Tag Archive: About Blogging


Amanda Hocking Hollowland

Amanda Hocking started as a self published author, putting out her first novels as Kindle ebooks, as well as Nook and through Smashwords. They are well-written and took off like a rocket.

As I began researching successful self published authors, I kept running along the phrase: “… and, of course, there’s Amanda Hocking…”

But I hadn’t heard of Amanda Hocking, so I didn’t appreciate the “of course” – and I saw it several times.

Finally, I read one of her ebooks, to see for myself, of course.

I downloaded the Kindle app for my iPad, grabbed one of her young adult novels pretty much at random, and started reading. And kept reading, and read some more.

Because that is my experience of Amanda Hocking’s writing. I’m not a young adult, and I’m not a big fan of zombie apocalypse settings – HollowLand (The Hollows, #1) and yet I couldn’t put it down. It is very very well written.

She wrote her novels while working full time, and in 2010, she self published them as ebooks. Her ebooks sold so well, she broke every self published record and caught the attention of a major traditional publisher.

Her blog is fantastic and she’s taken some time to write about how it went for her, and it was NOT easy. She did a lot of sticking-with-it, not-giving-up, getting-rejected, and keeping-on-keeping-on. She also worked on making her writing better, and since I didn’t read her “before” I don’t know if she ever wrote poorly. I only know that she writes very well now.

Now, she is a traditionally published author. She made it. Self publishing was her pathway to traditional publishing, as it was for Hugh Howey.

There are a growing number of authors out there who are making a living self publishing and have no desire to go to traditional publishing. I’ll be spotlighting them soon.

In the meantime, there’s Amanda Hocking, of course, and she adds a new bullet to my bullet-list-of-things-successful-self-published-authors-have-done:

  • Her books are very well written
  • Her genre is popular – vampires, zombies, paranormal romance aimed at young adults (that’s the new bullet. Hugh Howey’s book is sci-fi, my favorite, but vampires are currently ruling)
  • She put them out as ebooks, alluringly priced
  • She did it all herself, keeping the costs low, and keeping herself focused on writing more

There are some valuable resources she recommends on her blog for authors planning to self publish, and she makes a really good point about the process. She suggests authors do a lot of research, and if I don’t feel I have the time to do the research, then I probably don’t have the time to self publish.

Bravo Amanda Hocking!  Your rock, of course!

 

 

I can't give blookup.com a good review, but I can post a pretty picture of this butterfly.

I can’t give blookup.com a good review, but I can post a pretty picture of this butterfly.

Being able to turn a blog into a book is a great way to self publish a book. Not that every blog, in its natural form, would make a great book.

But being able to pull the posts and pictures into an ebook, or a fantastically expensive color print book, or a pdf, can be great.

Being able to pull it into a format that can be opened, and therefore managed, in MS Word can be even better.

I previously reviewed:

And so far, anthologize and fastpencil are the best – with anthologize being the only one to give a format use-able in MS Word.

I found some other sites that didn’t meet my requirments, and they are:

  • Blookup.com: I found blookup.com during my search, and decided to give it a try. It is a French site, so I had google translate it for me, and that was entertaining… but I gave up my effort as soon as I saw that I would have to enter my login and password for my WordPress blog. There was no other option, like pull a feed or upload a file. Some of the other methods also asked for my login and password, but they always offered another route. Blookup.com did not, so I didn’t continue. For me, it isn’t worth the risk. Blookup.com is also ONLY for WordPress blogs, either on wordpress.com or self hosted.
  • Feedfabrik.com went offline last year.
  • Blogbooker.com also seems to be offline.
  • Papyruseditor.com only lets me bring the latest post from my blog in. It’s a nice simple interface, but ….
  • Zinepal.com was simple, and can pull in posts from just a URL. It creates a simple ebook and offers to update it and keep sending it on schedule. It costs $5 and up.
  • ePubBud.com couldn’t digest my files, and is intended for children’s books, but it may be a good tool for other purposes.
  • eBookGlue.com was super fast and easy, but only picks up the first 29 or so posts. No login, no cost, just makes an ebook out of whatever URL I entered. Whether it was my own work or not. Yipers! (the ebook is ePub)
  • LeanPub.com can import blog posts. It involves dropbox, and a little time to learn. It was able to pull ALL my posts, from my feed, which was good, and the formats were ePub, Mobi, or PDF.

