Formatting Your eBook for Publication


Formatting Your eBook for Publication

Natalie Bright

I tried.

With open mind, I tried to learn everything about book formatting, because smart business owners should have an understanding about every component of their operation. Because I kept reading about issues with Microsoft Word conversions, I decided it might be best to make sure my book looks perfect in the format each distributor prefers.

The Scrivener online class was great [learnscrivenerfast.com] and I LOVE how organized my writing projects are, but the power of Scrivener is in the compile feature. I don’t like those 15 space paragraph indentions when my book comes up in the Kindle previewer and I cannot make them go away. Uhggg.

Another online class on Adobe InDesign for my picture books, researching conversion software with reviews out the whazoo (use this one vs. never use it, only use this one…), more instructional videos. And yes, I know there is exceptional software for MACs only. Don’t own one.

Appeals to our 20-something office manager who is supposed to be keeping our other stuff going while I do book stuff. Even she couldn’t help me, and she’s brilliant, so moving on. 1 month, 2 months, 3 months. What did I write during that time, you might wonder? A few blogs and the draft for an easy reader, and we did finish parent taught driver’s education which is HUGE and has nothing to do with my writing career.

Here is a rundown on the different formats to take our book “wide”. In a nutshell, set up an account and submit your properly formatted manuscript:

Amazon Kindle: MOBI

Kobo: refer to their conversion guidelines, but everything is converted to EPUB.

Smashwords: prefers DOC, DOCX which goes through a MeatGrinder, which turns it into an EPUB.

CreateSpace: PDF for print; fonts and pics must be embedded.

Ingram/Lightning Source: refer to the 37 page “File Creation Guide” (yikes! This made my stomach hurt.)

Draft2Digital: Their process creates an EPUB. Good news: you can skip the distributors above, as D2D will do the conversions for free and put it everywhere you want for 10% of your sales.

The Question

So, it boils down to this very important question: would you hire me to do your book formatting?

Absolutely NOT. Are you crazy? You are a savvy Indie Author and a smart business owner to boot. I wouldn’t hire me either, so I fired myself. There is this guy I know who is an absolute whiz and saved me another three months of learning software that I have no desire to understand.

Thank you, Phillip! www.GessertBooks.com

The Next Question

Accounts are set-up, submitted books are approved, tiny prayer for no typos, and then I am moving on to the next question. Who are my readers and where can I find them?

 

WRITE ON!


WRITE ON!

Natalie Bright

 

We had a great discussion at critique group about the myriad of publishing options for today’s writers. One of the reasons I love our critique group, is we each have so many different projects in the works and we write in various genres. Somebody is always coming up with a new story idea. It’s like an inspirational feeding frenzy of words.

This week, one of our members brought the first draft of a children’s book about a rodeo horse based on one of his published magazine articles. What a great idea! Someone pointed out that kids books have a longevity because there are always new generations of readers waiting to discover your book. You just have to keep telling parents about it. I got to thinking that it’s not just children’s literature. With electronic books, our work will stay out there floating around in eBook land long after we’re gone. Will my kids keep tweeting about my backlist? Will Amazon be around in 10 years? 25 years?

Regardless of the opportunities to choose agented traditional publishing or to be an Indie Author, the decision to become a writer and publish your work is for the long haul. You will be talking about your stories and lugging books around for the rest of your life. This is a marathon, just like any passionate career choice. The bad news, there is a new title published on Amazon every five minutes. It’s getting more and more tedious to get the word out and connect with the readers who care. The good news, authors are finding ways to connect directly with their fans and readers like never before. Crafting an engaging story is hard work. Identifying your target market—the people who will love your book—is an even bigger challenge.

“If you can’t figure out your purpose, figure out your passion. For passion will lead you right into your purpose.”

The Saturday Morning Blogger – Travel Diary Israel


The Saturday Morning Blogger – Travel Diary Israel

James Barrington

As a child in the summer of 1964, I began a diary of the sights and experiences of our family vacation to Yellowstone National Park. That was lost somewhere in our moves over the years, but my habit of keeping such travel diaries was never lost. My most recent tome was in November of 2015 as I traveled to Israel with a group sponsored by Red River Family Encampment.

