Link Of The Week- Self Publishing Authors Podcast

August 15, 2017

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They are called the SPA (Self Publishing Authors) Girls, and let me tell you, they know their stuff! The podcasts are free and informative with a ton of humor thrown in. This business can be overwhelming- they sift through the cacophony to find the true bits of guidance we all need. Enjoy listening and learning from interviews with Mark Dawson, Roxanne St. Claire, Brian Meeks and more!

http://www.selfpublishingauthorspodcast.com/

 

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They also have a book that is fantastic! Here’s the link for that as a bonus-

https://goo.gl/rB5ByH

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Link of the Week – Song Lyrics

March 14, 2017

Not sure if you can use a song lyric in your work? Here’s some advice from a once lawyer on the matter posted on the Self Publishing Advice Center blog. Check it out.

http://selfpublishingadvice.org/the-legal-use-of-song-lyrics-in-books-from-the-persepective-of-an-indie-author/


Active Table of Contents for Kindle

March 23, 2015

So, you finished a book and have decided to take the indie publishing route. Now you’ve done it, wandering into unfamiliar territory.

So much goes into setting a book up for sale on Amazon. Little details and nuances that you find along the way can be daunting. From formatting to metadata, some processes are easy, others make you feel like you are throwing knives at a moving target, blindfolded, in a wind tunnel.

Well, my dear word slingers, I’m hoping I can help ease the hemorrhaging just a bit. I’m going to show you in easy, bite size chunks (with handy, dandy screen shots!) how to create an active Table of Contents (TOC) in Word for Kindle.

But I must add a disclaimer here. Yes, I must. Because sure as sh—, er sure as the sun rises, someone will cry foul and say it doesn’t work. Or claim there’s another way. I am not a techno goddess. A goddess, yes. A techno goddess, no. But if you follow these instructions, you should have no trouble ‘tall.

Also, please note that there are services provided by Amazon, and the like, that can create an active TOC for you. Sure can. But wouldn’t you rather learn to do this at no cost? It really is pretty simple.

One last thing I must blast before I get started. Do not use Word’s Table of Contents generator. It’s a trick. There are more steps involved, and, yeah, more steps means you’re given more opportunities to screw up. Let’s not be a screw-up.

Ready to begin?

I’m using a book I already have for sale on Amazon, but does not have a table of contents. Once done, I can upload the new version. (Sweet!)

First up, insert a page break where you want the TOC to be placed. This could be after the acknowledgments, copyright page, or other book matter. Type Table of Contents, then type in the names you’ve given your chapters—Chapter 1, Chapter One, The Seize, you get the idea. If you include an Acknowledgment page, About the Author page, or other significant page, be sure to add it in the TOC, as well.

(Click on image for better viewing.)

TOC1a

Create a TOC page.

 

Okay. Pay attention. Here is where the work begins. Find your first chapter and highlight the chapter title.

Bookmark the destination. By doing this, when the reader clicks on the TOC entry, they will be directed to that spot in your book. Cool, huh? So how do you Bookmark? Click the INSERT tab in the toolbar and scroll over to BOOKMARK. (Some Word versions you’ll need to scroll down the drop menu.)

 

TOC3a

Bookmark ’em Dano!

 

Surprise! A new window pops up. You will be prompted to give the bookmark a name. For the sake of your sanity, I’d recommend naming the bookmark exactly what you’ve named your chapter. No spaces are allowed in naming your bookmark. PITA, I know. If you want spaces, use the underscore key.

TOC4b

Name your Bookmark.

 

Click ADD.

Next up, go back to the TOC and highlight the chapter you just named in the Bookmark.  Go to INSERT and select HYPERLINK. Another window pops up.

TOC5a

Highlight item in TOC.

 

Now select PLACE IN THIS DOCUMENT  on the left side of the box (or DOCUMENT in the middle of your screen). You are ANCHORING the hyperlink inside a document. Select the chapter you are anchoring. Click OKAY. Booyah!  (In some Word versions – like Word for Mac – you may have an ANCHOR blank where the bookmark would appear, then you’d click LOCATE to finish the step. A new window would appear. Click the BOOKMARK arrow down key and select chapter. Done.)