Somewhere in all these methods, there is your way.

Turning your blog into a book is a really good idea, and opens up new markets for your work. At the very least, it can collect your work and images into a portable, dependable, secured archive you can control.

 

 

 

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 by Corinne Tippett at The Westchester Press

Getting closer to my goal of making a book from my blog at www.TheFreeRooster.com by using FastPencil.com.

I’ve just tried FastPencil.com as a solution for turning my blog into a book.
Previously, I tried Blurb.com, and Blog2Print.com, and I’m getting closer with FastPencil.com.

Fastpencil.com is a website offering to let authors produce their own book, or help them produce it with fee-based services. It is free to get started, and they offer an “import blog” function based either on the url feed of your blog, or on an uploaded xml file.

This is uber-cool because I can pull an xml download of my self-hosted wordpress blogs, or grab the published feed.

This means it can work with any blog that can be exported and downloaded. For instance, Blogger.com can be exported. Check your settings to find where to export your blog.

Back at FastPencil.com, once my xml file was uploaded, I had a variety of choices to make regarding book format, size, font, cover, description, and audience.

  • My 89 posts resulted in 296 pages.
  • I went with the suggested “elegance” format,
  • 6×9, both printed book and epub ebook.
  • I uploaded a cover image, and chose my cover colors – making them all simple.
  • Along the way, I had plenty of opportunities to preview the book. It was looking good!
The cover I could make through FastPencil.com is not great, but it’s good enough for this test. There was an option to upload a cover, but I have not yet spent my bizillion hours creating one.
  • I had a choice to keep the project private, viewable only to me.
  • Or, for free, available to the FastPencil.com marketplace – other FastPencil.com users.
  • Or, for $299 ($249 ebook only), available to retail markets like Amazon.com – which is not something I would choose because as a Do-It-Your Self Publisher, I know that I can do that myself for less. But there is always a balance between spending time and spending money.

Still hopeful for my color photo print book, I chose “color photos in the interior.”

The whopping $76 print book cost cured me quickly.

I re-set that checkbox and saw it would be $13.14. Shipping would be an additional $14. 42. This print book shows FastPencil.com as the publisher – even though I haven’t accepted their offer of a free ISBN. Their imprint is in the pdf of the print book, hmmm. So I put aside the FastPencil.com quest for a printed book of my blog. Having already given up on color photos, it simply isn’t an affordable option even though it looks good and was easy.

But… The ebook would be $9.99. Onward with the ebook!
It will be EPUB.

I purchased the ebook – checkout total was indeed $9.99, and included a PDF and EPUB.

I moved my shiny new ebook over to my Nook, and although it gave me an error message the first time I tried to open it, I tried again and there it was. An ebook!  There were a few small formatting issues, but it looks good. Especially since I didn’t do a lick of formatting.

I moved my sparkling new ebook over to my iPad and without any error message, it opened in iBooks and looks FANTASTIC!  seriously beautiful.

In summary, I highly recommend FastPencil.com for turning a blog into an ebook.

It was easy – despite a few minor bugs in their online process – and affordable. The pictures look beautiful, the formatting is clean. The EPUB format is widely useful.

Although I didn’t get a file I can convert to word and work with, I did get a file I could immediately distribute – perfect for mommy-bloggers, food-bloggers, travel-bloggers and more. I’m so pleased with FastPencil.com that I’ve signed on as an affiliate.

My quest is not yet over! Next I’ll look at a program that may give me the workable file I have been jonesing for, but in the meantime – Success!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A single rock in the sand isn't such a big deal. But if the rock is a post that missed schedule, and the beach is my blog... it's not very zen.

