Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A New Method of Proofreading Your Manusript?

Proofreading, like editing, is best done by someone else. Yet, if you're like me, money is an issue. Morris Rosenthal might have come to the rescue to those of us who wish to both dramatically improve our self-editing and proofreading! 

Best of all, it's an inexpensive and easy approach to the task!

Here is Morris' suggested proofreading  method on his Foner Books blog.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Print-on-Demand for Self-Publishers: Is CreateSpace the Only Viable Option Now Available?

Lightning Source Inc, LSI, was the first print-on-demand printer that allowed self-published authors access to book distribution and Amazon. Before the advent of ebooks (Kindle and Nook) it was the way to go for authors who wanted to self-publish.

One of the founding fathers of today's self-publishing industry, Aaron Shepard, wrote two books that were essential reading if you planned to make a go self-publishing as a business, Aiming at Amazon and POD for Profit. Morris Rosenthal, another of the self-publishing industries early leaders in using POD to self-publish wrote another essential book explaining the business model of using POD, Print-on-Demand Book Publishing.

CreateSpace, CS, appeared on the scene and after some bumps upon starting, soon became a viable alternative to LSI. I have written about choosing between the two companies on numerous times on this blog. The decision to use CS for all of my books since my first efforts centered around the ease of simply creating an account with CS, ease of just about anything with CS versus LSI, and my last blog post on the subject took one final look at the two companies.

For many, myself included, the quandary over which company to choose was ease of use versus the ability set the discount offered to retailers. For me ease of use won out every time, meaning I published with CS instead of LSI.

That may all be a moot point now. Ingram, who owns LSI, has started a new division called IngramSpark and is now insisting authors who wish to self-publish must deal with IngramSpark, who will control the discounts set and is, from what I understand, not overly user-friendly in setting up a new title.

The biggest supporter of LSI for self-publishing, Aaron Shepard, now directs new authors to CreateSpace, due in large part to the behavior of IngramSpark.

This combined with changes in Amazon's stocking of some LSI titles, which led to the now defunct Plan B approach,  largely limits the choice of a viable POD service for authors who desire to self-publish to just CreateSpace.

In the grand scheme of things, perhaps authors should still be thankful there is access to Amazon and other retailers using a POD business model via CreateSpace.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Book Design - Making the DIY as a Self-Publisher Easier

DIY as a self-publisher comes with the trade. You're simply going to have to learn to "do it yourself." Paying someone else to do the work for you becomes very expensive in a very short period of time.

Book design is something we are all aware of as readers, but is not something we are necessarily conscious of. It can be an eye opening experience to most self-published authors when their first proof copy arrives and they see their beloved book printed with a poorly designed interior and cover.

While covers are an entirely separate, and perhaps more important issue, the design of a books interior is more than just aesthetics. The book design can have a major impact, both good or bad, on the readability of a book. The interior can also impact the all important Amazon reviews, again for both good or bad. I have read many negative reviews where the reviewer stated clearly the content was good but the design was so poor it made the book difficult to read.

With so many tasks to learn, when something comes along to make one of the many Do-It-Yourself projects easier AND turn out better, it is worth taking the time to examine.

In this case, I want to discuss the book templates, both for POD paperbacks and ebooks, available from The Book Designer. For a reasonable price, you are able to purchase Word templates that create handsome book interiors as well as ebook designs.

Yes, you have to learn how to use the templates. But here's the good news! If you already know how to use Word and can read, the time involved to master using most of the features of the template is about 30 minutes. Then there is the issue of customer service. It is outstanding. I had repeated issues getting the Table of Contents working on several ebook editions I released this summer and the good people at The Book Designer stood behind their templates and provided feedback till the issue was resolved.

What benefits are there to be had for self-publishing authors? Here are the benefits I gained from purchasing templates:
  • Interiors that looked professionally produced
  • Huge time savings in creating a quality finished product
  • Significant savings in cost compared to paying a professional to design and create the interior files
  • Significant savings in cost in creation of the ebook files for both Kindle and Nook editions
  • A learning curve that was simple to master
Saving time and money are important and so is having a book that looks great. I will be using these templates, of which there is a great variety of choices to select from, for all of my future projects.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Is There Trouble in Paradise With CreateSpace?

