EBOOK & POD ORIGINALS, LONDON
Welcome to the update blog for the ebook creation guide How To Publish An Ebook On A Budget – An Author’s Guide.
The whole ebook scene moves FAST and the ebook and POD paperback is regularly updated.
The updates below are divided under selling/techie etc headings in date order. For information published since your purchase you only need to scroll down until the date you bought.
To purchase, click the cover image.
Picnik, our favourite ebook cover making site is due to close on April 19th with Google advising users that the editing facilities will be moving to Google+. This will still be a free service but am pleased to report that some of the ex-Picniker coders have banded together to bring us PicMonkey. Follow them at @PicMonkeyApp for latest developments.
If you decide to make your ebook cover using Word, reader Michael Cole has written to suggest that the Word file is first saved as a PDF file and then saved as a .jpg file, ready for use. This eliminates possible border problems created by Word’s margin system.
View Amazon’s How To Publish – Video Tutorial.
The Indie Journey – Secrets To Writing Success by Scott Nicholson with J A Konrath, Zoe Winters, Guido Henkel and other top US independent authors has lots of advice and tips from writers who’ve been there and done it most successfully.
Michael R Hicks’ brilliant tutorial on how to use Twitter with links to some excellent free Apps. I’m now using ManageFlitter and TwitCleaner on a regular basis. Another writer has recommended TweetAdder – it costs, and I haven’t gone ahead yet, still investigating and waiting for some time to use the free trial. Before purchase, Google to see if there are any active discount Coupon Codes.
In February 2012 I changed the name of blackbirdebooks to Blackbird Digital Books to reflect the fact that we also now sell POD paperbacks, and have abandoned the system of selling via a website shop altogether. The way ebooks have developed means that PDF sales, which used to be the main format before Amazon & co came along, are now virtually redundant. Nearly all of our sales are via Amazon, Smashwords and CreateSpace. They’re trusted platforms where the customer feels safe in handing over credit card or PayPal details and that’s where most readers go to buy an ebook. They don’t search Google for a book, they’ll search Amazon. So SEO isn’t such a crucial part of the mix either. When you have a shop on your website you add the extra dimension of hackability into the mix, your website becomes more vulnerable because there are financial transactions taking place there.
If you sign your ebook into KDP lending when you sell it on Amazon, you get 5 days every quarter to offer your book for free. This is an opportunity to get it into the charts and get noticed. Pixel of Ink, one of the largest of the free ebook websites in the US, has good advice on how to make the best of your free book promotion days.
My favourite free ebook cover-making, photo editing site is CLOSING! Google are moving Picnik.com to Google+ where the same facilities will be available. Hopefully it will be as user-friendly and simple to use. More news nearer the time, meantime they’re offering all of Picnik’s Premium services for free. You have until April 19, 2012 to take advantage of this offer.
My crash course subject of study at the moment. The only updates I need to put into my own book are the recommendations below:
Dollars & Sense – The Definitive Guide To Self-Publishing Success by Carolyn McCray, Amber Scott and Rachel Thompson is very good on branding and presenting your work to the world. A must-have book I’d recommend for the next stage in promoting and selling your ebook and POD paperback after you’ve published. Currently just 99 cents on US Amazon and 77p (including VAT!) on UK Amazon.
Coral Russell’s The DIY Guide to Social Media Marketing and eBook Publishing, is an excellent introduction for beginners with many useful links. For me the link to McQuestionable Musings’ utterly brilliant “My Method For Writing A Book Description” was worth the purchase of this book on its own – at the time of writing just 99 cents on US Amazon (UK edition here).
Thanks to Susie Kelly for these recommendations. Susie suggests that these books are downloaded and read on the Kindle App for Computer (or iPad, Android etc) rather than the Kindle itself as there are lots of useful links. Though Kindle does link through to the internet it’s more fiddly and difficult to read when you’re there because of the screen size adjustments that need to be made.
The first stage of Amazon’s new formatting system to replace Mobi is now live. Currently it only works on the latest US Kindles, Kindle Fire, and needn’t worry beginners. Details (from our non-techie POV) will be added as and when. Meantime here’s a link with more information.
