Self-Publishing on A Budget
By Earl R. Dingman
Copyright © 2017 by Earl R. Dingman, All Rights Reserved.
First e-Book January 2017
Printed in U.S.A.
eBook files updated 1-5-2017 8:30 AM. PAGE and PDF files updated 2-3-2017 for a "you" that should have been "your" and I got so many formatting hassles over publishing these eBooks that I'm not updating them at this time.This will be updated as information reaches me. Information is based on website data.
I plan on publishing this eBook for FREE as I don't want to charge for something this short nor do I approve of charging writers for information that is available through a Google search, trial and error, posted at the Facebook Writers Group sites or from people answering your posts.
Writers are poor people and get charged enough for things people “say” they need and I didn't wish to contribute to this situation.
Take note, in order to get this on Amazon for Kindle I may have to charge 99 cents there, as that is their minimum, and then I hope that my Nook, iPad Books and Smashwords $0.00 becomes a competitive price at Amazon, otherwise to get on Kindle I must charge their minimum. Sorry about that, but that is out of my hands.
Just so you know, all of you can go start a Smashwords account for free and go through their library and buy any offering they have in MOBI (Kindle), ePUB (Nook, iPad, etc.), PDF, Sony and even TXT format. Also, you can get free eBook readers from Amazon and the Microsoft Store for PC, MAC and Tablets.
As a point of reference the Table of Contents (TOC) for this book was done automatically in Word 365 by the use of Headings 1, 2 and 3. It doesn’t always work right, so try it out first and make sure you check the “use the hyperlinks” if you plan to make an eBook so the reader can click on a chapter or sub-heading and go straight there. Smashwords suggested using the BOOKMARK feature of Word instead of the CONTENTS maker. (I tried this out and it didn't work right so I went back to the automatic function in word!)
As for the cover, I made that. I put some books on a blue cloth along with an eBook reader device, shot a picture, put it into Gimp 2 (which is a free program), and Paint (that comes with Windows). I then worked with it for three hours making it look clean. See: Getting Started.
I would like to thank the various “Writer Groups” on Facebook and those writers who shared information with myself and others. Anyone finding a mistake in this book, please point it out and I'll see about correcting it as soon as possible. If you want to get listed in the appendix post at my Facebook page.
E.R.D. January 2017
Congratulations, you've finished your book, and you've tried to find an agent or submitted directly to a publisher, so now you have a file folder full of rejection slips.
You're not alone, we've all been there.
The next step is self-publishing and the days of the “vanity press” along with the stigma attached to it are long-gone in the internet age.
You can publish your own trade paperback print book and eBook for $50 or less. In some instances, if you want to “perfect it” you may have to spend more, but we're talking about getting it out there for as little as you can possibly get away with!
Now, this assumes you know how to spell and have a good command of grammar. If you don't, then you may have to buy the tools you need to make things better. Editing tools cost as little as free to as much as $250.
This also assumes you have designed your own book cover or know someone who can. Again, we're going to talk about this because professional editing and cover design will drive the cost of your first book up into the astronomical region. But, there are things you can do to get a break and still have a nice-looking book.
Our bottom line is if you scrimp and do all the work yourself it can be as cheap as $50, but if you outsource things it can grow as expensive as $5,000 before you even get your first copy. It is entirely up to you to decide how much to spend, but bear in mind that you may not sell a single copy and to make that $5,000 back you must sell tens of thousands of copies!
Evolution of this book cover from original picture on a cloth (left) cutting out the wrinkles using the cut tool. Filling all the cuts in with solid blue. Outlining and editing the edges, I turned a tablet into an eBook reader. I blurred the book titles to prevent legalities as these were books off my shelf. I also squared off one of the books that was crooked in Gimp. I took a screen shot of a PDF page and put that into the tablet screen. Then I cleaned it up with flat black fill-in and rounded boxes. Title text was done in Open Office and copied into Paint, then enlarged using the SELECT tool and dragging the lower right corner to increase the size. I added some contrast in Gimp. It took 3 hours of hard work, but it looks better than what Cover Creator offered me.
This is how you scrimp and save. If you don’t want to learn and work, then you must pay someone $$$ to do the work for you.
This is more important than anything else. Making sure that your grammar is acceptable, and this varies with the type of writing and your country as British rules are slightly different from American rules. Use your spell checker more than once as you might injure a word accidentally.
In a non-fiction book, it must be letter perfect (and I'll wager you may find a few flaws in this book). A fiction book needs to be perfect throughout the narrative, unless you are doing a book like Erica Jong's Fanny which was in old English, Robert Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress in which he created a dialect, as did Anthony Burgess in his novel A Clockwork Orange. Most narratives, however, tend to be in modern English and you need to watch your P's and Q's. This isn't as vital when you write dialog unless the person speaking is a scientist.
As an example, When I write dialog spoken by “common people” I would use the friendly “try and.” Try and do this, try and do that. It's grammatically incorrect but most of us speak this way. When I do my non-speaking narrative or if a highly literate person is speaking dialog I will use the more formal “try to.” Try to do this and try to do that. It's your option to be “friendly” and say things like “gotcha.”
When people speak in dialog, I have them use contractions. Like 'til instead of until. Haven't instead of have not. Don't instead of do not. Wouldn't instead of would not. Now, of course, if you're a Star Trek Next Generation fan and you are writing dialog for Data you will not use contractions because while Lore uses them, Data does not. He would not use a contraction.
American dialog is done in “quotes” (not to be confused with "the mark for inches") while British dialog tends to be done with the 'apostrophe.'
“Help,” she cried. (American way.)
'Help,' she cried. (British way.)
Notice the comma after the dialog and the lower-case narrative. This is the typical way to handle dialog to make it a complete sentence. You would also do this for questions and exclamations:
“Help?” she asked.
“Help!” she said.
“Help!” Mary shouted, trying to get people's attention.
Commas are horrid for most people and fortunately there are software offerings to help with placing commas where they are supposed to go and removing those that are unnecessary.
Excessive use of words and phrases. One of the paid tools I mention further in the book will find these.
Some people will tell you to look for words that end with “ly” and remove or replace these from your writing.
These comprise the major weaknesses found in many eBooks and manuscripts. And I'm going to tell you how to lessen these, but this won't be 100%. The best we can do is maybe 98%. The rest your readers will find and mention in their reviews. Then you go in and correct those as they are found.
