Tag Archive: Free things for self publishers


The Free Rooster is alive and well

Commitment.

I recently listened to a back episode, Episode 36, of the Rocking Self-Publishing Podcast by Simon Whistler where he was interviewing Beverly Kendall about her writing, publishing, and the survey she had done on what self publishers are earning.

Beverly said that she had purposefully targeted places where “committed self publishers and writers” gathered in order to get the best responses for her survey – responses which completely trashed the popular idea that self publishers were earning nothing.

It was this distinction of “committed” that was the real key. That caught my attention.

What was the difference between a self-publishing dabbler and a committed self publisher?  Well, for one thing, the income.

I had been serious about my self publishing and certainly had the time commitment dialed in, but I started to think… and read… and listen… and follow… and like… and pin… and subscribe… about what I could do to really commit to my writing and self publishing. About what that would mean.

I took a simple first step. I went (online) to the places where “committed self publishers and writers” gathered (twitter, hashtag #selfpublish, find and follow the industry gurus)- and I listened.

Hundreds, maybe thousands, of voices were saying the same thing – which made it astonishingly easy to hear amidst the crazy babble that is twitter.

Engage: with readers, with industry gurus, with other self publishers, with my local community. Maybe writing is an activity that an introvert can successfully do all alone in a garrett – but publishing requires connecting with this huge peopled world. And self publishing means personally connecting.

Publish Great Content Constantly: blogging, tweeting, pinning… my content has to be out there and it has to be valuable, interesting and preferably accurate. If I can’t do “constantly” I can do AFAP (as frequently as possible.)

Pick a Genre and Stick With It: because readers do not generally leave their favorite genre to follow you, the author, to your next book. I muffed that one already. My aviation history biography is mysteriously not as interesting as I thought it would be to the fans of my family memoir chicken-raising homestead adventure. Aviation history fans love it – but chicken moms are meh. The income lies in an excellent and riveting series within a single genre.

Do All That While Still Writing All The Time: ah, jeez. (screeching tires on pavement sound.)

The unspoken, “and don’t quit your day job” was not as prevalent in these streams because many of the authors had actually quit their day jobs. These were the full-timers, the mid-listers and more who were making enough or more at self publishing for it to be their day job. So I was going to have to improvise in order to do all this while nurturing my day job.

My biggest challenge was going to be managing the time it takes me to write and self publish my books. The two I already have on Amazon, which sell even though I still need to market them, each took over a year to produce, and that’s too slow for where I want to be as an author – and what I want to earn.

I needed to find out How To Get More Efficient In My Writing And Self Publishing, and that answer was out there in the twitter stream as well.

Which brings us to SCRIVENER, and my next post.

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!

 

 

Cuckoo Maran Chicks Love "When No One Else Would Fly" and "Just A Couple Of Chickens" but they wonder about the LCCN.

Cuckoo Maran Chicks Love “When No One Else Would Fly” and “Just A Couple Of Chickens” but they wonder about the LCCN.

The Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN) is not legally required for a self published book, but it is a mark of professionalism and it does have meta data (and other) advantages.

The Preassigned Control Number (PCN) is the process through which you apply to get your LCCN, and all of this has to be done before you publish your book.

It can take several weeks to receive the LCCN for your book title, and so it should be part of your self publishing calendar as you plan.

The application process, and the assignment, is free. It is only available to self publishers who have created a business and the PCN office will determine if you are eligible for a LCCN.

Having a LCCN is one of the actions you take as a self publisher that makes you really more of an independent publisher or small press.

The entire point of having a LCCN is so that libraries can find, and therefore order, your book for their library collection.

On the one hand, there are @ 9,000 libraries in the USA and if they all ordered my book, I would be very pleased. On the other hand, if my book is in the library, then I am not selling more copies even though I am gaining more readers.

So why do I want the LCCN?  Because I absolutely love libraries and I want my book in the library because it’s part of my vision of being a writer. A vision of a print book on a library bookshelf – like all those thousands of books from the library shelves throughout my life, since the day I could read.

