Friday, October 31, 2014

Directions to Create Ebook from Word - Alternative to R.L. Copple's Great Directions

Amazon published some understandable directions for using Microsoft Word as the starting point in Ebook publishing, in "Building Your Book For Kindle." I personally do not use Word, but it is easier in some respects than Open Office, but Open Office has all the programs beat per its ability to create a perfect PDF per the standards required by CreateSpace as NOT all PDFs are the same.

I did get stuck on pagination and ended up going back and forth between Open Office and Word until I became dizzy in regard to the print copy, but for my Ebook, I created a MOBI file. My rationale for using MOBI was that it is amazon's language, but not all MOBI's are created equal.

Per Amazon directions, books with images differ a bit than books without photos.

Per moving your Microsoft Word document to publication in Amazon KDP, one selects "Web Page, Filtered," clicks on "Save" and if prompted per "removing office tags," click "Yes." Then close the document.

If images are included, go to the folder where you saved your book and you should see 2 files, a folder containing images and an HTML file containing the book. From there one simply continues to follow the directions, right click on the HTML file, scroll over to 'Send to" and on the menu that appears, click "Compressed (zipped) folder." A new folder with the same name will appear with a zipper on it. Drag the folder with your images in it onto the new zipped folder and this zipped folder is necessary for KDP upload.

KDP states, in the book contributors field, make sure you at least insert someone's name as author" --there is no way around having an author and a title for a book these days if you want your book to be easily found.

Author and title are considered basic metadata and I would go so far and say, if you DO NOT HAVE AN AUTHOR'S NAME IN THE AUTHOR FIELD,  AND A TITLE IN THE TITLE FIELD, GO THE TRADITIONAL PUBLISHING ROUTE. Books are listed by subject area, and under the subject, alphabetical by author (editors generally not used as they tend to change).

In  regard to KDP, if no author yet an editor is identified in the data uploaded about the book
(not referring to information on the cover of the book), the first editor becomes "author" in the database. KDP and Amazon issue publications using their database (the info one uploads along with a file which becomes the Ebook).

It appears that CreateSpace's background program does not automatically fill in first editor as
author per their program, but the searchable "author" field must include data, make the author's
name meaningful as #1 per book marketing is:
 "Make the book easy for the customer to find."

Once the book is uploaded and successfully converted, it is most important to check it on as many devices as you can. I ran to the library, to local computer stores, asked friends how my book looked -- I did NOT use the directions above, but uploaded a .mobi file to KDP, but again WILL REPEAT, not all MOBI files are created equal.

Unfortunately, per checking links, uploading a MOBI file had me working in the dark, but to date my book renders correctly across current devices, -- my theory was if I used KDPs native tongue, MOBI,
it might be better?  The answer is "Not necessarily."

Would I do it the same way again?  I am not sure - assuming it would render across all devices, I would try the same 3rd party software I used the first time. I know that Amazon no longer supports 3rd party software and can not support any and all .mobi files.

However you load your first book, I guarantee there will be changes by the time you publish your second title; keep following the progress of self-publishing!

Remember, you need  NOT upload the same file type for updating a book. You can change the file type you upload as long as it is in a format the Amazon server understands --- everything eventually goes
back to basic HTML, but you need not know it to publish your book.

Check with others who have self-published recently, check for free courses at your public library, or find a self-publishing course at your local community college. Try to meet up with someone who is a newbie like you at meetings or go for coffee. Self-publishing is a solo activity, but the process is not smooth and can be described as trying to catch a moving target.

Self-publishing is NOT rocket science, but it can give some of us more than a few headaches.
Realize the systems are not perfect, but make sure if you buy services that you are not paying for something that is offered by your targeted platform for FREE!

If you think you may need to do updates, try and limit the number of platforms you upload the book to, and remember the platform decides if/when an update is accepted and completed.

If you lack patience or are pressed for time, load your book onto one platform and see how it does, especially if you are going to try your hand at marketing.

Marketing is the most difficult part of the entire process. All the work until marketing is cookbook type, find a good set of directions and follow them. When it comes to marketing, never skip a 90 day period if enrolled in something like Kindle Countdown as you will never be able to make up for the lost promotion of the book, I know as became lazy and skipped a couple and watched my book go down, would it have ever gone down to #35, if I had kept up with the marketing? I do not know, but love amazon's book marketing efforts for those devoting their book to KDP, but please start your campaign about 2 weeks before the date of your KDP Countdown Deal! (check earlier blog posts per what to do before the Countdown).

A little known secret, but Amazon is very clear and states that Amazon decides when and if a change you make to your book after publication is worthy of an update. It is their choice. I did not understand this until I received and email stating that they were not sure that my changes constitute a "significant" change to my book and they emailed that they would be having a conference on it. Eventually, the changes were made, but by that time many had read the early version, and I gave up on uploading changes.

Their documentation states:

"If the changes made to your content are considered major, we'll send an email to all customers who own the book to notify them that an update exists. These customers can choose to receive the update through their "Manage Your Kindle" page on"
Writing is fun, uploading can be inconvenient, but marketing is the most labor intensive and there are no magic bullets to find out what will work best for your book. It makes sense to target the population for whom you wrote the book in the first place.

I found the Kindle Countdown works best as long as one begins the necessary steps about 2 weeks before. I have found nothing to date that will take my book from #35 to #5 but for the Kindle Countdown Deal, as Amazon advertises it, but you have to do your homework and read what one must
do before any successful Countdown Deal.

Walk Forward, have fun, self-publishing is an adventure, and each of us experience unique issues and original solutions.

I love book cover showing photographs of real people, and "Yes," I am promoting my own book cover herein.  I created the cover below by myself (cover is my mother at age 21 in 1938 which I cropped from and old photo and rendered with FastStone and Inkscape).

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Book Promotion Sites - Follow @RosaSRaskin (twitter handle)

Once a self-published, indie book is on a platform, the next step is marketing, which was discussed in earlier posts on this blog and is closely tied to distribution.  There are many helpful promotion sites.

My recommendation is to get to aggregates sites, lists with addresses of FREE sites that will help promote your book and try them out. But keep track of what works for your book or you will be creating and recreating the wheel.

It is almost impossible to keep up with this if solo, yet some of us try our hand at various marketing avenues. As long as you keep track of at least what does NOT work for your book, you will avoid reinventing the wheel. In the end, "Distribution is King" as long as your book can be found easily.

If key metadata like title and conventional author are missing, it will be more difficult for others
to find the book -- even Facebook does not accept a book on my favorite's list if no author name
provided. Currently, they do not accept editors in the author field, using anything but a true author's name leads to a search error. Same goes for other metadata, try to search titles before you select one. It is probably impossible to have a unique title for long, but hopefully customers can find your book by the name of the author. If you can not use your name for some reason, try a "Pen" name, but try to avoid initials or shortcuts. If you can not fill in a name in the author field, maybe self-publishing is NOT the best route for you at this time, but do not give up as once again in the end "Distribution is King." and books are recommended by word of mouth.

If solo, without anyone helping or paying any third parties, which is the case for many of us, one may have to choose between writing content or marketing, thus aggregate sites like Crosbie's List on Indies Unlimited helps save time.

One of my 2014 favorites websites  that "celebrate, educate, and promote independent authors" is  Crosbie’s List of Book Promo Sites – 2014 on Indies Unlimited at