What is a professional editor? Basically, your college or high school English teacher who will red pencil awkward sentences, write “SP” for spelling error, add commas, strike out unnecessary commas, put a ¶ mark where one paragraph should be broken into two paragraphs, etc., etc. Then you must re-write it. After that you should send it to a proofreader to make sure you didn't make new mistakes!
Some freelance editors did proofreading or copy editing for magazines. They are usually swift at what they do. Some just went to college and maybe got A’s on their papers.
I make no warranty on anyone doing editing. I, in fact, wonder if any of them would ever offer a partial refund for every error your readers find and post at Amazon, Nook or Goodreads and I’ve heard reports from people that errors were found after professional editing.
Copy editing of a standard size book (80,000 to 140,000 words) can run from $300 to $2,000 depending on the service you use. This is just to red-pencil the spelling, grammar and punctuation errors they find. They might also tell you to do a paragraph here and there.
Content editing costs anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000. This is done by a person who should have some experience working at a publisher, being an editor, and they also should have a master's degree in English. Their job is to help you tell your story with more clarity by removing things that don't need to be there, things that repeat the same information, poorly formed sentences and paragraph changes.
When a large publishing house picks up a book, they do all this for you. The acquisitions editor works with you on content and structure. Then a copy editor goes over the finished manuscript. Finally, several people in that editor's department, as well as those in the publisher's office read over the galley proofs and once again they blue pencil problems.
What you don't realize is that you are being charged for all this by the royalty rate they negotiated with you and your agent. You get an advance. Then you get royalties after your advance and all costs have cleared. The cost of editing and operations get amortized into the cost of printing the book. So, either way you're paying for editing. With a big publisher, it's just not directly from your pocket.
This requires some tools. Some are free. Some cost money.
This is a good, free tool. This is website based, or it can integrate into Microsoft Word versions from the year 2007 forward, using software you download for free at the Grammarly site. If you don't have word you can do it at their website portal and then cut and paste.
Grammarly helps with commas, subject verb agreement, and spelling. It is not 100% perfect and YOU must have a simple command of grammar because Grammarly can and will sometimes tell you to replace: doesn't with: don't.
Some of the time “don't” is incorrect. You must understand the difference and the best way is to change it to: does not. Then see if do not sounds better before you accept the change.
Grammarly premium is an optional, paid service you may not really need. You subscribe to Grammarly free at their website. Use at the site or download the software to install it into Word for Windows.
Another web-based grammar software that also integrates into Word and many browsers. I was using Ginger in a 2001 version of Word (you can't do that with Grammarly).
Ginger is a yearly service that costs about $60. It drops down from the top of Word and looks at your writing sentence by sentence. It corrects spelling, adds commas and semi-colons, points out awkward sentences. Once more Ginger is NOT perfect. Ginger changed the following dialog: “Each of you gets 11 shares.” To “Each of you get 11 shares” and then Grammarly changed it back to GETS. Something like that drives you nuts.
When this kind of a problem occurs, look at the sentence to see if you can write it another way. One editor told me to change it to: “You will each get 11 shares.” It's not as folksy as what the slob that was in the book said, but it solves the grammar problem.
Other editors told me to keep the folksy in place, since some people talk with bad grammar. Remember you have more flexibility in writing dialog.
This is another yearly subscription grammar checker. This offers way too many options.
I recommend doing things a little at a time, as unlike Grammarly and Ginger this program has problems with large amounts of text, so you need to block out one chapter with copy marks. You don’t actually copy it, just gray them out and start ProWritingAid.
I recommend starting with the basic Grammar Check tool instead of asking for the works. This does a very good job on removing unnecessary commas and adding those you need 95% of the time. This also does a good job helping YOU find missing quotes in large paragraphs. When it prompts, I would carefully look at the paragraph in question and make sure you closed all your quotes. This also checks spelling to a degree. If you have a need for the others, use them one at a time.
Pro Writing Aid is good at adding hyphenation for numbers and values. Like forty-five dollars. Seven-year-old girl. These are problems for many people and Pro Writing handles these nicely. Another thing it told me about was that I used inches ("") instead of quotes (“”) for some dialog parts. (I did not do this on purpose, my word processor snuck those in behind my back!)
The other tool I found very useful was OVER USED WORDS. You can do several chapters with this tool and it will tell you how many times you used different words. If you did this in two or three chapters, there's a good chance your whole document is filled with these words and you should consider substituting another word or phrase or simply eliminating the words if they are modifiers. Not all of them. I'd say cut them down by one third or in half using Find and Replace.
For the here and now if you have Word 2007 or later, go register for free Grammarly and download the free Word software. This is your most economical grammar tool!
The spell checker in Word also does some grammar checking.
Ultimately use a dictionary or surf the web. There are lots of good grammar sites.
I use the built-in spelling checker from Word 365, as well as the one in Open Office (which is what I write in) and then use Ginger, Pro Writing Aid and Grammarly.
My final trick is to use the voice feature of Word shown here as the balloon with the forward arrow (second ICON from the right). The last item is the drop down menu used to activate SPEAK the first time.
If you don’t have Word with SPEAK then you can get a free program like Natural Reader. Then, have the computer “speak the book to you” as you read along. Anything that sounds wrong, hit the pause button and look at the sentence. It is more than likely an awkward sentence that needs re-writing. Continue to re-write and speak it until it sounds normal.
After that convert your book to PDF and let the book sit for a while. Then open the PDF file and enlarge it for better reading. Go over it slowly word by word. This helps emulate an eBook reader.
It would be best if you can find a friend or relative who would read the book. Some authors on the web have expressed interest in doing “exchange reading.” You read my book and I read your book. The idea is to look for something wrong, not necessarily to criticize content, but by agreement you can also do that as well!
Setting up your paragraph formatting is very important for both eBooks and print books. You need to find the settings for PARGRAPH. In my Open Office, it's under the FORMAT menu. In my Word 365 it's under both the DESIGN menu heading and the LAYOUT menu heading. In DESIGN, you will see the PARAGRAPH settings on the far right. In LAYOUT, you will see settings for INDENT and SPACING in the middle of the row.
You need to decide how much to INDENT the first word of your paragraph. I usually do this to either .20" or .24" which is about four to five-character space. You DON'T want to use your spacebar or tab key to indent. You MUST use the Paragraph feature.
