Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Finished & Published - Think You Are Done? Think Again!

So there you are. Your book is up in Kindle, maybe Smashwords, and maybe even in Paperback. Sitting on Amazon's site. Sitting in B&N. Now you can relax, right? Now you are done. Finally, Peace!

Got news for you. You have not even started yet! If you publish a book with a "respected publishing house" the first thing anyone will tell you is now you have to do most of your own marketing. Well the same applies here, but in ten-fold. Now you have to do your own marketing. Cruel world isn't it?

All you wanted to do was write a book. The adage "if you build it they will come" does not work. You are going to have to be aggressive and you are going to find out that you are up against some very very stiff competition. 

The first thing to learn is that you will read about all the success stories. The ones who published Kindle or Nook and in a year sold massive amounts of copies. So it cannot be that hard right? I mean they did it, right? 

Murphy's law. It may happen to one person in say a million and you are not going to be that one person. So you have to figure out where and when and how. You need to do research and you need to do a lot of it. You need to market your book.

Truth be told, the absolute best way to do this, if you have the cash lying around, is to find an excellent publicist, who will take your book on, and let them do the work. But that can cost upwards towards 5-10k to do it right so you have to decide. If I had that cash it would be the route I would take. Simply put, a good publicist will have the contacts and will know how to market your book in print and on-line. And that translates into sales.

But you do not have that cash. So it is up to you to market. And here even the shy among us have to break out of the shell and use what is available in this day and age.

A few ideas and or links:

Facebook - Create an Author Page or a book page. Then get as many people as you can to link to and "like" your page. Keep it moving. Post to it. Do NOT let it stagnate.

LinkedIn - use the group structure in linkedin to find groups in your area of writing. There are many, some real friendly and some not. You have to try and experiment. Follow some discussions which you like. Contribute. Jump in. Get your name out there.

Twitter - well here this is a bit overdone but starting to Twitter now, if your book does take off, will save you from starting it up later. So Twitter is simple and easy. Right now may not do a thing. But it is for the future. So Twitter away.

Take a look at www.kindleboards,com. This is a great forum for Kindle people. Try some other forums, though I would be very careful at which you spend time at. Some of them, we will not mention names atm, are expert at flaming and trying to put down new members. (Lots of real sick people out there.)

If your book is up in Amazon or B&N you are going to have to get people to review the book. Now there are quite a few things to pay attention to, even if it is your own Grandmother reviewing the book
1. People look if the review says "Amazon Verified Purchase" to make sure the book review is legit. In other words if you are not just getting trolls to write reviews (a very bad idea btw as you will find your book trashed in a lot of forums and web pages.) So try to get verified reviews.
2. Tell people when they write a review, if you know the person, NOT TO say they are your family or best friend.
3. Make sure you fill in your Author page at Amazon.
4. Also tell them to also hit the "Like" button on top of the page (many people forget to do this).

This is important as many bloggers who review books today will not do so unless you have X amount of verified purchased reviews at 4 or 5 stars, (Yes they are getting snobby...live with it.) So you have to get those reviews. But you also have to sell to get the reviews. Chicken and Egg syndrome. Never said it would be easy. You want easy? Forget the sweat of publishing and find something else to do.

Write to the bloggers who review books. Find one in your niche. See if you can get a review. (Lots of info on kindleboards.com)
Write to book reviewers at newspapers. Simple, short, concise. See if they are open to doing a book review of the book. And always offer of course to supply them with a copy.

The two bad scenarios to the above is:
1.They will say "No." So you move on.
2. They never answer. Rude, I know...but you move on too.

All you risk is a bruised ego, and if you decided to publish or are being published even by a respectable publisher, you better be able to handle a bruised ego!

You need to be creative. You need to figure out what your niche market is. And you need to act on that on niche market.

Do not, I repeat, do not rely on any one else to do this for you.Some people may help. Others may not. But other people have their own lives, and as we all know, people tend to exaggerate their own self-importance. So you are going to have to do this yourself. 

Of course if you do get sincere offers of help, then take them. Use contacts. Use any contact you can including your own local newspaper for a review. You would be shocked what one mention of your book in print or on the web can do to sales.
**Stay tuned a bit on software usage to create your books, print and ebooks in next post

My own Public Relations:

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Ancient Tales, Modern Legends Now In Paperback

Here is the link for "Ancient Tales, Modern Legends" in Paperback.

