Let me know what your thought of the video in the comments below, and if you would like to see more.
From The Book Designer
Previously, I’ve compared some of the computer apps that you can use to convert your manuscript into an ebook.
This month I’ll talk about online conversion tools — all of the ones I’m going to discuss are attached to the retailers and distributors that you are going to be interested in.
Eye of the Hurricane: Top Ebook Retailers
Let’s start with the most popular retailers and their conversion tools (or lack thereof).
Once again, I’m assuming that you’re in the US — which isn’t a given, I know. (Most of this information is true for non-US publishers as well.) Also, I’m defining “manuscript” as synonymous with “Microsoft Word document” (either .doc or .docx), since that’s the most common file format for authors to work with, and that’s the format I used in comparing the desktop conversion tools.
As before, these are the major retailers you will probably be looking at:
Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)
Apple’s iTunes Connect (iBooks Store)
Barnes & Noble’s Nook Press
Rakuten’s Writing Life (Kobo)
They are the five largest ebook retailers in the US, and the sites I almost always recommend that clients upload to directly (rather than using a distributor). Three (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Rakuten/Kobo) have online conversion tools; Apple and Google only allow you to upload completed ebooks (ePub files), so they’re not going to be part of this discussion.
To compare the tools, I’m going to use the same chapter from my novel Risuko that I used to test the desktop apps — with one change: I’m adding two images — one centered and one inset on the right-hand side of the second paragraph — to test how the different sites handle pictures, in addition to text.
Here’s how the page looks in Word:
Note that the larger image is centered, while the smaller image of the woman playing the flute is flush with the right margin, and note the brush fonts that I used for the header and the drop cap. Note too that the body text is fully justified—the line down the right-hand margin is clean (except for where the paragraphs end).
KDP is probably the most important retailer site for most self-publishers, and so we’ll start here.
You can upload files in a number of formats to KDP: Kindle’s native mobi format, the universal ePub format, HTML, a PDF, and, of course, our friend the Word doc.
Click the Browse button, find your file, hit the Upload button, and within a few minutes, the page will offer you the choice either to preview the converted ebook or to download the mobi file. The best way to test an ebook is to download the file and load it onto a Kindle — preferably several, ideally of different generations (i.e., old-style Kindle, Paperwhite, Kindle Fire) and a couple of different apps (Kindle for Android/iOS/Mac/Windows). The online previewer and Kindle Previewer app will, however, do a pretty good job of showing you how the book will look on various Kindles/Kindle apps.
Here’s our file viewed on the online previewer, emulating a Fire:
Not bad. The pretty brush fonts went away, but the images are placed and sized properly, the text is correctly justified, and the line-space remains consistent. If I could, I’d play with the size of the drop cap (it’s four lines high instead of three, and it’s set slightly below the level of the top line), but I can’t, so I’d live with it.
I checked the file on a number of other Kindles; quality was acceptable on most (though on several the inset image was miniscule), except for the Kindle for iOS app, and my old Kindle DX, which looked like this:
The drop cap went away, the first paragraph is indented, and the inset image was simply placed on a line of its own before the paragraph. These aren’t conversion problems, per se; old Kindles and Kindle for iOS display a version of the mobi file (MOBI7) that is based on old PalmPilot technology; it can’t handle sophisticated formatting at all. There are some things that you can do (involving media queries) that will allow you to format the same file differently for old (MOBI7) and new (KF8) Kindles; however you can’t do that from Word. To make that magic happen, you’ll need to create an ePub file, edit it, and upload it.
KDP doesn’t have an online edit function, nor can you edit the downloaded mobi file directly.  KDP does, however, allow you to download the ebook as an HTML file, which you can edit….
Read the rest of the article by visiting THE BOOK DESIGNER.
ProWritingAid Tutorial by me.
So, I’ve been going on about ProWritingAid for the last few weeks and it’s because I love it so much. I just finished editing Legion with it and it saved me so much time and improved my writing so much. Many of my colleagues have already grabbed a copy for themselves, but I realise that making a purchase ($35 per year, although you get 1st month free) is difficult without seeing a product in action. Because I know how useful this tool will be to new and old writers alike, I have put together a video explaining some of the main tools in use on my Scrivener manuscript (Word and Google Docs plugins also included).
