Tag Archive: tools for self publishers


My series on Successful Self Published Authors wouldn’t be complete without mentioning E. L. James

and

Fifty Shades of Grey.

E. L. James has become a successful author who started with self publishing.

E. L. James has become a successful author who started with self publishing.

The book itself has many people more qualified than I to talk about it – I actually haven’t read it yet. I’m currently very interested in how it came to the attention of the world – and shot to the top.

If the subject matter wasn’t controversial enough, the way the book came to be is even more so.

E. L. James was a participant in a Twilight fan site, but moved her material to her own site after her story started to wildly deviate from any Twilight relevance. The story first gained attention through postings and social media, and James kept writing. She, or somebody, (another grey area) put it out as a Print On Demand book and kaboom!

A traditional publisher – Vintage Books who is or was owned by Knopf which is or was owned by Random House – then picked it up and voila it appears in grocery checkout lines. Yet another thing to not explain to my daughters right now…. the practical hazards of a rope bikini… not now, please.

Once again, the moral of this successful self publishing story is … content.

This book had such compelling and interesting content, that it simply sold and sold some more. The rest followed like a weal follows a whip crack.

In the many many things we learn from this book – we learn that content really is dominant.

If the content is riveting enough, it will make its way blindfolded to the hands of readers everywhere.

I should stop now… It’s too tempting to tie myself in knots over this.
Seriously, I’m stopping now.

Congratulations to E. L. James!

 

 

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!

 

 

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!

 

 

 

Now Available in Kindle Format

Now Available in Kindle Format

How do I self publish my eBook?

I asked that question of the Googoracle and found that the technology and methods are changing so quickly that all of the how to instructions and advice were mostly, but not entirely, useful.

In a similar-but-not-the-same way that PC and Mac are different, Kindle and Everything Else is different.

I needed a .mobi file for making my book available on Kindle, through Amazon.com – and I made that myself using calibre and about twenty hours of web research.

I needed an .ePub file for making my book available on Barnes and Noble and Apple iBooks, and I tried to use Smashwords.com helpful program to do it from a MS Word file, but the navigation – always the navigation – wouldn’t work in a way I considered professional.

So I used Calibre again, and that previous twenty hours of web research, to create an .ePub file, and uploaded it to Smashwords.com – and through them, will see it manifest on B&N and Apple iBooks.

I could upload the .ePub file directly to B&N and Apple iBooks but if I use Smashwords.com, I don’t have to manage them all myself. And the royalty rates are in my favor.

The magic of all this is complicated by the ingredients we authors are using at the time we attempt to cast our eBook spell.

Depending on the author’s computer, operating system, update level, internet browser, skill level, document complexity, origination software, and book style – the process is either straightforward or convoluted. And I wizarded up a pond full of toads before I was able to create my shining pretty ebook.

But now it is done!  And with great fanfare, I am happy to announce that “Just A Couple Of Chickens” is available on Kindle, and on Smashwords, and at Barnes and Noble, and at the Apple iBook Store!

My next step as a self publisher is to go write about a dozen more books and put them out in all these different places as well!

 

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.

 

 

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…”

 

Copyright 2012 Corinne Tippett & The Westchester Press
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