I have used CreateSpace and been very happy with the company as my POD service and distributor. I have lots of good things to say about the company. But my sales have been slumping and one title in particular title has had zero sales through CreateSpace, yet has had considerable sales through LSI. Since I was using a variation of Aaron Shepard's Plan B, the title was available through both CS and LSI.

Then I hear rumors about issues with CS's reporting of sales. Rumors are usually just that, rumors. Hard to pay attention to rumors when I have had a really good experience with CS.

However, my sales are seasonal and really pick up at the start of the school year and peak in January before falling off. As I have explained, my best selling title has sold well through LSI, but not one sale from CS. Then I stumbled on this blog post on Jeannette Vaughan's blog.

I will let you draw your own conclusions from this article written as a guest post by John. R. Clark, Managing Editor at AgeView Press.

Vigilance is always necessary I suppose. I know I will be paying much closer attention to my sales figures the next few months.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

SEO and Self-Publishing Author Platforms - Two Helpful Sites

Just what do self-publishing and SEO have to do with each other? A lot it would seem. With the discovery that my author platform website had fallen off the charts in page ranking and had seen a decline in traffic, with a slump in sales to boot, I have recently been spending time researching yet another skill it seems the jack-of-all-trades self-publishing author must master, or at least develop some skill at.

Just what is Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and why does it matter for my blog/website/author platform? The purpose of an author platform is to connect with readers, to build an audience for your work. If readers never find your author platform, the time and energy you have invested has been wasted and your books may never develop the readership they deserve.

SEO, according to Wikipedia's definition, is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine's "natural" or un-paid ("organic") search results. In general, the earlier (or higher ranked on the search results page), and more frequently a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine's users. 

In other words, it is the computer stuff that helps search engines find and rank your site. The higher the ranking, the better!
To make matters more challenging, the rules of SEO constantly seem to be changing. I even discovered it takes special computer tools to determine what the SEO of your site is.

There are lots of free tools available as SEO companies are willing to provide these tools in order for potential customers to learn their sites are in desperate need of SEO. Of course, these companies are willing to provide this service for a fee! 

Because SEO is forever changing and nobody but Google truly knows how Google and other search engines determine SEO, it is all a bit of a guess. 

I have found two tools though that have been more helpful than most because of the huge amount of information the results contain, providing you with a decent idea of what the search engines are looking for and how good, or bad, your SEO is.

The first tool, or site, I have found to be more helpful than most is  This site provides a lot of interesting information, including where the physical location of the server hosting your site is located to the dollar amount your site is worth. It also provides a lot of information about factors search engines are interested in and displays the information in a variety of ways including over the life of your site.

The second tool I found that has been the most helpful is only free for 30 days. However, it gives an extremely detailed SEO analysis of the single page you enter to be analyzed and the information is so specific you can easily go back and edit the page or blog post according to the feedback and see your SEO score rise the next time you run the analysis. In fact, it even generates a "to do list" of all the SEO items you need to address to improve the results for the page or blog post you did the analysis for.  This has been extremely helpful! The site is

Finally, if you have not already done so, you will need to install Google Analytics to your site. This tool takes a little bit of learning to be of value because you will have to learn what all the data being measured is, what it means, and how it can be used to improve your site, but it will be time well spent.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Summary of Interesting and Relevent Posts on Self-Publishing

It's about that time again to take a look at what other bloggers and experts have to say about self-publishing.

Discouraging Words
From Aaron Shepard's Publishing Blog
Aaron's take on the rumors and facts about Lightning Source not taking on new self-published authors and small publishers.

From Search Engine Land
Not a normal place to look for self-publishing information, but since most of us rely heavily on sales from Amazon, worth a look.

From Self-Publishing 2.0
Morris Rosenthal's thoughts on the subject.

From How to Make, Market and Sell Ebooks
Jason  Matthew's advice on this all important topic.

From The Book Designer
Joel Friedlander's advice on this topic. Worth reading.

Short post with a 35 minute podcast.