Tag Archive: Free things for self publishers

just a couple of chickens on kindle

Just A Couple Of Chickens is now available on Amazon Kindle… high five for Do It Your Self Publishing!

When I enter the phrase “self publish a book” into Google, I get pages of hits that are actually vanity presses: companies that I can pay to do the publishing for me.

I suppose that is one interpretation of self publishing, but it isn’t what I mean.

I mean “do it your SELF publishing”.

Of the growing number of authors who are self publishing, there are a smaller (but growing) number who are coming up to an intersection called Print Book or eBook. They are discovering that the same materials required for the print book will not automatically translate straight to an ebook.

Yes, a file has to be saved as a PDF for upload to a print-on-demand service for the print book, but very rarely is that same PDF file going to work as-is for an ebook. I’d say never, but I’m supposed to never say never.

I set out, three weeks ago, to produce a Kindle version of “Just A Couple Of Chickens”, which has been for sale on Amazon.com since December 2010.

At first, I was delighted to see that Createspace had a button on my book dashboard saying “Publish On Kindle,” along with a download button for two files: the cover and the interior of my book – for Kindle!

I hopped merrily along to Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), with my files, and while the cover file worked well – the interior did not. Not not not. At. All.
And that was the file that Amazon offered me to use on Amazon – for my cooliorageous new ebook.

I learned that it is very easy to publish a messy looking ebook with no navigation, but it is not easy to publish a good looking ebook with standard navigation.


For those of you who know something about ebooks, which I did not three weeks ago, you will understand my journey when I admit that my first question was “What is an NCX file?”

And for those of you who don’t know… get ready to climb that learning curve. Pack a lunch.

BUT!  I did it. Myself.

These bullet points were earned in metaphysical sweat and tears, and they are a beautiful thing for anyone interested in “do it your self publishing of a kindle ebook”:

  • You will make a separate file for your kindle ebook. It will not be the same file for the same book in the different ereader formats. 
  • KDP is publisher for Kindle, and many people use Smashwords as the publisher for everything else.
  • The technology behind this process, and therefore all of the how-to directions, are changing so fast that you will probably discover something new and buggy during your process. You must use The Force.
  • eBooks have no page numbers. You do not control the font. You are at risk of not controlling the page breaks. Navigation is important and you are better-off setting that up in MS Word, using styles, headings, and bookmarks.
  • I don’t know if the InDesign kindle plugin works or not because it only works on CS5 or later and I have an earlier version of Adobe Creative Suite.
  • The Word document must be super clean and simple – see the Smashwords Style Guide by Mark Coker. Most Word documents are not super clean and simple.
  • KDP will let you upload a word docx but it will look crappy. Use  a Word doc – but unless you did something htmlantizing, you won’t have a nice looking Go To,
  • For that, I used Calibre because I’m on a Mac. 
  • If you are on a PC, good luck using mobipocket – I couldn’t resolve Windows 7 and Internet Explorer 8. And I really tried.
  • If you really can find someone who really will Kindle your book for less than $100, pay the money. Make super sure that the offer includes Go To navigation with the chapters listed. Tell them up front if you have images in your book and read the fine print on the offer to be sure your price is still going to be less than $100 after they get started.

To all of the tech-heads who posted how-tos on forums, chats, article sites, blogs, comments, and free ebooks… thank you.

Oh, and I almost forgot… “Just A Couple Of Chickens” is now available on Kindle!!!  WahOOOOOOOOOO!




Learning WordPress Builds Bridges To Other Knowledge

WordPress knowledge is a bridge to other website builder software… it is worth the time to learn it.

WordPress is a free blogging tool which can also be used to build entire websites. I highly recommend it for self publishing websites, particularly if you are a Do It Your Self Publisher, like me.

WordPress first came out in 2003, but I didn’t really catch on until after 2009. By then, everywhere I turned, I heard the advice to “learn WordPress” if I was going to blog about how to self publish a book.

So I did!
I learned enough to be dangerous, that is.
(Meaning, enough to seriously brick my own website if I am not careful…)

At first, I was kind of sulky, because everyone said that WordPress was easy peasy… and I didn’t find it so peasy.

Sure, it’s easy to get set up and going on a free blog at WordPress.com, which is an absolutely awesome site… but once I started to get cocky and stretch my wings a bit, I found that I needed to learn more advanced applications of WordPress.