Ancient Tales, Modern Legends, a short story collection by Ted William Gross presents the reader with engaging and thought-provoking stories spanning the ages. Covering subjects of love, loss, pain, desire, need, frustration and hope these stories are meant to entertain as well leave an indelible impression upon the reader.
Ted Gross cleverly combines ancient lore in his "Tiny Slivers From A Silver Horn" weaving Unicorns, the story of Adam & Eve and the modern world into a tale of lost wisdom and gained hope. "Love In A Cafe" moves the reader within the soft aura of love until the surprise ending. "Elijah's Coins" leaves us wondering about the great "what if" of life and just how blessed or cursed it would make us to change the future. "Reverieing" is a glimpse of the slow descent of one individual into his own personal hell. "Addiction, Obsession, Love", "Tenuous Webs" & "And So They Danced" look upon love and loss from different perspectives. "A Tapestry Of War" is a real war story and the consequences of war upon the psyche of the soldier. "The Sunflower" portrays how hate can insidiously seep into the heart of man while "The Heretic" will leave you wondering who the real heretic actually is. "Kapparot" will let you delve into the mystical world of Hassidic philosophy while looking upon man's relation to God. "Jacob's Ladder" will introduce you to a world of angels and their mission of silence.

The Following Short Stories Are Contained Within Ancient Tales, Modern Legends
Love In A Café
Elijah's Coins
The Sunflower
Tenuous Webs
The Heretic
A Tapestry Of War
And So They Danced
Jacob's Ladder
Addiction, Obsession, Love
Tiny Slivers From A Silver Horn

This is not a book to dismiss easily. Enjoy it. Grow with it. You will in turn, be haunted by it and the stories will remain with you long after you have closed the pages.

From the reviews:

"Lyrical and moving, these short stories open a window into various lives and situations, allowing the reader to feel the depths of emotion of the various protagonists. It presents a broad spectrum of life written in a clear and precise literary style. I look forward to reading more by this author."

"With the completion of each story, I couldn't wait to begin the next. 
My favorite, "And So They Danced", filled with so much hope and pathos. 
Kudos and five stars to the author."

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

How To Publish Your Book In Kindle - Part 2

This is one of the cases where the description and rules are a lot more "wordy" than the actual process. However, some of the steps below will be completely clear to many people, while others who have little experience may have some trouble. I have tried to outline most of the problems that I know of and came across in my own experience. If you know of others as we post the step-by-step please feel free to leave them in comments. 

The first thing we must do is deal with any formatting that you have in your book document.

If no formatting exists, and if you do not want formatting at all  you can skip this step. However, if you have formatting or need to change formatting read this part carefully.

Please be aware that I am not dealing here with non-fiction documents which have things like footnotes or endnotes inside of them. These are basically a bit more complicated

Ebook formating software handles very simple and specific formats and nothing more. So you have to be careful with formatting. Any special formatting will simply not show up in your ebook or will cause some wonky unwanted effects.  

One thing to be aware of. When we format things for underline and bold, if you are like me, you mark off till the end of the line sometimes, and then click the U for underline. Sometimes this leads to the following line or lines to be formatted with underline even though there is nothing on those lines.

For instance:

Ancient Tales, Modern Legends
(this line is empty but an underline command exists) so it may appear as:

When this would be put in Ebook format in some of the readers, notiably the early Kindels, you will find that when you preview the document, an _ in the line. If you see this seemingly out of nowhere, chances are that your underline is on on that empty line. Thus the above may look as follows:

Ancient Tales, Modern Legends

So the best way to avoid any of these unwanted characters showing up is to move your cursor over the empty lines in your document and make sure all formatting is off. This can be a tedious process but easy with Word. Just takes patience, and besides you do want your document to look the best possible. So what formatting can  you use?

Bold and normal underline are ok.
To see a full list of the possible do's and dont's look here.
Simplified Formatting Guide

Let me copy from the section "Building Your Book" on Amazon's site some extremely important lines to remember in formatting:

File Format: Save your content in DOC (or .doc) format, not RTF (.rtf) or DOCX (.docx) as the latter do not translate well to Kindle. Save your work periodically as you make changes to ensure all changes are recorded. 

