Category: Resources for Writing and Self Publishing


Unlimited numbers of copies of When No One Else Would Fly, by Corinne Tippett are available on Amazon.com... and if it says out of stock, just check back the next day.

Unlimited numbers of copies of When No One Else Would Fly, by Corinne Tippett are available on Amazon.com… and if it says out of stock, just check back the next day.

There’s a new aviation pioneering biography in town, and it’s really good. Worth ordering on Amazon.com!

And when you order, you can get the book in about three days!  Which is quite incredible considering everything going on in the background.

It is a symphony of electronic publishing, distribution, and delivery that has changed hugely in just the last three years – since I published my first good book, titled  Just A Couple Of Chickens.

One reason the book has recently been going in and out of stock – although never out of stock for more than 48 hours – is because I am mucking about with the cover.

One reason I am mucking about with the cover is that this Print On Demand super-fast-mega-cool print system has a small amount of fluctuation in the cover placement on the book. It’s less than a quarter of an inch, but that can mean a line gets out of place, or a forehead gets stretched.

It all started with my correction to the back matter on the book. I wanted to say that Tip piloted more than ninety-eight different aircraft models, (instead of types of aircraft) and when I made that change, things started to color outside the lines in very minor ways.

The overall print quality, however, is way way way better than it was three years ago. My latest stack of author copies had NO flaws…and three years ago, it was 2 in 10.

My book does not sit in a warehouse, or garage, waiting for orders. It exists as an electronic file within Amazon’s extensive distribution network and when you order a copy, it prints at the nearest facility near you, and ships out fast.

There is no waste. No stacks of remaindered books going into the landfill or shredder. No trucking heavy books over miles of interstate. No packing material wrapping pallets of books in cardboard, binding, plastic, and more cardboard.

It looks to me like some of the early bugs in the Print On Demand system have been solved, and more. Big changes, big improvements – just in time for a Tip’s big story.

If you go online to get When No One Else Would Fly and it ‘s out of stock, check back the next day.

 

Positive thinking blooms when I use passwords as daily affirmations.

Positive thinking blooms when I use passwords as daily affirmations.

As a Do It Your Self Publisher, I have to log in to about twenty bizillion sites multiple times a day in order to self publish a book – including my own computer, my work computer, my voice mail, my work voice mail, my own phone, my work phone, … etc. The recent increase in internet hacking has led to an increase in password changing in my life – and now multiple logins on sites that used to require only one.

I’m trying not to see it as a pain in the rump, and instead as an opportunity for the practice of positive thinking since I recently changed over to creating passwords as daily affirmations.

And since the new passwords requirements are more stringent – for instance, not allowing me to change my password to something really really similar to my last password…. (schna!) I am scratching for words to express my positivity.

(And yes, I know that lame passwords are the real world equivalent of tying my car key on a really long string to the outside handle of my car door… but jeez. A bizillion random passwords are harder to remember than the location of my one car key!)

So I made a l helpful uber list of positive word synonyms so that I can work them into my new passwords and I decided to share them here on my blog, so that everyone can join me in trying to think up positive mini-mantras that do not contain my dog’s name, the word “password”, or something obscene – which while fun and affirming, was not very positive.

  • Love, adore, ally, amour, appreciate, cherish, delight, devote, enchanted, enjoy, fondly, friend, hanker, idolize, infatuated, like, regard, relish, repsect, worship, yearn, desire, prefer, want, wish, will, do, did, will do,
  • peace, accord, order, pacification, reconiliation, treaty, truce, unanimous, improve, advance, amend, better, boost, cultivate, elevate, mend, fix, elevate, rally, raise, shape up, upgrade, update, rise, revise
  • accomplish, achieve, acquire, attain, carryout, complete, deliver, do, effect, enact, finish, negotiate, perfect, perform, procure, produce…

Now that I think of it, I could also use my daily passwords to:

  • teach myself how to spell words that I always misspell,
  • or capitalizations I always miss,
  • or my new word of the month that I’m trying to learn.

Yet another way to turn a tedious chore into a positive moment!  And also, my second book is almost ready for release. Search Amazon.com for Corinne Tippett or join my book release list to catch the wave.

The Horned Lizard of Self Publishing, who is proud of her new tat, strongly recommends you read the Terms Of Service when you are self publishing a book.

The Horned Lizard of Self Publishing, who is proud of her new tat, strongly recommends you read the Terms Of Service when you are self publishing a book.

Any discussion regarding how to self publish a book has to encompass the world of ebooks. And King of the World of ebooks is the Amazon Kindle.