 

TOC6b

Insert hyperlink.

 

Tah-Dah! You have now hyperlinked your chapter title in your TOC to its location within your document/manuscript. When you click on it, you will be directed to the beginning of your chapter. Repeat the process for Acknowledgment pages, About the Author pages, or anything else you have added to your TOC.

TOC7

Don’t forget other important pages.

 

Instead of toggling back and forth through all the different windows, I bookmark and name all items in my TOC and then go back to anchor and hyperlink. I also use the FIND feature to get me to the chapters in the middle of the document faster. That’s just me, though.

If you’re feeling extra frisky, you could even hyperlink the chapters in the manuscript back to the TOC. This will allow your readers to go back to the TOC and hop around to different chapters with ease. Just go to your TOC page, highlight the TOC title, bookmark/name it—same steps as before. The difference is finding Chapter One in the document (instead of in the TOC), then highlight, anchor, and hyperlink. Repeat for every chapter.

TOC8

Bookmark TOC.

 

 

TOC9

Hyperlink chapters to TOC for easy hopping around to different locations.

 

It might seem laborious, but once you do it a couple of times, it becomes quite easy-peasy. Don’t forget to check all your hyperlinks to make sure they go to the right chapters, and vice versa.

And now you know!


Link of the Week – Indie Vs. Trad Publishing

January 28, 2014

smileyThere was quite an exchange last week On the blog A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing between  mystery, horror, thriller author Joe Konrath, who just so happens to be a huge advocate and pioneer for self-publishing, and Kensington CEO and President Steve Zacharius. It was an open, polite, matter-of-fact, Q&A about indie publishing versus trad publishing, including candid talk of sales numbers,  marketing, success or lack thereof in both markets, Amazon, pricing, cover art, and necromancers and muppets (you have to read it to know why), to name a few. Though they agreed to disagree on so many of the topics, Zacharius seemed to be genuinely curious as to the appeal of the rising tide in self-publishing and Konrath, in his usual wit, answered solidly.

No matter how you publish, this post is a great source of information. Just be prepared. The post was updated four times. Get your favorite beverage and curl up. It’s  a long read.

http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2014/01/questions-from-steve-zacharius-ceo-and.html

Jenn!


Link of the Week – Gumroad

January 21, 2014

I admit, I find this week’s link intriguing. But I have no experience with the site.

Gumroad is “for independent writers, designers, game developers, musicians, artists, filmmakers, and anyone in-between.” It is a web service, a site for selling directly to your audience, a social toolkit, and is user friendly for both the vendor and the consumer. It’s a one-size fits all, including users Bon Jovi and Coldplay.

gumroadLearn more about Gumroad here.

https://gumroad.com/

https://gumroad.com/guide/basics/is-gumroad-for-me

https://gumroad.com/guide/basics/your-first-product

https://gumroad.com/features/customers


Best Practices for EBook Publishing with Mark Coker of Smashwords

August 7, 2013

Song of the Day: Prayer of the Refugee by Rise Against

This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending a workshop hosted by Northwest Houston RWA, my local Romance Writers of America chapter. The speaker, Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords.

Now this is not the first time I’ve met Mark, nor the first time I’ve listened to him speak. But I couldn’t wait to hear him talk again. He has a very impressionable way with understanding the world of eBook self-publishing.

With his permission, I’m going to relay the notes I took from his talk on the best practices for publishing an eBook.

photo (22)

Mark and Jenn!

1. Write a fantastic book. Honor the reader with a great story and satisfy them by moving them to an emotional extreme. It doesn’t stop there. Make sure you are fanatical about the entire process, including the editing and packaging.

2. Create a great cover. The cover is not only the first impression on the path to discovery, but a promise to the reader. Use a professional cover artist, or, if you plan to do the cover yourself, make sure the cover is comparable to what New York publishers produce. Make sure your cover targets your audience. The cover is merchandised as a thumbnail. It should look great in that size.

3. A no-brainer, but warrants repeating. Write another super awesome book.

4. Give some books away for free. By doing this, you eliminate the financial risk new readers face. Free books builds awareness and trust. This especially works well for books of a series. If you have a series, at least one book should be free, even if for a little while.

