Why you should produce a Large Print Edition of your book

I am in the process of producing large print editions of as many of my books as possible. Some people have asked me why I bother.

I did a quick search of LP editions available on Amazon UK – there were only 7 pages worth (109 results) , and most of those were calendars/planners.

Of the rest I found:

The Karma Sutra

Frankenstein

The Picture of Dorian Grey

Siddhartha

The Crimson Cryptogram: A Detective Novel

Dracula

Pride and Prejudice

Great Expectations

Emma

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

The Prince (Machiavelli)

Razor Sharp

The Yellow Wallpaper

The Importance of Being Earnest

Final Justice

Moby Dick

A Patricia Cornwell book

A Christmas Promise

Give Me Death

Eight Days to Live

Southern Lights

Capital Crimes by Stuart Woods

Most of these were via 3rd party sellers and may or may not have actually been available.

There may have been more which were incorrectly marked.

Abe books has a large print section https://www.abebooks.co.uk/docs/LargePrint/ and better accessibility than Amazon however Abe charges sellers to sell on its site – so that may exclude indies and small presses from considering it as an option.

https://www.wfhowes.co.uk/browse/formats/large-print – has a reasonable catalogue

W.F.Howes Ltd is the UK’s leading audiobook, digital services and large print publisher, releasing around 100 new unabridged audiobooks every month under a number of imprints including ClipperJammerAvidLamplightNudged and Jammer Teen.

Our digital arm provides eAudiobook and eBook lending to the library market through the RBdigital platform, alongside several other platforms specialising in same-day newspapers and magazines, adult learning and language tutorial programs.

But unless you know that is there, or are accepted by them you’re book won’t be available in this accessible format. 

Why do I do this?

My father was partially sighted, having lost some of his sight serving in the army. He enjoyed reading but struggled to read printed books for any length of time unless they were large print. In his later life he could barely read regular print books at all. What a shame – he loved to read. Why should a person miss out on literature because they cannot see well?

It is easier now with e-readers and audiobooks, but these are not suitable for everyone (especially older technophobes like my dad), and audiobooks are pretty expensive. Listening to a story read aloud is a very different experience to reading the printed word. Surely the joy of reading should be available to all?

Our local town library (when there were such things) had a small assortment of LP books, but not many.

It’s better now than it was but lots of indie authors with great books simply don’t offer then in large print – maybe because they don’t think about it much, or don’t know.

How easy is it to produce a book in large print?

RNIB states large print is font 16-18 and giant print is anything larger than this. Regular print is 10-12-point font, so there is quite a difference. And some people really struggle with smaller fonts.

Amazon will allow authors to produce book in large print, there is a little box to tick stating it’s in large print format. Other than that it’s a case of formatting the book for a larger trim size (8×10 or above). KDP will provide a template of all of the trim and cover sizes. It’s relatively easy to copy the text into this template and use MS Word styles to change the font size (and pick a font like Times New Roman or Arial) and the chapter headers etc. The cover would need to be enlarged – but most of the image design programmes can do that, or you can use the cover creator and select the appropriate size for the book.

That’s it. There’s no extra cost, other than ordering a proof copy.

There are restrictions on expanded distribution for some trim sizes but there are a few which are suitable. ED puts the price up – and as LP books tend to be meatier they will likely be more expensive than the regular sized one. KDP print only caters up to 400 pages – so anything longer than that will need to be split – again this raises the cost to the buyer. I am going to investigate the logistics of that at some point soon.

So why not produce a large print edition when you produce your paperback? All it takes is a little extra time. Everyone should have access to books, and it’s easy to produce.

https://www.rnib.org.uk/information-everyday-living-reading/large-and-giant-print

5 books that Manipulate the English Language – Guest Post – Desiree Villena

Today we welcome Desiree Villena for a guest post.

5 Books That Manipulate the English Language

The scattering of words and phrases in fictional languages is not an unusual concept in fiction. Fantasy worlds, such as Tolkien’s Middle Earth and George R.R. Martin’s The Known World, are so fully realized that they not only come with their own history, topography, and mythology, but their own languages too. And I’m not just talking about the odd memorised Game of Thrones quote; I’m talking 4000 word Dothraki lexicons and university courses in Elvish.

Languages are an exceptional way of capturing the soul of the culture that spawned them — which is why fantasy authors aren’t the only ones to have dabbled in lexical invention. The limited vocabulary and sinister staccato rhythm of ‘Newspeak’ was used in Orwell’s cult classic 1984 to show how the totalitarian state kept original thought at bay. Meanwhile,  Roald Dahl used the ‘frothbuggling’ (silly) but ‘hopscotchy’ (cheerful) language he called ‘Gobblefunk’ to make his exuberant world even more playful.