But besides visions and dreams, having my book in the Library of Congress database is part of the magic of SEO and keyword searchability that is an ongoing, slow process similar to the formation of a coral reef. One coral reeflet is lost in the wide ocean, but over time, the reef can grow until it gains the attention of everyone who passes. These small registry actions I take will accrete over time and make my name more findable, and my books more available.

Once you have your LCCN, it goes on the copyright page of your book. The formatting is described in the email or letter you get from the PCN office. There is a follow-up step required once you publish your book, and that is to send a copy of the book (a nice copy, not a proof or flawed one) to the Library of Congress. At the time of this writing, 2013, that address is below. Sending the copy for the LCCN is not the same as sending two copies for your copyright obligation.

          Library of Congress
          US & Publisher Liaison Division
          Cataloging in Publication Program
          101 Independence Avenue, S.E.
          Washington, DC 20540-4283

 

 

 

Trying to determine monthly book sales from the Amazon Best Seller Rank is not black and white.

Trying to determine monthly book sales from the Amazon Best Seller Rank is not black and white.

How does Amazon sales ranking relate to monthly book sales?

Nobody knows. Except maybe Amazon, and they aren’t telling.

But some very determined, diligent, and intelligent people have taken on the challenge of trying to find an answer – and they’ve posted some tools and guides.

They are mostly authors who have self published books for sale on Amazon.com and have found, as I have found, that there is no way to independently verify how many of our books have sold on Amazon.com. We have to settle for Amazon’s report each month… and be patient with the fact that some kinds of sales have several weeks delay in posting on that report.  (I should say here that this whole situation isn’t much different from having to rely on a traditional publisher for a report of monthly sales – and in those cases, the delay can be much longer… but still… inquiring authors want to know.)

At first I wanted to know because I was concerned that maybe I was selling hundreds of thousands of books but only getting paid for about ten. But once I cruised the reports and sites and saw the general overviews of Amazon book ranking translated to estimated overall monthly sales, I accepted reality, (not really, but I pretended to)… and Amazon’s reporting.

Then I wanted to know how many books other authors were selling, particularly my favorite authors or some of the successful self published authors I’ve been following.

Amazon.com shows a book sales ranking as Amazon Best Seller Rank, under Product Details” on the book’s Amazon.com listing – you scroll down past “Description,” past “Customers Viewed This Item Also Viewed,” past “Editorial Reivews,” and you are there.

The rank changes every day, depending on your own book sales, and other people’s book sales. It is a complex algorithm (or a bingo cage at Amazon headquarters) and it can be very volatile.

The most interesting thing about the ranking is the general number range; like less than 100,000 or more than one million. All the info I’ve gathered about this number range is from people observing on their own, not from Amazon.com’s CFO, but I’ve done enough of my own double checking (on my own numbers and through other sources) that I think it is somewhat accurate.

In general, if your ranking is less than 100,000, you are probably selling several books every month. If your ranking is more than one million – meaning that there are at least one million better selling books on Amazon.com than your book… you are probably only selling a couple of books a month (or less), or haven’t sold a book in a couple of weeks (or more) – and you should probably stop checking your ranking and start doing more marketing.

But sell two books in two weeks and watch that ranking climb!  For one day.

Another resource, which is far more iffy, is a site that offers you a chance to enter your actual sales ranking and see what you actually might be selling monthly or daily. I found this calculator a little buggy – make sure you zero it all out and try it several times with slightly variable numbers. But it did show me numbers that made sense on my own ranking, and some test rankings where I already knew the monthly sales of other books.

There are also sites that helpfully offer, for free, to track your Amazon.com sales ranking; presumably so that you can have an average to plug into the calculator.

For me, having yet another numerical measure in my life is unappealing, especially because it does not generally make it under 100,000 on any given day, so I am satisfied with the occasional overview.

I could toss it into my goal pile, but instead, I’m going to get ready to release my grandfather’s aviation biography and see what happens to THAT sales ranking… wahOOOOOO!

 

 

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.

Copyright 2012 Corinne Tippett & The Westchester Press
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