Once you set your indentation you need to decide on your spacing between paragraphs. I usually use .10" which is about a full blank line. This separates one paragraph from another, BUT it also takes up space and adds pages to your book. That can cost your buyers money on a print book. But, a book with no spacing between paragraphs can be difficult to read for some people. So, ultimately YOU must decide how much indentation and vertical spacing to allow.
You can do that at any point in time.
To give you an idea here's an example of paragraphs that are not spaced vertically and I'm just going to drone on and on here to make this point.
Here is the next paragraph with no vertical spacing between them like I normally use in my writing and it's up to you, as you are the publisher!
Now I've returned to my .10-inch spacing between the two paragraphs.
This is an example of shallow indenting. Once again, I'm going to drone on and on, on and on, so I can get to the next line for you to see. This can be set in the range .06 to .16”.
This is an example of deeper indenting. Once again, I'm going to drone on and on on and on so I can get to the next line for you to see. This is set at .18"
Now I've returned to my .24" very deep indenting.
It is totally up to you to decide what looks best to your eyes and how you think your readers will react to the layout. This is self-publishing, so you are the typesetter!
Line spacing should be single space for books and eBooks and double spaced if you are submitting to agents or publishing houses.
Font size is another consideration. While 12-point (or Pica) type is used in 8.5" x 11" letters and can also make a great eBook, it might be too large for 6" x 9" Trade Paperback book sizes. Several writers have recommended 11-point type for print books. If you're going to do 5" x 8" Mass Market Paperback size books you might even, consider going down to 10-point (or Elite) type.
You use ITALIC or slanted text for TITLES OF REAL THINGS, like songs, books, magazines. So, if your character is reading Cosmopolitan and you write that out, you generally should use italics for that magazine name.
You can also use ITALIC types when your characters talk to themselves or think. Like:
OMG! Could this really be happening! Some authors use the apostrophe while others use quotes. A few authors treat it like part of the narrative with no special effects at all. Your choice!
When you talk about signs and written things you generally should make them bold:
She waited patiently at the corner for the red DON'T WALK flashing sign to say WALK in green letters.
Some people use “fancy” font faces for the title of the book or chapters, such as this:
Not Supported by Everyone!
The above titles were “fancy” fonts that are not always supported (Kindle doesn't support them but this browser might) and get changed to normal. You can put them in as I did (top of the page) by making a screen capture and inserting them as an image file. If you leave them as True Type text fonts (the lower lines) they get converted to simple bold type.
For your chapter titles or numbers, you might want to try out the “Heading” options under Styles and Formatting. I've been using HEADING 1 in most of my books for chapter titles or numbers.
If you are using Word 365, it can sometimes make an automatic table of contents that can generate links to chapters in eBooks. Test this out as it only worked in one out of my four novels. Also, you need to say CHAPTER or have a chapter title so the reader won't get confused. And you should write CONTENTS above this table. The automatic contents function works with the HEADING 1, 2 and 3 functions in Word. These are commonly used in non-fiction books.
Not everyone uses titles for their chapters. Numbers are the most widely used method and there are several ways to go about this:
This is the simple way. A number with a dash on either side. Again, this is heading #1 in the style sheet section.
This is an alternative way. A chapter number with a period.
Either of these would be the most common method of denoting one chapter from the next.
Inside of your fiction book chapters are sometimes sub-chapters or sub-groups. These, two, can be separated with numbers that are smaller, but the most common way to change a scene or thought in a chapter is to add what are known as: ELLIPSIS and they look like this:
* * *
or like this
This is the most common way to break up your chapters into sections or scenes. The three together as shown here get bypassed by Kindle Read, at least that is what I’ve been told. Otherwise it the reading program will say ASTERISK, ASTERISK, ASTERISK.
Some people use the pound sign (which can also be used at the end of the book):
# # #
While others use the tilde:
Sometimes made bold and increased in size from the INSERT CHARACTER chart.
Not all publishing programs may support these so you'll have to test them out, but the most common usage is:
* * *
In some of my writing rather than using one of these division symbols I use an extra line of spacing and an extra-large font to start the first word of the new paragraph. Like I did here!
This way you know I'm on a different subject in a different paragraph, inside the same chapter. I simply made the “T” 18 points instead of 11 or 12 points.
A lot of publishers start their first paragraph out FLUSH LEFT. And then indent thereafter. I personally don't like this, but I see it a lot, especially from big publishing houses like this:
This would be the first paragraph of my book and chapter. And I'll just drone on and one and on so I can get to the next line. Once I finish this the rest get indented as normal:
And this continues until the start of the next chapter when the first paragraph is once again NOT indented. As I said, I personally don't like this approach, and it takes a lot of rigmarole to do, far more time than my adding 18 points to the first letter. But some people do like this concept.
Again, this is ALL up to you. You are the author. You are the editor. You are the publisher. You are the typesetter.
You can also experiment with different fonts, but remember NOT ALL SOFTWARE handles these and for eBooks your document gets converted to a WEB PAGE. Few fonts are supported directly by HTML. The same may apply to the print on demand presses you deal with. So, you'll need to experiment.
I always JUSTIFY my text. Doing this, however, adds “padding” or extra spaces inside the line. I think a book looks better with both sides flush except for the indented for word. Most eBooks and Print on Demand (POD) books presses support JUSTIFIED and CENTERED text. It's your option as I've seen ragged right edge books as well as justified edge books.
You can insert pictures, so long as you own the rights to them or they are in the public domain. They will remain in full color for eBooks, but in print books if you select black and white for the interior they will be turned into black and white images. The images should be 300 dots per inch or better. You will need to run tests to see how they look when printed.
Be careful when inserting photos or drawings. I sometimes put these on a dedicated page, but in a book like this where you have to insert them into the flow of text you will need to see the proofs of your book to make sure they are in the right place.
If you use Smashwords to publish your eBook, then all pictures must be JPG or JPEG. Amazon is more forgiving of different picture file types, such as PNG.
At the end of any given chapter and before the start of the next chapter you MUST insert a MANUAL PAGE BREAK. This is found in the Open Office heading INSERT and then MANAUAL BREAK. You then select PAGE BREAK. Word 365 is basically the same. The INSERT heading and then you'll see a MANUAL BREAK heading. Select that and then PAGE BREAK.