5. Patience, it’s a virtue. Retailers force books out of print before they have a chance because new books are kept on the shelves for only a few short weeks. Most don’t have an opportunity to gain an audience, much less a fan base. EBooks are immortal…and changeable.

6. Maximize availability—don’t be exclusive. Play the field, play with everyone. If you are exclusive, you limit discoverability and become dependent on the site of the exclusivity. Oh, and by the way, retailers see no stigma in self-published books.

7. Build a platform. The larger your platform, the more power you have over your career. Connecting with readers becomes a form of currency. There is no single right way to do this. Use all the social media tools you feel comfortable with. Have a newsletter. Some will want to connect using blogs, but it is difficult to gain readership this way. However, once you do, they are yours for life. And here’s a biggie, offer a way for readers to connect with you at the end of your book, aside from your website. It simply makes sense, but is often overlooked.

smashwords style guide

Free! Click cover for your copy!

8. Architect for “virality”. “Spread the germ.” Get your fans talking about you. Word-of-mouth is still the most powerful way to discoverability. Book marketing is always going to stem from word-of-mouth. Utilize viral catalysts that makes your books more accessible, discoverable, desirable, and enjoyable—story, cover, title, editing, targeting right audience, book description, pricing, broad distribution, formatting, proper categorization, just to name a few. Eliminate the friction that limits the catalysts (think exclusivity, lacking cover, bad editing, etc.).

9. Unit volume is a lever for success. Every book sale has two benefits: money and a new readers. The latest survey conducted by Smashwords indicated that $1.99 was a black hole, not performing as well as higher priced units, and $3.99 was the current sweet spot for all genres. Proper pricing can maximize money made and the amount of readers. Keep in mind lower priced units will sell more units, and higher priced units will sell fewer, but the lower priced units under-perform as income and higher priced units will get you more readers. Of course, experience may vary and it is encouraged to play around with pricing to find what works best for your book.

smashwords marketing guide

Free! Click the cover for your copy!

10. Don’t worry about piracy. Obscurity is the bigger risk. Those stealing your books weren’t going to buy your book to begin with. Who knows, you may even gain a super reader out of it. Most piracy is accidental—a lending of a book, picking up a book at a garage sale, etc. This type of discoverability is effective and cheap! The best way to combat piracy is to make your book easier to purchase than steal. This goes back to distributing broadly and pricing fairly. And it doesn’t hurt to add a polite license statement in the book. (See Smashwords’ example in their style guide.)

11. Take advantage of Pre-orders. This will be available soon through all distributors. In short, list your book for sale before it officially hits the virtual shelves. Allow a sample to be downloaded. It is highly suggested books should be completely ready before listing it as a pre-order. Some retailers will credit all the pre-sales on the day the book comes for sale. This will possibly shoot the book onto various best-selling lists. Let me add here SHAZAM! Putting a book up for pre-order sale 4 to 6 weeks prior to release gives you, the author, a chance to market the book generating interest. Capture the reader and get them to buy while they are still fired-up instead of waiting until release day when they most likely have forgotten or are no longer as interested. Check out Smashwords’ blog post on pre-orders.

12. Practice partnerships and positivity. If you discover something that works well, share it with others. This builds friendships and a good reputation. Don’t be a complainer or behave badly. Everyone, including the marketing peeps at retailers, have Goggle Alerts. You will be remembered.

13. Collaborate with fellow authors. Short stories, bundles, or boxed sets are a great way to share, promote, and gain new readers with existing fan bases of your fellow collaborators. Plus the retailers like them and they sell well.

smashwords practices

Free! Click the cover for your copy!

14. Think globally. All retailers are expanding beyond the US. Aggressively. Over 40% of Apple sales are outside the US and looks to be trending higher. And these books are in English.

15. You are running a business. Business requires a profit. Most books don’t sell well, so control your expenses. Never borrow money to publish a book. Pinch your pennies. Invest in great service. If you can’t afford it, offer to trade services. Once you are profitable, reinvest in your business.

Whoa! That’s a lot of information. Absorb it! And to help, check out Smashwords FREE marketing books and style guides.