But what about books that go a step further? Those written entirely in a constructed language or dialect? Though they can initially be a little daunting, these books take the immersive experience of reading to a whole new level. So if you’re up for the challenge, they’re not to be missed!

1. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

Burgess’ dystopian novel is narrated by Alex — a nightmarish teen who thinks and talks in Nadstat. If you’ve never heard of Nadstat, don’t worry, you haven’t fallen behind the times; Burgess constructed it himself by amalgamating Romany, Cockney rhyming slang, and a Russian-English hybrid lingo. Along with white cricket codpieces and dark eye make-up, Nadstat is part of the performance of a violent youth subculture.

For readers, this street-slang acts like a screen, blurring our understanding of the brutal ‘ultraviolence’ they commit. If the words for blade, guts, and scream weren’t shrouded in Nadstat, we’d have to abandon the book within chapters to throw up or find a priest. Instead, a kind of rapport develops.

At first glance, Alex’s narrative may seem incomprehensible, but with a little bit of context, the meaning soon becomes clear. I bet you can figure this sentence out pretty easily (though the squeamish may not want to): “to tolchock some old veck in an alley and viddy him swim in his blood.” If you’re still having trouble, you can check out this dictionary. Before long you’ll be slipping Nadstat into conversation; though don’t let that lead to tolchocking old vecks in alleys!

2. The Wake by Paul Kingsnorth

Paul Kingsnorth doesn’t get on with historical novels written in contemporary language. To travel back in time, he argues, you need to speak the language of the era. You can debate the truth of this among yourselves; but whether or not you agree, The Wake is not to be missed.

It’s composed in what Kingsnorth calls a ‘ghost language’ — a language that aims to reflect a historical setting. In this case, England during the wake of the Norman conquest. As Alex points out in this post, the English language has changed a lot: to reproduce a version of Old English, Kingsnorth had to scrap any words that came over with the French and reintroduce words of Anglo-Saxon origin. The result can be a little disorienting:

“aefry ember of hope gan lic the embers of a fyr brocen in the daegs beginnan brocen by men other than us. hope falls harder when the end is cwic hope falls harder when in the daegs before the storm the stillness of the age was writen in the songs of men”

However, if you persevere (and maybe sound the words out loud), the language will soon come naturally, and you’ll be rewarded with a gripping story.

3. Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban

The language of Hoban’s dystopian novel, though it’s set in the distant future, is uncannily similar to that of Kingsnorth’s distant past. Riddley Walker imagines a world 2,000 years after nuclear war has obliterated civilisation as we know it. Living in a nuclear wasteland, humanity is more or less transported back to the Iron Age, where the language is as broken as the landscape.

Our narrator is 12-year-old Riddley Walker, who lives in Kent, ‘Inland’ (England). However, it’s not just the regional accent and Riddley’s awkward pre-teen slang that shapes the dialect in which the novel is written — it is also injected with Hoban’s invented post-apocalyptic vernacular. Here’s a little taster: “Every 1 knows about Bad Time and what come after. Bad Time 1st and bad times after. Not many come thru it a live.”

Though that sentence may look like a text message with one too many typos, as the story unfolds, you’ll realize just how important this language is to Hoban’s vision.

4. Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh

Unlike the other books on this list, Trainspotting isn’t written in a language constructed by the author. Welsh’s novel follows in a noble line of literature (including Wuthering Heights and several works by James Kelman) composed partially in Scots’ dialect — but Welsh takes things one step further.

If you’ve seen the cult movie starring pre-Obi Wan Ewan McGregor, then you might recognize the name Mark “Rent Boy” Renton. Alongside other drug-addled junkies living in Edinburgh’s inhospitable outskirts, Mark narrates Trainspotting in a thick Scottish dialect. The novel is written phonetically, so it can end up looking a little opaque:

“Ah sit frozen for a moment. But only a moment. Ah fall off the pan, ma knees splashing oantae the pishy flair. My jeans crumple tae the deck and greedily absorb the urine, but ah hardly notice. Ah roll up ma shirt sleeve and hesitate only briefly, glancing at ma scabby and occasionally weeping track marks, before plunging ma hands and forearms intae the brown water.”

But, if you start by reading it aloud, it’s much easier to understand; not to mention, you’ll instantly nail an Edinburgh accent.

