Archive for category Computers & Technical
Smashwords is the world’s largest distributor of independently-published e-books. It also sells directly to the public in a variety of e-book formats. I decided to use Smashwords in order to make Bedsit Three available for libraries to add to their e-book collections. Many libraries worldwide use Overdrive to source their e-books and the only way for an indie author to make a book available on Overdrive is to go through Smashwords (as I mentioned before in my post about the 2016 Self-publishing Conference).
Smashwords accepts a Word document which it then puts through its ‘meatgrinder’ to change into .epub format – so no great technical knowledge is needed on the author’s part. However, I hit a couple of snags during the uploading process.
Firstly I tried uploading a .docx document, this was rejected because Smashwords only accepts .doc documents i.e. those created by older editions of Word. So I had to use the ‘Save As’ function to save my document and change it from .docx to .doc.
Secondly, when I previewed the .epub produced via the ‘meatgrinder’ there was a blank page between every chapter. It took me a bit of fiddling and Googling to solve this one. I had to remove the page breaks between chapters (which Amazon and Kobo had seemed quite happy with) and replace with a few carriage returns. I think this is because Smashwords automatically inserts its own page break when it comes to a chapter heading.
The Overdrive catalogue is updated from Smashwords each Tuesday, so Bedsit Three should appear there by the middle of next week. If you’d like to read Bedsit Three for free please ask your library to add it to their e-book collection.
Incidentally, authors don’t receive PLR on borrowed e-books, they only get the one-off royalty for a single sale.
A girl has been buried in a shallow grave. Rain starts to wash away the earth covering her.
A used pregnancy test and a scrap book about a suicide are abandoned in a bedsit.
Every mother tries to do her best for her child. But sometimes that ‘best’ creates a monster.
Bedsit Three is a tale of murder, mystery and love. It won the inaugural Wordplay Publishing/Ian Govan Award and was shortlisted for both the Silverwood-Kobo-Berforts Open Day Competition and the Writing Magazine/McCrit Competition.
Amazon has introduced a new feature to help authors generate book sales from their websites and social media activities. A Kindle Instant Book Preview can be embedded into a webpage using HTML or shared as a link via email, text and social media. This enables readers to preview a book (in a similar way to the ‘Look Inside’ feature found on Amazon product pages) with only one click and without leaving the webpage they are currently browsing.
Try clicking on the book cover image below left and you’ll see what I mean.
If the reader likes what he sees there is a direct link to purchase the book from Amazon. A Kindle Instant Book Preview retains traffic on an author’s website because books can be viewed without diverting your website visitor to Amazon.
To obtain the Preview link, search for the book on Amazon.com (not UK), click the ‘Embed’ link on the right next to the other sharing options, copy the URL or embed the HTML code onto your website.
N.B. It’s not possible to embed the HTML into a wordpress.com site (like this one) because wordpress.com doesn’t allow certain HTML codes such as ‘iframe’. So I’ve displayed the book cover image with the Preview link behind it.
Full details can be found at http://www.amazon.com/b?ie=UTF8&node=13489836011&tag=viglink20273-20
If you’d like to read more on Nick’s original post, you’ll find it here.
Twitter gives you the functionality to ‘pin’ a tweet to the top of your profile. Any visitor to your Twitter profile will see the ‘pinned’ tweet first, followed by all your other tweets (including those that you tweeted after the pinned tweet).
There are two benefits to a pinned tweet:
- Gaining new followers. Any one looking at your profile can immediately see one of your own ‘best’ tweets rather than a host of re-tweets that you’ve kindly done for other people or spurious thoughts that you’ve tweeted at random. This helps people decide what you’re about and whether or not to follow you.
- Getting more and better re-tweets. When you RT someone, they may re-pay the favour by RTing one of your tweets. But it can be pot luck what they chose to RT, it may be something irrelevant. However, if you have a pinned tweet this is likely to be chosen because it’s easy to spot right at the top of your profile. So, with a pinned tweet, the RTs you receive become better quality.
It’s easy to ‘pin’ a tweet. Go to the tweet that you want to pin. Click on the three dots. Select ‘Pin to your profile page’. Note – you can only have one pinned tweet at a time, not several.
I picked this tip up last week at an event on book marketing organised by Lizzie Lamb and the Leicester RNA. There were several interesting speakers and lots of advice thrown in from the floor too. And, as always, it was good to spend a day with other writers.
Anyone else have any good Twitter advice?
Let’s have a drum roll … followed by a few oohs and aahs from the audience. Here it is, the moment you’ve all been waiting for, the cover reveal for my third e-collection of short stories!
Put your hands together for the cover of House Guests and Other Stories!
There are four different ways of obtaining an e-book cover:
- Design and create it yourself. Unless you’re a whizz at graphic design this can be very time-consuming. I give some advice on DIY (based on my own experience) in this guest post for the Writers’ Bureau.
- Use Amazon’s Kindle Cover Creator. This is very easy but the covers can’t be used on other e-book sales platforms and there’s a danger of them looking formulaic. I’ve written about this here.
- Use one of the cover designers on Fiverr.com. All services on Fiverr.com cost $5 plus a 50c processing fee (currently around £3.62). I’ve done this several times.
- Use a ‘proper’ bespoke cover designer. This will probably give you the best result but will also be significantly more expensive than the other options – meaning it will take longer to make a profit from e-books sales.
