Tag: Nook

Formatting It’s a Bitch

formatWith all apologies to Mr. Jagger and Richards. So you have your plot all dialed in, your characters live and breathe in your readers’ minds and your grammar is spot on, not a comma out of place. All that remains now is to get your work in a proper format for your publisher. If you are fortunate to have a traditional publisher this becomes someone else’s headache. For independents it’s time to either open up the checkbook or break out the Tylenol. I have just completed the formatting of my latest work, Undead Heart. It was tedious, it was fraught with peril, hardships and even a few mistakes but in the end I am very proud with how it turned out. Which brings me to this post.

First off a word on drafts. I do my writing on my tablet so my rough draft is a text file with no formatting save line returns. When finish the work I format the paragraphs into 1/2″ indents and double space lines, clean up any obvious keyboard errors and add simple footers to make the first draft. I edit by sprucing up the descriptions and actions and any dialog that needs it for the second draft that I then let my wife read. Her edits and suggestions make up the third draft. Once I’m done with that I let a copy editor go over the manuscript from top to bottom. The final draft is completed once all those edits have been addressed. My work is now ready to be formatted for printing. I know some writers who will rework a piece ten or twenty times but that isn’t me. I have had works that I had to give up on because I could not get them into shape after several passes. You know better than anyone when you are just whipping a dead horse.

The formatting for print and eReaders need to be handled separately so you do not want to be making changes to the manuscript that you have to recreate in the other so make sure your edits are done because you will be making three copies of the file, one for print, one for eBook and one to have in case you really screw up the other two. I usually format the print version first. I pick my font, set the paragraphs to single space with extra space at the end of paragraphs. I set the page to the template size of the book, in this case 5.6 x 7.01. I use a 0.79″ margin with a 0.14″ gutter. I add different headers for the odd and even pages. My name goes on the left page top and the title goes on the right. The page number will go on the bottom of all pages except for the front title pages and my author bio in the back. I do not have a header or footer on the first page of every chapter. To achieve that you need a separate section for each chapter. The trick now is to make sure your page numbers are correct through all the chapters. I find it helpful at this point to zoom the view out so that I can see 2 pages at the same time. I check to make sure all the chapters have the proper page numbering and it is ready for the printer.

For the eBook version I take the final draft and turn the it into one large HTML document. I use MS Word filtered Web page setting. This creates a document with the least amount of junk tags. Now it’s HTML editing time. I use my text editor too strip out much of the CSS in the document. I then use this document to build the Kindle or ePub versions.

There are plenty of resources to get you there if you aren’t ready. A friend of mine, Greg Lundberg, has a very informative book available on Amazon, How to Publish an eBook For Under $350. If you are going the eBook route, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords also have a very large community of writers and support that can answer most of your questions on formatting for their platforms. These are some of the few that I have used and learned from in the past. You print publisher will have guidelines as well as to what type of file they accept and how they want it to look.

E-booking on the Cheap

The other day I came across a review for J.K. Rowling’s new work, Casual Vacancy, interested I clicked on over to Amazon to see about getting a copy. Well any thought of that happening went away when I saw the price. Really, J.K. now I know you’ve been hitting the butter beer hard. $17.99 (update: it’s not $14.99) for an e-book? Are you kidding me? That experience had me thinking, since getting my smart phone I have been an avid reader on it, if I had to pay eighteen bucks for each book I read I would be in the poor house. To that end, I figured I might share some of things that keeps me reading but not wringing my wallet dry.

First the obvious choice. Clean off your library card. If you happen to have a public library that has access to Overdrive you could be a few clicks and some DRM away from e-books. Your library may also have access to another service, Freading. Then of course there is Open Library. All these services can keep your e-reader going for no money at all.

If you are a kindle owner then you must take advantage of their lending library, just one of the benefits of signing up for Amazon Prime. You should also subscribe to email alerts for the Kindle Daily Deal. At only $1.99 a book these deals are about among the best you can find. Also the deals cover a wide selection of genres and non fiction as well. I frequently browse the deal pages of the Nook Store and Google Play. There are bargains to be had. If you don’t mind a little bit of homework you could offer to review works for an independent author. A quick Google search can lead you to a number of websites connecting eager readers to authors looking for reviews.

