Kindle and Smashwords: Formatting Tips

A fantastic post full of awesome tips and how-to’s. I can’t thank Mishka enough for writing this one!

A Writer's Life For Me.

I’ve had a few emails from people asking about when I publish my books on Smashwords if they go through the ‘Meatgrinder’ and how do I do it.

I have to say I’ve never had a problem with Smashwords and all my books have gone through first time with no trouble. So, instead of copying and pasting the answer to reply to the emails, I thought I would do a blog on it.

Please note that these are just some of the things I do to get my books through Smashwords and Kindle, don’t take it as fact! I highly recommend reading both Kindle’s guide and Smashwords style guide in order to better understand the process.

This is a comparison of the same manuscript (my newest release, The Magic Spark) put through Smashwords (on the left) compared to Kindle (on the right).


Kindle Formatting:

– Justified alignment.
– Max…

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I got a bad review. Or rather my book did.

Everyone gets bad reviews. I know that.

Weeeeelll…my head knows it. My heart has trouble remembering. It’s a pretty easy thing to forget when you get that nasty review.

Dealing with a bad review isn’t easy. Though everyone has their own way, I thought I’d share what has worked for me.

1. Writing about it. It might sound ironic but writing about painful stuff helps me. I either journal about it or I write it into a blog post :-). Writing is cathartic and helps me get it out.

2. Sending out positive energy. I find that if I send it out, it comes back to me. So, when I need support, I try to send it out. When I need a kind shoulder, I try to be kind to someone around me. If nothing else, at least I feel better about myself.

3. Working out. We have this punching man downstairs and these great boxing gloves. I go down there and punch that guy in the face until all that anger and frustration is gone. Or I go to the elliptical and run or I head to the gym. Anger is a great motivator. I can get amazing work outs thanks to those nasty reviews.

4. Sharing with other authors. I know there are trolls online but I have found amazingly supportive people in the web. I can go to them and share my misery. Odds are, they’ve had a bad review and can identify with me. If not, they’re Nora Roberts…no, wait she’s had bad reviews as well.

5. Kissing my doggies. They don’t care if I’ve get bad reviews or bad hair, they love me unconditionally and trust me. I can kiss those furry heads and tell them all my troubles and they just listen. No judgement.

6. Working at DayJob. I work with the public. Within five minutes of being at work, I’ll have an impossible demand; within ten, someone will be shouting at me. I’ll come back to my computer glad that at least that review was written and not shouted.

A nice list, with nice items. They hurt no one and are good, mature choices.

What follows is a more immature list. Choices that, so far, I’ve managed to avoid. Please notice the ‘so far’. The next bad review will probably send me over the edge.

* Throw away the computer.

* Send the author of that review a nasty email calling them every name in the book and a few I’ve just invented.

* Start a Voodoo doll.

* Go to Tibet and join a monastery.

* Take up Wicca and conjure up a spell. Or two.

* Give up writing and take up playing the banjo.

Absolutely ridiculous list. Time for some maturity. Let’s have some links.

-Try this link and see what works for other authors from Writer Unboxed.

This one is from Digital Book World and has great tips.

One more from The Write Life.

What about you? Have you had a bad review? How did you handle it? What helped? Any other items you’d add to the ‘immature’ list?

How about some cute baby animals? They always make me feel better…




8504326519_37f41d5551_zAwww!!! Okay, feeling a little better.


Writing tips

Great posts with fantastic tips. Check out the little blurbs to see if they’re for you. My hope is that they help you find your personal writing muse.

We all get Writer’s Block. From a bad review, a nasty comment or just simply a bad day, doubt can creep up on us and destroy any and all inspiration. If you’re there, check out this post. It won’t magically fix everything, but if nothing else, you’ll know you’re not alone. A big thanks to Positive Writer for the inspirational post.

One thing that I play around with are the subplots. I love taking a chance with a risky theme or a quirky character in a subplot. But there are limits, because I don’t want to destroy a good story with a terrible subplot. Here is an excellent guide for those subplots. A fantastic article from Live Write Thrive.

We’ve been told prologues aren’t good, but why? Kristen Lamb details the pros and cons in her excellent post: the seven deadly sins of Prologues. So enlightening!

