Visit Homepage
Skip to content

Category: Formatting

Why your book descriptions don’t look right

Posted in Formatting, and Just for Writers

We go to a lot of trouble to make our book descriptions as good as we can — not just their content, but the way they look. Many of us have learned basic HTML tagging in order to provide formatting for book descriptions as part of our work publishing a book.

As soon as you go beyond the world of Amazon-only, you begin to lose control of what distributors and retailers do to your pretty book descriptions. And it takes special effort to make the book description inside your book look good, too.

Doesn't always work, though. Not all methods are suitable for all situations, and there are limits to what you can control.

As in all such things, the devil's in the details.

(click on any image below to enlarge it)

HTML Markup to use for websites

What I think of as the original text usually appears on the book's product page on your own author and/or publisher websites.

You have complete control over what this looks like.

You can see a simple use of <strong> and </strong> to mark the bold section (same as using <b> and </b>). This was created in WordPress, and the paragraph behavior is instantiated by the underlying WordPress theme (in other words, I didn't need to place paragraph marks <p> and </p> around each paragraph.)

HTML Markup to use for ebook front-of-book blurbs

Ebooks are special packages of HTML files, in a compressed (zip) container. I make my ebooks using Sigil, and each chapter is an underlying file in the container. The opening page shows a book description.

You have complete control over what this looks like, within the limitations of HTML supported by ebooks.

Read More Why your book descriptions don't look right

Book Bundles

Posted in Formatting, Publishing, The Hounds of Annwn, The Hounds of Annwn Bundle (1-2), The Hounds of Annwn Bundle (1-5), and The Hounds of Annwn Bundle (3-5)

Hounds of Annwn Bundle - 1-5 - Full Front Cover - WidgetBook bundles are one of the great features of the ebook format. It's technically quite easy to bundle several standalone ebooks together into a single ebook file, whether it's a collected teaser of your own works, all the books in a series, or samplers from a group of contributors. Some bundles are constructed for a limited time super-sale, and others remain permanently available at discounted but not giveaway prices.

Over the next month or two, I'll be releasing some permanent bundles for the series books in The Hounds of Annwn. The problem is pricing.

If someone buys all four novels and the short story collection at full price, it costs them $31.95. I'd be happy to sell that as a bundle for 50% off, or $15.99. It's a nice compromise between the number of people who buy all the series books, and those that don't.

The problem is, I can't do that on Amazon, since I'm severely penalized for prices over $9.99, even though it's to the reader's benefit. The best I can do is to offer the five-book bundle on other retailers and directly from my own website, and the two volumes of mini-bundles on Amazon, at $9.99. That's only a third off the full price instead of half off, but what else can I do?

Stay tuned for announcements. The two mini-bundles will be released in August, and the all-books bundle a month or two afterward.
 
Hounds of Annwn Bundle - 1-2 - Full Front Cover - WidgetHounds of Annwn Bundle - 3-5 - Full Front Cover - Widget

Stage 2 of self-publishing

Posted in Distribution, Formatting, Just for Writers, Production, and Publishing

person-reading-ebookOver the summer I've been unusually busy with the business and technical side of publishing. I've reformatted all my books behind the scenes and I've moved up a level from starter self-publishing and am just beginning to move beyond the basic retailers (Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Apple, Kobo) to a broader worldwide market. This has required my learning a great deal more about worldwide aggregators and distributors, as well as professionalizing (further) my use of metadata in the trade channels.

For those of you who aren't doing self-publishing, let me give you a quick overview. It's quite straightforward today to take your book, apply professional assistance in areas such as editing and cover design, and produce a product that is indistinguishable from the work of traditional publishing. Yes, the devil's in the details — you have to write reasonably well, too — but that's a given. There are no artificial barriers in the way of doing this.

The big difference is in the area of distribution. The US market is the furthest along, and ebooks are perhaps 20-30% of the US market. (Independent publishing is not well captured by book trade statistics, so there's a lot of speculation about the actual numbers). That number is still growing though the speed has slowed down and, of course, print isn't going away. Still, in fiction particularly, it's clear that ebooks will likely eventually approach 50%. The rest of the world is just getting started, but ebook adoption rates there might surprise you — remember, many third world countries went straight to cell phones without bothering with landlines much, so technology adoption rates do vary. Read More Stage 2 of self-publishing

Ebook formatting with Sigil (for the control freak)

Posted in Formatting, Just for Writers, and Publishing

This article is crossposted to Jaye Manus's website.

Silly me. I’m an old programmer and I pride myself on trying to get my ebooks “just so”, as if I were writing a piece of code. I want to create worthy offerings to add to humanity’s river of books; at the very least, they should be shiny and well-scrubbed.

So when Jaye Manus offered to judge the formatting of a few books from her blog fans, I hopped right on board, and she was very kind in her review. But I read with horror things like “squishy line spacing” and links to chapters not working quite as they should, systematically.

JManusReview

I use an EPUB reader and hadn’t seen the book on a Kindle device other than the PC Previewer, so it was useful to see this from the Kindle reader’s perspective, since none of my buyers had complained (yet). Without a Kindle device, I hadn’t realized quite how irritating it was to not properly trigger the “Cover” and “TOC” hard buttons.

Now on the one hand, it wasn’t really broken, but on the other hand, I want perfection in book formatting, and some cosmetic and graphic flourishes. I’m not willing to settle for “good enough”, so Jaye was nice enough to coach me through some of the issues.

If you’re content with auto-conversion from EPUB to MOBI or vice versa, or output direct to ebook formats from products like Scrivener, then this is overkill for you and you can stop reading now. But if you want as much control as possible over the results without killing yourself, you might find the following approach useful. Read More Ebook formatting with Sigil (for the control freak)