Posts Tagged With: guest post

Guest Post: Formatting An E-Book Is Not Rocket Science

Today’s guest post comes from Misha Burnett, fellow WordPress blogger and author of the sci-fi/urban fantasy novel Catskinner’s Book. Take it away, Mr. Burnett!

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Formatting an e-book is not rocket science. Seriously, it isn’t. You may have heard that e-book conversion is a highly technical process requiring specialized software and trained professionals, and if it is done wrong your years of work on your book will be absolutely ruined.

Well, odds are you heard that from someone who wants to sell you an e-book conversion package starting at the low, low, price of 199$ (plus extra charges if your book contains specialized elements such as words). People who make money from e-book conversion aren’t going to tell you that it’s a simple process that most people can learn in an afternoon.

I will tell you that. In fact, I am telling you precisely that.

E-book conversion is a simple process that most people can learn in an afternoon.

What’s more, you have absolutely nothing to lose by attempting to do it yourself. All of the software that I recommend is free. Make sure that you make a clean backup copy of your manuscript before you try anything, and then, no matter what happens, you’re not risking the book itself. Even if you decide that you don’t want to keep messing with it and pay someone else to do the conversion, all you’ve spent is time. (Unfortunately, your wasted time will not be refunded.)

Okay, let’s get started. I’m assuming that you have a clean, proofed and edited copy of the manuscript that you want to convert? Good. Now the very first step is to make a new copy of it—that’s what you play with. If you totally mess it up, it’s no big deal, just delete it and make another copy and start over. Never experiment with the original copy of your manuscript. (Yeah, that sounds obvious, but it can be easy to forget.)

Next, let’s get some software. I have collected links to some of the more important ones on my E-Reader Apps Page, because I live to serve. Calibre is the most important one, but I also advise getting the desktop apps for Kindle and Nook in order to see how it will look on different devices. (You’ll also want to see your book on any handheld devices you own—yes, you can do that, too.)

I also recommend getting Open Office, because it does everything that MSOffice does and it’s free. Furthermore, because MicroSoft has some serious control issues, people who write open source applications find it easier to start with .odt files rather than the propitiatory .doc format.

I am not going to tell you how to use these programs. All of them have plentiful documentation, and they explain how to work them much better than I could. What I will do is encourage you to try things out. Calibre has a huge number of buttons and switches to fiddle with, so much so that it looks a little intimidating, but the basic concept is simple.

Convert the file in Calibre, load the converted file into your e-reader and e-reader apps, read through it and see how it looks. Make notes on what you think could be changed, then look up how to make those changes in the documentation.

Then do it again. It’s a lot like the editing process—wait, actually it is an editing process. Unlike the strictly mechanical process that a text converter like the one Smashwords uses, Calibre allows you a great deal of input into the process. Take some time figuring out what looks good to you, what makes your text easy and fun to read, because that’s the bottom line, making sure that none of the mechanical issues get between you and your readers.

Yes, it’s time consuming, and it can be frustrating. It took me a number of tries to get the table of contents, for example, to work right. There was, in fact, no small amount of cussing involved.

However, when I was done, not only did I save myself money, I had a product that I could feel proud of, and I knew how it was done. When it came time to format sample chapters from my new book for Kindle, Nook, and pdf for my beta readers, it took no time at all.

Granted, I have a lot of experience playing with different computer programs and tweaking them to get the results I want. You may decide that it’s worth it to you, personally, to pay to have your book converted.

However, I think that it’s a good idea for authors to get a feel for the process and to understand how it’s done and what can be done. That way, if you do decide to pay for a service you know exactly what you are paying for, and what it’s worth to you. To be honest, I have seen “professionally” formatted books that have glaring mechanical errors—extra spaces, broken lines, bad links in tables of contents. I’ve seen e-books put out by major publishing houses that were all but unreadable. So I would also advise anyone who uses an e-book conversion service to make sure you have the chance to examine the file before it goes live, and don’t pay for it until it is done right.

Got questions? Feel free to hop on over to my blog and drop me a line. I may not know the answer, but I might be able to point you in the right direction.

 

Semi-related media of the day (courtesy of Misha Burnett!):

ARI

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Categories: Guest Post | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Guest Blog Post: Tania L Ramos + Giveaway!

Remember that blog tour I mentioned I was taking part in? Well, the day has finally arrived! Today we have with us Tania L Ramos, author of the adult romance/drama Be Still (click here for my review). She’s an extremely talented author who I met over WordPress, and she’s here to share some thoughts with us about how to set realistic, achievable goals.

So here’s what you need to do if you want to be awesome:

1. Read the guest post. I really enjoyed reading it, and I think you will too.

2. Enter the giveaway! Go to Tania’s Facebook page and find the “Blog Tour with Michelle Proulx, Post Comments Here” post (should be easily spotted). Leave a comment saying that you read this blog post, as well as your email address. Then you will be entered for a chance to win a softcover copy of Be StillFor free! Woo!

3. If so inclined, you can also check out Tania’s website. There’s lots of information there about her, her book, etc. Do it!

And so, without any further ado, Tania’s guest post!

Tania L Ramos, author of Be Still

Hello friends of Michelle Proulx and thank you for following my blog tour.  My name is Tania L Ramos, author of two books titled, “When I Thought I Was Tough,” and most currently, “Be Still.” By day I am a registered nurse in a recovery room.  By night I punch away at my keyboard and put on my author hat.  Currently, I am a marketer, publicist, and social media novice all for my most current book.  Most importantly, I am an independent  author and that has been the scariest part.