For instance, I ran into my picture upload limit at WordPress.com so I migrated to self hosting, using BlueHost (which I am happy with) and built up my blog but did not install Akismet.

Those of you who know WordPress already know what happened…. within a couple of months I had over 30,000 comments on my blog, all from Viagra.

So I rolled up my sleeves and knuckled down, buckled down, and learned WordPress. And installed Askismet.

And I’m really glad I did, because I am able to build and maintain this website for my self publishing work, plus another website for the feathers I sell for crafts. And when I went back to tune up my website for my blown eggs for crafts, I was able to take that site-builder software much farther than before, because of everything I’d learned while learning WordPress.

So a big thank you shout-out to the original authors of WordPress and the world of developers who keep it growing… and now I join my voice to those who say: “If you are self publishing a book, learn WordPress and build your site and blog away…”


Do It Yourself Self Publishing

The Four Wise Budgies of Self Publishing suggest you consider Do It Your Self Publishing.

As I continue to write about How To Self Publish A Book, I’ve realized that I need to add some more definitions to the term “self publishing.”

Most of the sites that come up under a search for self publishing advice are companies that can help an author self publish a book, for a price.

Many of them are good companies, and many authors are getting books out and ready to sell with their help…

but I’m doing something else as a self publisher… I’m doing it myself. So I’ve decided that we need a new term…

DIY Self Publishing, Do It Your Self Publishing.

This is a subculture of self publishing and invites anyone who has the skills to do it, or has no other choice (because they simply don’t have the money…)

Participation in this honorable new society will still cost some money in the form of a business license and buying ISBN numbers, and it means that we, as authors, will not be writing while we are engaged in the many hours of self publishing work. It also means that we, as working professionals, will not be doing whatever paid work we do while we are self publishing…. and that has to be weighed against the advantages of doing it ourselves. Even if you can do it yourself, it might make better economic sense to hire it out depending on your circumstances.

So that said, these posts are all about Do It Your Self Publishing. And in doing so, many of the actions are things you can do for free…. and that’s why it may be worth your time, because if your costs in producing the book are as low as possible, then you’ll have a better chance to make a profit when the book is out and selling. Assuming it does sell because you did spend what money you did have, wisely… like, on editing.

Evaluate your project by these four questions:

  • Is this a book well suited for Do It Your Self Publishing?
  • Do you have the time to produce it?
  • Should you consider submitting it to traditional publishers before you go ahead with self publishing?
  • Or do you have the money to buy help producing it… and reasonable plans for earning back that money in sales…?

And if it’s time to roll up your sleeves and do it yourself…. I’ve got some blogs you might enjoy..!


3 Eggs of Self Publishing Advice

Three eggs of self publishing advice to nest with.

Some self publishing helper companies may charge you for things you can do for free if you own your ISBN number… so you should know about 3 things you can do for free as a self publisher.

  1. You can create your own cover using the print-on-demand’s online software for no additional fee, although I strongly recommend you get your cover professionally done. This is true for any author actually. You don’t have to have your own ISBN number. It depends on what POD service you choose. Both Createspace and Lulu offer a free cover creator tool.
  2. You can register for a Library of Congress Control Number yourself, for free. (You must mail them a copy of your published book).
  3. You can list your title in Books In Print for free.

Also, consider this when evaluating a company’s service pricing:

You can register your copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office for $35 – $65 (and, depending on your project. You must mail them a copy of your published book)

You can get your book on Amazon.com yourself by using the right print-on-demand company. Research LightingSource and Createspace before paying a company to put your book on Amazon. Expanded distribution will cost, but putting it on Amazon may not. I have used Createspace and I’m happy with their service and product, but there are other companies out there that I haven’t tried yet (future posts!). If I have an affiliate link on this site to a company, that means I’ve used the service and I like it… and I’ve probably got a post in here somewhere reviewing it. Createspace is in, and you don’t pay extra to get your book on Amazon, because Createspace IS Amazon.

As with everything else, if you do decide to pay someone else for a service you could do for free… there is value in the fact that you don’t have to spend your time whacking away at the search engines and web portals to get it done. But my mission in my self publishing journey is DIY and DIFF. Do It Yourself and Do It For Free.
Because knowledge is power.




Copyright 2012 Corinne Tippett & The Westchester Press
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