Originally posted on Adidas Wilson: Self-published authors are sometimes ill-prepared or don’t know what to expect when they approach booksellers about selling their titles, signing events, policy, etc. To be successful in pitching their books to booksellers, self-published authors should have a sense of the resources available to booksellers, what is appealing to them, and…
…the sun is shining, the hummingbirds are visiting the feeder, and the temperature is warm and lovely.
In between trips to my backyard, it’s time to plan the next steps for my blog, my editing business, and the spring garden. I’ve done a little spring cleaning around Mindflight, reworking the banner and updating the pages. I hope you enjoy them!
New updates include a page just for authors, editing and proofreading services, and a new book all about self publishing! It’s available as we speak for only 99 cents. Mindflight is here to support creativity. I love my fellow authors, artists and creators, and I want to help them by offering resources. This book does all that. Feel free to check it out, or check out the new author page!
Originally posted on Steven Capps: As a warning, I am writing the rough draft of this post on my IPhone while I do cardio at the gym (cue gym selfie below). I am trying to be more efficient and thought that this would be a good time to get in some writing. Earlier today, I…
Most of my discussion so far has been regarding paperback books. However, it’s pretty simple to also offer eBooks, and a great way to increase your readership, as well as give more value to your customer.
Converting files to eBook
It’s not hard to use a converter like Calibre and convert your existing PDF to ePub, and offer it as a file on your own site. Calibre is free and simple to use. It’s just a few mouse clicks to do most conversions.
However, Lulu.com and Kindle Direct Publishing also offer ways of doing that, as do many of the other self publishing sites.
CreateSpace makes it especially easy to offer an eBook of your work. At the end of your publishing process, they will ask if you want them to convert your existing work to Kindle. Then they send you over to Kindle Direct Publishing, where you can set your prices and territories. You have to wait about a day for review on those as well but it’s not a big deal. There is no fee for that either.
You can even offer a package where someone can get an ebook version of your book, either cheaply or for free, when they buy a print copy.
When you tell them to bring your book over to Kindle, I highly recommend taking a copy of your book and converting it to .doc. That makes a much better looking product and the Kindle software has an easier time converting. LibreOffice does that easily, it’s just a matter of hitting “save as” and selecting “.doc” in the file dropdown.
You will also be offered to join Kindle Select. I usually do this as it offers some great benefits. It lets you run promotions for your book at no cost to you, lets you take a bigger cut of the profits, and gives you more sales options. The only tradeoff is you are agreeing to only sell your eBook on Kindle while you are a member of Kindle Select, but it’s a limited term in case you change your mind later. I’ve never regretted it.
Kindle Select also makes your book free to people who have Amazon Prime. You’re still paid when they read it – you are paid a proportion of the profits, which usually works out to be about a half a cent per page. It’s great to be able to say to your buyers “check out my book for free if you already have the Kindle subscription.”
If you end up using CreateSpace, your paperback and Kindle versions will show up on the same Amazon listing and that makes it really easy for customers to pick what they want. It also means that if a person reviews your paperback version, that review will be visible on the Kindle version, and vice versa.
The only other note about eBooks as opposed to print books, is the cover is a little different. You only need the front half of the cover. I generally go into Gimp, use rectangle select to isolate the part I want, hit “crop to image,” save that new file, then boom. Done.
Some people do the Kindle or eBook version first, then set up a paperback later, some do the other way around. Either way is fine. Kindle Direct Publishing is starting a feature where they convert your Kindle boosk to paperback without you having to use CreateSpace, but that option is currently very new and I haven’t used it yet.
Now that you have a book, you want to sell it, right?
CreateSpace does some limited marketing even if you don’t pay for the marketing package. I remember how happy I was when I had just bought some Joel Rosenberg books and got an email saying “If you liked Joel Rosenberg, you might like The Dice Of Fate by Rohvannyn Shaw!” That was truly awesome. Recently I randomly found an ad for my new comedy book on a Hubpages post about customer service! Not sure who put the ad there, Amazon or the writer, but so far it’s found me about ten customers. If you put your work out there, it’s entirely possible that others might find it and decide to promote it. There’s a lot you can do to improve those chances.