5. The Policeman’s Beard is Half-Constructed

This collection of prose and poetry is written in a language that is essentially alien. In 1984, William Chamberlain and Thomas Etter created a computer program called raconteur (Racter for short) to answer the question: what kind of language would a machine, with no knowledge of the human experience, come up with?

I suppose getting a computer to do all the work is one way to deal with writer’s block. And honestly, the results could give Anne Carson a run for her money:

BILL. I love a child.
MARCELA. Children are fortunately captivating.
BILL. Yet my love is excellent.
MARCELLA. My love is spooky yet we must have a child, a spooky child.
BILL. Do you follow me?
MARCELLA. Children come from love or desire. We must have love to possess children or a child.
BILL. Do we have love?
MARCELLA. We possess desire, angry desire. But this furious desire may murder a child. It may be killing babies someday.
BILL. Anyway let’s have a child.
MARCELLA. My expectation is children.
BILL. They will whisper of our love.
MARCELLA. And our perpetual, enrapturing, valuable fantasy.

Influenced by technology and the merging of cultures, language is constantly shifting. Maybe one day we’ll all be talking ‘Textspeak’, or regional dialects will die out completely, leaving some standardised form of language. The possibilities are endless. Which is why novels like these, that explore the evolution of language and the effect it has on a consciousness, are so uniquely fascinating. Granted, they aren’t for everyone — some people will simply conclude that these books are in serious need of a professional editor. But, if you have the patience to scramble through a rough few pages, then they’re not to be missed!

Being a word-weaver – part 1.

Why do I write? I have always been a storyteller. When I was a child I was always making up adventures in my head. For years my imaginary friend was a squirrel called Patch, and we had all sorts of adventures on Farmer Brown’s farm. I was, and still am, a dreamer, a creator of worlds and people.

I get bored easily, I’m smart, and I am cynical so I suppose storytelling is an escape, a way of doing things I could never really do.  My late grandmother would tell us stories about ‘The Duchess’ and my late father had some really quite dark tales about various household implements that would go on the rampage, have adventures and cause mischief — thanks Dad – I get my twisted sense of humour from you too.

There were always books in the house and we were encouraged to read. My father was partially blind, and struggled to read normal print books but would persevere if he couldn’t get large print, and I think this determination to enjoy the worlds within words, despite his difficulty gave us all a love of literature.

At school I was the kid making up the story or poem for the class display. As long as I can remember I’ve been weaving words. It’s part of me, part of my heritage and part of my soul.

I write because it brings me joy (and I hope others too),  because I have countless stories to tell, because there are worlds and people who want to be free from mere thought, and because I can’t not write (sorry, nicked that line from Sweeny Todd). But being a word-weaver is different to actually publishing and selling a book. For me – telling the story is easy – publishing the damn thing is hard.

As a publisher I have learned marketing, cover design, editing, formatting, social media…

Don’t ask me why I became an author – I’ve always been a storyteller, I can’t help it. Ask me why I decided to publish.

 

Guest Post – Desiree Villena – How to Market a Book Without Breaking the Bank #Bookmarketing #Books

How to Market a Book Without Breaking the Bank

You know what they say: you have to spend money to make money. Or, as the Roman playwright Titus Maccius Plautus put it in the original Latin, Necesse est facere sumptum qui quaerit lucrum.

That’s right: the financial mind behind this maxim wasn’t some Daddy Warbucks wannabe — it was a writer. And though Plautus wasn’t selling ebooks on the web’s best self-publishing companies, his wisdom still applies to indie authors working today.

Fortunately, investing in your writing career doesn’t have to mean emptying your savings account. Giving your book the perfect, professional cover might require a decent payout up front, but promoting your book is a different story. When it comes to getting your work in front of readers’ eyes, a little DIY can go a long way.

Not sure where to start? Here are three ways to market your book without breaking the bank.

1. Set up an author website

First thing’s first: you need a home base for all your marketing efforts. And that means setting up a killer author website.

You don’t have to get fancy, with all manner of flashy animations and mini-apps. In fact, you should keep in simple, paring away all the distractions so your most essential content stands  out. That means putting your work — and links to buy your work — front and center, along with an author bio so readers can get to know the person behind the stories.

In addition to compelling descriptions of all your books, make sure to feature some high-res images of your cover art too. Not only will they lend some visual interest to your site without distracting from your most important content, they’ll help you ensure your books are recognizable right from the thumbnail. Just think of The Great Gatsby, with its lipsticked mouth and glossy eyes, projected in an inky sky over a glowing cityscape. Or The Catcher in the Rye, with its iconic, burnt-orange carousel horse. That’s the level of brand recognition you want for your cover art. And to get there, you’ll have to start by giving it pride of place on your website.

