Tuesday, January 29, 2013

New Source of Kindle Formating Information and Its Free!

Aaron Shepard, one of the founding fathers of today's self-publishing industry and the author of Aiming at Amazon, has created a new site for authors interested in converting their Word files to Kindle files for publication as Amazon Kindle ebooks.

Here is Aaron's announcement of his new blog:

In support of the upcoming major revision and expansion of my ebook"From Word to Kindle," I've launched a new blog with the same name.


I'll be posting draft sections to this blog as I write them, in hopes of receiving comments that help me refine the book. I also see it as a place for my readers to support each other with answers to each other's questions. A "Follow by Email" feature will bring you email notices of new posts.

This will be a helpful resource for many so you will want to bookmark this blog and visit it from time to time.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Self-Publishing Topics of Interest

Time for another visit to some self-publishing blogs and websites. Here is what I have come across that I think might be of interest.

Are eReaders and Tablets Killing PDF Sales?

From: Morris Rosenthal's Foner Books

As always, Morris has some interesting information about self-publishing. For those of use who deal in the realm of non-fiction, this is an interesting topic.


Good-bye PDF/X-1a, Hello PDF/X-3

From: Aaron Shepard's Publishing Blog

This article is for those of you who are really interested in the technical aspects of self-publishing, particularly dealing with color and book design/production. This is all a bit beyond me, but I know it will be interesting to the techie's out there.


How to Publish Your eBook From Word to Kindle in Under 10 Minutes

From: Joel Friedlander's The Book Designer

This is the source of the idea for me of using Scrivener to create your own ebook files for Kindle and Nook ebooks. Worth reading if you are interested in this topic.




Sunday, January 20, 2013

Using Scrivener to Produce Your Own eBooks?

Where to begin. No, I have not actually tried Scrivener yet but I am going to. In my search to cut costs, which for me is usually a painful learning experience that costs me money, I stumbled upon ebooks (Kindle books actually) touting the virtues of Scrivener and using it to create your own ebook.

I have been suckered into buying numerous books claiming to be able to teach me how to convert my Word document into a nice looking Kindle book with great ease. The results of these purchases is the authors made some money off me, I became more confused than before about the entire Kindle/ePub conversion process than before and the final product was unsellable.

The closest thing to success I have been able to find has been to use iPages to create ePub versions for Nook, then convert the ePub to a mobi. file for Kindle. The results were OK for books I sell for .99 or 2.99 but I would never charge more for these books. The other challenge is the niche I write for requires extensive use of diagrams created by a specific software and inserted into the body of the book.

This is absolutely no problem for my POD paperback editions, the process is easy and the final result looks fine in actual print.

The problem is converting that type of interior to an ebook. Every approach I have haphazardly tried has resulted in disaster.

So if the book really needs to be converted to Kindle and ePub, I use eBook Architects for the conversion. For one price I receive files for both the Kindle and Nook, everything works like it should and I have the backing of eBook Architects' guarantee. While I definitely get what I pay for, it is not inexpensive.

CreateSpace provides a Kindle conversion service for books printed using their POD service. It is less expensive that eBook Architects but only provides a Kindle file and my experience has been books with a more complicated format, require a functioning table of contents or have hyperlinks inserted, can have issues with the finished Kindle file. CreateSpace will honor their warranty and redo the file, but with one book I finally had to pay eBook Architects to convert the file.

After it has been all said and done, I still find myself looking for a way to convert some of my own books to Kindle and ePub that will produce an acceptable end result and the only investment I have is my time.

So once again I purchased a pair of Kindle books about using Scrivener to convert your finished book to an ebook. Promising myself to give each book a quick scan and get a refund if the books were as useful to me as the others I had paid for and kept, I sat down to read How to Format Your Novel for Kindle, Nook, the iBookstore, Smashwords and CreateSpace in One Afternoon (for Mac) by Ed Ditto and Beautiful eBooks with Scrivener by N.R. Wick.

I purchased Ed Ditto's book first and in the opening pages was introduced to the fact there existed a software for authors to write their books called Scrivener. Mr. Ditto stated I could download a free trial of the complete software for 30 days. Interestingly enough, the 30 days is not 30 calendar days, but 30 days of actual use. If you only use the software one day a week, your 30 day trial will last for 30 weeks!

As I read through How to Format... it became quickly evident this book makes no attempt to show me tricks of how to deal with Word, understand coding, HTML or how the conversion process works. Granted, I was skimming through so there may be some of that type of information included.

What this book does describe is how to use Scrivener. Included are numerous screen capture photos of the software, its features, and which function to actually click on for a specific task! Wow! Just what a non-techie like me needs, step-by-step written instructions combined with actual photos of how the screen will actually appear during the process!

Scrivener apparently has been designed to do the actual converting once you get everything uploaded in the correct manner. Mr. Ditto states quite clearly you need to check the finished version and you will find mistakes - usually typos, grammar, etc. 

