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?

 

Goals 2017 Happy New Year!


Goals 2017

Happy New Year!

In looking back over my writing goals from the past years, I am reminded how drastically career goals can change from one year to the next.

In a previous post, “FOUR YEARS FROM NOW”, the blog covers an idea from Joanna Penn, thecreativepenn.com, about modeling your writing career around the four year Olympic games. I love that idea because the publishing industry moves like molasses. By looking at things over a multiple year perspective you might be surprised at how much work you accomplished.

PRIORITIES

When I get up in the morning, there are two primary goals that I want to achieve every day, besides the usual day job and life happens stuff.

1) write

2) exercise

Writing feeds my soul, and exercise because I’m not getting any younger. It’s beyond my comprehension why I’m loading the dishwasher at eleven o’clock at night and I have yet to accomplish either of those two things. What did I do all day?

Pressing Onward

The muse of ideas in 2016 that materialized has shifted my priorities in a big way for 2017. Has that ever happened to you?

A rescue horse and his trainer fell into my life, and their story is finally a reality as an eBook. Because of a great team of extremely creative people, the RESCUE ANIMAL SERIES was born! We have four titles so far, with many more to come. This project has totally shifted my focus from two middle grade novel series currently in progress, to promoting this new picture book series. Who knew? Sometimes the story chooses the writer.

NEWSLETTERS

In 2017 I will be doing more newsletters and blogs. I love reading blogs, and for me, blogs are fun to write. They’re short, narrowly focused, informative, and include interaction with readers. Of course, we’ll continue our popular wordsmithsix.com blog site about story craft.

As the newly elected Newsletter Editor & Publicity Chair for Texas High Plains Writers (formerly known as Panhandle Professional Writers), I’ll be cranking out newsletters and announcements for that group over the next two years. The TPHM Window is FREE to anyone. Let me know if you’re interested, and I can add you to the distribution list. If you live anywhere near the Texas Panhandle, you can join the THPW writing organization for only $36 per year and you’ll be added to the eList automatically. We meet every other month in Amarillo. It’s a great time to network and talk writing. panhandleprowriters.org

PRAIRIE PURVIEW is the blog featured on the home page of my website. Posts are about the history of Texas and life in the Texas Panhandle, with particular focus on the western lifestyle. Please check that out each month. I’m also doing a NAT’s eNEWS which will be an extension of the rescue animals and their owners. Think of it like a behind the scenes as we create the books. You can sign up for my free eNewsletter via my website nataliebright.com

Also in 2017 are two projects near and dear to my heart. My uncle and I are working on a family genealogy book about the John G. Williams clan from of North Carolina and following their journey to Texas. Along those same lines is a book about the cattle industry in the Texas panhandle, that will be filled with original recipes and photos of working cowboys and cowgirls featuring our own cow/calf operation and the Sanford Ranch, located in the Texas Panhandle.

IT’S ALL IN YOUR HEAD

I’m wondering, do you have a story tugging at your heart and occupying head space? I have so many! How do you decide which one to write? Tell us about your work in progress.

I may have to dig into the ‘discard’ file drawer and revive a small-town tale about heartache, a new life, and a second chance for love. I don’t know why I’ve been obsessing over this story for the past few months, but perhaps it has some redeeming qualities. The characters are driving me crazy.

Wow! That’s a lot of writing to be done in 2017. I am so excited, and I am determined to stay on track with my story telling this year.

It’s not looking that great for yoga.

Hope your 2017 is filled with an abundance of

glorious words, sweet tea and sunshine!

What’s that Smell?


What’s that Smell?

Natalie Bright

Using the five senses to draw readers into your fictional world is probably something you’ve heard before.

THE SMELLS OF CHRISTMAS

What better time of year brings back more memories than the holidays? Last week the owner of our local Mexican food restaurant shared the memories of his grandmother’s kitchen. She lived in a small house, and kept plastic over the windows for added insulation against the cold winter wind. The smells from her tiny kitchen were overwhelming when he stepped inside. Flour tortillas, sizzling beef, cinnamon, sugar and hot chili peppers. As he described the scene it was almost like I was there. I really miss my grandmother’s kitchen too.

HIGH SCHOOL TIME WARP

About a month ago I was reminded how powerful the five senses can create emotion. I walked into my son’s high school band hall. BAM! It was as if I’d been transported through time.