Everyone has their own way of writing, but if you’re into plots and outlines, here‘s a guide on how to do that well. A big thank you to The Beginning Writer for the great post!

If you’re dreading that first scene and just can’t find the words, here‘s a few tips on how to do just that from Jodie Renner. A big thank you to Crime Fiction Collective for the great post!

For those of us who are having trouble getting into that chair and writing, a great tip to find that focus before you write from Writerology.

Finally, one quote to inspire you,


And one to make you laugh,


Tips for marketing

Tiana Warner had this great post about marketing in Jane Friedman‘s awesome site. I actually was almost reluctant to read it because I had heard all the hard-sales pitches before. I don’t like it when someone tries to sell me something. I make up neither does anyone else. Shouting out: Buy my book! Just doesn’t work–at least for me.

But Tiana surprised me because her approach was completely different. I loved when she said:

“Marketing is no longer about ads. It’s about adding value to peoples’ lives with content….Be generous without expecting or asking for anything in return. Generosity is the foundation of a strong following.”

I loved that because it sounded kind…and maybe because there was a bit of Zen in there. No?

Try this quote:

“We shouldn’t try to stand out of the crowd. The crowd will make us change who we are. The way to stand out is to avoid the crowd altogether.”

It’s definitely a different way to approach marketing and incredibly refreshing. These 7 ideas are exactly that, different and refreshing. What a great post! A big thanks to Tiana Warner for them!


First Five

What a great post on how to start any novel. I particularly liked the idea for how to put in the protagonist’s backstory!

First Draft tips (3)

One more awesome link! This one comes thanks to the ladies at the Indie Author Group in Facebook: Valerie Douglas and D Kai Wilson-Viola. Not only did they come up with this awesome resource, they helped me by giving me the links!

These include tips for editing that would make any author proud. Great, great resource.

A big, big thanks to Valerie and Kai for sending their help this way!

First draft tips (2)

A big thanks to Infinitefreetime for this tip! It’s not only a great site but it has so many ideas in the comments section. Check it out!

First draft tips

I’m editing Amy’s Courage and I’m dragging my feet. Starting from the beginning and going through until the end is simply overwhelming. Handling a first draft is like trying to untangle Rapunzel’s hair, overwhelming.

Here are some tips I found helpful. I really liked this one because it chopped the massive task into little bits I could handle. This one was really good because it suggested how to go through the entire thing and make lists…and I love lists. And this one was great because it had simple, easy tips I could like or discard. This one was filled with easy tips that made so much sense.

Finally, this one talks about placeholders. I use them. So, I like to know how to do that properly.

How about you? How do you get from first draft to polished gem?

By the way, I’ve added these to the Resources side links. Hope they help!

The best writing advice I ever got

When I first started thinking about getting published, I went online and researched everything that had to do with writing. I went on every site and read every post out there. From query letters to publishing tips, I read them all.

The problem with all that advice was that most of it was of the ‘don’t do this’ type. Don’t start a query letter with a rhetorical question. Don’t use the passive voice. Don’t repeat your tags in dialogue. Don’t. Don’t. At the end of all those warnings, I ended up terrified that I would mess it up. Terrified people are not very creative.

I entered a writing contest and got people to look at my work–professional people, people in the industry. I was hoping for insight and tips. They gave me both. The problem was that, at times, their advice was contradictory. One judge asked me to cut out a scene while another judge loved it. One person loved the start of the book another thought it was the irrelevant to the story.

While there’s no denying that those who are successful know more than I do and I should listen to them, there is a time when I should listen and a time when I should not. The best advice I ever got was from another judge who said: follow your gut. If it feels good to you, keep it in the story; if it doesn’t cut it. You’ll know.

It’s the best advice I ever got because it was positive (it tells me what to do, not what not to do), and it also gave me confidence. By saying: ‘trust your gut’ and ‘You’ll know’, the judge implied that I do know something about writing. One of my worst defects is self-doubt. And I do know what should and shouldn’t go into my book. If I listen to my gut, I know.

How about you? What’s the best writing advice you ever received?