IMPORTANT UPDATE FOR NON-US AUTHORS It’s NO LONGER NECESSARY TO jump through so many hoops to get the 30% tax deduction on all US ebook sales removed. Authors used to have to get an ITIN number which involved several forms, original or certified copy passport presentations and a run of seriously complicated instructions. Non-US authors can now apply for an EIN NUMBER (Employer Identification Number) by phoning the US Embassy in their country of residence. Thanks to blog reader JTR for this information: ”I told them I was a UK based author and they said the EIN was fine, I was effectively the sole proprietor of my own business – I didn’t need to go to the US embassy..”
Apple have announced plans to introduce a self-published ebook platform on iBooks. You can do this already very well via Smashwords and I understand the direct Apple route isn’t that straightforward. I don’t have definite details yet but gather you’ll need to purchase an ISBN (not needed for ebooks generally, Smashwords will allocate you a free one if you publish with them, also free) and have access to a relatively modern Mac computer – rumours are flying.
The minimum price you’re allowed to sell at when you upload your writing to kindle is 99 cents, so how do you get your ebook to sell for free? It’s all part of a new Amazon lending initiative called KDP Select. This is how it was announced by Amazon::
When you make any of your titles exclusive to the Kindle Store for at least 90 days, those with US rights will automatically be included in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library and can earn a share of a monthly fund. The monthly fund for December 2011 is $500,000 and will total at least $6 million in 2012. If you haven’t checked it out already, the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library is a collection of books that eligible US Amazon Prime members can borrow for free once a month with no due dates. You’ll also now have access to a new set of promotional tools, starting with the option to promote your KDP Select-enrolled titles for FREE for up to 5 days every 90 days.
If you decide to opt in, you’re not allowed to sell your books on any other platform for that 90 day period, including your own websites and blogs. If you already have books selling on iBooks, Nook etc you’d have to get them taken down first before you’re eligible. This would be extremely fiddly. I want to keep my books on the various sales platforms, especially Smashwords which has done so much for the independent author, and ProseQuest/Books On Board which has been championing my last novel, but KDP Select is an interesting new experiment for the independent author. US Amazon Prime members can borrow the title for free at any time. Read more about KDP Select here.
“Marketing is merely a catalyst for sales. Like any true catalyst, catalysts help start the fire but they can’t sustain it..” Mark Coker
In a fascinating guest post for the blog Write NonFiction In November Smashwords’ founder Mark Coker explains why ‘discoverability’ rather than marketing is the path to follow. In this post you’ll find a pi chart of a survey Mark ran asking readers to name their single favorite method of discovering the ebooks they purchase.
Looking for original art for your cover? The popularity of Tumblr is racing. Search under the #art hashtag. Find an artist you like, contact them and ask if you can use their image. When negotiating a price, use the fact that you’ll be crediting their work with a link to their site. I love http://eatsomeart.tumblr.com.
Amazon have announced a new kindle formatting system. KF8 will soon be replacing Mobi 7. Good news for the graphics side of things but what does this actually mean to the non-techie who just wants to get their words up and selling? Not a great deal. We prefer to stick to plain and simple Word documents and have never fathomed Mobipocket. It doesn’t work on Macs anyway. Maybe the new system will be easier to use. Maybe it will work on Macs. Will update as and when.
Here’s a first: an update that came to me ‘live and in person’ at the pub on Monday. A couple of weeks ago author Ian C P Irvine read about Louise Voss’s ebook success (Nos 1 and 2 in the Kindle Top 100 followed by HarperCollins 6 figure book deal) in his wife’s copy of Woman magazine. Louise had mentioned that How To Publish An Ebook On A Budget had helped her. Ian then bought a copy and got his scientific thriller The Orlando File up and published. Here it is selling on Amazon UK and on Amazon USA. He’d found the guide useful but had a couple of issues. He tracked down Louise who invited him along to our writer’s pub night. So there I had it: a critique up front and personal. I’m always up for improving and Ian’s top tip is out of the box brilliant:
Sometimes a spacing on the Kindle Master will just refuse to budge. Ian suggests placing a dot in between any line that won’t separate into a space. Then colour the dot white. Your white dot won’t be visible on the Kindle screen but you’ll have your space!
If your pictures aren’t converted to a tiny size you’ll find that, whatever size you make them on your Word master, in conversion they’ll blow up to full Kindle page size. This leaves no room for text. Not even for a heading.
To fix this, in Word, right click the picture and select ‘FORMAT PICTURE’. Select ‘SIZE’ from the horizontal menu running across the top.
Make the width about 4.90cm, the height will then come out at about 3.7cm (this will vary slightly depending on the size of your Master). Click OK.