A single rock in the sand isn’t such a big deal. But if the rock is a post that missed schedule, and the beach is my blog… it’s not very zen.

My best blogging coping mechanism for posting regularly about how to self publish a book was my ability to schedule blogs in advance.

I could write ahead of time, have them post at a designated time and date, and keep a nice regular flow of self publishing advice.

Until I discovered “Missed Schedule” in WordPress.

My posts started to miss schedule. At first, I thought it was because the time I’d chosen for the post was conflicting with the time I’d chosen for backup. But it turns out that there’s a complicated conflict regarding hosts and posts and pieces of toast.

Not pieces of toast, I just said that because it sounds good, and the real reason, which is that somebody turned off my cron, just sounds weird.

It sounds like it could explain much more than my blog missing schedules. I think this explains my entire position in today’s economy!

The good news is that there’s a plug-in for that! (missed schedule, not my position in society.)

But the trouble is, I already have too many plug-ins. If I load any more, it could slow my site down. So while I’m pleased there’s a plug-in, I’d be more pleased if the posts would simply post on time.

While I am chewing on the fact that a WordPress post can be “missed schedule”, I am going to the site each posting evening and manually publishing the missed ones. Grrrrrrrr.

Once it started to miss, it missed a lot.

Once it started to miss a lot, it missed them all.

Installing plug-in now….

 

 

 

 

cape meares oregon and the westchester press

Taking a wide angle view of blogging can help me see where I’m going as I work. (This is Cape Meares on the Oregon Coast, by the way.)

Along the way to learning how to self publish a book, I researched blogging, and saw that many resources suggested posting a blog every day.

Blogging every day sounded overwhelming to me.

It still does, which is why I don’t blog every day.

The whole idea behind blogging, or at least the one related to self publishing a book, is to use the right keywords (ones that readers will be entering in a search engine like Google) and write really interesting, useful, engaging, current, accurate, and readable content, and do it regularly. This builds traffic, and a readership, and an audience… for our books!

A good idea, but still. Overwhelming.

So I developed a system:

  • I brainstormed ideas, and wrote them down in any form. On paper, in an idea database, in a word document, in a spreadsheet… anything.
  • I organized those ideas into categories. Ideas usually can be grouped – and those groupings are the Category. Assigning the category in the blog platform makes it easy for readers to find the topics they are interested in.
  • I printed out a blank month from my calendar program – on paper. Enough with having everything inside the computer, I need to old-school it with paper and pen sometimes.
  • I added any seasonal holidays to that blank calendar sheet, so that I could tailor that day’s post to the season if I wanted to. Christmas always comes as a surprise to me, and this helps.

Since I have too many topics I am trying to cover, I assigned one day a week for each, minus Fridays. If I were blogging about one topic, I’d maybe assign a day for each category or such…
For instance,  I am blogging twice a week at www.TheWestchesterPress.com, instead of three times a week (I couldn’t keep up with three times a week – given my other blogging efforts which are about to be revealed in my next sentence)… actually, I can’t even keep up with twice a week.

Many of my ideas could be broken up into more than one short post, so the calendar filled up rapidly.
After all this, I take one day a week and write the posts, add a picture, and schedule it for the designated day.
I write the posts in advance – as many as I can do on a Saturday, for instance, and when something timely comes up, I can just move the pre-scheduled post to another day, and insert my extemporaneous post.

Series are the most fun for me. Like, “Famous People Who Met My Grandfather” for my soon-to-be-released aviation biography, or “Egg Artist Spotlight” for artists doing amazing things with blown eggshells. My quest to turn my www.TheFreeRooster.com blog at into a book is a series of posts, as I use each tool I can find to accomplish the task.

My system makes an overwhelming task do-able. I see increased traffic every time I post. And I see growing traffic each month since I began to post regularly. If the content is useful, people will read it. If the keywords are correct, search engines will find it.

And now I’ve posted a blog about posting a blog – BlogElegant. Blelegant!

 

 

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.

 

Copyright 2012 Corinne Tippett & The Westchester Press
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