Tag Archive: book production


Time To Blog Again!

Time To Blog Again!

My blogging time-out is up and it’s time to blog again!

I’ve wrestled my next book into a lumpy approximation of a manuscript and I’m ready to take it through my soon-to-be-finished self publishing step-by-step series, all the way to self publication.

My next book IS my soon-to-be-finished self publishing step-by-step series, so this is a kind of Mandelbrot thing, only a lot less intricate. Kind of a matryoshka doll thing, only more pronounceable.

It’s all about taking a systemic, guided approach to the process of self publishing from an author’s do-it-yourself-and-do-it-really-well position and spending time instead of money – therefore reserving the money for services that really should be hired out, like professional editing and book cover creation.

It’s about beginning with the end in mind (high five Stephen Covey) and self publishing the right way – the “independent press” way instead of the vanity press way.

It’s about taking a finished – or nearly finished – book project through the preparation, design, formatting, upload, and publication process in a way that sets me up to market the book, while getting busy writing the next book.

This book (series) had to be written because I got tired of self publishing backwardsly.

I published my first book in 2009, learned everything the hard way, but still managed to put out a decently popular book.

My second book  taxied down the runway in 2013 with a nice polish on those hard-earned lessons.

By that time, I knew what I had to do, why, and in what order, but I yearned for a nicely organized, clear thinking step-by-step process that matched the way I thought (… ping pong balls on mousetraps image… ) and the time I had available to complete one of the steps ( … the hour after happy hour if by hour you mean half hour …) and my budget (… image of desert, tumbleweed rolls by…)

This book is the true step-by-step How To Self Publish A Book.

If you’d like to be notified when it is ready for release, just sign up here or keep tuning in! And Welcome Back!

Horned Lizard and The Westchester Press

The Horned Lizard of Self Publishing says “eBook” but secretly loves print books more.

Trying to decide whether to self publish your book as a print book or an eBook?

Ebook.

And then …. take a long think about all of your potential readers. How many of them may be interested in buying a print book?  For instance, for my newsest book “When No One Else Would Fly“, the aviation history biography of Colonel C. J. Tippett, I chose to put out the print book first because the majority of my target market are older readers who may not be on board with ereaders – and will prefer a print book.

And because the retailers I have in mind for my niche marketing plan will need books to put on the shelves – of air museums, air show lobbies, and fly-in stands.

My next step is to put the book into eBook form, as I have already done with my first book “Just a Couple of Chickens“, available on Kindle and as an ePub.

You have to choose early on in your book production work because the formatting for each book is different enough that you have to split off into two versions. Although CreateSpace will helpfully offer you files from your print book to go plug into KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing), those files will not likely make a useable eBook.

You will have to format the manuscript back at the MS Word stage – all as one document, starting from scratch with clean headers and links embedded. There are excellent tips on how to do this on the KDP site and at Smashwords – which is the ePub site. You have to format your ebook in one way for Kindle, and another way for ePub.

So, while the short answer to “Should I self publish my book as an eBook or Print Book” is eBook, there is another question in there – “Is there a market for your print book as well?”  And if the answer to that is no, then you can focus all your resources on your eBook.

But I am old enough to have some old-school in me, and I just love a print book. I think I will always have my books in print.

 

Updating Books In Print is like a stroll through a garden of lavender. Okay, no it isn't. But it is very satisfying.

Updating Books In Print is like a stroll through a garden of lavender. Okay, no it isn’t. But it is very satisfying.

Updating Books In Print is tops in excitement!

Okay, maybe not tops, but it is a useful and satisfying action celebrating your self published book. And it is free.

It is an important finishing touch as a self publisher.

Books In Print is a database managed by Bowker, the same agency that sold you your ISBN numbers. This step is where you assign your ISBN number to your title – letting the world know that it’s out there and how to find it. By the world, I mean libraries, bookstores, and distributors. And maybe traditional publishers who are madly trying to get in touch with you to offer you a mega book deal. Exciting!

You got to BowkerLink and sign in using the login and password you got when you got your ISBN numbers.

There is a place for a thumbnail image of your cover, in addition to the important publication details like title, author, publication date, etc.

This step is only available to, or required for, authors who have their own publishing company – and therefore own their ISBN numbers. And this step is one of the reasons a self published author should own their ISBN number. Your name goes into this important database along with your title.

After adding your title, cruise over to Publisher Information and make sure everything is current and correct.

There is a feature to this service called ISBN Logbook, which can give you a list of your ISBNs and what titles you have assigned to them. It costs $25. I suppose if you have lost your list of ISBN numbers and the titles you’ve assigned to them, this would be a good way to re-find them. But I have not shelled out the $25 to see how beautifully it is formatted.

Then you are done! Bravo!

 

 

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 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 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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright 2012 Corinne Tippett & The Westchester Press
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