How much will all this cost you? Well, you can set up a no-frills website for free on WordPress. It’s best to register a domain name, though, so you can set up your shop on, say, AnneAuthor.com instead of AnneAuthor.wordpress.com. Don’t worry — a domain name will only cost you about $10-12 a year.

2. Build out your mailing list

After you fill out your site with tantalizing tidbits about your book — and yourself — there’s one more thing you should make sure to add: a place to collect your visitors’ emails. Once you have them, you can feed them into an email marketing platform like MailerLite to promote your books through newsletters.

Of course, not everyone who stumbles across your website will want to give you their contact information for free. That’s why you should entice them a little with a lead magnet. Think of this as a freebie that will draw them in like iron to, well, a magnet. Offer to send something interesting to anyone who signs up — maybe a short story you wrote, or the spreadsheet that took you from brainstorm to publication when you were first writing your book.

Every email you collect with this bait is marketing gold. Those are all people you can woo over time, so that they’re eager to preorder when your next book is set to launch. And best of all, growing your mailing list won’t require dipping into your bank account, at least at first. MailerLite lets you collect up to 1,000 contacts for free. Once you’ve broken past that barrier, you can move up to a paid subscription tier for $15.00 a month, which will let you handle 2,500 emails. But until you hit that benchmark, all you’re investing is the time it takes to craft your lead magnet.

3. Get more eyes on your site with a blog tour

Now, let’s talk about how to feed more names into your mailing list — for free.

During pre-COVID days, one of the most glamorous (and most expensive) book marketing tactics was the book tour. We can’t all be like sci-fi phenom John Scalzi, hitting up 24 cities in five weeks. We can, however, try to replicate that whirlwind dynamic with a blog tour.

On a blog tour, you’ll write guest posts for a wide range of websites frequented by readers in your genre. In exchange for providing your “hosts” with intriguing content, they’ll give you a platform to promote your work. Just make sure to link out to your website — and tell your visitors there’s something in it for them if they offer up their emails.

Unlike a traditional book tour, with its nightmarish tangle of logistical considerations, a blog tour isn’t hard to set up. Just look for book blogs that specialize in your genre, and see if they’re open to guest submissions. Then, get in touch with any promising candidates and pitch something you’d like to contribute. For a craft-focused blog, that could be an inside look into your writing process. For a book reviewer, you could offer a free copy of your latest title in exchange for their honest impressions. The key is to pitch something each blog’s readers would love to read.

The best thing about this promotional hack? It’s completely free! Now, get out there and start connecting with your future fans.

 

Snuggle Up With These Books – November #Books #Prizes #Indiepromo

Calling all readers! Fill your library with N. N. Light’s Book Heaven Snuggle Up With These Books Readathon picks. 56 books from multiple genres featured plus a chance to win one of the following:

Enter to win a $50 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card

Enter to win a $50 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card

Enter to win a $25 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card

Enter to win a $15 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card

Enter to win a $10 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card

 

I’m thrilled to be a part of this event. My book, The Shining Citadel, will be featured on 14th November. I even talk about what I’m thankful for this year. You won’t want to miss it.

Bookmark this bookish party and tell your friends:

Snuggle Up Graphic 3.jpg

https://www.nnlightsbookheaven.com/snuggle-up-readathon

 

We are the #Uniqueauthors

I got chatting via a blog post to a lovely author (who will be featured soon) about the extra challenges disabled authors and artists have. Publishing and producing work is a steep learning curve – it’s not just the actual story-telling – and many writers have physical or social difficulties which make the world, and the craft of creation even more tricky. To an extent, writing is a great equaliser. If I read a story I know little about that particular author – except what I can find out from the internet or publicity. I would probably not be aware that an author was, for example, blind, or suffered from disabling social anxiety. Writing is freedom. Writing is a veil and a fort. Reading and writing give one the chance to experience – at least in the imagination – the most amazing experiences.

There are some of us – the creators of worlds and magic who fight that little bit harder and make that magic with a little bit more of our souls. We are #UniqueAuthors.

Read our stories, and take a thought that what might be relatively simple for you can be a mountain to someone else – attending an event when you are blind or in a wheelchair – parking, access to the venue, is it guide-dog friendly and the idiocy of some folks who are just thoughtless or wicked. Can you get your wheelchair into the venue? Will people come and talk to you when they see your wheelchair? Or BECAUSE of it? How much courage has it taken you to fight that anxiety to come here and speak to strangers?