Like so many others, I dreamed of being published and getting paid for what I love to do.  Then I discovered that was like saying I wanted to be an award winning actress in Hollywood.  Well, I had my fifteen seconds of Hollywood fame when I played (in a non-speaking roll) a paramedic for several episodes of the television show E.R.  I was never discovered and, so, I went on into my role of being a real medical professional then chose to  start writing during a very bleak period in my life.  That bleak period is a whole other story, one of those Hallmark television after-school specials.

With my time off I wrote my first novel.  I thought I would have been happy at that, but all that did was spark a great fire for the desire to be an accomplished author.  What is accomplished? I had a few goals in mind went I  decided to independently publish, “Be Still.”

Goals:

1. Have a professional looking book (accomplished)

2. Have a book signing (accomplished)

3. Reach a rank of less than 1,000,000 on Amazon (accomplished…for a few hours)

4. Have a book party (accomplished)

5. Have a book trailer up (accomplished)

6. Have an author video interview up (accomplished)

7. Do a blog tour (in process of being accomplished)

8. Sell 250 book by August 31,2012 (short about half, but there’s still time)

My guest post today is about having goals and making them realistic. Sure, I would love to be a NY Times Best Seller and have a company pay me to write instead of investing my own money to write, but it takes baby steps.  There are many authors out there who started out self-published and eventually won out the big publishing houses, but even those authors would say they had to first pay their dues. Never, or at least rarely, do things come without working at it first.

I have paid over $6,000 into being published. And I do not mind saying that. There are many authors who refuse to reveal numbers, but I’m here to state the truth, so other authors going this route know they aren’t alone. Over $6,000 in publishing and at least another $2,500 in marketing and publicity.  I have tried it all.  I made a commitment to put any money I make back into marketing or into publishing my next book.  I didn’t expect to  make a profit, but wouldn’t scoff at it should that happen.  I am a relatively unknown author and have prepared myself to pay my dues.

I set goals first off, and placed them on a blackboard in bright shiny colors to see every morning.  The list above are just some of my goals, there are many more: send out a press release, create a Facebook fan page, start using Twitter, etc.  Every day I set out to complete one task and called it an accomplishment.  I celebrated every minor milestone such as hugging the woman who had no clue who I was but bought my book at the mall anyways.  What was all the hubbub? Someone who didn’t know me from Eve bought a book! To me that was a major ordeal. When I sold my first ten books I shouted for joy and posted it to every social media outlet I could.  Again, it wasn’t the 250 by August, but it was a milestone on my way to the bigger picture.  I celebrate everything so nothing too small can ever be a disappointment.

A few weeks ago I did a book signing at High Desert Oasis Used bookstore’s grand re-opening event.  I sold one book.  Just one.  I called it a bonus day.  You know why? The guy who bought my book met me at the mall the  week before and promised he would show up to the bookstore for my signing event. And he did.  That was one of the most special books I have sold yet.  And still, I only sold one book that day.  It wasn’t so much the sale as knowing he came back to see me because he was very curious about the book. Milestones.

This blog tour has been such a huge ordeal for me.  I didn’t know many people before writing my book.  In fact, I could name all my friends on one hand.  I’m socially awkward and a great savant at being perpetually recluse.  Thusly, I write.  So creating a book tour took so much time and emotional energy.  I had to start networking, start putting myself and my emotions out there, and start speaking up.  Some of you may empathize.

I was turned down by five people whom I invited to join my blog tour.  I was psychologically devastated and emotionally mortified.  But in between all those rejections were acceptance replies. I told myself I would do the tour even if just one person accepted.  Just one.  I had five people accept.  Instead of wallowing in devastation I celebrated my accomplishment.  FIVE PEOPLE ACCEPTED.

Not only am I hitting milestones and accomplishing goals, but I’m changing who I am.  I can talk to people about my book.  And conversely people are asking me questions.  I have joined clubs and volunteered to do speaking events.  People are contacting me now.  But everyday, I still create and reach for goals.  Today I am coming to you from Las Vegas, Nevada where I am working on another goal: research, video and photos of the Extraterrestrial Highway for my next book (based on aliens for young adults).  There is always a goal…

I feel like a superstar and so should you in every minor and major accomplishment. Hug the lady who buys your book and has no clue who you are. Let them know they are superstars in your world.  Rejoice in the person  who remembers who you are and comes back.  Be delighted if only one person accepts your request to host a blog tour, but jump to the sky if you get five.  Take a picture of the moment you sell ten books, twenty-five, fifty and finally hit your goal.  Never, never, never look at a goal as missed but look at it as an extended journey.  Books are forever.  It may take twenty years to hit a goal, but don’t forget to shout out loud on the day you hit that mark.  Never lose sight of your dream, because nobody else can dream it for you.  And when you reach that goal, after the celebration, make a new one. And if you can’t be among the stars…write about them.

–Tania L Ramos

Did you enjoy the guest post?

Sound off in the comments below!

And don’t forget to check out her blog tour stop yesterday at DavidMcGowanAuthor.com. Tomorrow she’s posting a video blog on Youtube, so stop by her Youtube channel to see that!

Categories: Blog-related, Self Publishing, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

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