Collected How-To’s on Writing and Publishing Your Ebooks

Some collected tips, hints, and tricks to get your book written
& published.

I just published yet another book, this one a collection of interviews and writings on writing
I had lying around, or had published earlier in some other format.
And it led me to a growing list of tips and tricks which I hadn’t put
in any book or told anyone in particular about writing, publishing, and
marketing books. These are in note form and may or may not flow from
one to the other. (They might even seem to repeat…) I’ll post this
when thing quit “bubbling up” – so you have the complete collection.

Tips:

Just stumbled on this recently – in LibreOffice, don’t create an index (table of
contents – or TOC) before you port to epub. This makes you do a lot of
hand-editing in Sigil to get it up to snuff.
Sequence on that line up should be:

Just Publish! ebook creation for indie authors.
  1. Create the ebook version first.
    • ebook version has all the links necessary, always linking
      back to your main web page
      for other resources.
    • I write the ebook first, then create the web page. On
      occasion, I’ve gone ahead and published before I had the web page ready
      – in that case, it pointed to my root page. But it always pointed
      somewhere.
  2. Save As your print version, then add the header,
    footer, index, back ads. Keep the links for the PDF version.

    • Have a link on the footer for the PDF. It’s something like
      “Visit http://midwestjournalpress.com/ for more
      material.” But you see it actually goes to a specific page. So the
      print version gives them something to copy into their browser.
    • KISS tip – make the pages mirrored. Put .62 on the inner
      margin for binding – and .5 all around otherwise. (Unless your text is
      very, very short.)
    • I put the book title in the top along with the page
      number.
    • Headers and footers are ads which keep repeating that same
      message.
  3. If you need a different print version, then save as a new version. Don’t
    do the mistakes of having to re-edit versions back to where you had it
    before. (Ahem.) An example of needing a different version would be a
    “study guide” version which is printed on letter-sized paper with wide
    margins for notes.

    • Be sure to update your index every time you resize the pages
      or add/substract a footer/header. Page numbers will change.
    • Ebooks don’t need page numbers

I purposely threw out all the styles rules. Sure,
it’s great to have the page numbers start with the actual text. But
mostly, you can throw out all those intro pages at the start – or
combine them into a single copyright page. This is the evolution which ebooks
have forced on the industry. Legally these days, you don’t even have to
have a copyright page – some have said to put it in the back of the
book. However, you want people to immediately go to your site when they
finish the last page. So I keep it short and in the front, along with
any enforced disclaimer (which could be: see site for why this is needed.)

My PDF books are the hybrid between epub and print.
They actually become the print book as a second incarnation. PDF’s (on
Lulu) are also the preview for the ebook. And they’ll eventually
become your giveaway (or can be shortened into that.) So they have ads
and so on.

I design at 6″x9″. This is close to what a person
will see on a tablet. And reads better than 8.5″x11″ on a computer
screen. (Put it two-up with facing pages.) So a first action in editing
is to change your page format. If you have your last book and are happy
with it, you can import the styles (over-write) from that book into
your current one. Saves substantial time.

I don’t ever consider that I need to reinvent the wheel,
when I find a perfectly good one sitting there. And so it is with
public domain and PLR (material which has publicly licensed rights.)

Public domain – OK, here goes (should be a book,
I imagine)

  • Lots of books are in the public domain and have fallen out of
    circulation. The more popular ones exist all over the place.
  • Consult some legal beagles on this, but the key part is to add
    something new to the text so you can put your own copyright on it and
    charge money.
  • One approach, if in doubt, is to simply link to where you found a
    free copy. (Hoping that they don’t move the original on you. Find it
    via Internet Archives
    and link to it there.) Internet Archives Note: “open source”
    isn’t public domain. Watch for creative commons licenses there as well.
  • Amazon, Smashwords, and Scribd
    don’t like public domain. Amazon wants you to have a minimum of 10
    images added to it. Smashwords simply won’t accept it – or PLR. Scribd
    has what seems to be a duplicate content checker which kicks back your
    book (and keeps a tally, saying that you’ve just violated someone
    else’s “copyright”.) Lulu (which includes/ports to iTunes, B&N)  and Kobo don’t mind if you do. Frankly, since my books
    sell better on iTunes/Nook, I don’t care. If it’s completely original,
    I’ll ship it to Amazon as well.
  • (There are some PLR books on public domain which I’ll need to
    publish at some point…)
  • Fastest route for publishing public domain/PLR books (or
    anything) is through Lulu and Kobo. That gets you to 4 main
    distributors right off. Lulu is posted instantly, Kobo in a few days,
    iTunes/B&N can take weeks. The great part about Kobo/iTunes/B&N
    is that the sales will pick up right away if you’ve got something worth
    buying.