You need to edit and proofread your manuscript as thoroughly as you possibly can. Remember, in some eBook or Print On Demand companies that YOU deal with directly, you can usually make changes and see the results in a day or two. Kindle users have the option to have their eBooks updated with new files automatically or they can do it manually at the Amazon Kindle Management website. NookPress generally takes longer than CreateSpace to make the changes. Also, you need to keep track because you must approve virtual proofs once the changes have been made and before they will put it back on sale.
You NEED to set your paragraphs for INDENTS and SPACING between paragraphs.
You use ITALICS for all titles of real things like songs, TV shows, books. You can also use italics for reflective talk or what goes on inside the head.
You should change the font size and intensity for chapter names or numbers or use style sheet HEADINGS in your word processor. These should generally be centered, but it’s not law.
You need to separate sub-chapters or scenes inside of a chapter with ELLIPSIS:
* * *
And it should be centered on its own line
You need to decide if you want a RAGGED right edge or JUSTIFIED flush to the right. The exceptions to this would-be paragraph indents and centered items such as ellipsis and chapter names or numbers.
You can INSERT IMAGES you own, but test these out to make sure they look good and fit right. It is usually best to dedicate a picture to its own page where practical.
Use MANUAL PAGE BREAKS between CHAPTERS and when applicable between PICTURES that are on their own pages. The general format for a book is:
Title page with book title in somewhat larger type face and the author name below it in a slightly smaller font. Centered in the upper quadrant of the page with a page break below.
Copyright page. Centered in the upper quadrant (flush left for print books).
Optional acknowledgment and thanks to on a separate page.
Optional table of contents.
Finally comes Chapter One!
MY BOOK TITLE
by My Author Name
Copyright 2016 by My Author Name. All Rights Reserved.
First eBook edition Month and Year
First print book Month and Year
Made or Printed in the U.S.A.
Acknowledgments and Disclaimer
Book cover by
This book is a fictional work and none of the characters are meant to represent any person living or dead.
A table of contents is good for a non-fiction book or when you name your chapters in a fiction offering. If you just number your chapters, a table of contents may not be necessary.
Word 365 has an automatic function to create a table of contents (TOC) that is based on you using the HEADING function for your chapter numbers or names. It will also link these to your chapters in an eBook. It is NOT, however, foolproof and sometimes won’t create a proper TOC or will add other material to the TOC that you may have to remove with the CUT tool. Test your TOC in a finished Kindle or Nook book before you commit to the automatic TOC, otherwise you must live with a manual one that doesn’t link or learn how to code in HTML and link it there, using the HTML file instead of a DOC file to generate the eBook. My tests for this book show that the links come on the page BEFORE the topic that was clicked. So, you have to click and then moved forward one page. Don’t ask me how to fix this, as it’s currently a mystery to me!
Smashwords gives an alternative version using Word's BOOKMARK function where you highlight the title of the chapter or chapter number, click on BOOKMARK and put in a single word such as c1 (for chapter one), c2 (for chapter 2), prologue (for prologue), etc. Then you write a manual contents page, HIGHLIGHT the text for each chapter and HYPERLINK it to the appropriate DOCUMENT bookmark. (NOTE: This didn't work well for me, so I went back to the auto function in word!)
The automatic method seems to work nice for Kindle, but for other readers you should consider using the BOOKMARK method as it can keep it from Smashwords extended catalog.
You, of course, have manual page breaks between chapters. Then comes all your chapters with manual breaks between them.
You can put a BACK COVER at the end that can include a color picture. The back cover can be your photo and bio or it can be a promotional “blurb” about the book. The back cover is optional.
Once all of this is ready you are set to make your first eBook once you set up accounts at Amazon, Smashwords, Nook and iTunes. Setting up accounts are free and easy at Amazon's Kindle site and the Barnes and Noble Nook site. For the Apple iTunes site, you need to have access to a Macintosh computer to create the materials OR you must use a third-party service like Smashwords.
You need to have done everything I have listed in the previous parts of this book:
Edit, re-write and proofread for grammar and spelling.
Set your PARAGRAPH for indent and line spacing between paragraphs.
Set your FONT SIZE and TYPE.
Write your TITLE PAGE, COPYRIGHT PAGE, THANKS TO PAGE and as an option your Table of Contents.
Named or numbered your chapters.
Added BOLD for text and ITALICS for introspective talking.
And optional back cover with your picture and bio or a blurb about the book.
This should be the first thing you do. It's fast, easy, sells better than print books, you can make corrections if you find eventual problems, plus it's cheaper and easier to Copyright an electronic copy.
I generally recommend that you go directly to Kindle, start your account and register your eBook.
Why? If you go exclusively with Kindle and you selected their Kindle Unlimited you get paid by the page for Kindle readers and everyone who subscribes can get the book for free. You get paid about 1 cent for every two pages they read for as long as you have a Kindle account and they own the book, but only for their first reading. So, if they only read 20 pages of your book you still make 10 cents. If they read 300 pages, you get $1.65. If they read 500 pages, you get $2.75. If they read 10 pages now and 50 pages a year from now, you still get paid.
A book that is 300 pages in print is about 570 pages in the Kindle. That's close to $3 if they read it cover to cover. A 400 print-page book is about 750 Kindle pages and that gets you $4.
You don't want to price your eBook too high or too low. You can go as low as 99 cents. You can raise it at any time. A 99-cent eBook makes you about 35 cents. A $1.99 eBook makes you about 70 cents. You have the option for a higher rate when prices start at $2.99 but don't exceed $9.99. At $2.99 you’ll get just under $2.
You can also give free eBooks away to people and you can run free promotions for 1 to 5 days each month.
The Kindle Unlimited contract lasts for 90 days and renews automatically UNLESS you uncheck the box during the last week of enrollment. Then it dies at the end of your current quarter.
If you get lots of Kindle Unlimited readers, you might want to continue with the exclusive deal. If you aren't getting any readers, you might want to terminate at the next quarter, go set up a SMASHWORDS account which will get you into NOOK, iTUNES BOOK STORE, KOBO and a few other places. You can opt out of Amazon if you’re already published there.
You need to take your eBook off Kindle Unlimited before you can put your eBook into the other stores with a service like Smashwords.
