Visit Homepage
Skip to content

Category: 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.

Setting up international Amazon Author pages

Posted in Distribution, Just for Writers, and Publishing

One of the challenges of indie publishing is taking responsibility for your brand all over the world. Amazon, like many online book retailers, provides an Author page to serve as the base of operations for telling readers about your works, and every author is well-advised to take full advantage of it.

When you begin to look to Amazon's international sites, however, things become a little stranger. The naive publisher rejoices in only having to publish a book once using KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) and letting Amazon do the hard work of making it available at all of its international sites. That works just fine for your product, but everything else — Author pages, Affiliate pages — they don't work that way. Each Amazon international site maintains its own Author and Affiliate pages, and presents them in its own native language, of course.

It can be intimidating the first time you look at a website in a language you don't speak. But you can easily set up Author and Affiliate presences on these sites because Amazon has designed the pages very similarly for each country, and the actual content (like your book) is assumed to be in your own language.

King of the May – Book 3 of The Hounds of Annwn has been released

Posted in Fantasy, King of the May, Publishing, Release, and The Hounds of Annwn

KingOfTheMay - Full Front Cover - 297x459I'm delighted to announce that King of the May is now available at a variety of retailers in both paperback and ebook formats.

This was an ambitious work for me, with lots going on in several settings. I ended up focusing on the primary characters whose adventures were in the old world, not because I wanted to scant the efforts of their friends in the new world, but because it is, in the end, George's story, and he couldn't be in two places at once.

I'll satisfy my urge for more new world detail with some of the upcoming short stories. For example, you'll get to see George's fae family take a car ride in the new world sometime in the next few months.

You can find out more about the book and where to buy it here. As always, if you like the book, I encourage you to write a review wherever you bought it, or to post one on Goodreads or Amazon. Reviews make a big difference to authors.

Enjoy!

Selling books on Amazon – What happens with a second book in the series

Posted in Distribution, Just for Writers, and Publishing

I try to keep most of my blog posts focused on my books — characters, writing, and so forth. But I am also running a business and every now and then I think you might find it interesting to understand a little about how it works.

I published book 1 of The Hounds of Annwn in early October, 2012, and released book 2 on January 1, 2013. This series is aimed at fantasy readers, but I have a strong secondary audience of foxhunters who also care about the topic. There are millions of fantasy readers and only a few thousand foxhunters, but I know the foxhunting crowd and am known to them for hunt country photography, so I had a built-in initial audience to tell about the books and to go to for editorial reviews. This has been great and I'm very grateful for their support, but it's imperative for me to come to the notice of the much, much larger fantasy audience. That's made more difficult by the unfortunate fact that few fantasy blogs will review independent authors.

One measure of penetration for Amazon is to see what's in the “people who bought this book also bought…” category on your Amazon book page. Initially, this was blank, but soon book 1 began to accumulate references to books the foxhunting community likes, such as the Rita Mae Brown foxhunting mysteries. I kept hoping I would begin to see general fantasy books listed, but for the initial three months that wasn't the case.

Since book 2 has been released earlier this month, things have become very different. It's still in its “recently published” period which is driving a certain amount of general discoverability. Sales for both books together so far this month (there's a week to go) have exceeded sales for the first book for the preceding three months all together. Book 1 is being bought at about twice the volume of book 2, which is what you would expect for a series.

Nearing the end of The Ways of Winter

Posted in Plot, Production, and The Ways of Winter

I can hardly believe it but I'm almost there.

The first book in the series took from mid-April to early-September to complete, and then I spent a good bit of time on the learning curve of how to publish to 9 primary channels, which distribute to 36 retail channels, in 3 formats of ebook, and of course the trade paperback edition. I've only just started the process of contacting 700 independent bookstores, to add a few dozen (hopefully) to my list of local bookstores who've been kind enough to carry it.

I started the new book in early October, just as I officially released the first one. I was looking forward, in a somewhat leisurely fashion, to being much more efficient this time around in producing the versions for distribution, but I'm going to find out in a hurry, because this puppy is likely to be released in the first week or two of January.

First draft: Will complete this week. Total: 2 months. I'm stunned. (Keep in mind, I have a day job.) Heck, the editorial reviews for the first book are still drifting in, and will be for a month or more. My first drafts are near-final, so I expect to wrap this up with lots of polishing and proofreading roundabout Xmas. Give myself a week or two to format it into the editions, and off it will go.

I blame the 10-hour drive (each way) I did as I started the plot work, giving me uninterrupted time to really chew over the basic plot. Hurricane Sandy helped, too — a day without power let me concentrate on finishing the more detailed plot outline for the middle just when I needed to.

Won't be like this for the next book, though. That one will be longer and more complicated. I'm just chewing over the plot ideas now, but I can tell you one thing: much of it will take place in Gwyn ap Nudd's father's court, in the old world.

If you haven't finished reading your copy of To Carry the Horn yet, better hurry up! You wouldn't want me to write them faster than you can read them, would you?

Stay Tuned — There's a scene in The Ways of Winter that I'll post as a Xmas story. Our hero wants to cut himself a Christmas Tree, but no one in the fae otherworld has any idea what he's talking about.

The trade paperback version is now available

Posted in Publishing, Release, The Hounds of Annwn, To Carry the Horn, and Works

I'm happy to announce that To Carry the Horn is now available in paperback. See the link to order.

I'm still having difficulty with Google Play and may have to give up on that channel even if I finally get it working properly, because I understand that their propensity to discount ebooks arbitrarily may trigger the same behavior from Amazon to match the price, and I can't have a book seller making that decision for me; discounting needs to be my decision..

To Carry the Horn – available to buy

Posted in Publishing, and Release

You can now buy the Kindle version of To Carry the Horn on Amazon, and the other retailers will clock in as soon as they approve the uploaded files. Got my first customer already! Thank you very much, whoever you are.

UPDATED – I'm live on Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords, too. The proof of the trade paperback version arrived yesterday, so as soon as the Library of Congress gets its act together and sends me the CIP (Cataloging in Publication) data for the copyright page, that should become available in about two weeks.

Also got my first review, from a stranger, on Smashwords. 5 stars from a satisfied reader! Whoo-hoo!