ~ following this up, Terry Tyler is starting this initiative along with other writer-bloggers including Rosie, Cathy from Between The Lines, Barb Taub, Shelley Wilson and Alison Williams.

The idea is that, from August 1st, everyone who reads this uses their Amazon account to post just one review on one book that they’ve read (but feel free to carry on if you get in the swing!).  You don’t even have to have read it recently, it can be any book you’ve read, any time.  The book does not have to have been purchased from Amazon, though if it is you get the ‘Verified Purchase’ tag on it; however, if you download all your books via Kindle Unlimited, as many do these days, they don’t show the VP tag, anyway.

Remember, this isn’t the Times Literary Supplement, it’s Amazon, where ordinary people go to choose their next £1.99 Kindle book.  No one expects you to write a thousand word, in-depth critique; I don’t know about you, but I’m more likely to read one short paragraph or a couple of lines saying what an average reader thought of a book, than a long-winded essay about the pros and cons of the various literary techniques used.  Yes, those are welcome too (!), but no more so than a few words saying “I loved this book, I was up reading it until 3am”, or “I loved Jim and Vivien and the dialogue was so realistic”, or whatever!

Why should you write a review?

They help book buyers make decisions.  Don’t you read the reviews on Trip Advisor before deciding on a hotel, or any site from which you might buy an item for practical use?  Book reviews are no different.

If the book is by a self-published author, or published by an independent press, the writers have to do all their promotion and marketing themselves ~ reviews from the reading public is their one free helping hand.

The amount of reviews on Amazon helps a book’s visibility (allegedly).  If you love a writer’s work and want others to do so, too, this is the best possible way of making this happen.

It’s your good deed for the day, and will only take five minutes!

Off we go, then!  A few more pointers:

If you need any help with writing your review, do click on Rosie’s post, above.

A review can be as short as one word.  The shortest one I have is just two 🙂

You don’t have to put your name to the review, as your Amazon ‘handle’ can be anything you like.

No writer expects all their reviews to be 5* and say the book is the best thing ever written; there is a star rating guide on Rosie’s post.

Would you like to tell the Twittersphere about your review?  If so, tweet the link to it with the hashtag #AugustReviews ~ and thank you!  I will do one blog post a week featuring these links: The #AugustReviews Hall of Fame (thank you, Barb!).

If you have a blog and would like to spread the word about #AugustReviews, please feel free to copy and paste this blog post, provide the link to it, re-blog it, or whatever ~ many thanks, and I hope you will join in to make this idea a success 🙂

Thanks for reading and please, share, like, comment, CLICK and REVIEW! Ah, and remember, share your Amazon review (as we want to make sure people know you don’t need to be a blogger or share your reviews in a blog to write a review!)