Basic Marketing Steps:
Announce on your social media. That one’s pretty easy to guess.
Create a website or put a new page on your website for your book/s.
Fill out your author page on Amazon, or your profile on Lulu.
Join Goodreads, get an author page, fill it out.
Blog about it if you have a blog.
If you join Goodreads, check out the author communities. Often you will find people willing to host author interviews or feature new books on their blogs.
Do a promotion – CreateSpace lets you make coupons and do giveaways.
Don’t stress over reviews too much, but if you can get them, great.
You can do a Goodreads Giveaway too, they are pretty helpful. They only cost the price of whatever book you are giving away, plus postage.
Make little placards and leave them up places where readers gather. Bulletin boards at coffee shops, libraries, bookstores, etc. I make mine when I see those promotions for penny prints at Snapfish, Shutterfly, or similar photo sites.
Buy a few books and sell them on Ebay or Etsy. You might be surprised at who wants one, and it helps put them in front of more people.
Go to craft fairs or holiday bazaars with some copies. There aren’t many authors at craft fairs, so you will have less competition.
Note about blogging: If you have a big following, it can be perfectly fine to say “hey, I have a new book, come check it out!” But if you’re still trying to attract new readers or you’re starting out, try to think of some really interesting angle to write about. Offer a chapter of your book, write an article about something you learned while writing it, something like that. Give people a reason to click into your blog and then let them know the book is available within that posting. Let them see why they should put down money to read more of your work. It really helps!
There are a thousand other ideas out there, some of them quite creative, but I think you get the idea. Notice that most of these ideas are cheap or free!
Check out my page “self publishing” for the other parts to this series, and more.
As I mentioned in Part 2, don’t let anyone tell you that you need to pay for an ISBN, or for submitting things to the US Copyright Office to “protect your copyright.” Keeping the file on your own computer is fine. That will show the time stamp on it in case anyone doubts your ownership. I do recommend backing up your work on a thumb drive or external hard drive, though! If you publish a book, putting the copyright notice near the front of your book protects you as well. You know the one, “this is a work of fiction… ” etc, etc.
I like to set up the title and author info on CreateSpace (or Lulu.com) first, so the service gives me the ISBN, then I put it into my formatted file, convert it to PDF, and then upload it. After that, CreateSpace asks you to briefly describe your book, say who wrote it, and asks you how big you want your book to be. 6″ by 9″ is a good size to work with, that’s the standard trade paperback size. If you need templates for covers or interior pages, CreateSpace provides those too. Google “CreateSpace templates” for more information.
Your short description is often called a “blurb.” It’s best to keep this relatively short, maybe a few short paragraphs, because the idea is to entice the reader in and tell them what’s special about the book in a short amount of time. You can use your cover description for this, or something a little longer. Your book may have really great points about it, but a text wall is not inviting to readers. Just reading the descriptions of a lot of books online will start giving you ideas about how to do this and what it needs to say. Notice what you like, what you don’t, and what works for you with what you see.
Setting up your book
While you are setting up your book on CreateSpace, there will be a place where it asks you to set up a BISAC Code. That’s really easy. Basically, you are giving the two main categories that your book fits in. That will affect who sees the book, and who Amazon tries to sell to, as well as where it would be shelved if you get into a bookstore or library. For example, my comedy book might be in fiction: comedy, as well as comedy: business. Play around with it to see where you might fit, you can change it later.
Also, they will ask you to set up five to seven keywords. A keyword can be a short phrase. This makes your book easier to find in net searches. For example, my comedy book might have “comedy, humor, business, customer service, advice” as the keywords. Note that “customer service” counts as just one keyword. Again, you can change those too.