Amazon is a crap shoot for unknown authors. From my
own studies, they’s shot their KDP-Select scene to hell. A recent book
shows that it no longer works to bump sales once the “free” time is
done – you’re getting freebie seekers who are loading up their Kindle, not reading the stuff. The .99 specials
which Locke and Hocking used still work (although Locke cheated with
padded reviews). Using Coker’s recommended “some free” strategy (and
others have verified) will bring you some traffic. If I were trying to
make my living from original content, I’d post almost all my books to
start with at .99 on Amazon and raise the price after a couple of
months gradually. (Since I re-publish a lot of other author’s material,
and don’t yet have time to slow down and drop in images, I skip Amazon
for most of my books at this point – although I can come back and
revise all my bestsellers later.)

My own tests have shown that iTunes, B&N, and Kobo
produce the best for unknown authors with great covers and
descriptions.
Your alternative with Amazon is to spend a
great deal of time begging for reviews to be part of their inbred
system of algorithms. See my Storify articles in this area.

Most PLR stinks to high heaven. Occasionally,
you’ll find a well-written piece which is also still factual. As some
sort of reserve, I will float some of these as “from the research files
of…” so I have a back-door excuse if I ever need it. Otherwise, you
are practically going to re-write the whole thing, using their outline
and content as a springboard to phrase the text just how you would.
It’s faster than writing and researching from scratch, but not by much
– since you will be researching their facts before you put your name on
it. However, as giveaways, it’s not a bad scene – particularly if you
can point to an in-print version which costs money to buy.
A little research will show you whether it’s worth anything to publish
that PLR as your own with that title. Note that Amazon accepts print
versions of books when they will block PLR ebook versions. (Guess they
don’t want to have to scan those pages to do their dup-content
checking.) Which means you could have a short ebook which points to the
Amazon print version that has PLR filler material (to be blunt.)

This year, I finally realized my job is more an editor
and publisher than it is a writer.
This brought about a few
changes in marketing. What helped that realization was that the bulk of
my various researches are now complete – culminating in the Thrivelearning System (TLS). That doesn’t
mean I don’t have a great deal to do. Publishing is a means to an end.
I’ve categorized it under the Online
Millionaire Plan
as a way to add more value. (Again,
the TLS has Mind-Body-Value-Purpose as the four key elements.)

Any author is at least a part-time publisher and has to
think and work like one.
Probably a third of your day is in
marketing your own work. (Other two-thirds are writing and reading.
Writing is in the most productive period. Your email and social
networking is done during your publishing/marketing time. Reading is to
fuel your muse and your native talents – see Stephen
King’s “On Writing”
.)

All blogging is done with some social bookmarking, status
updates, etc.
There have been a lot of tools in this area,
most of which went belly up (or were bought up and shut down.) Second-best
tool I know of now is Onlywire. Frankly, you I don’t particularly care
for a lot of these social networks. I mostly stick with Google+ (though
if I were seriously marketing, I’d invest more time in Goodreads – and
will.) First-best tool is Synnd, even though it can seem pricey and the GRQ
(Get Rich Quick) fools have done their best to criticize it for lack of
instant results – it’s a long process, but one which has proved itself
over where I’ve used it. Part of your Content-SEO work.

Zemanta – time/life saver. Mainly because you can
enter in all the various blogs you have and have ever used, then pull
content from these to give you backlinks/crosslinks on your blogging. I
wouldn’t use their images, as it’s a crap-shoot (plus you can’t easily
control what they put on as a caption.) Tags are great, though, as well
as in-text links.  Used to use Storify, but recently they changed
their on-page content so it’s near impossible to scrape your own pages
into something usable. Embeds also don’t work like they used to (sigh.)
Zemanta’s plug-in’s work better under Chrome/Chromium.