The sensory overload swept me away. The dusty smell from feet taking countless steps on a carpeted floor. The scent of sweat, with 100+ bodies in one room. A few notes from a trumpet. The solid clank of a locker door. A scale of notes by a clarinet. The constant, unending chatter of young voices.

My heart beat a little faster and my throat closed. My eyes actually misted over. I froze. In my mind’s eye I was back there; the Dimmitt High School band hall. The faces of the Bobcat marching band floated through my mind. If we could only go back to those moments for one day. Would you? I certainly would. I would revisit every sight and sound and horrible smell, and I’d go armed with a notebook this time. I’d write it all down to keep that moment forever ingrained into my memory.

A band director snapped me out of my time warp. “Can I help you?” he asked.

I just stood there, gripping three cases of goldfish snacks. “They go around the corner. First door to the left,” he said.

My journey down memory lane was done. Reality crashed around me.

EMOTION IS A POWERFUL THING

There was one other time when a smell overwhelmed me with emotion. My father has been dead almost fifteen years. He owned a welding shop and I hung out there most every day. Several years ago, I toured a huge plant in New Mexico that made natural gas circulating systems as part of a work related field trip. The entire back portion of the plant was a welding room. I walked through the plastic stipes covering the door into a personal meltdown. The smell of heated metal was overwhelming. My eyes filled with tears and it was all I could do to not sob uncontrollably. My father had suffered a long, slow battle with cancer. He had died at home and the visual image of paramedics carrying his body out of the house will forever haunt me. I have no idea what our tour guide said. We took a slow walk through the space and I honestly did not know if I would be able to hold it together.

EMOTIONAL TRIGGERS

How powerful our emotions can be when something triggers those memories. Think about how this kind of sensory overload might be for your characters. Create a history for them and then bring them crashing back into reality. The memories can be good, or sometimes that smell might recall something horrific.

KICKING THINGS UP A NOTCH

A children’s author, in describing her process, explained that she makes one final pass of her manuscript to add sensory images. Wish I could remember who said that and give credit, but it was one of those invaluable tidbits I picked up at a writer’s conference. At the point her story is solid, she adds even more sight, sounds, and smells which bumps everything up a notch. The reader can’t help but be immersed even more into that fictional world.

May the sights, sounds and smells of the holiday inspire you!

Merry Christmas!

Nataliebright.com

The Power of Emotion through Words


The Power of Emotion through Words

Natalie Bright

A ‘spark’ for writers is the moment an idea is ignited in our mind. I have spark notes written on everything. Sticky notes, deposit slips, and torn bits of paper. I have numerous spiral notebooks and journals filled with spark notes. Some have morphed into written works, some are still waiting patiently. You just never know what those ‘sparks’ might become. In this case, one man’s sorrow becomes a beloved Christmas Carole of hope.

As I writer, I’m always fascinated with the history behind the words and how the environment at the time might influence the spark. Good or bad, joyous or devastating, a writer’s strong emotions can evolve into powerful words. The prefect example is a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Hopeful Words behind the Sorrow

In the case of Christmas Bells, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote the words to his poem on December 25, 1864. The music and words are up-lifting and it’s always been one of my favorites, recalling joyous holidays with my favorite grandmother.

The words came from a very distraught Longfellow during one of the worst times in his life.

Tragedy Strikes

Just three years earlier, his wife Fanny had tried to preserve her daughter’s hair clippings in wax. In a tragic turn of events, hot candle wax dripped onto Fanny’s dress, igniting it in flames. She ran into her husband’s study, where Henry tried to extinguish the blaze with a rug. He experienced severe burns to his face, arms, and hands. How they both must have suffered through that long night, only to have Fanny die the next morning. Henry was much too ill to even attend her funeral.

“A merry Christmas’ say the children, but that is no more for me.” reads Longfellow’s’ journal entry dated December 25, 1862.

Tragedy struck the family again in 1863 when his oldest son Charles, who was only 19 at the time, suffered a severe wound as a lieutenant in a battle. Charles had left without his father’s blessing, joining the Union cause in March of that same year.

The Christmas season of 1864 must have been a dreadful time for Longfellow, as he carried on to care for his motherless small children, Ernest, Alice, Edith and Allegra. The Civil War was raging, skirmishes had continued throughout the country as they were still months away from Lee’s surrender to Grant at Appomattox.

From the depths of his soul he wrote “Christmas Bells”, which some believe to be a pacifist poem roused by his grief upon hearing about his son. It was first published in 1865 in a juvenile magazine.