As Amazon Kindle Spain opens for business, everybody’s talking about translations and foreign rights. An addition to our chapter on growing your sales through the roof will be needed at the next update. Meantime, an interesting discussion has just started over at Kindleboards, see especially Andre Jute’s advice half way down the page.
How they did it:
read a blow by blow account of independent author Amanda Hocking’s incredible ebook journey:
and Scott Pack’s story of how one of his books has reached 100,000 sales
Your Cover Uncovered (discovered via Password Incorrect, below) is a lovely blog which reviews ebook covers. Learn what not to do before you do it! When you’re ready, submit your design and you might get an in-depth critique.
Passwordincorrect’s series on ebook specific cover design is unmissable. It challenges traditional cover design rules in a number of interesting ways: square covers, covers without any text at all…!
Piotr Kowalczyk’s blog at passwordincorrect.com has lots of fantastic tips. “Look Inside for Kindle Books – 3 Tips For Authors” 26 August 2011 is particularly useful. Kindle books now feature the ‘Look Inside’ option. Readers can check the first few pages of your book without downloading sample chapters. Piotr suggests ways to utilise this facility to your best advantage. The ‘don’t's’ in his article are as important as the ‘do’s’ eg. don’t put the cover inside the book. That’s wasting a whole page of info… I’m off right now to take my covers out of my Master Kindle documents.
My question on Kindleboards’ Writer’s Café forum:
Ebook Advertising: does it work? Any success stories?
triggered a fantastic tutorial by Jonny, a total advertising whizz.
Read about ins & outs of advertising your ebook on Facebook at the Writer’s Café forum post “Advertising: does it Work? Any success stories? 1 Sept 2011. I actually gave up in the end, it’s a fine art and I wasn’t getting the click throughs or the purchases to make the time, cost and effort worthwhile.
This is a really good, intelligent and informative blog for indie authors:
The Indie Book Collective http://indiebookcollective.com?
They’re on Twitter at @IndieBookIBC ?Use the hashtag #IBC for all indie book discussions.
Also, Kait Nolan’s Selling Your Book guide is particularly useful: http://indiebookcollective.com/IndieBookCollective/Selling_Your_Book.html
ANCHORING PICTURES IN WORD
A reader pointed out the Word picture anchoring instructions didn’t work on his version of Word.
1. On very old versions of Word:
Click Layout. > Click Advanced. > You’ll see 2 options at the top: Picture Position/Text Wrapping
If you click on Picture Position you get the Lock Anchor option.
2. On other Word versions the procedure might be:
Click Format.> Click Position.> Click More Layout Options.> Click Lock Anchor
WORKING WITH TEXT EDIT
Note that pictures cannot be placed in TextEdit. They have to be reinserted after you have cut and pasted your Plain Text words into your new Smashwords Word Master.
(Thanks to Melvin for above 2 queries)
Free simple photo editing site for editing and resizing photos and for making ebook covers:
Pixlir is more advanced than Picnik and has a wide PALLETE CHOICE for making ebook covers. Under ‘BRUSH’ selection click ‘MORE’ to see a massive selection of image and style options: Artistic, Nature, Shapes, Makeup, Misc. This gives the option of producing a cover entirely on this site without the need for any background art at all.
Picnik’s brilliant simplicity still makes it an option especially for beginners. It’s still my first choice for fast resizing of images for ebook covers and ebook picture inserts.
Extremely useful! A fantastically brisk, snappy and practical guide to publishing an e-book – all the salient points are covered, and I love the step-by-step hand-holding nature of the instructions for the techie aspects! It’s a quick, easy read, and will be undeniably useful for anyone embarking on the great adventure that is e-publishing! It certainly was for me. LOUISE VOSS Bestselling Kindle No. 1 Top 100 Author
I’m 83 years old, technically naive as far as computers are concerned, apart from using Word, and I decided to ‘have a go’ at getting my book ‘The Tree That Walked’ on the Amazon Kindle book list. I bought a Kindle reader and half a dozen books which I hoped would help me to do it … some chance; the first five were totally incomprehensible and it was only when I read Stephanie’s words that the clouds began to part. I’d originally allowed myself a week to get up an running on Kindle but, by slavishly following what she advised I was uploaded and accepted on Kindle in a day, with the bonus of being on the Smashwords platform which puts me out into the whole e-book market. Fantastic. I strongly advise anyone wanting to ‘Kindle’ their writings to buy Stephanie’s book. I did and it saved my sanity.