Having made the flights from DFW to Newark and Newark to Tel Aviv (and back) on United, the recent black eye United has been taking over forcibly removing a man from one of their flights who happened to be sitting in a seat they wanted seems appropriate to one of my diary entries. To the best of my memory, the flight from DFW to Newark was my first experience with “the friendly skies” of United. My diary entry regarding the landing in Newark says, “We had a really rough landing at Newark. The USS Kennedy arrested landing was smoother. The landing gear slammed down and the plane gave the motion of skidding sideways for a couple of seconds before straightening up on the runway.” Fortunately, the rest of our landings were technically smoother.

I’m not sure I want to know the case of the roughness. While many friends and family members have asked me (before and since flying) if I was concerned for my safety, I must say that the most concerned I was during the two weeks of the trip was when I thought we were about to skid off the runway at Newark. It might have been nice to have a Southwest Airlines flight attendant to break the tension a bit with a wise crack. But I guess Southwest Airlines flight attendants have more sense than to fly United.

Six and a half hours into the flight, we were “feet dry” over Spain. The TV console in front of me said it was -65 degrees at 37,000 feet while traveling at 629 mph. Sunrise over the Mediterranean Sea was memorable. My dairy reported, “After seeing stars against the black sky at 37,000 feet, the sun rose as we were above the toe of Italy’s boot.”
We weren’t even to Israel yet, and I had already written four and a half pages in my diary. Many of the details I’ve mentioned here were probably meaningful only to me, but they form part of the fabric of the adventure – like the ice crystals on the window and the sun shining up off the surface of the Mediterranean. Look down was like seeing a 3D map of lands I had seen before on globes or maps, with cities and geophysical contours that I could readily identify.

I highly recommend travel diaries. I believe the relatively short duration and the unusual sights and experiences off the incentive to stay with it. I’ll share more of my musings in future blogs.

The Writing Playlist


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

The Writing Playlist

By Nandy Ekle

 

 

In my world music is the backdrop of a lot of things. I listen to it while working at my day job of writing letters. I listen to it while I drive my car, if I’m not listening to an audio book. I usually wake up with a tune in my head and go to bed humming.

I have stockpiled a lot of music on my phone and my tablet. It’s a very eclectic collection from Irish instrumentals, Spanish instrumentals, western ballads, movie soundtracks, operas pieces, disco, dance tunes (Macarena), and techno.

However, there are certain pieces of music I’ve purchased just for the purpose of writing. And I’ve created my own “Writing Playlist.” These are the ones that make my skin prickle with excitement because I can feel the story hiding in there. Some of the stories are very evident, like watching a movie. But some of them are like playing a hidden pictures game. It’s there. The instructions tell you it’s there. There may even be a ghostly shape of what the story looks like, but I have to see it. And then, half way through the song, it begins to glitter and I wonder why I didn’t see it straight-out before. So I look away, then look back, and I have to find it all over again.

So, I’ll show you some of my writing playlist, and I’d love to know what your writing playlist looks like.

  1. Music of the Night – from Phantom of the Opera
  2. Phantom of the Opera (Junior Vasquez Club Remix) – from Phantom of the Opera
  3. Don’t Fear the Reaper – Blue Oyster Cult
  4. Total Eclipse of the Heart – Bonnie Tyler
  5. It’s All Coming Back to Me Now – Celine Dion
  6. Dark Lady – Cher
  7. Hotel California – The Eagles
  8. Fire On High – Electric Light Orchestra
  9. Here We Are – Gloria Estefan
  10. Hallelujah
  11. Tom Dooley – The Kingston Trio
  12. El Matador – The Kingston Trio
  13. Need You Now – Lady Antebellum
  14. Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show – Neil Diamond
  15. Try – Pink
  16. Just Give Me a Reason – Pink
  17. Another One Bites the Dust – Queen
  18. Cell Block Tango – From Chicago
  19. Blood Theme (Alaska in Winter Remix) – from the TV series Dexter
  20. Perfect – Pink

Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.

 

Magic


Outtakes 286

Magic

By Cait Collins

 

 

Recently my nephew and I went to see the live-action version of Beauty and the Beast. The artistry amazed me. Maybe I should back up. The artistry begins with the story. Grimm’s Fairy Tales were a little dark for me. And Into the Woods was a bit fractured. That said I enjoyed both. But I’m glad Disney Studios dressed the tales up. The vilens stayed, but stories became romantic. Sweeter. More of a dream. And thus began the Princess tales. And the wish of every young girl to believe that “Someday My Prince Will Come”.