Next, CreateSpace will ask you where you want to sell your book. They will give you the opportunity to market your book worldwide! No extra fee is needed for that. You will also learn what the basic price is to print your book, so you can choose how much profit you get. There are certain guidelines to this but everything is really clearly explained.
Finally, when you have your cover uploaded, your interior text uploaded, and everything filled out, it will let you do a final review, and you can submit. It takes about a day for final approval. When the files are ready, they will email you and you can give your final stamp to it. You can either use their interior reviewer to check the final proof, or buy a proof copy. It costs three or four dollars plus about four dollars shipping. That step is optional, but at least look at the digital copy before submitting.
Then, feel free to publicize all over, put it on your blog, brag about it, and pat yourself on the back! You’re an author! I’ll give tips on marketing in the next post.
Bonus tip about covers: Make sure and leave space at the bottom or to one side of the back cover for the barcode. If you don’t leave space, or if your art wraps around the whole book, they will overlay the barcode somewhere on the back, so it’s best to leave a spot for it. You can leave a three inch by two inch gap if you want, or use a barricade generator and put it in yourself. Then they won’t add it because it’s already there.
Here’s an example of what I mean:
It’s not nearly as hard as it seems to get your book ready to be published. The main thing is to have decent software for it. I believe Word can do most of the things I talk about, but personally I use Libre Office. It’s free, stable, works on nearly any computer, has no adware or spyware, and has a lot of people who use it. LibreOffice also lets you convert things to PDF, which will be important.
The main thing with getting your book ready to print is converting it to the right size. Many of the books you will be making are nine inches by six inches, and you can go into your page settings and just set the file for that. 11 or 12 point font is about right for many books, though you might want to go a bit smaller depending on the story. Georgia and Times New Roman are good fonts for readability, I really don’t recommend Arial or other sans serif fonts. Still play around and see what you like.
LibreOffice lets you add page numbers too. It’s a fairly simple process to add a header to the top of your document, and create a field so it will automatically number them. LibreOffice’s excellent help files will take care of that, or I could create a tutorial if enough people have trouble. Basically, the idea is that the numbers take care of themselves.
Make sure you have all starts of chapters on odd numbered pages. That way they will be to the reader’s right when they come to them.
Same with important pages like author notes, forwards, acknowledgements, frontspieces, tables of contents, etc.
Don’t forget to have a copyright page – CreateSpace lets you get your ISBN before uploading your work, so you can stick that in your copyright information. If you need a good example of what that looks like, pick up any novel and flip to the front.
When you have everything perfect, use the handy Convert to PDF function in LibreOffice. Take a look through and make sure it all looks good. This “locks in” all your careful formatting so it can’t move around.
A note: if you convert your book over to a Kindle version, it’s best to save a copy as a .doc file. Luckily, LibreOffice can do that too. Anybody who’s stuck can feel free to message me, though LibreOffice is really easy to use.
When it comes time to create your cover, there are a lot of ways to do it. If you’re like me, you will paint something and put it in GIMP, another free graphics program, and add all your own text etc. Pixabay is actually an awesome resource if you need photos. I prefer GIMP because it lets you work in transparent layers – great because you can have a text layer, a background layer, and more, and when you have to fix something on one layer you don’t have to change the others. For example, I can paint something, take a picture of it, put it into GIMP and make that the background layer, then arrange the text on top of it. It gives me tremendous flexibility.
For those a bit less comfortable with graphics, there is also the option to use a cover creation program. Both Lulu.com and CreateSpace have those integrated. So it’s perfectly possible to make a nice cover without having to hire anybody. If you need ideas, go online and look up other books in your genre. You can learn a whole lot by looking, noticing what you like and what you don’t, and maybe taking a few notes. Cover design is a fine art but you can do some nice work if you pay attention to what is effective in other covers.
If you’ve created your cover in another program, convert that over to PDF too. GIMP does that so you don’t need a fancy converter. Make sure you leave space on the back for the barcode, it’s about 440 pixels wide by 354 pixels high, which works out to about an inch and a half wide by just over an inch high. Your cover should be saved at 300 dpi if you make your own.