At Smashwords you'll get an ISBN (a number used around the world by book retailers for ordering books) that is required for Nook and iTunes. It's free of charge but it will show your publisher as Smashwords (you are still in control of your book and all rights).
If you want your own ISBN and you live in Canada and are a Canadian citizen, you can order one through the government free of charge.
In America, these are sold for profit by R.R. Bowker who charges $125 for a single ISBN or $250 for a group of ten. These would be under your name as publisher and you can use these at any service like Smashwords or CreateSpace.
At Smashwords you can offer your books and pamphlets to readers for free. You can't do this directly at Kindle, but you can ask Kindle to “price match” once you have published by citing the Smashwords ISBN number.
* * *
The rules for an eBook are simple. You must use the PARAGRAPH function to indent and space. You should use normal Times Roman, Arial or Garamond font and in 11 or 12 point sizes. You need to put MANUAL PAGE BREAKS between your title page, copyright page, acknowledgments, contents and each chapter. If you put pictures in, consider putting each of them on a dedicated page with page breaks. Too many pictures will cause your files to fail. Most places have a 10 MB limit and at Kindle they charge a fee during download by your customers for large files and that cuts into your profits.
NEVER USE TABS in your text. No inserted spreadsheets (do screen captures and put them in as images) or columns (you can center text or justify it right, left or both).
Of course, your file needs to be checked for spelling and grammar.
DON'T insert your front cover into the start of the book. All eBook services want you to upload cover images separately and they like them at least 1000 or more pixels in size.
You CAN put a back-cover picture inserted at the end of your book inside the text body.
Save your book in standard Word Document (filename.doc) format. Most word processors will let you save in DOC format.
The three primary eBook file formats are: MOBI (for Kindle). ePUB (for iPod, Nook and others), and PDF (Adobe).
Some services will let you work off an HTML master as your DOC files are generally converted to HTML and then into MOBI or ePUB.
The advantage of being able to use HTML and knowing how to program in HTML is that you can make a TABLE OF CONTENTS that will link to the individual chapters. This is best done in HTML. (Sometimes you can do this in Word 365 with the REFERENCE function to create a table of contents from chapters done in HEADINGS. There is a link option for web pages and eBooks and that creates contents that link to the chapter headings, but it's not fool proof.)
When you use a paid, professional service to convert your files they should generate an active TABLE OF CONTENTS linked to the chapters. Make sure that service is included as a part of any paid service charging you $100 or more! Lulu.com service has a table of contents making tool.
* * *
You're now ready to publish your eBook. Go to your Kindle Account, put in your title, search words (5 maximum) separated by commas that help people find your book in the search boxes of on-line booksellers.
You also need a promotional “blurb” or synopsis of what your book is about, written in a manner to entice your readers without misleading them.
You can put in an edition number and you should change this as you revise your book. Also, change the edition notation on your copyright page. This way you can look into the book and make sure that the current edition is being offered.
If you have your own cover JPG file, you can upload it to Kindle or use their Cover Creator to make a simple cover with or without their library images for your eBook.
Upload your text file (without a front cover) exactly as it should read with formatting outlined elsewhere in this book.
At the Kindle site, you can see a preview of your book and download a MOBI file so you can distribute it to reviewers and put it into your Kindle reader without having to buy a copy. Look at each page and if there's a problem go back to your original DOC file and make changes as required to position pictures and do page breaks. (Free readers are available for MAC and PC.)
Next, you enter all your pricing information and you must give your tax information before any royalties or payments are made to you.
If you select direct deposit with Amazon, they will send you as little as a few cents. If you select the “send me a check” option, you may have to accumulate $100 or more in royalties before they will cut you a check. Royalties are paid 60 days after the end of the month in which the qualifying transaction was made.
At the Kindle site, you can see your Kindle Unlimited reads, your paid sales and your free giveaways on a day by day basis going back several months. These will show for all your books or you can select a single book and see the results.
At Amazon, there is an Author's Section where you can put in your biography, photograph and list all your book.
eBook publishing is fast and easy once you have the file set up correctly. It's simply a matter of uploading it.
Check your sites regularly to see if anyone has reviewed the book. See if they have noticed any spelling or grammar problems and if so, try to find these, correct them and upload a new file.
At Kindle, they can get the upgraded file manually by clicking on the prompt or they can select to have automatic upgrades. This way your paid customers get the new files with corrections to any problems. Don't forget to update the Edition numbers at Kindle and on your copyright page.
If you decide to eventually go to Smashwords to get on other platforms and into other eBook stores, the process works a lot like Amazon Kindle except make absolutely sure your pictures or images are good, clean JPG. Smashwords rejects some types of images. Smashwords will NOT put you into their large network if you give any links to Amazon, Kindle or use either of those names in your books. You also can't list ISBN numbers, even the one Smashwords gives you or you could get a rejection notice.
Smashwords recommends you do a digital check to make sure your ePub Nook book meets specifications. (http://validator.idpf.org/) and you need to change things in your file and re-make the ePub document, checking it once more for errors. If you don't you probably won't get on iTunes or Kobo.
Smashwords pays quarterly by Pay Pal ($10 minimum) so you need a Pay Pal account or it’s $75 for a check.
There are a variety of services for making print or Print On Demand (POD) books. Including one from Ingram in Tennessee who is an independent distributor of books, CDs and DVDs. Book Baby, Lulu, CreateSpace and Nook are the most popular. Of these, CreateSpace (Amazon) and Nook (Barnes and Noble) have NO CHARGES UP FRONT and provide you with a FREE ISBN. Book Baby and Ingram have set-up fees, but do most of the work for you.
Amazon CreateSpace has a better set of tools especially the review tool that looks like a Kindle Book. You see both pages and the spine. Nook just gives you a single page view one at a time in PDF form. It's just like any PDF book. In any event, you should order a print book just to see how it looks. You may want to make changes after you see the real-deal. Nook can take a long time once you make changes to clear your page and publish those changes. CreateSpace does this process in one day or less.
Nook allows you to upload FRONT and BACK cover separately or a composite. CreateSpace only has the two-page composite. These must be in PDF format which you can generate from many word processors by inserting your cover pictures into a proper size page.
Create Space gives you the ISBN right after you give the title. Nook doesn't give you the ISBN until after you upload your interior book file, so if you want to put the ISBN inside the copyright page you have to wait and re-submit the file.