Imagine giving a book signing when you suffer social anxiety, navigating the bewildering terms of service of sites like KDP – which are NOT user-friendly for those who have sight loss. Networking – many disabled people find it hard to network, and networking is key to selling the books you’ve written. 

I have, as some of you may know, anxiety and fibromyalgia. I work and I write – some days, most days I can’t do both as I am physically and mentally drained, fatigued, in pain or anxious. I tend to be a bit of a recluse. But writing, when I can, gives me power, that freedom to be who I damn well please, and do what I want.

My father is partially sighted and has struggled to read ‘regular’ books all his life, and his disability limited his life choices. Many people have no idea what it’s like to live with someone with a disability or to live with something that limits life choices, and one’s abilities to live everyday life. Yet we have our own power, our own fire. And by god do we use it. Even if sometimes it seems we are powerless.

“Words are containers for power, you choose what kind of power they carry.” Joyce Meyer.

We do not look for pity – many of us have had our fill. We look for our words and our crafts to soar with the rest, and then rise above. For we are the #Uniqueauthors and we will be heard, and our words will change your world.

#Uniqueauthors #Wordsarepower

 

Guest Post – 14 Manuscript-Formatting Tips for Writers and Poets – Kathy Steinemann

14 Manuscript-Formatting Tips for Writers and Poets

Don’t press the Publish button until you read this post.

Whether you self-publish or work with a traditional publisher, you should perform a thorough check for hidden codes that might hinder your book’s conversion.

Even if you’re not at the publishing stage, a professional-looking document will impress agents and slush readers. A haphazard mess will have them reaching for antacids.

Save yourself the embarrassment.

This article discusses a few common formatting blunders and how to fix them in Microsoft Word. If you prefer a different word processor, you can still use the information here to isolate the same problems in your software.

Before we begin, open your WIP in Word.

You’ll need to activate the function that allows you to see paragraph marks and other invisible symbols:

Navigate to the Home tab of Word and press the ¶ icon.

Tip #1: Never copy and paste from a website.

If you’ve already done this, you might be in for a bumpy ride.

And I’m not talking about legal issues if you’ve hijacked information from internet pages. You’d never do that, right?

No matter what you copy online, you could pick up weird spacing, tables, headings, undesired page breaks, non-standard colors and font sizes, tabs, highlighting, special characters, et al. These unexpected anomalies could prevent conversion to eBook format.

Tip #2: Select a standard font such as Times New Roman or Cambria.

Comic Sans MS won’t impress an agent or an editor. But if you’re self-publishing a printed children’s book, go for it.

Tip #3: Avoid tables.

Some eBook aggregators or programs won’t accept tables, or they do a sloppy conversion job. If you need a table, one option is to produce a graphic instead. It’s beyond the scope of a short article to explain the mechanics, but for guidance, you can search online for how to take a screenshot.

Tip #4: Remove non-breaking spaces.

These spaces, which require a Ctrl-Shift-Space key sequence in Word, mysteriously appear in some documents and will make them fail EPUBCheck validation.

Non-breaking spaces create sentences that look like this:

The°quick°red°fox°jumps°over°the°lazy°brown°dog.

instead of this:

The·quick·red·fox·jumps·over·the·lazy·brown·dog.

To replace them:

Search for [space]
Replace with [space]

Word is smart enough to replace all spaces, including non-breaking spaces, with regular ones.

Tip #5: Eliminate double returns after paragraphs.

Do you see something like the following in your manuscript?

The quick red fox.¶

Tsk, tsk. That’s what styles are for.

Search for ^p^p
Replace with ^p

If you want extra room after each paragraph, access the style you need to change and modify its spacing:

Modify -> Format -> Paragraph -> Spacing: After

Not sure how to use Word styles?

Microsoft provides how-tos for several versions of Word at the following link:

https://support.office.com/en-us/article/customize-or-create-new-styles-in-word-d38d6e47-f6fc-48eb-a607-1eb120dec563

Tip #6: Delete linefeeds, and replace them with paragraph returns.

Linefeeds eliminate extra spacing between paragraphs. They’re produced with Shift-Enter, and are helpful when writing articles for blogs. This post contains a few, because they work well in WordPress. However, they don’t belong in manuscripts.

Word expects all text joined by linefeeds to be part of the same style. An added annoyance: They hinder edits to hyperlinks and bookmarks.

