Tag Archive: writing resources


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…”

 

(this post is a re-write re-post from 2011…)

As I near the end of writing my manuscript, I realize that the time has come to polish up the grammer, usage, punctuation,
and so I pull out my mammothly heavy copy of The Chicago Manual of Style.
Perhaps, you are thinking, I should have that book out all the time – before I near the end of my manuscript.
Well, I am going to ignore that kind of thinking and move forward.

I can’t pretend that I like The Chicago Manual of Style. I’ve spent too many hours trying to follow all the freakin’ rules and regulations.

Rules like how percentage has to be spelled out if it refers to human beings, but can be a symbol if it refers to anything else unless it is at the beginning of a sentence and depending how big of a number it is referring to.
This is the kind of rule that seems to love itself too much.

The T-Rex of Self Publishing, Chicago Manual of Style

This is how I feel about the Chicago Manual of Style, but I use it… and use it… and use it some more.

To be a rule simply to exist as a rule and not to help mankind in general.
Stop signs, good rule.
Percent rule,  not so much.

The manualfesto is produced by the University of Chicago Press – who is actually a publisher.
They have a section of their website with manuscript preparation guidelines that are a handy basic starting point for formatting a manuscript, even if it isn’t going to be submitted to them.

And I wondered why the University of Chicago got to determine the final word on usage of the English Language… wikilore says it is because they did it first, and they did it most, and they’ve continued to do it.

It started in 1906 with the first edition and is now in a 16th edition and is considered a guide for the proper use of everything in American English.

If I sound a little negative, it’s only because I don’t write right and I have to spend many many hours creeping through the Chicago Manual of Style to put out a decent manuscript.
Their rules of English usage are not obvious to me despite my fluency in the language.

It is also because I decided not to sign up online because if I bought the durn book, then I’d have it and not have to pay again every year. How often would they put out a new edition?  I’d be set for decades.
The very next year, they put out the new edition. All newest editions are automatically accessible in the online subscription, which is also, naturally, searchable online.

If I had the online version, I could be searching the proper usage of the word “Dammit” right now.

how to self publish a book using lulu

A feather of self publishing advice regarding Lulu.com

I recently printed a draft of my soon-to-be-available step by step “how-to” manual on self publishing through Lulu.com to see how Lulu compares other services I’ve tried.

www.Lulu.com is one of many online companies that offers a range of publishing solutions to anyone with a project.

To start, before I sign up for any online company, I do a “suck search” to see if anyone has gotten angry enough at that company to rant off about it. I found a really huge number of people who were pissed off at Lulu.com. Almost as many as are pissed off at PayPal.

So I was cautious and read all the fine print and submitted a live email query to lulu.com’s customer support to test the system. It took a week for customer support to respond, but when they did, it was a live person and the answer was relevant to my question, and I was satisfied. So I got busy setting up an account and putting my project together.

I liked the fact that I could make a project that was “private” for viewing right from the start. And that I could change that setting later. Private publishing. Taking self publishing to a whole new level; the self reading level.

Lulu is free. That was good, because the other services I’ve tried are also free to get started. The only charge I paid was when I was ready to order a copy of my book to proof it. Then I paid for my book and the shipping. The book fee was based on the size and page count, and the shipping was both reasonably priced, and fast. The book fee was reasonable too.

I would have to pay Lulu.com fees once I was ready to publish my book, but if I stayed in this new world of totally private publishing, I’d only ever pay when I wanted a copy of my book. Self audience!

I was able to make a cover for free, which is a service also available on other services. While I seriously recommend you hire a professional to make your final cover, it is handy to use the free service to make a draft cover. Lulu had fewer options than other services I’ve used, but I need fewer options on something like that. I’ve lost too many hours playing with covers that should never see the light of day.

When I was ready to order a proof, I did not have to put in my ISBN number. Nor did Lulu require me to take one of theirs. They would require the ISBN number when I was ready to publish, but not to order a proof, and I liked that very much.

Lulu’s system was pretty easy to use… the only troubles I had were specific to my formatting, and so overall, I was satisfied, but when I came to the steps involved with actually publishing my book with Lulu, I was no longer satisfied. The costs and process of self-publishing through Lulu were a no-go for me. Their fee to get my book on Amazon.com and beyond, and how they structure their royalties and pricing put me off. It is cheaper and easier to control on other services.  CreateSpace, where I self published “Just a Couple of Chickens”,  will put my self-published book on Amazon.com with no fee. They only charge once I start to access expanded distribution. (…disclosure….I have an affiliate link to CreateSpace on my sidebar because I am pleased with their service, but no link in the text of this post…. and I would affilate lulu.com because of their ease of printing a book, but not for their publishing portion…)

In summary, Lulu.com is very useful for printing a proof or a casual copy of a book I don’t intent to market.