Some book sizes are different. CreateSpace supports 5" x 7" Mass Market while Nook doesn't. Nook supports a 6" x 8" size which is between Mass Market and 6" x 9" Trade Paperback. Both Nook and CreateSpace support 6" x 9", 8" x 8", 8" x 10" and 8.5" x 11".
Nook supports hard bound books with printed cover or dust cover (which adds about $10 to the retail price). CreateSpace only supports paperback.
Both support color or black and white insides.
Both support white or cream paper.
Barnes and Noble has no problems if you have a different size book with their ISBN in the store from a different size book at Amazon with their ISBN. So, you can make a 6" x 9" Trade Paperback at Nook and a 5" x 7" Mass Market paperback at CreateSpace. You can also make a 6" x 9" Trade Paperback at CreateSpace and a 5" x 8" over-sized paper back at Nook. This way you get different size books and more distribution.
CreateSpace puts you on Amazon, with the options to go to their library services, foreign retailers and on-line book sellers. You, however, only get pennies from some of these services, but you get lots of exposure. Barnes and Noble, along with Ingram are a part of the CreateSpace distribution system so your book will get into their on-line store if you select the right channel.
Nook gets you on Barnes and Noble's on-line service bn.com.
CreateSpace seems to give a higher royalty for internal sales than Nook, but considering that this only costs you time with no money up front (except for your proof and gift books that you buy at discounted prices) it might be worth it to publish different size books through both.
You need to create accounts for BOTH CreateSpace and Nook that includes giving them all your mailing particulars, bank routing and account number (Amazon will pay you in cents on direct deposit, but if you want a check mailed to you, there is a minimum amount). Once you have your accounts set up, you can move through the process with ease.
If you have multiple pen names or if you publish books for other writers, there is no problem at either Amazon or Barnes and Noble. You give them your real name for payments. And for each book you create you give the name of the writers and if applicable the editors and illustrators.
CreateSpace lists themselves as the publisher. This is a formality. You own all rights.
Nook gives you the option to list a publisher name, and it doesn't have to be a licensed business name. You can create a name and there are no problems with accounts or payment. You list yourself as an individual. On their book page, your fictitious publisher name is listed. On the checks or tax forms your personal (or legal company) name is listed.
Neither of them file copyrights so if you want your work protected you must file for a copyright in your country of origin or the country of first publication following the rules of that nation. Generally, ONE copyright is all you need unless a considerable amount of text is added or removed. Small edits or corrections will not invalid your claim. So, if you do an eBook first and copyright that then you don't need to file another copyright when you do a print book, but if it is printed in the U.S.A., then you need to file two copies of the print book with the copyright office under the mandatory deposit law. If you make multiple sizes, you don't need to send both sizes, just two copies of one size. The best-looking size and copy. (Canada also has a similar rule for books published in Canada.)
Making a POD book through CreateSpace is more complex than doing the eBook because you are dealing with physical things: Paper and printing.
The first thing you must do is format your Word DOC for the size book you are doing. If you are not doing an 8.5" by 11" book, serious formatting other than your margins will be required.
Most people do 6" x 9" Trade Paperbacks. These are full size books, almost the size of hard bound books (and that is something that Book Baby and Nook does, that CreateSpace doesn't do – hard bound books). The cover is in color and can be either matte or glossy (Nook is matte only). It is a flat spine or “perfect” binding. They put the ISBN bar code on the lower right back cover (so make allowances for this) and the paper is heavy grade and very white or optionally cream-colored.
The other size that some people do is a 5" x 7" Mass Market Paperback. This generally has the same grade paper and you will need to reduce your font size to 10 point or even 9 point to keep the number of pages down. The more pages the higher the cost of your book.
Several factors govern the price of your book. Will it be color inside (like a coffee table book with pictures or drawings) or black and white? How many pages will it be? How many markets do you intend to reach? Hard bound or paper?
A 6" x 9" Trade Paperback black and white inside with white paper that is just under 300 pages will cost you $4.50. If you just sell it through Amazon and CreateSpace your list price can be as low as $7.50. If you want to offer it to other retailers, libraries and European outlets the list price goes up to $10.50 and the royalty you get is only 20 cents from some on-line retailers, $2 from Amazon, and $4.00 from CreateSpace. If you want a higher royalty, you need to increase the list price.
A book over 300 pages requires more adjustments to the margins and the retail price for all six sales options (Amazon, CreateSpace, Libraries, other retailers, Europe) becomes $12.50 to $13.99 and you still only get the same 10 to 50 cents from other retailers, $2 to $3 from Amazon and CreateSpace unless you up the retail price.
A color book would approach $20 in retail if it has 200 – 300 pages.
The advantage with a print book is you can give them away as holiday gifts. You can send them to reviewers and bloggers who “don't eBook.” You can provide a copy to the Library of Congress (required by law within 90 days of publication of a print book in the US). Canada has a similar requirement as might other nations. Check the laws of your nation. Now, the Library of Congress wants a copy of all books PRINTED in the U.S.A. So, if you go with CreateSpace and it gets printed here you might be required to give them two copies.
Your inside margins need to be larger in size than your outside, top and bottom margins. Both Word and Open Office do this with a “mirrored” option on the PAGE tab or menu item found under FORMAT on Open Office.
I found that for books just under to just over 300 pages that 0.79" to 0.8" on the inside works fine so that the reader doesn't have to “break the spine” of the book and pull it apart to see the text down the central portion of the book. The outside margins of .41" or even less work fine unless the CreateSpace review program tells you otherwise. Use 0.57" for the top and 0.30” for the bottom
Activate your FOOTER option and INSERT a PAGE NUMBER field and center this in the footer. You now have page numbers at the bottom.
You should make your copyright page Flush Left and include the ISBN-10 and ISBN-13 numbers. You should also include the phrase: Printed In The U.S.A. (change this to another country if you are using a service other than CreateSpace, Book Baby or Ingram).
You can also include the authors website URL, the book URL if you have one, your Twitter name, and if you have one, your Facebook page for the author or book.
Nook asks for wider margins. Other than that, there is not much difference in set up between Nook and CreateSpace. Nook walks you through the process just like Create Space and you save and continue.
Kindle has started a paperback option. At the current time, you get distribution to Amazon Japan (not provided by CreateSpace), but CreateSpace provides more total mass market and library distributors than Kindle currently offers.