In 1872, five stanzas were rearranged by John Baptiste Calkin and put to the tune “Waltham”. Two stanzas referencing the war were omitted, and the poem became a beloved carol, sang and enjoyed by many generations.

As you read the words out loud, think about the emotions of a distraught husband and father, who is seeking peace and hope in a life that is filled with sorrow.

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

 

I heard the bells on Christmas day

Their old familiar carols play

And mild and sweet their songs repeat

Of peace on earth, good will to men

And the bells are ringing

Like a choir they’re singing

In my heart I hear them

Peace on earth, good will to men

And in despair I bowed my head

There is no peace on earth I said

For hate is strong and mocks the song

Of peace on earth, good will to men

But the bells are ringing

Like a choir singing

Does anybody hear them?

Peace on earth, good will to men

Then the bells rang more load and deep

God is not dead, nor does He sleep

The wrong shall fail, the right prevail

With peace on earth, good will to men

Then ringing singing on its way

The world revolved from night to day

A voice, a chime, a chant sublime

Of peace on earth, good will to men

And the bells they’re ringing

Like a choir they’re singing

And with our hearts we hear them

Peace on earth, good will to men

Do you hear the bells they’re ringing?

The life the angles singing

Open up your heart and hear them

Peace on earth, good will to men

Peace on earth, Peace on earth

Peace on earth, Good will to men

My all time favorite version of this song is performed by Casting Crowns. You can watch them signing Christmas Bells on YouTube.

 

NaNoWriMo


“There is no perfect time to write. There is only now.” – Barbara Kingsolver

NaNoWriMo.org

Natalie Bright

This year I officially registered to write a novel in the month of November. Several of my critique group members are also attempting to do this, so I’m motivated first of all by the fact that I’ll have to tell them how far along my book has come. We meet again next week.

Also I’m inspired to work by the fact that this book idea has been on my mind for several years, and it’s going to be such a relief to actually have a first draft down on paper. Staying in the chair for long periods of time with my fingers on the keyboard is the hardest thing for me. Maybe NaNoWriMo will be the motivation I need.

The progress graph on the NaNoWriMo website is fantastic. It’s encouraging to be able to update my word count, see the progress, but it’s self-defeating at the same time. Saturday, the day we were supposed to double-up on word count, was a total bust for me. I had three places to be, errands to run, plus two teenagers texting me, which resulted in zero words. There are those days when life takes over and nobody cares about your novel in progress.

TRICKS AND TOOLS

Here we are seven days into writing a 50,000 word novel in a month and I am definitely not where I had planned to be. The good news is that I’ve discovered some pleasant surprises in this experience. The story really flows when you FORCE yourself to focus. It has been a struggle to block out the real word and stay at it until I have my 1500 words or more a day. If I stay at it during lunch, I can crank out 1000 words. I’ve been able to type the rest during shorter sessions here and there, whenever I could manage.

To speed things up for me, I cleaned off the white board next to my desk and wrote character names and setting details. This is book two of a series set in the Texas frontier and it totally stops my forward momentum when I have to look up the name of the trading post on main. Having those details that will be carried throughout the series at hand really saves time.

Is there anything you have done to help with the flow of words for NaNoWriMo? Please share.

I’m thankful for a new week. Carry on writers!

MY CHARACTER LEFT ME


MY CHARACTER LEFT ME

By Natalie Bright

Writing an entire novel is the most wonderful, soul-changing, frustrating, dreaded task you’ll ever tackle. In fact, I once said that I’d never writer a book. My articles and short stories were enough for me.

Several years ago I started a lovely historical story with a 16 year old protagonist targeted to YA market. The suggestion was made that I consider dropping her age to 12 or 13. I rewrote it, and now I have two 7,000+ word manuscripts. I never finished either. Both versions seem wrong, leaving me uninspired and frustrated. Where did my main character go? Will she ever emerge again?

Write.

SHE’S BACK…

These past several months, this character has been nagging me a lot. She still holds much mystery for me and I must know more about her and the time of her life. The historical period continues to hold much intrigue. I see her as a young girl, on the verge of being woman. I see her being involved in a forbidden love, so a 13 year old is not going to work. YES! I SEE her and she’s getting clearer every day. As to her exact age, I haven’t a clue. Both versions are a muddle in my head.

Note to self: Don’t question the why. I have a beginning and I have an ending. I need to make a list of possible conflict that she must overcome. I will write the scenes in my head, no matter the order. Make it to the end. With the help of my WordsmithSix group, we’ll make it tidy and tight.