It’s easy to use and the service was good. The print and cover quality was fine. I can use Lulu to print a proof of my project, or I can pay them to produce my whole book, or I can use my own ISBN number and self-publish my book through their company. But I wouldn’t. And many of these publishing issues were the root of the rantations I found in my search.

I would use CreateSpace over Lulu for self publishing… although I haven’t yet tried Lightning Source or Blurb.com. (Have you?)

Lulu’s proof printing ease makes it pretty fun to whip up book versions of some of my projects-in-waiting. To see them in book form instead of in manuscript form or only on screen. Lulu.com is great for that purpose. I’ve got so many projects that I could take self publishing to the ultimate of ultimate level… self library!

 

Self Publishing Winter View

This is the winter version of my favorite view from our New Mexico property. Because I am entering edits, and that is a cold, gray, vista of gray coldness.

This week, the “Self” in Self Publishing is pissing me off.

Because this week, I am entering the edits to my book about my grandfather’s aviation pioneering history which will not be titled “CJT, A Biography” due to the unanimous thumbs down from my editors.

Not that it was the title. It was a working title. I’m still working on a title.

This week I am crawling through my book, page by page, carefully capturing all the fixes that my editors have provided.
My editors are very very good, and don’t miss a thing.
But I am apparently utterly unable to properly capitalize or numerate or subject/verb match or punctuate.

I imagine that if I had a book deal with a traditional publisher that some intern would do this for me.
I suspect that I’d still be doing it myself… but in the meantime, let me dream.

I had a job doing this kind of work twenty years ago. I quit that job.

I got tired of searching manually for the proper capitalization of the word “embassy” in my copy of The Chicago Manual of Style.
I wondered how much easier it would be to search for it on the online version.

I’d already dissed the online version in favor of the hardcover version glaring at me on my desk.
So I went online and discovered…that they had a one time 30 day free trial of the online version…

Sign Me Up!

And, and, and …. I typed in my question and got…
The same reference as I get in the hardcover version.

The table of contents.
An invitation to click crawl, rather than page crawl, the chapter on capitalization.
The same note about Chicago’s “down style” as I had sitting on my desk.

Where’s my intern?
Now the all the words in “self publishing” are pissing me off.

I searched further and I did find one benefit of the online Chicago Manual of Style.
The forum.
This is where other terminally frustrated writers and editors have posted their questions and either other people or the Editorial Priesthood of The Manual have answered, and that was really quite helpful because I did pick up a side comment to a tangent to a reference to another question that finally mentioned….

American Embassy (capitalized) or people from the embassy (not capitalized)

So, before I go back to my book and uncapitalize every instance of lieutenant colonel, except for those that should be capitalized… which means that I can’t just do a find and replace… let me summarize my comparison between the hardcover printed copy of The Chicago Manual of Style and the online version:

  1. They both contain the same nit picky, wickedly-confusing, non-obvious, trip wires of English usage rules organized in the same way
  2. Keyword searches really only bring you to suggestions for the right chapter, unless you luck out in the forum
  3. The forum is worth a lot
  4. But clicking through the chapter submenus using the forward button is a lot slower than running your finger down the printed page, because the website page refresh (on my computer) is slow
  5. The hardcover book is a pay once, page crawl forever, situation. Online is a pay yearly, click forever, version

My conclusion is:

Get an intern, give her the hardcopy book, and make HER enter the edits.

 

Self Publishing Advice Tulips

Hundreds of colorful ideas and connections will bloom at the Willamette Writers Conference 2012.

This year the Willamette Writers Conference is August 3 – 5, 2012 at the Portland Airport Sheraton Hotel. In addition to workshops and classes, there are agents, editors, authors, publishers… and authors with book ideas, manuscripts, or screen plays can pitch their ideas.

I’m really pleased that I went to the conference last year because I was able to see how it is to pitch a book idea to an agent. The pitch practice on Thursday night taught me a huge amount about the key elements of a pitch… genre, core idea, three minute overview...

It gave me the opportunity to see how a marketable idea, made into a well written book, presented by a creditable author, pitched to the right agent… can result in an agent/author relationship, which could then lead to a book deal.

It may seen odd that me, determined self published author, would go to a conference designed to get authors in with traditional publishers, but no no, it’s not odd at all. I don’t believe that self publishing and traditional publishing have to be exclusive of each other. I have, and will continue to, present my work to the traditional publishing world (clearly stating what projects I have self published and which I have not) and see if I get anywhere doing everything I can possibly do to keep writing. Since I’m blogging about it, we’ll see how far I get!

And also, the Willamette Writers Conference has classes and workshops galore on writing, editing, social media, self publishing, websites… everything a writer needs. And every year, it has more and more about self publishing… interesting, ay?

 

 

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