To use this option, you simply click on the button after you publisher your Kindle eBook and it takes your through their step by step process.
One of these services may vanish or become integrated, as both are offered through Amazon.
Copyright © 2017 by Author's Name. All Rights Reserved.
First Print Edition Month and Year
Printed in the U.S.A.
If you have other books, you can put the titles, AISN and ISBN numbers on a separate page after the acknowledgment page, or at the end of the book with the usual “Other Books by The Author” heading.
If your eBook got four or five star reviews from GoodReads you might want to put a notice of that on the front or back cover. If you got any major reviews by a named newspaper, you might want to include a quote on the front or back cover. This helps sell the book if it is a major reviewer like the NY Times, Rolling Stone, Playboy, Cosmopolitan, Men's Health, etc.
While it is simply a matter of posting notice like one of these:
Copyright © 2016 Your Name, All Rights Reserved
Copyright 2016 Your Name
Copr. 2016 Y. Name
© 2016 Y. Name
Take note! (c) is NOT legal. [c] is NOT legal. (p) is NOT legal. C.2016 is NOT legal. Copywritten 2016 is NOT legal. Copywriter 2016 is NOT legal. Copy. 2016 is NOT legal.
The letters “C” for copyright and “P” for sound recording MUST be inside a complete CIRCLE! You must ONLY use the four listed above. COPR. Is the only legal abbreviation!
These are found in the “INSERT SPECIAL CHARACTER” option of many word processors.
The phrase “All rights reserved” doesn't have the meaning and power of international law like it used to BUT it asserts your claim to rights OTHER than copyrights. You are claiming ALL RIGHTS, known or not known. Rights that may come in the future. ALL RIGHTS. This can include the right of resale. The right of lending. The right of renting. Sorry, libraries, schools and teachers are exempt from copyrights. A guitar teacher can photocopy a song from a book and give it to their students (not sell it). Anyone can photocopy an entire book at the library or on campus (and as a non-fiction writer I did that a lot for research). You cannot, however, photocopy a copyrighted work at Walmart, Target, Kmart, the UPS center, PIP, Staples, etc. That is illegal.
Notice of copyright only gives you statutory protection. It doesn't establish a legal date of creation or publication. It doesn't establish paternity if you write under a pen name like I do. It doesn't say how to contact you. And without complying with the laws of your land you don't have the force of law, including the right to sue in U.S. Federal courts or obtain statutory damage amounts.
Failure to post notice does not lose your rights to a copyright, but can cost you the right to get damage monies from someone pirating your work, because they can claim “innocent infringement.” While you can end their operation, you won't even get your legal fees in most instances. And you will still need to file a copyright application and pay the copyright fees.
Now, of course, in order to sue you must have a lawyer and that requires lots of money, so most writers, musicians and filmmakers don't have the money to protect their works. But that doesn’t justify failure to file for a copyright.
In 1978 I started writing a novel, and I showed it to a friend who read part of it. I picked this novel back up in 2009 and made it part of another book that I started showing to agents and book publishers in 2014. I should have filed for an unpublished copyright and didn't, but I have my files in the cloud since then and on my hard drive going back to 2009. In January of 2016 the book was published, and it contained several chapters based on my original concept. Here's the problem: In February of 2017 a motion picture is due to come out with elements that are similar to my novel. Now I'm not going to sue them, but I wonder if they might sue me for plagiarism. I wonder if the critics and reviewers might point to that movie and say I was copying or influenced by that movie.
Now, that movie and script was in production for who knows how long. I have hard drive evidence that I was working on this somewhat similar idea in 2009. I don't know how far back they can show their work. But if I had filed for an unpublished copyright before I sent it off to agents and publishers I'd have a registered date of creation as way, way back! So, an official copyright is your birth certificate, your proof of paternity. Now nothing may come of this vague similarity, but I point it out to you, but the point I'm making is that an unpublished copyright can be of benefit. So, can registering a television or motion picture story with the Writer's Guild.
In 1983 I submitted a script to NBC about a writer who does astrology columns and deals in the occult. He gets involved in bizarre and mysterious “things” with his female assistant Misty Mountains. That name, of course, appeared in the 2016 film Nice Guys and you can't copyright a name and I doubt anyone involved in Nice Guys was around in 1983. But it doesn't end there. NBC rejected my series concept. Five years later on ABC Isaac Asimov created a series about a guy who DEBUNKS the occult, bizarre and mysterious scientifically with his female assistant. Talk about coincidences.
Ouch. That's too close for comfort. As I recall, I registered my script with the Writer's Guild because you can't copyright a script.
Once again, I doubt someone at ABC got wind of my pitch to NBC, but then again people go from one company to another. The series got canceled in lightning speed and I wouldn't have sued because I like submitting and they won't deal with you if you sue. You call, yell and when they get defensive, you ask if you can pitch a story or submit and call it even. That's the professional way.
In 1964 Desilu forgot to post copyright notices on the first season of Star Trek and Gene Roddenberry walked 16mm prints around the country showing them. That set precedent. So 16mm films are still making the rounds legally, but don't attempt to show them at movie theaters or on TV and don't convert them to tape or disk because Paramount got a 1980s copyright on the VHS and DVD versions, plus CBS has one on all the new digitally enhanced versions. Trust me, you don't want to have Paramount or CBS coming after you with lawyers. But if you own a 16mm print with no copyright notice, it's yours legally. You can show it to friends or even small groups for no fee. You can make copies and give them away in 16mm.
In 1978 20th Century Fox Home Movie division forgot to post a copyright notice on Super 8 sound film excerpts of Star Wars. Boy, did they freak out! They wanted the distributor, Ken Films, to get them all back after all had been sold. So, there are thousands of Star Wars excerpts in Super 8mm sound floating around out there with no posted copyright.
The point I'm making is that by registering a copyright in countries that allow for this you get the government behind you on paternity (who wrote it) and date of creation. Then it's a matter of who came first and who read the material before it was published. Without this proof, you have problems.
Yes, you can mail it to yourself, in a fully sealed envelope with post office stamps on all the seams and a certified or registered number. That establishes date of mailing, which establishes a date of creation. But if you write under a pen name, it doesn't establish paternity. If you mailed it to yourself that just proves you got it. And you can't use this in Federal court over a copyright matter because the law states you need a registration number on a copyright form for suits in Federal court. So, you can only sue in state court.