Kindle has it’s own format, so as I turn my books into ebooks, I have to include Kindle in my plan.

As with all of the business aspects of self publishing a book, there’s a Terms of Service agreement somewhere in the mix – and a button called “I Agree” to press.

I read these terms of service every time… perhaps accounting for some of my red wine consumption by the end of the day. I was planning to discuss the more interesting bits of one of these agreements until I saw the clause expressly preventing me from making any public disclosures of any bits of the agreement.
Well, that’s a bummer!

Because many of the questions I had regarding how my eBook would work with Amazon’s Kindle Program are answered in there. So instead of publicly disclosing things regarding the agreement, I will ask questions and make free association comments, like poetry, that are random. And I’ll offer a common sense piece of self publishing advice: read the contracts carefully as you use any service to self publish a book.

Apropros of Nothing, I Say:

  • Why are the eBooks I buy through the Amazon Kindle Program, especially the nonfiction how to eBooks, not packed chockfull of advertisements and promotions?  I really appreciate the fact that they are not, but I’m somewhat surprised that they are ad-free.
  • Who controls all that marketing and promotional stuff that happens on the Amazon site? Am I going to have to manage that? Because I can barely manage finding my car keys every day, and all that stuff looks complicated.
  • The Kindle Lending Program is a super great deal for me as a customer, because I have enrolled in Amazon Prime. Mostly to watch all the videos and TV, like with NetFlix, but also to get the free two day shipping and access to the once a month lending library. But whassup with that Lending Library where it concerns MY eBook?
  • If I could have three wishes from a genie, I would immediately wish for unlimited wishes… and then I would wish for access to the customer data and raw sales data for my book sales on Amazon.
  • I wonder if it takes a couple of months for sales data to post to an Amazon Kindle Account?
  • If it turns out that someone does not have the copyright to something they sell as an eBook, there are all kinds of dire things that can happen. Just sayin’.

Having read lots of terms of service agreements, I might say – if I were saying anything – which I am not… that one of them I recently read was pretty clearly written, and worth reading. And I appreciate that, because some of them, like anything related to Bank of America, for instance, are truly awful.

Happy Reading!

 

 

 

The anthologize plugin for wordpress allows me to pull my blog posts into a project and export them in a format I can use in MS Word... bingo!

The anthologize plugin for wordpress allows me to pull my blog posts into a project and export them in a format I can use in MS Word… bingo!

A blog is an important topic is any discussion of how to self publish a book. In Do It Your Self publishing, it is a primary place to build an audience for your topic, and so being able to pull the posts and turn your blog into a book is important.

I recently worked with the anthologize plugin for WordPress… and it has given me a lot of what I am looking for –

but…. I still have to do a bit of work.

But… it gets me a Word file!

I’ve been looking for a method that produces a nice looking book without a lot of formatting time on my part. And I’ve found services that can do that, but don’t give me a format I can then work with in MS Word or InDesign – which would allow me to use my blog posts to write a whole new book (without laborious copying and pasting or retyping.)

  • In past posts, I investigated blurb.com, which gave me limited results.
  • I gave Blog2Print.com a whirl, and it was better, but still somewhat limited,
  • And I took a run through FastPencil.com, and was pretty delighted … but….

None of them let me work with my material in MS Word.  Until now….  (drumroll)

Anthologize is a plugin for WordPress. In an ironic twist – it is not available for blogs hosted at WordPress.com, which is the free place where people can have WordPress blogs, much like Blogger.com or Typepad.com. This is ironic because most of the other services will work ONLY on those sites, and we who self-host are out of luck. Until now….

When I install the anthologize plugin on my WordPress site, I immediately have access to all of the posts on that site and can pull them into a “project” and export them in pdf, rtf, ePub, html, or Anthologize TEI format.

RTF is the format that catches my attention, because I can open that export directly into Word, and therefore use my blog posts in any way I choose. High Five!

If I want to pull posts from another blog, I import content based on the URL feed. This is great, because I can catch the feed of any of my other blogs and use anthologize to create a project using them. But I have to know the feed address, and I had some difficulty pulling feeds from non-wordpress sites, so I’m not entirely sure about that feature. (This issue appears on the Known Issues list, so someone is working on it – someday?)

At this time, I can’t upload an xml file – I can only pull in a feed. And not every blogging method allows me to create a download xml file of my posts, but most of them have some form of feed.

I have to load the posts one by one into the parts of my project. If there is an “all in chronological order” button, I haven’t found it. For very long-standing blogs, this can be tedious, but since it is the first method I’ve found to give me a Word file, I’m willing to put in my time.  (this issue is also on the Known Issues list)

Anthologize is an extremely useful tool, and easy to use. The plugin was created using funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The way it was created is pretty interesting – it was a workshop thing, accomplished in one week. And it breaks open the world of possibilities of using blog posts to create other things – like a self published book.