Lastly I would be remiss if I did not mention the myriad torrent search and download options. I am not going to take some moral high road and tell you that pirating only hurts the creators. Nor do I think pirating is the same as stealing. It is closer to the idea of a chew and screw. You are consuming the content but not paying for it. My experience with torrents is pretty hit or miss. In most instances I have found it not worth the time involved to find a good file for what I am looking for. So, for me the old skull and crossbones are a last resort.

Despite what the big six publishers may like you to believe, e-books do not have to follow the same pricing as print books. Then again I also do not know very many people who pay full price for a hardcover book. Let’s face it, that went away with the mass market paperback. One would think the publishing industry would not repeat the same mistakes as the music industry. Then again I could be wrong. Happy reading.

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An Author (And Reader’s) Response to the e-Book Price Debate

A Facebook friend made me aware of an excellent article from Nathan Bransford regarding e-Book pricing on c|net. You can read the article here, and I encourage you to do so. I agree with the article but then I started thinking about things from the author’s and readers perspectives.

Writing a book is a labor of love. When a project takes a year or more to complete only in the most extreme circumstances can the cost ever be recovered, but should we only be talking about monetary compensation? What about the enjoyment of the process and the satisfaction of completing it. Not to mention the ego boost when your friends and family say, “You wrote a book.” That all must factor into compensation on some level. Am I right? All I have read and heard was how difficult it is to make a living off of one’s writing. Only the top tier of authors can afford to live the writer’s life we dream of.  So the notion of e-books devaluing books does not play very well by me.

It is a fact of economics that competition should bring down prices. Right now publishers are competing with their worst nightmare; their own slush piles. In years past these little nuggets of creativity in the rough would have languished on some intern’s desk but now sit on the shelf, (or I should say the screen), right next to the latest works by the big publishers’ best. No one could have foreseen Amazon’s response to Apple’s entrance to the e-book market would be to turn everyone into a published author. For the most part the strategy has worked.

I am reading more than I ever have. Between my Kindle app and Aldiko reader on my phone I go through an e-book every couple of weeks. There is no way I could afford to do that at $15 a file. I turn to the library for some but not much of my reading material. I also have enjoyed trying independent authors especially with titles at $2.99 and .99. The lesson here is not that I am cheap, but that there are alternatives for my reading fix that have nothing to do with what publishers think e-books should cost. I do make exceptions and have paid $10 for an e-book or two, ones I really want to read.

I price my books on Amazon and Barnes & Noble at the bargain price of $2.99 to be attractive to readers and also because I have no overhead costs. I do all the formatting and marketing myself. My wife takes care of the editing which challenges her with my unique twist on spelling. So as an independent author this is truly a labor of love and the big publishers will never be able to compete with me on price. I will even go out on a limb and say my books provide a greater value at that price because they can go toe to toe with some of what the big publishers are putting out. If you think that sounds a bit egotistical of me then read my previous post.

Why Your Kindle Isn’t Welcome at the Library

Truth in Lending

I saw this post on the Librarian in Black Sarah Houghton’s blog and found it interesting and worth sharing here. The frustration felt by many librarians must be extraordinary as more and more patrons come in asking why they can’t borrow the latest books for their readers. Libraries would love to serve their Kindle and Nook owning patrons. Publishers would really love to sell their books to those same patrons. Unfortunately the publishers have the law behind them.

What is a reader to do? What is a librarian to do? Making people aware of the situation is the best way to start. Alerting patrons to alternatives to big ticket eBooks (for lack of a better term) is also a good idea. There are many inexpensive works from independent authors as well as free public domain works. Libraries can still supply their patrons with books, even the e variety, but it may be through a different medium than the circulation desk. The patron may come back not because they have to to return the book but for another suggestion. Imagine a library as a place where readers come to share good reads. In an increasingly digital world this may be the key to the library’s survival.

Here is  a link to the full article http://librarianinblack.net/librarianinblack/2012/02/ebooksign.html

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