The cover for House Guests and Other Stories is from pro_ebookcovers, a designer on Fiverr.com. This designer worked differently to the others that I’ve used previously from the site. She asked for links to two e-books on Amazon with cover designs in a similar style to what I wanted (so I looked at short story collections that seemed to be selling well and had covers with a warm and friendly style). Then she asked me to choose a cover image from http://depositphotos.com (or I could’ve supplied my own). I chose something that I felt was vaguely applicable to the title story. The designer then downloaded the image and did the necessary fiddling to get it to the right dimensions and added the lettering.
I felt this way of working made things easier for both parties. I didn’t have to struggle to explain the type of image I wanted and the designer didn’t have to struggle to interpret my brief or spend time finding a suitable picture.
I recommend pro_ebookcovers and will use her again in the future.
So, back to House Guests and Other Stories. It’s a collection of fifteen short stories, many with a twist and most have appeared in either The Weekly News, My Weekly or People’s Friend. There’s also a couple of competition successes in there plus a special guest story by a prize-winning author!
I’ll reveal the guest author in a later post when I launch pre-orders for the book. I’ve never used pre-orders before and I’ve never had a guest author before so it’s exciting – watch this space!
I’ve been blogging for almost five years and have never given myself a makeover – until now!
I’ve made three changes:
- A brand new ‘theme’ (i.e. the overall ‘look’)
- The initial website ‘landing page’ is now the ‘About Me’ page, so that anyone searching for me on the internet (unlikely, but you never know – it might happen!) will immediately see ME rather than a spurious blog post about a writing competition or someone else’s book
- A new domain name. An acquaintance told me that they never visit websites with ‘wordpress’ in the URL because it flags up ‘amateurism’. I don’t want to give an amateur impression so I’ve paid for the domain http://www.sally-jenkins.com (hyphenated because sallyjenkins.com wasn’t available).
So, I hope you like the new professional look!
In other news:
If you are planning on entering either the Flash 500 competition or the Writers’ Bureau Short Story competition then you might like to take a look at this blog post by Iain Pattison. He is judging both these competitions and talks about his likes and dislikes in short story competition entries.
Kobo are offering e-books for half-price until Monday August 31st. If you have a Kobo e-reader or fancy downloading the Kobo App, simply key in the code SALE50 (can be used as many times as you like over the weekend) when you download a book. This is a chance to buy Old Friends – 13 Coffee Break Stories for 75p – less than half the Amazon price!
Regular followers of this blog will know that I published my first Kindle e-book, One Day for Me – 8 Award-Winning Stories, two years ago. It’s a collection of short stories, all of which have either won or been placed in UK writing competitions.
A few weeks back I received an email about this book from Amazon. It told me that the book’s title contained ‘extra descriptive content ‘ which was not allowed. It said that this extra content could be ‘distracting or misleading to our customers’. I was given five days to change the title of the book or have it removed from the Kindle store.
Initially I was confused about was wrong with the title and queried it. Amazon replied that I must remove the words ‘Award-Winning’. My first reaction was to argue the point because I feel justified in using these words since all the stories have done well in competitions. But I decided it would be a David and Goliath contest and David would probably end up with all his books being removed from the Amazon store.
So, I complied and changed the title to One Day for Me – 8 Coffee Break Stories. Then I realised that I didn’t know how to change the cover image to reflect this new title. The cover was all my own work (following some wonderful advice from many of you about what worked and what didn’t) two years ago but since then I’ve forgotten how to get back in and edit it. I decided time was too precious to waste trying to sort it out so I’ve had a new cover created by Helen Measures on http://www.fiverr.com. It’s quite different from the first cover so I’m hoping that it will attract readers who dismissed the book first time around.
I post this as a warning to those of you thinking of publishing on Amazon KDP. Don’t put any spurious claims or words such as ‘free’ or ‘best’ in your title. If you do you may be asked to remove them.
Many interesting questions were asked about making social media work as a promotion tool for writers. The outcome of the session was that Twitter is an essential part of a writer’s toolkit.
It shouldn’t be used to post family & friends stuff – Facebook is the place for that – and it shouldn’t be used to continually shout ‘buy my books!’ I get the impression it’s purpose is to engage in sensible conversation and to follow those who may be tweeting useful information such as agents, publishers etc.
I think I’ve mentioned previously that I’ve yet to dip my toe into Twitter and perhaps I’ve dragged my feet so much that by the time I string together my first tweet, everyone else will have disappeared off to the next big social media thing.
So, I’m asking all you Tweeters to give me your advice:
- What do you tweet about and how often? Is it OK to repeat yourself on Facebook and Twitter (as long as it’s not a cat video or other ‘silly’) or do you attract the same audience on both platforms?
- How much time do you spend tweeting and/or reading other people’s tweets?
- How do you get followers?
- Is it expected that you will follow everyone who follows you? (I believe there is a ‘mute’ button if you want to switch people off).
- Do you think Twitter is beneficial and if so, in what way?
- Anything else I need to know?
Please feel free to put your Twitter handle in your comment too.
On a different subject and to show that writers come in a multitude of guises, at the Toolkit I came across someone who used to write labels for museum exhibits and someone else who used to write Ceefax pages for the BBC.