Write more.

CRITIQUE THAT MAY STEER YOU WRONG

I’m not saying that it was a waste of my time to rewrite the book with a younger protagonist. Maybe it will help me see the main character and her journey more clearly. At this point, who am I trying to please? The answer: me.

Take writing advice with a grain of salt. In the end you’re the author and only you can make the final decision. Absolutely, make that scary leap and let other people read your work before you publish. I know that you’ve dug to the depths of your soul and sweated over your pages for months and months, perhaps years.

Step back. Listen carefully to your trusted beta readers. Consider all of the possibilities, but in the end you have the final say.

LET’S BEGIN AGAIN

I’m starting over. For the third pass I’ll use elements from both versions. My gut is telling me this story has potential. Hopefully, I can find the heart of the story and it will emerge from the mess I’ve made. This will be a great project for NaNoMo in November, and I’m going to reach the end this time. Phew. I feel so much better about this. Thanks for listening, WordsmithSix!

Just.

Keep.

Writing.

 

LISTEN TO YOUR CHARACTERS…Or They May Abandon You Forever


LISTEN TO YOUR CHARACTERS…

      Or They May Abandon You Forever

By Natalie Bright

My novel about a 14 year old boy set in the Texas frontier is a typical coming of age story, which involves him finishing the job of delivering a wagon load of goods after his father died. Ben has a run in with outlaws, is shot by a Comanche arrow, gets lost in the wilderness; just your typical Wild West adventure. The young Comanche brave would not leave me alone. The only thing I could do to get that kid out of my mind was to write key scenes in his viewpoint. I realized I liked him and instead of being my antagonist, the story changed. I inserted Roving Wolf’s scenes where they belonged in the already finished book. I now have two protagonists who become friends.

LESSON LEARNED

Here’s what I learned from that experience: you don’t have to write an entire book chapter by chapter in that exact order. For some of us, Point A to Point B is not how our mind works when it comes to creative fiction.

Don’t be afraid to explore those flashes of imagery in your brain. It might be a piece of dialogue. Maybe it’s a minor character that keeps nagging you about a scene you left them out of. It might be a place that flashes in your mind, and then poof, it’s gone again. You know someone was there and something happened, and you have to write it before you learn why that place is important. For me, it’s like an explosion in my head. The imagery of that character is so alive. Sometimes it’s a conversation that seems so vibrant and real, it can’t be ignored.

TALKING CHARACTERS

Some writers say that their characters never talk to them, and usually it shows in their stories. Their characters are flat, lifeless, with no personality. When you take the time to dig into your character’s head and heart, then their personality will become real. When they are real to you, they’ll be real to your readers.

DIG DEEP: HERE’S HOW

If your book is in 3rd person, rewrite several scenes in 1st person POV. Free write, in your character’s POV, about their childhood, favorite things or people, life experiences, greatest fears. The deeper you dig, their motives, desires, angst will become clearer. That protagonist will begin to tell you even more (truth!). I know, it’s a creepy, strange and glorious experience, so I wouldn’t mention it to your non-writerly friends. I promise, one of your characters will pop into your mind out of and tell you something wonderful. Keep in mind, that the majority of the things you learn about your protagonist and antagonist during this process will not make it into your manuscript. When you’re character is faced with a conflict, you’ll know exactly how he or she will react and that’s what endears them to your readers. We learn more and more as the story progresses.

Don’t be afraid to give your characters the attention they deserve. Allow them to tell you their secrets. Just make sure you’re taking notes.

Where is a Book Born?


Where is a Book Born?

By Natalie Bright

For bestselling author Jodi Thomas, it begins with a walk on the land where her story is set. Here’s a link to a video that explains her process.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sG4IeXueJDA

The pictures were taken by me during the Spring and Fall roundups on our cattle ranch located in the Texas Panhandle, where she has done most of her research. Hope this inspires you!