While I plan to keep searching for tools that enable me to easily turn my blog into a book, I am very happy with Anthologize, and highly recommend it, even with the bugs.

The Free Rooster for Just A Couple Of Chickens

This is the actual cover from the pdf book generated by Blog2Print. There were plenty of cover color options, but no font options. Yellow matches the book that the blog supports. “The Free Rooster” supports “Just A Couple of Chickens” and is trying to become a book on it’s own. A Blook!

Many of us, especially authors supporting a self published book, are putting a lot of great content into our blogs, as I am doing with my “how to self publish a book” series, and it would be fabulously great to find an easy and affordable way to turn a blog into a book.

That’s called “blook” in this new language of bloggery.

So I am testing each of the blog to book methods I can find, and my standards are pretty high. I’m finding that I may have to choose between my desires:

  • I want a nice looking book, but I don’t want to have to spend hours formatting it, because I could do that manually, the same way I usually make books.
  • I want the photos to look good, and that’s going to be a challenge because while 72 dpi looks great on screen, it doesn’t look great in print.
  • The book probably needs to be in color, because of all the effort I’ve put into the photos, and color print books are expensive to produce… but, ebooks!  It could be an ebook.
  • And I want to be able to access the book file. For cut and paste, for other uses of my materials. I want to create a file that I can take anywhere, print anywhere.
  • Plus a final and new wish… for it to be affordable, especially if I intend to sell it.
I’ve already reviewed Blurb.com’s blog to book service, and found it nifty but expensive and laborious – at least for how my blog slurped into it.
So onward to Blog2print

This service will work for blogger.com, wordpress.com or typepad.com. It won’t work for self hosted blogs, or any other platforms. Hmmm, (foreshadowing headsup… in this continuing series of blog posts about How To Turn Your Blog Into A Book, I have found some services that will pull from an RSS feed, so don’t despair yet if you are self hosted, but make sure you publish and know the address of your feed…)

Since my chosen blog for this project  is on Blogger.com, I’m in-like-flynn!

There is no charge to get started… once again, I would only pay once I order the book or download the pdf.

  • It offers to take all my blog posts
  • with pictures,
  • from oldest to newest,
  • and also offers to grab comments.

Since I don’t have any comments that I want to keep, I did not check this option and so haven’t tested it. But including comments is an important feature to many bloggers, and it would be worth testing that feature before getting too excited about this service.

I can choose a cover color, plus front and back picture, title and spine title, but I can’t select the font or size, so it looks a little …well… hokey?  But there I go again with my standards. I am learning that if I want it mostly automated and very affordable, then I can’t have it look exactly like I want.  For that, I will have to put some effort in – wah.

Blog2Print assembled the book quickly and made a nice table of contents, I have 88 posts, most with pictures. The pictures in this Blog2Print book are small, and I can’t change the size. I also can’t change the page breaks. I can select posts to not be included, and I can add some pages after the service has pulled the posts… but I don’t have any editorial control really. However, it has arranged things neatly and in order.

The pricing is easy to see.  As a softcover, I could have the 136 pages, with front and back cover, in color for $55.55, and hardcover for $65.55, both of which are far outside my means and intentions for this project. I could have it in B&W for $22.55. But it isn’t clear what size those books would be. There is a pdf download option for $7.95, and I am going to take it!

The checkout is easy, and I can (must) preview the pdf book before I order it. It came via email, and downloaded quickly. The book size is 8.5 x 11 and so if I want to try and print it at some print-on-demand service, I’ll have to fiddle with the book size. A pdf is not an e-book, but I can send it to my e-readers and view it there, like any other pdf doccument.

It’s pretty good – even if I didn’t get everything I’m looking for. I got an inexpensive pdf download of my entire blog, with pictures (and possibly with comments) with very little effort.  The system worked well, no surprises and no disappointments. Blog2Print goes into my list of possible tools, but I am going to keep looking for something I can edit and better control.

 

Self Publishing Winter View

This is the winter version of my favorite view from our New Mexico property. Because I am entering edits, and that is a cold, gray, vista of gray coldness.

This week, the “Self” in Self Publishing is pissing me off.

Because this week, I am entering the edits to my book about my grandfather’s aviation pioneering history which will not be titled “CJT, A Biography” due to the unanimous thumbs down from my editors.

Not that it was the title. It was a working title. I’m still working on a title.