Disney’s animated version of Beauty and the Beast was a spectacle It was a perfect marriage of love story and technology. Who can forget the dancing dishes in the “Be Our Guest “song? What about the doors opening to reveal a magnificent library? And the ballroom where Belle and the Beast danced was magnificent.

Now translate all that to a movie set.

The live action version combined the best of Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Disney animation, a Broadway play and music to create a masterpiece. Every frame drew emotion. That is the artist’s magic. Walt Disney would have been proud of his teams.

From what I learned in my Traditions classes, Disney always looked for new ways to do things. Each movie had its own sparkle and foot print. He was an innovator with an eye to eliciting that gasp of surprise and delight.

Even though I worked the retail side of the Disney Company, I learned the importance of having wings, and flying. The goal of exceeding customer expectations allowed me to use my acting talents, to stand in front of groups of kids at movie premiers. I stepped outside my comfort zone and danced with Jungle Book characters. I was free to reach out to others with more experience and knowledge so that I could become a better writer.

Happy thoughts and a bit of fairy dust allow the artist or writer or editor the freedom to test new methods, to open doors to new worlds, and to find our special place in the artist’s world. I treasure my years with the Disney Company and I appreciate the lessons I learned. While not at the level I want to be, I still look for twists and characters that keep the reader wanting more. While I’m on the journey, I will “wish upon a star” and “just keep swimming”.

Thank you. Walt Disney for an education and years of entertainement.

Jump Start Your Writing Challenge – A vice


Jump Start Your Writing Challenge – A vice

Rory C. Keel

It’s funny the things you observe at an intersection. I recently sat at a stop sign watching the flow of traffic come to a halt behind an old pickup. The old man driving the truck waited patiently for the oncoming traffic. His flasher blinking in a universal electrical rhythm indicating his desire to turn left.

Within a minute or two, the woman behind the pickup began to honk and the tension of the moment increased with the speed of the Morse code she was sending with her car horn. As the gentleman finally turned, the woman waved goodbye with middle finger of her right hand.

Head-Jump Point of View


 

Head-Jump Point of View

Natalie Bright

I am alternating chapters between two main characters points of view, and in the first draft I used third person for one character and first person for the other. The reason I used first person is the idea of digging deeper into that character who has a lot of inner conflict. He is very complex and I want the reader to understand that. When using first person point of view, it’s harder to “head-jump” from one character to the next, however it is a challenge to find something to replace the repetitive “I” word. And now I’m rethinking the whole thing during the editing process. Perhaps I will rewrite those chapters and keep it all in third person. And then there are the overlapping scenes; the action from one character’s viewpoint and then the same scene interpreted by the other character’s point of view. I like books with that perspective when it is well done. The problem will be to make sure I stay in one character’s head for that one scene and chapter, and not switch.

If you begin the scene in one character’s head and then jump to another character’s head, and then maybe another, your reader will get lost. It is too hard for the reader to stay with your scene. Have you ever been reading and had to go back several pages to figure out where you were and who is talking? I hate when that happens.

The most common situation when writers purposefully “Head-Jump” is in romance scenes, and that is called “turning on a dime”. A common action or item, is that cause of the switch from one character’s head into another. A kiss, for example. When it’s done well, it can be very smooth, but sometimes it can very awkward and disorienting for the reader.

The Saturday Morning Blogger – Portraits of Courage


The Saturday Morning Blogger – Portraits of Courage

James Barrington

In the forward to George W. Bush’s latest book, “Portraits of Courage,” Laura Bush wrote, “When George and I married, if someone told me that he would become President, I would have thought, ‘Well, maybe.’ He was running for Congress at the time, and we loved politics. But if someone had said, ‘One day you will be writing a forward for a book that includes George’s paintings,’ I would have said, ‘No way.’”

In his life after the presidency, George W. Bush took up painting. He eventually graduated from flowers, pets, and landscapes to portraits. With his love of our nation’s military personnel, and especially his commitment to our nation’s wounded warriors, he began painting portraits of many of the men and women he has come to personally know and help through the Wounded Warrior programs he supports.

“Portraits of Courage” includes George Bush paintings and brief stories of more than 100 current and former military personnel who were wounded in combat. The stories detail the circumstances and nature of their wounds and their paths to recovery. Reflecting real life, not all the stories have “fairy tale” endings, but all offer hope and display courage in overcoming adversity. They display adaptability and the strength of character of so many members of our military who put their lives on the line and are now recovering from horrific injuries.