Another fascinating tool to use, while we’re on that subject, is Market
Samurai
. You’ll see just below the “related articles” a set of
“related sites”. MS has the capability to find track-back blogs, which
are able to link back to you when you link to them. It’s an old method
of getting in-bound links, one which is harder to exploit. As far as
backlinks as an SEO strategy works, anyway…

Apps – I’m currently looking into this as a
publishing platform for books. As you can embed a PDF into an app, and
also give them RSS feeds from your blog so they are always up to date.
This would work well for something which is integrated such as “Duct-tape
Marketing” by Jantsch
. Give the app away to devoted fans. Lots of
work, but can be promoted on your site and blog, as well as via Synnd
above – since it has its own web page on the Android App store. (Apps
also fit in if you have a unique public domain book everyone else has
forgotten about. Keyword search can be done to check for “competition”.
You’ll see that the cover again sells the app, as well as the
description – just like books.

Links on your book page – should always be
monetized. Everywhere you send someone should help you in some way. Now, sending
people to Wikipedia just helps your reputation – and people will come
back to finish reading your stuff (as long as you have their interest,
most times.) Same for sending them to locations, or download links. But
if you send them to another site, it ought to be via an affiliate link.
Same for Amazon, even though their “advertising fees” are pretty lousy.
Otherwise, links, as I covered above, should be ones which give you
track-backs. And make sure you cross-link to specific pages of your
other sites and mini-net. (More of that over at An
Online Sunshine Plan
– or my recent book series just released about earning
extra income with your home business
…)

Lulu pricing tips. When you port to iTunes or B&N
via Lulu, getting your price changed is difficult – if not impossible.
You should be able to do a new revision, and then they adjust those
prices. Hasn’t happened for me. The reverse of this is to have your
book at a regular price to begin with and when these two other stores
finally pick up and publish the book, you can change your price on Lulu
easily – which is how you can give people a limited-time discount
price. (Or use Kobo for that.) iTunes is for MAC users, who may or may
not be savvy about epubs. Amazon is for Kindle users.
An old tip is to get Amazon to give away your book for free
by setting your prices everywhere else to zero. (My book was .99 there
at first – when the algorithm kicked in to lower the price, I then went
back to “raise” it – which makes it look like a greater value.) Having
both the paperback and hardback edition available on Amazon (you can
print through Lulu for very little cost) will then show your “free”
download to be even a better deal.

– – – –

That’s all for now. Talked myself out. Hopefully this has caught
us up. It wasn’t enough for an update of “Just Publish!” and with any
luck, you’ve made some sense of this.

Related Sites:

  • How Frances Hwang Became a Writer « ph.d. in creative
    writing
    – This is the next installment in the How to Become a
    Writer interview series, which will post here at Ph.D. in Creative
    Writing every other Sunday until I run out of writers to interview, or
    until they stop saying yes. Each writer …
  • How Amina Gautier Became a Writer « ph.d. in creative
    writing
    – This is the next installment in the How to Become a
    Writer interview series, which will post here at Ph.D. in Creative
    Writing every other Sunday until I run out of writers to interview, or
    until they stop saying yes. Each writer …
  • Mermaids
    | Currents – Indiana University South Bend
    – I. The birthday girl
    begins her day with a question: “Do wishes really come true?”She is
    using a plastic knife to spread blue icing along one side of her cake.
    The birthday girl’s mother, at work on the other side of the cake,
    wonders why she asks …
  • Guest Blog Post, Elane Johnson: So You Want to Be a
    Writer… | s [r …
    – Your post reminds me of Lorrie Moore’s “How to
    Become a Writer” in which the first line is: “First, try to be
    something, anything, else.” Reply ↓. Elane Johnson on March 31, 2013 at
    3:21 pm said: Hi, Mai-Quyen- Thank you!
  • Lynn Trimble | Curtain Critic – “When I decided to
    become a writer, I first went to the Burton Barr Central Library and I
    picked a book off the shelf…it was something like, How to Become a
    Writer…and then I went to the racks that had magazines,”
    Trimble …
  • How Valerie Sayers Became a Writer (& how she’s
    trying to get her …
    – This is the next installment in the How to
    Become a Writer interview series, which will post here at Ph.D. in
    Creative Writing every other Sunday (or so) until I run out of writers
    to interview, or until they stop saying yes.

 

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About Thrivelearning

Telling people what I know that might be useful to them. Just another geek blogger trying to make a living through online training, online business, and dropshipping affiliate marketing - among other things interesting...
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