Go to CreateSpace and follow their publishing wizard. It will literally walk you through the process, explaining everything as you go along.
If you have more questions, of course I’m here, and my material on under the authors links and publishing links to the right of the page is still there too.
A note regarding ISBNs: There is no need to pay for them, and no need to submit works to the Library of Congress either. Both Lulu.com and CreateSpace will give you an ISBN for free and your copyright notice suffices for protecting your work. If someone tries to charge you for either, run away.
Whether you have a novel, a collection of short stories, a poetry book, a manga, a collection of plays, a group of nonfiction articles, a memoir, or a children’s book, there’s an option for you. It’s very possible to publish both print books and ebooks yourself, without paying a single cent.
There are many good and reputable sites out there – Lulu.com, CreateSpace, and SmashWords, just to name three. My advice when starting out is to steer clear of any place that makes you pay for services.
There are also free ways of getting cover art, formatting your book, designing your book, and everything else. This is true even if you don’t have an artistic bone in your body! An eye for design helps, but even that isn’t entirely required. I’ll be going into more detail in other posts. All the different publishers work pretty much the same way – you format your book, upload it and the cover, wait a few days for it to be looked at, approve your proof, pick your pricing and territories, then click submit. You will usually do most of your own marketing unless you buy a marketing package.
For these examples, I’ll be using CreateSpace. They have great free options, allow you to easily port your work over to Kindle, automatically put your work on Amazon, and actually do some promotion for you. I’ll never forget the day my novel was suggested to me by Amazon! Altogether, it’s a good deal. They will give you a percentage of each sale. Right now I get about $2 for a $7 book. Not bad, really, considering I do no shipping or handling of money.
Have I done this? Several times.
Have I made fat stacks of cash? Not yet.
I have certainly gotten a lot of satisfaction and am proud of what I’ve done, and I have gotten my books into several hundred peoples hands so far.
Future posts will delve more into different aspects of the publishing process and will be linked from here once they’re written. Some material has been seen in other similar posts but I want to have all the information in one place, for everyone’s convenience.
Here’s the link to all related posts: https://mind-flight.org/self-publishing/
The crew of the metal reclamation vessel “Scrapper Queen” never knew where the little probe came from. It was late on third watch when they found it, floating in a lonely outer orbit. Perhaps it had come from a world from this star system, though that was unlikely, all the inner worlds were cinders. They’d actually come to look through the various asteroids for useful metal that had been left behind by earlier mining expeditions. Times were lean, and they were becoming creative in the places they looked for raw materials. There wasn’t much to be found in systems like this, but the Captain appreciated the lack of interference from the powerful Corporate Worlds.
They’d been scanning for traces of anything ferrous when Sensors caught the ping. A return, loud and clear. Ferrous metal, at least a few hundred grams of it, maybe more. The Captain ordered maneuvers sufficient to close the distance. The telescopes scanned, and after a time the Visual Scanning Officer reported a metallic object. Excited, the Captain ordered the tractor/pressor beams deployed, so that the object could be pulled in.
Damp from brief showers and still rubbing sleep from their eyes, Retrieval Team 1 stood on the observation deck above the bay. They watched as the odd, somewhat crumpled metal object was brought aboard. Long ago it had solar panels, they could see that, but micrometeorites over who knew how many centuries had taken their toll. They waited impatiently as the doors closed, the bay was re-pressurized. Zola started taking bets on the total mass of the object until her leader quieted him. Not that Tamar really minded, but she liked to run a tight shift, and Zola’s chatter could get old after a while.
Finally they were free to enter the bay. The four members of the team stood around the object, just looking at it at first before they began the usual scans with radiation sensors, EM fields, and portable gas spectrometers.
“I think it kind of looks like a space probe,” said Zola, scratching her fingers through his flame red hair.
“That seems fairly obvious,” said Tamar. “My greatest question is, what kind of probe?”