What do you think about these practices? Have you tried any? What has worked or not worked for you? Do you have other tips to share? Let’s hear from you.


Take some responsibility! by Candi Wall

September 12, 2011

So I hit the purchase button the other night SEVEN times. Yeah, you heard me right. Seven times. For a grand total of $21. and some change.

I don’t part easily with my money, except when it comes to books. I could spend THOUSANDS. (Checking to make sure hubby didn’t read that.) Below is what my house will probably look like some day.

I usually don’t complain. But here’s the thing. I read the first book – LOVED IT – and went on to the next. It was a .99 cent purchase from an author I didn’t know, self-pubbed and I liked the premise. Hey I’ll give anyone a chance. ONCE.

I hadn’t reached the end of the first chapter when I realized I’d given my money away for nothing. I groaned, archived the sucker and went on to the next one. The next wasn’t as bad, but there was a plot hole the size of Jupiter about midway through and by this point I was losing interest in the hero. Too bad, because it started off as a good read. Darn.

I’ve twittered several times about this as well, venting my frustration for the self-pubbed authors who are making other self-pubbed author look bad. Every reader who has a bad experience with a self-pubbed book makes it harder for other authors to sell! Argh, the frustration! And I’m not even self-pubbed.

At this point, hubby was starting to get sick of my ‘waspish’ attitude. After three more days, my results were:

Seven purchases

1- Loved

2- Liked

4- Couldn’t finish

I know – it’s a crap shoot right?!?

NO! It isn’t.

And here’s where dear hubby had all he was going to take.

In his words…

“What did you expect, hon?” Raising a quizzical brow. “If you go to Wal-Mart and buy a vacuum for twenty bucks, you get what you pay for. It’s like buying toilet paper at the dollar store. It ain’t gonna hold up.” (Yep, I’m married to a thinner version of Larry the Cable Guy.)

Well how dare he. I have friends who self publish. That’s not fair! (Insert indignant foot-stomping) “There are tons of authors out there with brilliant books!”

“Really?” says hubby. “Then you would think you’d do your homework before you buy.”

GADS! He’s SO right. And I’m so not going to tell him that. Sheesh.

What was I thinking?!?

We’ve been spoiled peeps. Let’s face it. The publishers we’ve come to trust have given us so many great books, we may have forgotten how to check the products first. Don’t get me wrong, one person’s crap is another’s gold. I hate what you love at times and visa-versa. But we came to rely on what they put out there.

Now if we, the consumer, are going to gripe about prices and go elsewhere to read at super cheap prices, we’ll have to start doing our own research. We’re spoiled again however, because there is this ingenious little thing called the World Wide Web. Search engines abound, and at any time, we can sluice through the crap to ferret out the truth, or at least get a sense of what we’re getting into.

Here’s my new list of things I check BEFORE I purchase:

  • Google the author
  • Do they have blogs?
  • Reviews? (Other than where I’m purchasing from and checking the author’s responses to reviews)
  • Any other books out?
  • Website?
  • And of course – I ask my writing/reading pals
Seems like a lot of work, but hey, there are some amazing authors out there getting lost in the shuffle of self-pubbing. I want to find, support and enjoy them. If that means I have to do a few minutes of research, so be it. I’m a big girl, I can handle the responsibility of checking out my purchase’s history beforehand. After all, who wants a $20 vacuum that doesn’t work, when you can get the fantastic $5 super sweeper that might just be the next big thing?
So take some responsibility as readers! Check it out first.
🙂

Blood & Treasure

May 18, 2011

Song of the Day: Celebration by Kool & the Gang

Since the inception of this blog, I’ve been giving my unique thoughts, tips, and advice on writing. I’ve also bared my soul as I trek down the road to publication. Documenting my journey, I’ve rejoiced, bemoaned, reflected and cracked a few jokes along the way.

Some months back, I came to a crossroads of sorts. Do I continue to pursue my dreams of being traditionally published? After all, I’ve generated pretty good interest in the industry with my stories, winning a few contests to boot. Or do I want to get off this path weaving through an endless, if not frustrating, labyrinth and self-publish? Weighing the two avenues is the subject of so many blogs and debates. Ultimately, it is a personal decision.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a control freak. (I hear some of you snickering.) Being in control of my career just makes sense. I’ve done my time and I’ve done my research.