Layout: Use indentations, bold characters, italics and headings, as they will translate into your Kindle book. However, bullet points, special fonts, headers, and footers will not be transferred, so be sure to avoid those. 

Personally, I have not noticed with .docx format - however my books do not have complicated formatting so I would save it all to the .doc format just in case!


Again from Amazon's Instructions:

Page Breaks: Enter a page break at the end of every chapter to prevent the text from running together. To insert a page break in MS Word, click "Insert" at the top menu bar and select "Page Break." 

Once the document is formatted with your underlines and bolds etc. let us move to page breaks.
If you want a page break (essentially white space in ebook format) between say, chapter and chapter, position your cursor at the end of the chapter and FORCE a new page with Word. Do NOT rely on any natural page breaks. This may seem fairly logical to anywone who has ever formatted a document for an agent, publisher or magazine submission, but it is something to bear in mind if you are not used to it. 

If you have images inside your book, (not the book cover we will discuss that later), then make sure you do the following: (Again From Amazon's suggestions)

Image Placement: Images should be inserted in JPEG (or .jpeg) format with center alignment (don't copy and paste from another source). Select "Insert" > "Picture" > then locate and select the file. If your book has a lot of images, it can be viewed in color by readers using our free Kindle apps for PC, MAC, iPad, iPhone, and Android. Otherwise, remember that images on Kindle are displayed in 16 shades of gray for great contrast and clarity. 

HOWEVER, with the advent of Kindle Fire, and Ipad and Android Tablets, the gray only is necessary for the older Kindle. When you view your book on the older Kindle it will only be in black and white and shades of gray. This may or may not influence your use of images. It is something we will consider later when talking about the Book Cover Image. However, this is your decision. Many of your current illustrations may just not work well in the shades of black and white that are available. You must decide if it is worth to change them, or leave them as they are as soon the market will certainly contain mostly all color tablets and this will be somewhat of a mute decision.

Now Headers & Footers:

A Simple Header may be:
Gross - Ancient Tales, Modern Legends Page 5


In Word you can delete Headers by going to Insert--->Headers then clicking while you are in your header and then click on "Remove Headers". If you have section headers you will have to do this for each section.

We still have a lot more to cover, but this is enough for this post. You should have your work cut out for you. Remember in all cases you can and should read the Formatting Your Book Section in the FAQ section of KDP on Amazon.

Meantime of course, I have do my own PR. :)
So..."Ancient Tales, Modern Legends" has had really good success so far. The books are priced @ $1.99 in the USA. (Other countries Amazon adds VAT etc.)

Ancient Tales, Modern Legends

A Tale That Is Told - Part I (The Chronicles Of The Children Of Heaven Series)

Please remember to write a review as well!

Posted On: Cobwebs Of The Mind

Monday, January 02, 2012

How To Publish Your Book In Kindle - Part I

As promised I will try and give a step by step pointer on publishing a book on Kindle. However before beginning, I should take the time to answer the comments made on my previous post If You Are Going To Publish Your Own Work... These comments were important and deserve some space.

My personal opinion, is that I have absolutely nothing against the query--->agent--->normative publisher route. Indeed, I still think after all these  years that this is the route one should always attempt to follow. I do not personally agree that reputable agents are either greedy or do not earn their money. The exact opposite is true. I have dealt with and dealing with an agent who is straight, honest and does not try to BS at all. I think having an agent is still very critical and certainly necessary if you sell a book to the big publishers, and then have to deal with them about rights and subsidiary rights. I also think having a lawyer here is critical, (no matter what the agent and publisher tell you. Unless the agent has a law degree and has kept up with the legal ramifications in publishing.)

HOWEVER, I also believe that if your book for whatever reasons, cannot, will not, or is not making it into the normative "print" market, for whatever reasons, either objective or subjective, that currently, the market offers you, as an author, a viable alternative, to publishing that book ELECTRONICALLY. I never mentioned that this is a viable alternative to "print" and at this moment I honestly have no opinion on that one. There are many negatives to vanity publishing or self-publishing a book in "print", that do not exist in publishing it electronically and these should be explored in their own series of posts.

