A little heads up

I’m a small author. I’ve written one book and am slowly working on my second. I’m a teeny, tiny fish in a very big ocean. So, when I read this post by Molly Greene about ebook piracy, I thought: no way that can happen to me. No one even knows I exist.

Well, no one may know I exist, but my book was in the general ebooks site. And you could get it for free. I didn’t know if to be flattered or offended.

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Good news, Molly Greene’s article explains what to do and she even has the email that got her books removed from the site. I’ve sent them the email and hope that they’ll remove my book.

I’m really hoping that no one else finds their book on that site but, if you do remember, knowledge is power. Check out Molly Greene’s post and get your book back.

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PS. If you know of other ways to get rid of books pirated, share them with me and I’ll pass them on as well!

PSS. I sent the email verbatim from Molly Greene’s site and the very next day, I got an email from general ebooks that said:

“Thanks for your report!

Links was removed.

Kindly yours.”

Success, even if it’s poorly written. 😀

Authors: What to do if Your Book gets Pirated

A great tip for those indie authors out there and a HUGE thank you to S. K. Nicholls for the information!

S.K. Nicholls

There is not a lot of recourse against the site itself, especially if the site is out of the country. If the web hosting site is U.S.A., you can send a DMCA take down letter to the web hosting site. They are under pressure to break the links of sites performing copyright infringement. You are also required to share some personal information in the letter which you should do with the hosting company NOT the offending site.

How do you find the site hosting company?

You can search domain registration on whois.com at: http://www.whois.com/whois/

Once you find the web hosting site look for their contact info or legal contact. This is usually an email address link.

Gene Quinn has a sample letter you can personalize (copy and paste into email) and send to the hosting company:

http://www.ipwatchdog.com/2009/07/06/sample-dmca-take-down-letter/id=4501/

You will need the offending site’s URL for your work. Once you get…

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Marketing…

I loved Mishka Jenkins‘ post this week on Marketing because I could relate so well to what she said. I too don’t like to market my book. In fact, I have to admit I haven’t actually done any real marketing for my book–except for the posts on this blog.

I know for independent writers it’s a necessity but… I still don’t like it. It feels like shameless self-promotion. Mishka puts it so well.

“… I don’t like shoving myself in people’s faces shouting, ‘Buy my books they’re awesome!’ 😀 And no matter how inventively I try to do my marketing, it always feels like that’s what I’m doing.”

That’s it. Exactly.

Infinitefreetime just published his first book. He promoted it using his unique brand of humour. His plugs came across as funny and endearing. I know if I tried that approach, I’d come across as icky and strange. Anything but funny.

Mishka is a pretty smart lady. I bet she’ll come up with her own unique way. In the interim, I should probably figure out a way to start doing some promos. Or at least think about the entire thing in a more positive light. Maybe I should look at it as another aspect of the job of being an author.

Any tips? Got any ideas on marketing that don’t make the author sound icky?

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Books and ebooks

Ebooks. I loved this very interesting post by DBCII. He explains all the reasons Kindle is a ‘game-changer’, then adds the reasons why we still stick to paperbacks.

I have to admit I have a love-hate relationship with my e-readers. Yes, I have two of the things. I have a Kobo and a Kindle…and a ton of paperbacks.

When the ereaders first came out, I thought I was set. The luxury of being able to read hundreds of books in one tiny tablet had me salivating. The convenience of being able to buy a book from home was amazing. I was hooked…then I had to upload an upgrade in Kobo and my entire library was deleted. Suddenly, things weren’t that much fun. I thought things might be different with Kindle. But, as it turns out, you don’t own your ebooks, you’re renting them. Hm…

As it stands, I’m torn. I love my ereaders when I’m on holiday but there’ something about touching a book as I read it and buying a book online might be practical but I miss the magical experience of walking into my favourite book store or used book store. It’s just not the same.

What do you think? Exciting or annoying? Are you all for the new Kindle or do you enjoy the tactile feel of a book?

And a big thanks to DBCII for the outstanding post!

 

Book covers

There is a half-dressed man, leaning over an equally half-dressed woman. They’re half-sitting, half-lying on a sofa positioned in front of an open window or perhaps they’re in a field, with the grass flowing around them. In either case, both have their hair flying away from their faces, streaming in the wind in opposite directions of each other. They look like they’re in the throes of passion or about to sneeze, we can’t really tell. What’s very clear are his muscles, he has them everywhere from neck to fingers, her breasts and her legs. Incredibly their clothes have fallen off just enough to show their best features but still leave them dressed.

It’s a vague description but that’s the cover of most historical romance novels and even some contemporary. For me, it begs the question: Did they think readers would like that? Well, I was going to get the Nora Roberts’ book but now that I see the muscles on this guy, I’ll change my mind.

Personally, those covers aren’t my thing. In fact, I try and hide them when they happen to be on the book I’m reading. They’re not just ugly, they’re embarrassing. I can’t imagine how cover artists, publicists and literary agents (people who work in the publishing industry) think they are a good idea. I bet I’m not alone. Did these people ever speak to their readers?