For more information about Jodi Thomas and her Ransom Canyon series, go to jodithomas.com

Quotes about Indie Publishing


Quotes about Indie Publishing

“Content is King. Promotion is Queen” ― Bob Mayer

“You are a start-up … The next great business is you.”—Hugh Howey

“The best self-promotion is your next book. And the book after that and after that …”—Bella Andre

“The good news about self-publishing is you get to do everything yourself. The bad news about self publishing is you get to do everything yourself.”—Lori Lesko

“We relish the freedom, and accept the responsibility, that comes with running our own show.”–Orna Ross, Author and Director of the Alliance of Independent Authors

“The most important thing for anyone– regardless of whether they’re an author– is to decide what is their definition of success.” –JOANNA PENN, The Creative Penn Podcast

Traditional or Indie Publish continues to be a daunting questions among today’s authors. I wish you all the best on your journey to publication, dear WordsmithSix readers.

Book Authors and Sales Tax


Book Authors and Sales Tax

By Natalie Bright

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Members of the Texas High Plains Writers enjoyed an informative talk by accountant Dan Brown with ———at the May meeting in Amarillo.

One of the questions that we talked about, which we didn’t have time to fully discuss, involved collecting and paying sales tax for your book sales. Below I’ve listed a few blogs and websites with great information which will help clarify this very confusing issue.

SALES TAX

Ø Note that if you’re selling your self-published book through a dealer at a trade show, or an Internet retail entity such as Amazon.com or bn.com or a publishing service acting as a retail entity (such as Blurb or Lulu.com), the retail entity making the sale is responsible for collecting sales tax. “Sales Tax Facts for Book Authors” at publishing.about.com

Ø You may think that you are paying the appropriate sales tax because you pay the tax to the printing company when you purchase the book. But that tax is only for your purchase price, not the actual selling price. So unless you sell the book at your cost, you will have a sales tax obligation. “Sales Tax Responsibility for Authors” at writeyourlife.net

Ø Reimbursement for books sold through Amazon is considered a royalty and is not subject to sales tax. However, if you sell books through your website, at a book signing, or after a public speaking engagement, sales tax should be included if those books are sold within your state. “Sales Tax Responsibility for Authors” at writeyourlife.net

Ø There are exceptions: 1. selling to someone other than the end user. Generally, states only tax sales on the final user, so if you are selling your books to a bookstore or retail store for resale, you do not charge them sales tax. [NOTE: Most retail outlets expect the ability to add a 50-60% markup above your price. If you quote them a price too high, they may not be able to carry your book in their store.]

2. Selling to a nonprofit organization. In some states, nonprofit organizations are able to obtain sales tax exemption. These organizations should provide you a copy of their sales tax exemption certificate from their state.
3. Selling to out-of-state customers. Usually, you must collect sales tax from customers that live in your state.
Ø The best thing about publishing your own book through Amazon Author Central is that you are not the seller of record. This means you are not responsible for collecting the sales tax on the books you publish. Blog.taxjar.com

Ø Nexus is having a presence in the state which indicates which state you should be submitting sales tax to. Your “nexus” is the state in which you reside and do your business, however every state is different.

Ø Let’s say you’re selling your own book and you spend the summer selling your book at festivals across five states. Some states consider making a single sale in the state to create sales tax “nexus”, while others do not. Many festivals, book stores, etc. will have a bookseller on hand to sell your books for you. This generally includes collecting the sales tax. In that case, you would be off the hook for collecting sales tax. blog.taxjar.com

SELLING BOOKS

Being an indie book author these days can be daunting, but take a deep breath and consider the big picture. The opportunities for reaching readers today is truly amazing. Take off your creative cap and slip into your owner/entrepreneur mode.

Here’s a few more things to consider:

  • · If there is a hosting retail store at the book festival you have a booth at, absolutely take advantage of their ability to handle your books for sale. Be aware that they probably have a zillion things to do for the event. You can be persistent yet professional, but make absolutely sure your books have been ordered. I know of authors who have shown up to events to find they have no books to sign because the order was never placed. Do you leave or should you stay and hand out swag? It’s a horrible situation.
  • · Every state is different. In Oklahoma for example, a representative of the Oklahoma state taxing authority might collect tax there at the book festival. A form will be provided for you to complete and sign.
  • · I sell books at my cost to clubs and organizations because I figure it’s the least I can do after they’ve fed me, paid a speakers fee, and then sat through my talk. I consider the invitation to be a great opportunity to build connections with readers. This kind of networking is invaluable, plus I don’t have to collect sales tax.
  • · Seek out sponsorships for your books. There might be nonprofit organizations that will purchase a case of books for special events. Suggest that your book would make a great table decoration with one at each place setting. Ask for a copy of their tax exemption certificate and attach it to the invoice that you’ve prepared for them.

I hope this helps you. Business is done. Go write now, y’all!