And so, with my face to the sun and a spring in my step, I took the self-publishing road. There is still uncertainty ahead, but I am sure of foot and confident in my travels.

Without further ado, I give you BLOOD AND TREASURE, book #1 in the Romancing The Pirate Series.

Available now at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.

Thank you to all the MuseTrackers out there who have supported me.


Melissa Ohnoutka- Self Published And Lived To Tell About It Part 2

May 12, 2011

By: Stacey Purcell

I love writing.  I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotions.  ~James Michener

Last week we took an in depth look at an author’s experience in self publishing and my head is still swimming. Melissa Ohnoutka graciously agreed to a follow-up series of questions. Couple these interviews with the last two posts of Jenn’s and you have a fairly good idea of what it takes to jump in with the big boys and put your material out there. It’s a brave new world for us-fraught with many woes and frustrations, but the pay off in satisfaction seems to be worth it all.

 

How did you go through the editing process? I know you worked hard on polishing, but did you have help from others to get it ready to publish? Did you hire anyone?

Melissa: The editing process on Faithful Deceptions extended over about the last four years. Heavy critiques, contest feedback, reader feedback and then several read throughs by others just for spelling and grammar. If I find a good editor, I’ll hire them for future books.

 

What specifically have you learned about marketing your book? You say you would have started earlier- how? Do you have plans before your next book or tie in short story is published? Twitter? Blog Tours? Etc.

Melissa: I’ve learned it’s a lot of work and very time consuming. If you don’t figure out a way to balance the marketing and the writing, you’ll get absolutely nothing done on either end.

As for starting earlier, I’m talking about social media. I would have joined every group I could find that dealt with books and made myself a regular contributor. The building of those trusting relationships, even if they are online with people you may never meet, is so important. These are your future readers and promoters.

Future plans….Working on trying to get a book launch set up this summer, but it’s still too early in the editsfor the next book to be thinking about blog tours, twitter, etc. I have formatting and book covers to work on next.

 

How did you decide on a price point?

Melissa: Again, I’ll have to say J.A. Konrath. He has done the research and I just followed along.

Did you really consider the type of fonts you were going to use or did they prescribe what you would have to use?

Melissa: I did a lot of research on what worked and what didn’t. Stick to the normal on this. Fancy fonts are hard to read and just not a good idea when dealing with formatting.

 

How did you decide on your cover? How did you create it?

Melissa: The cover was fun for me. I loved browsing through all the pictures, searching for the perfect fit. I got chills when it all came together. For the how, I used a combination of two programs. Photoshop and Printshop. If you haven’t used Photoshop before, I recommend taking tutorials now. This is not a “learn as you go” program.

What exactly have you done for marketing?

Melissa: Lots of blogging. Visiting Kindleboards, Nookboards, Bookblogs, facebook, twitter. Set up accounts with Goodreads, Shelfari, Bookbuzzar, Googlebooks. Requested reviews from review sites. Been a Guestblogger on several blogs. Printed postcards to hand out to those who purchase the ebook. I’m set to be a guest at several local book clubs hosted out of others homes as well. And my NWHRWA chapter here in Houston has set up a Grassroots Marketing Program. Each month there is an Author Spotlight. That author shares their information for promotion with the group and they spread the word through social media, word of mouth and blogs or any other idea they can come up with.

All this and I’m just getting started. LOL

“There is no requirement to register your copyright, which exists from the moment the work is created. Registration is a service provided by the Library of Congress as a means to record claims to copyright. If you ever have a dispute about your copyrighted work, your best evidence is going to be the registration you made, and the date it was entered, to show you are the originator of the work.” Did you know about this? Have you done this?

Melissa: Yes, and yes I’ve registered my books with the Library of Congress. It’s quite easy and can now be done online. I love that part! You definitely want to register your copyright, even though it isn’t required. Copyright registration will put the facts of your copyright into the public record.

 

 

Finally, if you had to do this over, would you do it yourself again or would you hire parts of it out for someone else to deal with?