Intrigued I sprang for the second book Beautiful eBooks with Scrivener. More of the same in a different writing style. Step by step instructions with screen shots of the actual step involved.

An actual 30 days of use of the non-stripped down version for free before purchasing. Two guidebooks I can actually understand. 

Well, I am either a sucker or hopelessly optimistic, but I am about a week away from finishing a book that I would like to make available as a Kindle version in addition to the POD edition. I will download my free trial version of Scrivener and give it my best shot.

I doubt everything will be as easy to use as the authors describe, if for no other reason than I manage to make things more difficult than they need to be.

Hopefully, the end result will be a nice finished ebook. For what's worth, the two books I mentioned were done in Scrivener. They looked OK on my small Kindle, great on my new HD Kindle which is larger and great on my Kindle Ap on my Mac. The larger the screen, the better the result of the conversion.

Of particular importance to me was the appearance of the graphics in these two books as my books are so graphic intensive.

For better or worse, I will share my experiences with Scrivener in a future post.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Free Software and Online Utilities for Writers - Book Review

Self-publishing is a business. So is being a traditionally published author. Costs are always an issue in any business and the author, Brad Smith, has gone to the trouble of researching, using, and sharing what he has learned about a wide range of software that is FREE for writers to use in this short Kindle book, Free Software & Online Utilities for Writers!

Just the time saved involved in uncovering all of the items in this book is worth much more in dollars and cents than the minimal purchase price of $1.99.

In addition to collecting all of the information in one place, the author has presented it in a well organized and easy to use format.

If you are an author, there is something for free in this book that will be of use to you. Here are the chapters in the book:
  • Free online word processors and office suites
  • Low distraction word processors
  • Script writing software and online resources
  • Novel writing software and websites
  • Writing Utilities
  • Mind Mapping and Organization
  • Submission tracking and Query tracking
  • Research Sources
  • Note taking and to-do lists
  • Promotional aids
  • Graphics
I found several items in this book to be of great interest to me and will now have to spend more time investigating and learning about the business of publishing. At least I save the time spent finding this free software!

Brad Smith also has a website: Writerstuff.net

I am in no way affiliated with Mr. Smith. I just found this book really helpful.


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Book Review of 77 Ways to Find New Readers for Your Self-Published Book! by Laura Wu

During the Christmas Break I made a decision to not read anything for my "real job." Instead I read fiction for fun and books for my self-publishing business. As of late I have been researching marketing and sales. It would seem that the hardest part of the self-publishing world really is the marketing and sales end of it. If we don't do it though, no one will ever buy, or read, our self-published books.

One of the Kindle books I read on this subject was Laura Wu's 77 Ways to Find New Readers for Your Self-Published Book!

Ms. Wu makes her living solely as a writer. If she doesn't sell her books, she does not pay her bills, keep a rough over her head, or eat on a regular basis. I would consider that motivation to sell your books, which requires marketing and salesmanship.

Just as the title of her book suggests, Ms. Wu's book does provide the reader with 77 ways to promote and market your book. Divided into 14 chapters with an introduction, Ms. Wu provides some great ideas. Some I had heard of before but many were new or ideas in popular but confusing topics such as the use of social media.

Some of the ideas were so simple and obvious it was easy to never have thought of them. Some examples include:
  • leaving flyers in your local coffee shop
  • contacting your alumni magazine
  • visit the bed and breakfasts in your area and ask if they will sell the book on consignment
The all important Amazon is addressed as well and Ms. Wu includes ideas on optimizing Amazon for your book. Social media, tribes, YouTube and building an author platform are all addressed.

Well worth the price of $3.99 for the Kindle version.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Free Kindle Conversion by CreateSpace? Updated 1/2/2013

I hope this new practice continues and will report on the quality of the conversion as well. I just finished uploading a new book for CreateSpace's POD service. It is not a book I had intended to offer in Kindle as I plan to sell it at speaking engagements (coaching clinics) as a back-of-room-sale item.

No sooner did I approve my digital proof than up popped a screen asking me if I wanted to convert my newly approved book for sale on KDP. The screen informed me my submitted file was a PDF, which is not the preferred file to convert from and that I could upload a file directly to KDP if I wished.

Since this was FREE and I did not plan on offering this title in a Kindle version, what did I have to lose? So the CreateSpace computers are busy as I type converting my latest and greatest to a Kindle file. I may take one look at the results, say "ugh" and promptly hit the delete key and I may put the Kindle version up for sale!

At any rate, if the conversion turns out well, this is certainly a boon for authors who desire to offer their books in both POD paperback versions and a Kindle version on KDP.

Update: Not the way to go! Unless you like what appears to be machine language as the end result! Evidently I got excited over nothing. You need to have an already converted file to take advantage of this method of uploading your book to KDP. It would seem it is just another way for CreateSpace to sell its conversion program.