“What kind?” asked Kella. She was quite intelligent but usually took time to catch on. Young Rik said nothing, he was still settling in and preferred to watch.
“There is more than what kind of space probe,” explained Tamar patiently. “Usually they are used for exploration. They take photographs or readings. Some can be loaded with a distress call, or messages to other worlds, or even quarantine warnings. This could be a message buoy, and filled with fascinating information.”
“Why can’t we just scrap it? This system isn’t even owned by anyone anymore and there’s a lot of valuable metal in here,” said Zola. “Pre-refined, too.”
“Your objection is noted,” said Tamar. “This probe isn’t really ours.”
“How about if we figure out what the probe is for, and then use the metal if we can figure out that it’s not needed anymore?” That came from Rik, and the others looked at him with surprise.
“Not a bad idea,” said Tamar. “Let’s start by determining exactly what’s inside. Get your data analysis equipment, everyone, and we can see first what kind of information this stores.”
Hours later, it was ship’s morning but the four were so absorbed that they barely felt time pass. Discarted beverage containers and snack wrappers lay forgotten beside them. Most of the data storage had been damaged, but there were still scraps left.
“I’ve got something!” called Kella, excitedly. “A whole file!” She paused a moment, retrieved the information, archived it safely. “That’s about all I could find, though. The storage might as well be scrap. WHole sectors wiped. There’s not much more than this, just a few characters here, a few bits there.”
“Good work,” said Tamar, stretching her protesting back muscles. “I think we can safely consider this fair salvage, and send the metal into the processers. What does the file seem to contain?”
“Sound, I think,” said Kella. “Let me write up a quick conversion.”
When Kella was done, she plugged the data chip into a sound player. A Human male began singing, backed up by electronicized music. The song was surprisingly high fidelity and the sound filled the cargo bay. Tamar noticed herself tapping her fingers on her leg, willed herself to stop. “I wonder if it’s a message of some kind,” she said, when the somg was over.
“Well, if it’s a message,” said Zola, “maybe we should rebroadcast it. At least once. It’s not hard to tap into GalaxyNet.”
Tamar shrugged. “You think you can do it without getting caught? Be my guest. It would be sad if this little probe never got a chance to spread its message.”
The next day, everyone on band 3 of GalaxyNet heard the most unusual song. Oddly catchy, it had toes tapping and fingers rapping on stations starships, planetary bases, corporate communications hubs, and littoral skiffs all across the Milky Way Galaxy.
No one knew the true significance of that moment. No one, that was, except Zola. She’d heard that song once before, in a deep dive in the net archives, last time she’d been planetside. Long, long ago, it had been called “Never Gonna Give You UP,” by Rick Astley. Zola smiled and sipped her hot mug of coffee. She knew that she had just managed to Rickroll the entire Galaxy.
When my parents and I started living fairly far away, we still had a desire for closeness, particularly around the holidays. We started a tradition where my mother would write a story and email it to me, I would create illustrations for it then send the finished pages back over to them, then my father would help bind and ship the story. Usually with sparkly yarn and a fancy cover. They would go out to all the friends and relatives as their Christmas present.
There were so many advantages to this. The extended family would start calling each other and discussing the story. I got plenty of chance to illustrate things. We all three had the feeling of continuing a holiday tradition that drew us together.
Now, for this year, my dad is the one who wrote the story. I had the idea to publish the last twelve or so stories into one big volume. I also would re-illustrate the stories that needed it. So “Yuletide Lights” was born. It’s fifteen stories, each one born of personal experience, and filled with the central themes of the holiday season. They stories are in general heartwarming and filled with generosity but in some truly touching ways. Each story is a slice of life, a pair of magic glasses with which you can peep into another life, another way. The story I wrote is about a lost cat in Japan, but even it happens around the Holidays. The little girl in the book my dad wrote might as well have been me, and I remember versions of many of events in these and other stories. Many times I’ve been moved to tears, working on this project.
I had fun preparing, editing and illustrating these stories, as much fun as I hope you have reading them.