Additionally, any new author who expects to make "real money" from their first few attempts in KDP or in any of the electronic book markets is dreaming. Yes there are exceptions. But these exceptions prove the rule. What you are out to do, is to "brand" your name as a serious author in whatever genre you wish to be in. That should be your goal. If money comes, then consider yourself lucky and blessed. But your initial goal should be to equate  your name with that of the title of "Author". 

As to the comments made about Amazon and then the environment. 

I have heard this environment claim before. I don't go for it in this case. Computers, tablets, Cell phones all are extremely non-green friendly. They are the tools we use today. Additionally, at least for the next generation, reading a book that is actually printed on paper, is still a very important thing. Or a magazine. Electronic publishing has not yet replaced totally the print medium. (Thus by the way the lack of a finely tuned "financial and marketing model" by the publishers and agents.)

Like it or not, the choices today, though not limited are certainly among the big names. Amazon, Apple, B&N, Smashwords etc. If you are an author you MUST pay attention to these markets simply because not doing so will guarantee failure. There may be other markets out there and viable alternatives, but to ignore the big names is catastrophic to any author who desires to get their work "out there".

Why begin then with Amazon & Kindle? Well that is simple and complex. There are a myriad of reasons for this and I will try to explain them all.

Let us assume, hypothetically, that you as the author, own a computer and do not own any of the tablets or devices.
Let us also assume that you are starting out and do not have any money.

1. Amazon is associated with books. The Kindle, though not the most widely used tablet, has entered the big-boy market with the Kindle Fire.

2. B&N in its e-Pub, and Apple demand from the author a CC and other information. Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) makes no such demands except for a valid email and an address. (B&N makes some outrageous demands but we will get to them in a later post.)

3. The Ipad, Iphone and all Android phones have a Kindle reader application. This extends the reach of KDP books and all Kindle books to many platforms.

4. Producing a book in Kindle format can be done with absolutely NO COST (if you own Word) and even if you do not own Word it can be done. This is CRITICAL!

5. Finally, Amazon has made it the easiest and most cost effective to create and publish an electronic book. Like it or not, KDP, even if a lot of the documentation on publishing and formatting a book is not good, is still the best documented way of creating one, and does not demand any other outside sources that cost you money. Amazon also does not demand you join KDP. You can publish your book without adhering the KDP 90 day exclusivity. This denies you certain "perks" but then again, that is business. You publish with KDP enabled, you get the perks. You publish without, you do not get the perks. But in the end it is your choice, and  you can always publish.

Caveat: Smashwords, will allow you to do all this, but with certain pre-conditions.

Now in order to lead to the next post of the first steps, this is what you will need to do as follows:

1. Go to Amazon KDP Select and open up an account. Make sure you read the terms and conditions so you do not violate their TOS when you publish your book or books. I will get into the more salient ones in the next post.

2. On the main KDP page scroll down and click to get to their FAQ. 

3. Give it a reading - Top to Bottom - so you at least will be familiar with terms.

4. The next thing you want to do is to go to the Help Topic (Left hand side of the page) called Conversion Resources

5. You should download them all, BUT for now you will need the following for a PC on XP, Vista or W7
At the very least the Mobipocket Creator & the Kindle Previewer. (Links here are for PC if you need for a MAC links are on the Conversion Resources page). Install these programs on your computer.

Mobipocket is an old program. There is a conflict between Internet Explorer 9 and MobiPocket, which will not allow MobiPocket to work correctly. The only workaround I have found for this that really works, is to uninstall IE9. Since I do not use IE at all that was not a big problem for me. However, if you use IE and need MobiPocket you will have to go back to IE8. (I have found no other solution that actually works besides this!)

6. Now get out  your MS. make a copy load it in Word (or in Open Office or whatever program you have, as an RTF file) and REMOVE all headers and footers. Electronic books have no page numbers the way we are used to them in Word or PDF format and these will not translate correctly. Save that file under a name you will know. This is the file we will work with!

Ok this is enough for one blog post. Next with pictures and steps I will show you how to convert that Word Document of yours into an Ebook ready for uploading to Kindle.

Meantime of course, I have do my own PR.

So..."Ancient Tales, Modern Legends" has had really good success so far. The books are priced @ $1.99 in the USA. (Other countries Amazon adds VAT etc.)

Ancient Tales, Modern Legends

A Tale That Is Told - Part I (The Chronicles Of The Children Of Heaven Series)

Please remember to write a review as well!