 Melissa: Although this was a lot of work and the frustration was overwhelming at times, I would definitely do it over again, and again. I love being in control.

 


Melissa Ohnoutka- Self Published And Lived To Tell About It

May 5, 2011

By: Stacey Purcell

And by the way, everything in life is writable about, if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise.  The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.  ~Sylvia Plath

I enjoyed Jennifer’s article last week on what it took to prepare for jumping in the waters of self publishing. It made me curious about the actual jumping and what happens after the first splash. What is it really like to try and pull together your manuscript, your baby, and put it out there on the internet? Did you truly edit as much as you could? Did you choose the right font? Can you survive formatting hell? Will you have the fortitude to weather bad reviews? The questions go on and on. So many, my head starts to spin.

My very good friend, Melissa Ohnoutka, has just published her first novel. After much deliberation, she decided to retain all of the control and launch it herself. Faithful Deceptions hit the internet mid February and soon became a top seller on Amazon. I decided to pick her brain about the nitty gritty of this monumental decision and a two part post was born!

Melissa Ohnoutka

Thanks so much for having me today!  This has been one wild and crazy ride, but the support and encouragement from family, friends and the writing community has been unbelievable. 

When did you decide to self-publish? 

Melissa:  I’ve been thinking about going Indie for a long time. After reading Joe Konrath’s blog and his take on traditional vs self publishing, I decided to quit stalling and give it a shot. The “what if’s” were just too loud to ignore.

 

Did you query agents and editors before taking this route?

 

Melissa:  Yes. I feel like I paid my dues and did my time on the query-go-around.  I entered contests for feedback, revised and polished until I couldn’t see straight anymore, attended conferences, had several requests for partial and full manuscripts and it was always the same outcome.  Some loved my stories and writing and others just didn’t get it. The self-publishing route seemed like the next step for me.  I’m a bit of a control freak anyway.  Having so much say over important decisions like my cover, the page count, the release date, promotion and the direction I want my writing career to take really sweetened the deal for me.

Would you ever consider going with a traditional publisher now?

 

Melissa:  It would depend on the contract.  I would never give up e-book rights now that I know I can do a lot of this on my own and what a huge opportunity it is.  A wise friend (wink, wink) made an excellent point the other day.  The traditional publishing route would be an excellent marking tool. J

 

Is there something you learned along the way that you would do different now? 

Melissa:  That’s a big Yes. I would have started making my presence known a lot sooner and researched in great detail the marketing options available.  I’m finding the marketing to be a huge learning curve. But it’s one of the most important aspects of the publishing industry and can’t be ignored.  People can’t buy what they can’t find.

 

I also plan to give myself more time for the formatting and designing book covers.  This part is very time consuming and you must know what you’re doing.  There is no learn-as- you go option.

Looking back now, are you pleased with your decision? 

 

Melissa:  Oh, yes. It’s working out better than I ever imagined. I have only two regrets.  That I  didn’t do it sooner.  And that I didn’t have more than one of my manuscripts ready for distribution.  I’ve read the magic number for this publishing game is 6 months and 3 books.  That’s where I am now.  Working my tail off to polish up the next two books and get them out there.

What would you like your readers to know about you? Any advice you’d like to offer?

Melissa:  I love my family and friends with all my heart. That one was easy. J Hmmm…what else?  My favorite color is red. I love a great belly-laugh, you know the ones that make you cry. Oh, and I enjoy shooting my Px4 Storm 9mm way too much. LOL

 

For advice:  Take those risks and “Never” be afraid to Dream!

 

This was so much fun! I’m going to give away one free e-book copy of “Faithful Deceptions” along with a $10.00 Amazon Gift card, so one lucky commenter can buy more books! It’s a “thank you” for stopping in to say hello.

For more information About Melissa and her books, please visit:

www.melissaohnoutka.com

www.melissaohnoutka.blogspot.com

Direct Links to buy her books:

Amazon – Kindle  http://www.amazon.com/Faithful-Deceptions-ebook/dp/B004OL2JAK

Barnes & Noble – Nook   http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Faithful-Deceptions/Melissa-Ohnoutka/e/2940012197153/?itm=1&USRI=melissa+ohnoutka