Search for ^l
Replace with ^p

[That’s ^ell, not ^one.]

Tip #7: Replace double spaces with single spaces.

Double spaces between words were the norm when everyone created manuscripts on typewriters. Nowadays they’re unnecessary, and they can cause spacing anomalies.

For instance, if a line break occurs in the middle of a double space, you’ll end up with a single space at the end of the first line and another single space at the beginning of the next. Given the number of double spaces that would occur in a typical manuscript, the probability of several such anomalies is close to 100%.

Search for [space][space]
Replace with [space]

Tip #8: Remove extraneous spaces at the end and beginning of paragraphs.

No matter how careful you are, these spaces appear as you write and revise. They’re easy to replace.

Search for [space]^p
Replace with ^p

and then

Search for ^p[space]
Replace with ^p

Tip #9: Edit apostrophes that face the wrong way.

Consider this sentence:

“But I don’t trust ‘im,” he said.

Note the punctuation that replaces the missing h at the beginning of ‘im. It looks like a quotation mark.

Here’s how you would fix it. Type:

[h][i][m][cursor left x 2][‘][cursor left][backspace][cursor right x 3]

This is an excellent reason to avoid words that drop initial letters.

Instead of: ’E’s doing it again.

Try: He’s doin’ it again.

Instead of: He’s going with ’em.

Try: He’s goin’ with them.

Instead of: I’m not against ’t, honest.

Try: I’m not agin it, honest.

Plan your dialect before you write your story, and keep a file with the quirks for each person. Characters should have unique speech characteristics that enable readers to differentiate them, but the dialogue should be easy to read.

Tip #10: Replace tabs.

Search for ^t
Replace with [nothing]

Tabs don’t belong in a manuscript. Neither do multiple spaces. If you want to indent the beginning of each paragraph, set up a style for that.

Indented paragraphs function well for novels.

Block-formatted paragraphs work better for books such as cookbooks and instructional manuals, where special formatting like bulleted lists, block indents, and hanging indents often appear.

Tip #11: If you’re preparing your document for eBook conversion, find and replace these codes with [nothing]:

^b (section break)

^m (manual page break)

Tip #12: Never do this.

Do you remember the tip about double returns after paragraphs?

Here’s a practice that’s even worse: multiple presses of the Enter key to reach the top of a new page, to insert a blank page, or to set up for a section break.

In eBooks, free-flowing text, font changes by readers, and varying screen sizes will transform extra lines into a mess. You might get away with it in a paperback or hardcover edition, but a minor edit before you print could alter your paging and introduce other glitches.

Instead, on the Insert tab, select:

Pages -> Blank Page

or

Pages -> Page Break

Tip #13: Search and replace cautiously.

Why?

Consider the following, for example. Sometimes authors want to replace all ‘s (straight quotes) with ‘s (curly quotes). This is how they do it:

Search for ‘
Replace with ‘

However, when they do this, all words such as ’e’s, ’em, and ’t end up with apostrophes that face the wrong way.

Can you imagine the time-consuming mess you’ll have to clean up afterward?

Always, and I repeat, always double check your entire document after performing blanket search-and-replace operations. Yes, it takes time, but quality is worth the effort.

Tip #14: When all else fails …

Are you receiving obscure errors from EPUBCheck or your book aggregator’s conversion process?

If you can’t locate the problems via Word’s Find function, you might have to:

  1. Copy the text from your manuscript into a text file.
  2. Begin a new manuscript.
  3. Select the contents of the text file, copy, and then paste into the new manuscript. This removes all formatting.
  4. Start at the beginning and reformat the @#$%&! thing.

Imagine how long that will take. The painless approach would be to avoid the errors in the first place.

A program like Jutoh, which contains EPUBCheck and works well in tandem with Calibre, provides meaningful errors. Jutoh also allows direct edits, saves your project, and converts to multiple file formats.

Don’t give up if you experience formatting difficulties.

And remember: Today’s words are tomorrow’s legacy. Keep writing.

© Kathy Steinemann

Kathy Steinemann, Grandma Birdie to her grandkids, is a parrot-loving grandma involved in a passionate affair with words, especially when the words are frightening or futuristic or funny.

As a child, she scribbled prose and poetry, and won public-speaking and writing awards. As an adult, she worked as a small-town paper editor, and taught a couple of college courses. She has won or placed in multiple short fiction contests.