I recently won a copy of the book at a presentation by Todd and Dallas Bell of Burrowing Owl Bookstore. After eagerly reading every story and examining every portrait, I am donating the book to the Canyon Area Library to make it available to everyone. For those who want their own copy, the Burrowing Owl Bookstore at 419 16th Street on the east side of the courthouse square has copies for sale. It’s a beautiful coffee table book filled with stories of courage and inspiration.

The Drive-Thru Girl


This week, I’m posting the first part of a flash fiction horror story I wrote some time back. It’s only been slightly polished. Oh, fair warning, it’s probably a PG-13 rating.

 

The Drive-Thru Girl

by Adam Huddleston

 

So, there’s this girl that works the drive-thru at the Burger Barn on Alton Street. I’ve only seen her at the first window, you know, the one where you pay. She always smiles as she’s giving me my receipt; and she’s gorgeous. Light blonde hair, a little below shoulder length and blue eyes that reflect the glow of the register monitor in front of her. Well, this morning something pretty weird happened.

I drove through and ordered my usual sausage biscuit combo. I had my fingers crossed that she was at the window, and sure enough, there she was. I paid and when she handed me my receipt, I noticed there was this little card there; a business card. On the back was a phone number scribbled in blue ink.

I looked up at her and she gave me a wink and pressed her finger to her lips (lovely, full lips) in a shush gesture. I literally felt a buzz run through my legs. I opened my mouth to say something, not sure what exactly, and she slid her window closed with a snap.

Pulled forward, got my food. It was good as usual. Hot and greasy constitutes “good” in this case. I spent the rest of the day running my fingers over the smooth paper of that business card in my pocket. Should I call? I always thought of myself as a faithful husband, but how often does a chance like this come around?

I thought about my wife and kids. Then I thought about those red lips and how I wanted to explore them and every inch of her wonderful body. What if I just called and talked? That wouldn’t be cheating, right? Maybe she just wanted to talk?

I stuck around for a bit after the office closed this afternoon. I stared at that phone number for a few minutes then dialed.

The voice that answered after the second ring was soft and sensual. My heart melted and if I hadn’t been in my cushioned office chair, I’m pretty sure I would have slid into the floor.

“Hello?” I answered back.

“I’m glad you called,” she whispered.

“Yeah, well, I wasn’t sure if…so, how’s it going? Your biscuits were great!” I winced.

“Hehe, thanks. So, what are you doing now?”

I thought for a second. I couldn’t tell her I was about to go home to my family. If this was going to work, I had to play it cool. Super cool.

“Not much, not much. What are you up to?”

“Do you want to see me? If you do, I’m at 6700 West Driver. There’s a code to get in. Just type all sixes.”

My brain was scrambled. I blurted out something incoherent then hung up the phone. It stared at me accusingly so I jumped up and headed out the door.

What Did You See?


Outtakes 285

What Did You See?

By Cait Collins

 

 

How good are your powers of observation? If you were surrounded by group of people at the mall or at a concert, would you be able to describe the person in front of you, behind you, and on either side? How would you describe a child that broke free of his mother and is now terrorizing the zoo?

Observing the people around us is essential for a writer. If we don’t hone our skills, we could miss vital elements for our work. Let’s say you are standing in line at the bank. The teller is calm and helpful. Transaction completed, the man walks away without looking the folks in the line in the eye. The police and FBI agents question you. Would you be able to tell them the color of the suspect’s hair? His race? Height and weight? What he was wearing?

It should be easy to identify the person standing in line in front of you, but you are drawing a blank. Even with the detective feeding you hints you are unable to pick the robber out of a picture array or a line up. You know you saw something important but you just can’t remember it. You’re not alone.

Trust me, you are not alone. Several years ago, I was the person in line behind a bank robber. He was so cool I didn’t suspect anything. As soon as he walked away, I stepped up and set my deposit bag on the counter. The teller excused herself and rushed to the back. A few minutes later, one of the bank officers came out and shut down her station. He directed me to the next line. Then he announced the doors were being locked and we must wait until the police spoke to us and released us. All I could tell the law enforcement officer was the robber was short, had dark hair and was wearing some type of work uniform. Not really good on my part. I was too busy making a shopping list in my head to notice there was a problem.

My suggestion is to go to the mall, find a comfortable spot and indulge in some serious people watching. What you observe may make for a great character or plot twist for your current project.