I’d like to bet that most of us (readers) would like books to have a minimum amount of dignity. They don’t have to be as serious as the Bible. We’ll just settle for not embarrassing.

I’ve seen covers that are both beautiful and elegant. I know that traditionally published authors have literally no say on what goes on the front of their book. The cover is not up to them. I self-published so I got a cover done just the way I liked it. I love the cover on Olivia’s Choice. More than that, I’ll tell you who did it. Dara England. Here’s the link: http://mycoverart.com. She was absolutely amazing. Great to work with, professional and she knew just what I wanted. But don’t take my word for it, check out the awards she’s won on her site. The woman is awesome.

I would also recommend David C. Cassidy. http://davidccassidy.com/graphic-designer/ebook-covers/. He’s simply amazing and one of the nicest people I know. Hands down.

Covers are important. They draw the reader to your book…or away. I know they say: never judge a book by its cover…but I think it’s hard to look past a semi-naked couple embracing in the park.

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Formatting ups and downs.

I’m deep inside the world of formatting. The idea is to somehow meet the rules of the Smashwords Premium Catalogue and hopefully get the book on other publishers free. Excellent theory…the application is somewhat more turbulent.

I should explain that I’m not a computer genius. I would describe myself as mildly competent. For example, I don’t try to fix a type-o on my computer with white out, but I don’t know how to fix any real issues on my computer. And that includes formatting issues on my documents.

The Guide that Smashwords has for formatting is actually really helpful, friendly even. But trying this out by myself is pretty daunting. There are times when I stare at the screen and wonder what on earth they mean and the only one at my side is my faithful akita. She’s good in the snow but not so great with computers.

Simple things become monumental tasks in Formatting World. For example, you can’t change something as easy as the font by clicking on the font button. In fact, according to the Guide, this is a mistake you should never, ever do (never is in capital letters, then bolded and then repeated just in case you missed it the first few times). Basically, if you use the button provided by Word for that exact purpose, your manuscript will warp itself into something illegible for ebooks, it’ll never be admitted into the Premium Catalogue (the reason for this entire Formatting Nightmare) and all your worse fears will materialize.

Now that wouldn’t be an issue, if the Guide told me how to change the font properly. But there’s no second choice. Just a warning in dire letters of horrid consequences if you should risk touching the clearly labelled font button.

In spite of all this moaning on my part, I think I’m making some sort of progress. I’ve still got a long way to go. I’m certainly not close enough to even start making a table of contents, but I think I might have an idea on how to create a ‘style’. No, in our fun, Formatting World, style doesn’t mean clothing style or hip-style, it means writing style as in indents and bullets and so on. Don’t laugh but I had to figure that out too.

It’s a steep learning curve but, I figure, in a week or so, either I’ll have a perfectly formatted document so clean it’ll shine brighter than the Empire State Building or I’ll be talking to Ocean in doggie language.

Oh and I will definitely pass on anything worthwhile that I learn along the way…like how on earth to change that dratted font.

(credit:blog.smashwords.com)

(credit:blog.smashwords.com)

Formatting nightmares

Formatting is something self-published authors know about…and dread. Traditionally published authors get to skip this entire ordeal because they simply send their manuscript off to the agent and presto, it magically appears already formatted and on paper. At least, I that’s what I think happens.

Poor self-published authors like myself don’t have that luxury. I can ask someone to do it for me but that’s risky and expensive. Last time I tried that, they botched it up and would only fix the issues if I paid more money. So now, I do it myself.

Formatting changes the lovely book you’ve written into something an ereader can process. Without formatting you get lines that fall off the edge of the page, breaks where there shouldn’t be breaks and other nightmares. In other words, you have to format the thing or not even your aunt Matilda, who loves you, will read your ebook.

I use Scrivener. It has an innocent little button that says: collate. Collate means formatting. I looked at it and wished the entire process would be as simple as pressing that button. Alas…it’s not.

Press collate and you open up a new window FULL of buttons that open other windows FULL of buttons. Everything from the table of contents to the size of font to the space between the lines, to indents, to how you take your coffee in the morning…everything is in there for you to change and organize. If you want an epub file, you get a set of different choices that match that file’s needs. If you want a mobi file, you get another set. And so on.The problem is some of those buttons are written in codes and you have to fill in information with even more codes.

Figuring out how to collate took me a good five hours (during which I only answered in angry grunts). Scrivener helpfully provides some tutorials online in a microscopic window. After five hours of squinting, I finally got rid of the thing and started simply guessing. Incredibly, I did manage to collate the thing because it’s on Amazon now (I blame it on dumb luck).

In spite of all this, Scrivener is a great option, simply because it’s better than the alternative: Doing it By Hand. Formatting a document a la hand means you have to do manually what each of those little buttons did on Scrivener. For each paragraph, for each chapter, for the entire manuscript. It’s much, much worse than Scrivener’s collating.

Why am I rambling on about formatting? Well, the thing is I’m trying to publish Olivia’s Choice on Smashwords so that I can list my book for free (Amazon won’t do it unless they’re price matching). That means I have to re-format the entire thing.

By hand.

I estimate it’s going to take me a year and a half to get this done.

(credit:blog.utest.com)

(credit:blog.utest.com)