If you were to follow her around for a day, you might see her wince when a character on TV says “lay” instead of “lie” or when a social media post confuses “your” with “you’re.” And please don’t get her started on gratuitous apostrophes in pluralized words.

Her popular books in The Writer’s Lexicon series are touted by writers as “phenomenal,” a “secret weapon,” and “better than a thesaurus.”

You’ll find her at KathySteinemann.com, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

kathy-510x510-alex.jpg

 

Adventures in Self-Publishing – Reviews – Part 1

Reviews…writers crave them and fear them. Readers utilise them, write them, ignore them. So what is the point?

A good deal of advice for writers states solicit reviews at all costs, but it this good advice? Yes and No. Let me get this clear – a review is one person’s opinion of a product, be it socks, a movie, or a book. And this is where the issue lies. Every individual who reads a book views it differently. Each person has expectations of a book (possibly based on having read previous reviews), prejudices – and we all have an unconscious bias – experiences/education, and mood.

For example – I like world-building; descriptive prose; great, and believable characters; emotive and lyrical writing. I read: Fantasy, gothic horror, science fiction, historical fiction, classics, mythic, erotica, true crime, historical mystery, science and medicine books. The expectations I have for a particular genre vary – I want my science, history and crime to be well-researched and not dry, but not overly complicated as I am reading for interest not a profession. I want my science fiction believable, or at least consistent, but with an element of the fantastic. I want my fantasy to be rich, amazing and well-developed. I want my gothic horror to be creepy, dark and deadly but not terrifying. And so on. So if I review a book I have read I need to apply this – my expectations for say, Les Miserables or Tess of the D’Urbevilles are not the same as for Cadfael or Sacred Band.

And so you have an opinion by an individual with a mix of views, expectations etc. No review is right. And no review is wrong. They are all subjective. And that’s the point and the difficulty.

As a reader, I seldom read reviews for books – basically because they don’t influence my choice much.  However, I do read reviews for electronics, clothes, movies and pretty much everything else. Yes, I’m weird. Many readers aren’t like me, they put great store by reviews – looking for merits and flaws from like-minded people.

There are readers who have certain criteria:

Engaging characters, well written, free from errors, believable.

But then there’s too much description/not enough? Too much sex/romance/violence/swearing or not enough. How much IS enough? Not a clue. It’s subjective.

I posted on a facebook group – name a couple of books you thought you should like and didn’t. As expected the results were varied. Books I love were thought utter drivel, and books I hate were thought wonderful. This was the picture across the board.

There are a minority of readers who look for the errors in a book or take great delight in bitching about the book/author. It is a small, vocal minority.  But they are there. This is particularly the case for indie-authored books. I’ll discuss how to handle reviews like this in a later post.

I review books for many reasons: I have a bad memory and it’s a form of note-taking; I want to share what I think of a book, although given the fact I rarely read book reviews this is rather hypocritical on my part; I want to support an author.  But people review for many reasons, and in many ways.

Reviews are opinion, nothing more and nothing less.

I’d be interested in what criteria my readers use to review, and if they read reviews.

 

 

 

 

 

Adventures in Self-Publishing – Book Bundles – Bundle Rabbit

I can’t believe it’s 18 months since I first started using Bundle Rabbit. How time flies!

As you know I love Bundle Rabbit – but what is it? What does it do? Why should you consider publishing there?

What is Bundle Rabbit and what does it do? Bundle Rabbit is a book bundling service – a ‘curator’ decides on a theme – Merfolk, Fairies, Zombie, Cats etc. and requests the books which are added to the site by authors or their publishers to add to his or ‘vision.’ An author can refuse their book if they don’t think it meets the bundle vision, or wishes to use it elsewhere. Once an author approves the book the curator adds it to the bundle. A reader can then purchase a bundle with several books or short stories for a far lower price than the books retail for individually.

The idea is that Reader Bob buys a Dragon Bundle with, say, a dozen books in, he may have read work from one or two of the authors but is unfamiliar with the rest. He works through the bundle and finds that the other authors are great – and goes out to check their other work or other bundles. Bingo! Everyone is happy. The reader has lots of new books and authors to read, and authors get a new fan.

The bundles run from a few weeks – say around Valentine’s Day or Halloween – to long term. It’s up to the curator, but bundles which haven’t sold for a while may get retired.

Bundle Rabbit for authors

2019-01-20 (1)

You retain the rights to your work, no one can sell it or add it to a bundle without your permission.

How much do authors get paid?