This week I am crawling through my book, page by page, carefully capturing all the fixes that my editors have provided.
My editors are very very good, and don’t miss a thing.
But I am apparently utterly unable to properly capitalize or numerate or subject/verb match or punctuate.

I imagine that if I had a book deal with a traditional publisher that some intern would do this for me.
I suspect that I’d still be doing it myself… but in the meantime, let me dream.

I had a job doing this kind of work twenty years ago. I quit that job.

I got tired of searching manually for the proper capitalization of the word “embassy” in my copy of The Chicago Manual of Style.
I wondered how much easier it would be to search for it on the online version.

I’d already dissed the online version in favor of the hardcover version glaring at me on my desk.
So I went online and discovered…that they had a one time 30 day free trial of the online version…

Sign Me Up!

And, and, and …. I typed in my question and got…
The same reference as I get in the hardcover version.

The table of contents.
An invitation to click crawl, rather than page crawl, the chapter on capitalization.
The same note about Chicago’s “down style” as I had sitting on my desk.

Where’s my intern?
Now the all the words in “self publishing” are pissing me off.

I searched further and I did find one benefit of the online Chicago Manual of Style.
The forum.
This is where other terminally frustrated writers and editors have posted their questions and either other people or the Editorial Priesthood of The Manual have answered, and that was really quite helpful because I did pick up a side comment to a tangent to a reference to another question that finally mentioned….

American Embassy (capitalized) or people from the embassy (not capitalized)

So, before I go back to my book and uncapitalize every instance of lieutenant colonel, except for those that should be capitalized… which means that I can’t just do a find and replace… let me summarize my comparison between the hardcover printed copy of The Chicago Manual of Style and the online version:

  1. They both contain the same nit picky, wickedly-confusing, non-obvious, trip wires of English usage rules organized in the same way
  2. Keyword searches really only bring you to suggestions for the right chapter, unless you luck out in the forum
  3. The forum is worth a lot
  4. But clicking through the chapter submenus using the forward button is a lot slower than running your finger down the printed page, because the website page refresh (on my computer) is slow
  5. The hardcover book is a pay once, page crawl forever, situation. Online is a pay yearly, click forever, version

My conclusion is:

Get an intern, give her the hardcopy book, and make HER enter the edits.

 

The sundog of Self Publishing Advice

This is a SunDog. It’s like a mini rainbow… just like Vanity and Subsidy Press are like mini self publishing. There’s less chance of a pot of gold at the end of a sundog than a rainbow… do you see my analogy? I hope so… cuz it’s a stretch, I know.

What if true self publishing is not for you?  What if the time, learning curve, effort, follow-through, and set up are beyond what you are willing or able or ready to do?

Possibly some of the other kinds of publishing solutions are a good idea.

While there are a few “bad” publishing solutions out there in this new and exciting world of self publishing, not all of the vanity or subsidy presses are wicked. And not all of the self publishing helper services are a waste of money. Different book self publishing projects match different book self publishing solutions.

Vanity press is called “vanity” because the author pays to have the book published. There is no editorial oversight. The author can have a published book in hand with no obstacles other than actually writing it. It could be a book of blank pages, so that’s not actually an obstacle either.

Subsidy press is another kind of “vanity” press, again tied only to the author’s ability to pay. And both those kinds of publishing services are often dissed because of the lack of perceived effort on the author’s part in getting the book to market. In both these publishing solutions, the ISBN number is given to the author by the press, either for free or for a fee. So those companies are the publisher. It isn’t self publishing, but the author doesn’t have to go through the gauntlet of traditional publishing rejection or the mountains of work in do-it-yourself self publishing.

Vanity or subsidy press are an ideal solution for a book that the author wants to make available to either family and friends, or even the general public, but has no concerns for the long term rights ownership, publishing contractual details, or profit margin.

A family memoir, for instance. Or a fundraiser cookbook. Or a collection of a child’s poetry or artwork.

The long-term rights ownership is a concern because of the ISBN number having been assigned by that press, and that affects the publishing contract issues and the author’s ability to have the book printed anywhere else. The book may also be more expensive to print and sell in small quantities, which can make it unfeasible for a true self publishing approach.

For an author with a serious plan to market and support a book, but no time or ability to go the whole journey into self publishing, subsidy press can work well. The cost makes turning a profit on the book more difficult, but at least the book is out there and in reader’s hands.

The key to choosing the right solution for self publishing a book is to match the right publishing solution to the publishing project.

And the right match depends on the author’s ultimate purpose for the book.

 

Copyright 2012 Corinne Tippett & The Westchester Press
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