It really is fantastic for improving your sentence structure, word choice, and style. It has already improved me as a writer after just a few months (really wished I’d discovered it five years ago). Anyway, this is the first video tutorial I have ever done, so go easy on me in the comments.
Please know that the links at the bottom are affiliate links and I will get a small commission if you do end up buying a copy. If you don’t like that, no problem, I still recommend the program and all you need to do is google ‘Prowritingaid’ to get to the website without my affiliate link. Otherwise just click either of the two banners contained within this post.
UPDATE: ProWritingAid are currently offering a free ebook about editing. FYI, downloading it also comes with a hefty discount off the price of the software if you were considering getting it: http://prowritingaid.com/en/Landing/Ebook?afid=2379
Six months ago, I had 250 Twitter followers and posted perhaps once a month. I didn’t understand Twitter. It seemed like an incomprehensible stream of nonsense. But I also knew that it was important. A tool that could be harness by the wily self published author. So I did what I usually do when I want to improve an area of my business: I obsessed over it. I researched it. And I learned from those who knew better than me. Today I am closing in on 30k Twitter followers and I have a regular stream of traffic going from Twitter to my website. It was pretty easy to do once I learned how. I’m going to tell you what I did.
However, before telling you how I turned things around, I just want to warn you that Twitter traffic isn’t something I’ve found to be high value. Most of the traffic I generate seems to do very little, but as part of my overall strategy of creating ‘funnels’ Twitter has been providing me with a slow trickle of sales and newsletter signups. So authors build your twitter audience!
Book Funnel: Get Sharing
Book Funnel is something I’ve been using for a while now, and whenever I discover a new tool that I feel offers value for money or some indispensable service, I feel compelled to share it with people. I’m not making any money for promoting the service, and am doing so purely as a recommendation. So what is Book Funnel?
Book Funnel is an online platform that costs a small subscription fee, but allows you to upload your ebooks and easily share with them with your readers via a web link. The beauty of the service is that the link will take the user to a page with multiple options for how they would like to download the books – mobi, epub, pdf. It automates the process of getting the book onto the reader’s devices and also deals with any technical support that might arise. Basically, it allows you to offer freebies and advanced reader copies easily and in a manner that allows you to just post the link and forget about it. Want to offer one of your books free to all platforms for 24 hours? Then stick it on Book Funnel and share the link all over Social Media (Amazon KDP Select is generally fine with marketing efforts so don’t worry about exclusivity, although don’t quote me on it).
Here is what a reader encounters when they follow your link (you can test it yourself on the website via a sample).
And from there, the user picks the option most suited to them and follows the simple wizard that will get the book onto their devices. I’ve said before that giving away free books is a must for new authors as the number one priority in the early stages is discoverability. The beauty of Book Funnel is that its built on a pay scale. If you only have a few dozen downloads each month then the cost is nominal. I would also recommend it to established authors too, as it is indispensable in conjunction with a newsletter. Give subscribers free books for signing up, and use Book Funnel to offer them a flawless and professional service.
Anyway, you can check out the service in full, here: http://bookfunnel.com/
Tools to write with…
I am not a classically trained writer, and I never finished University. If you want a teacher to tell you about the finer intricacies of grammar and style, I am not your man. Without sounding arrogant, however, I will state that I am a successful ‘popular’ author and that I make a good living selling books. Many of my ‘classically’ trained contemporaries do not.
My training came through the experience of jumping right in the deep end. My first novel, The Final Winter, succeeded because of its story. As an avid horror fan, I was able to create a plot that other horror fans enjoyed. Technically, though, it was a bit shoddy. I’ve since rewritten The Final Winter, and it is a better book today than it was then. The reason being that I am a better writer. I’ve learned from experience, feedback, and reviews. I’ve fixed some of my flaws and gotten better at putting forward my strengths. That doesn’t mean there are not things I still struggle with though.
Below are a few examples of the intricacies of writing that took me a long time to find peace with. These are all now a part of my established style, and not necessarily the most correct ways of doing things, but I have learned that a writer only needs to be consistent. Find your way of doing things and then stick to it. Readers won’t care as long as you do it your way.