‘For outside sales channels (Kobo, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.) a sale appears on your royalty statement two months after the sale occurs. For example, let’s say a bundle you’re in is sold on June 15th at Amazon. We will receive the payment for that sale from Amazon on August 29th, thus it appears on your August royalty statement. Your August royalties are then paid the first week of September.’ https://www.bundlerabbit.com/home/faq

There is also the ability to create  Bundle Rabbit Series   – this is something I am in the process of doing presently. If you decide to curate for Bundle Rabbit and have a series planned – such as the Nightly Bites vampire series, or, in my case the Here Be/Myth, Monsters and Mayhem series you can add all the books to the series and have a single link. Hopefully, this will encourage readers to check out other bundles.

The reports page is easy to understand, the reporting is regular and reliable. There is a tally of bundles sold this month, with historical reports available, and also a total. You can break it down by bundle as well. There is a tab for the reported royalties – so you know how much you get per book. It pays out once $10 is reached in any given period (since Paypal put their fees up). So on a quiet month it might roll over.

Curating for Bundle Rabbit

I love being a curator for Bundle Rabbit. It’s a lot of fun, and quite a lot of work. That said it’s really rewarding. For a start, it’s an awesome way to network – which is important for indies. As there is a relatively small pool of authors involved and most of the authors there have multiple books then often the same authors will appear in many bundles. This has its pros and cons – you know what you’re getting with an author and his or her book but being a smallish pool there is not the diversity there might be elsewhere. The community is growing – I have encouraged four or five authors I know to add their books.

The curator needs to source a suitable cover for the book (which can cost), and promote, but Chuck – the owner of Bundle Rabbit – provides some awesome banners, fan-art and montages for you to use and share. I have to say Chuck makes Bundle Rabbit a breeze. If there are problems or questions he responds quickly, politely and fixes them (if able). I wish the support on Amazon was as good.

Why should authors consider Bundle Rabbit?

It’s true the share that one gets through the bundle does not amount to large amounts – but a sale is a sale – and one that may well not have happened otherwise.

Pros: It’s great for networking; it’s another channel to sell books; it’s great for finding new books; if you aren’t planning to curate then once you add your books you just have to wait for a curator to find your book – then it’s go…

Cons: It’s a little fiddly at first; you have to do your own taxes; there are authors who don’t respond to the book requests; if an author wishes to leave a bundle (to go to KDP Select for example) the entire bundle has to be retired – which is a pain in the whatsit. That said, there is a message board and the curator can contact the authors and check.

I would highly recommend authors (and readers) checking out BundleRabbit – as far as I can see, after the initial sign up and book uploading (you need Velum or E-pub) then unless you’re a curator you have to do very little.

I have not yet checked out the other bundle services – but I plan to do so. If any of my followers have experience of these then feel free to post/reply.

 

 

Adventures in Self-Publishing – 1.3 – the basics – Smashwords 1.1

https://www.smashwords.com/

I like Smashwords – but uploading the MS is a bit of a pain. The meatgrinder as it’s known is notoriously fickle. On the plus side, it will throw the MS back and tell you what to fix. It can take several attempts before it goes through. The help pages on Smashwords are good and will offer advice.

One of the benefits of SW is the Premium Catalog https://www.smashwords.com/dashboard/channelManager/

You can submit your book, and have it distributed to a multitude of other sites – including Barnes and Noble, Kobo, I-books and many others. The most useful aspect I have found for Smashy is the coupons. You can produce a coupon to reduce a specific book, for a specific time. It’s great for gifts, review copies etc.  Smashwords pay monthly (sort of). But the distribution stores pay at different times so it’s a little fiddly to keep track. That said it all goes through Smashwords and they pay via Paypal in USD.  Or you can just stick with SW.

SW add your book.PNG

https://www.smashwords.com/upload

I have only added the pic for the first bit (as it’s quite long), but pretty self-explanatory.

You can also have a publisher account with SW. So, if you write under a pen name or publish on behalf of others then that works out nicely. It’s far more awkward on KDP – where you can publish under a pen name. The publisher account is helpful.

The dashboard for SW is reasonably easy to fathom and it’s easier to make changes to a book than on KDP and it’s better for readers as it offers Mobi, Epub and other formats (Amazon only offers the Amazon Mobi and it’s Kindle/Kindle app only).

SW Dashboard.PNG

sw dashboard help

Smashwords requires an ISBN but will provide one free if you don’t have one. This is required for access into the premium catalog, but not solely publishing on SW.

If you can manage the meatgrinder then Smashwords is a great way to get that wider reach.

It’s more accessible than KDP (see the other posts about this).