There is no expiration of an unpublished copyright in the U.S. It endures until someone publishes the work and files a new registration application. Then there is the limit of 95 years for a company (75 years in some countries) or life of the author plus 75 years (50 in some countries).
So, how do you copyright something officially? You must follow the rules of your country. Some nations still have no formalities other than posting that notice shown at the top of this chapter. In the U.S., you go on-line to the Copyright office and fill out the on-line form and submit it with a credit or debit card payment which is currently a $35 minimum, but can be $65 or more if you need to make an emergency filing because someone has plagiarized your work and you need to sue but didn't register (and they might get away with only a slap on the wrist because you didn't register sooner).
If your work is on the web or an eBook or streaming song or video, you need to send them an acceptable digital file, such as a PDF copy of the book. If your book, CD or DVD is in actual hard copy then you need to send them one copy for unpublished works and two copies for published works quickly. Failure to follow-up with a copy puts your application in the dumps.
If you are a U.S. citizen and do an eBook and later follow it up with a Print On Demand hard copy, you need to send two copies of this to the Library of Congress as this is required by law. There is a fine of up to $2,500+ for failure to supply a hard copy to the Library. You have 90 days from publication to send the Library of Congress Deposit copy.
Only major publishers qualify to get a Library of Congress Book in Print catalog and reference number. This is that thing you see on the copyright page that has their shelf location number (used by many colleges, but not most public libraries who use the Dewey system) and information about the author and the book. They may not give an account to self-published authors or those in small print publishing houses because you won't be servicing publishers and libraries readily.
At the current time the Copyright office is taking 8 months to process an application, but the date of registration will show as the date the Copyright office received and logged the application, even though it will sit on someone's desk for months before they look at it and work on it.
If you goof up a form, they can reject your application and then you must re-file with a new fee. So, don't goof up the form. Common goofs are listing the editor on the form, who doesn't need to be listed unless you have a contract giving them co-authorship. Claiming graphics or pictures in a book that are public domain. Claiming graphics without a posted name or copyright on the graphic inside the book. Using a wrong form (a visual arts form for a picture book). Calling the submitted hard copy the wrong thing (I sent a printed photograph and called it a “Print” and they didn't like that, so it got changed to photograph – a “print” is a reproduction of a painting, like a Rembrandt, that you buy for $25 and hang on your wall).
They may correct goofs for you provided you respond within a week or less! They will call, write or e-mail you. So, if you give an e-mail address make sure you check for anything from the copyright office because if you don't respond they'll return it to you unprocessed and you are back to square one and your new date will be the date they get the new application form!
Keep the application simple.
Once you get your registration form and number photocopy it. Put it somewhere safe. Put digital copies in the cloud or send them to you by cloud mail (Gmail, Yahoo mail) put it in a fireproof box or safe deposit box. Copy the registration number somewhere. Mail a copy to a relative for safe keeping. That way you have access to a copy should you need it. Courts will accept a photocopy so long as the number is valid. (It costs $$$ and takes time to get a new copy from the Copyright office!)
Now, as to why I copyrighted this book. I don't want someone to replace my name with theirs and claim credit. I might decide to charge a fee for it later in life. I might make a hard copy and I would have to charge for that. Finally, because I can, legally!
https://www.copyright.gov/eco/ United States On-Line Copyright Application Site.
So far, we've cost you NOTHING for editing if you're a good speller, have word and use Grammarly.
If you had to buy Word, then that cost you about $80.
If, like me, you bought Ginger that's another $60.
If, like me, you bought Write Pro that's another $60.
If you COPYRIGHTED your book, it cost you $35 to $65 if you did it electronically.
If you make print books through CreateSpace or Nook, and got a proof, that's $12.
If you got another proof, that's another $12 (including shipping).
Your deposit copies to the Copyright Office would be $20
So, to date you have spent everywhere from NOTHING to do an eBook without a copyright if you have a word processor or use Open Office.
To a high of $300 if you bought all the editing tools, needed two proofs and the more expensive copyright application. Of course, these editing tools get amortized into all the books you write, but you will need to renew them once a year. After you get comfortable with grammar on your own, you can dispense with all or some of the tools.
So, $0 to $300 to publish an eBook, get a copy, get a copyright, get all sorts of editing tools and a fancy word processor. That's still cheaper than the pay up front services.
Now, of course, if you use a professional to make your covers it would cost you $10 to $1,500 extra.
If you use a professional copy editor, it would cost you $300 to $3,000 extra.
This is where the budget can go to Mars and back. Promotion is trying to get your book noticed by reviewers, newspapers, motion picture studios and of course paying customers.
Promotion requires lots of man hours, maybe some travel to events like Comic Con where you may have to buy a table. It can require money for ads. Money for mailing copies of your book out. Money to buy copies of your book to mail out. Money to get reviews. Money to get reviews faster than free reviews. Money to advertise your books at sites that have subscribers and an e-mailing list.
I'll tell you right now that I did about $300 in paid promotion and I made a 35-cent eBook and a $2 eBook sale. I also gave away about 40 eBooks just to get them into reader's Kindles. I would not do it again.
I did it with two drastically different books. One was a general fiction book designed for mature or adult audiences, the other was a science fiction book. The sci fi book had the best response. It sold the most eBooks WITHOUT any promotion at all and it got Kindle Unlimited readers without any promotion at all. My first two promotional ads through Facebook for $7 each had good results for both sales and Kindle Unlimited. It covered half the price of the ad which isn't bad.
I spent two days getting the e-mails of bloggers and reviewers who handle general fiction and science fiction. I came out with a list of like 60 or 70 names and from that I got ONE request for the science fiction book. The rest said that they weren't taking any submissions at this time.
I approached all of them professionally with a PRESS RELEASE type blurb that gave the book title, type of book, description of the book, Amazon AISN, price, my name and e-mail.
I did shot-gun it, but not overtly. I used the BCC or HIDDEN copy selection of my email for all their addresses and I shot gunned both books in a separate mailing. I used my own address at the SEND TO and also included it in the BCC so I could test it out.
What they would get was an e-mail to me along with an e-mail to them. They wouldn't see the other 40 people.
In some instances, the web sites or magazines might simply run a notice of the book name and author on their sites or in print. If they did, I have no idea because they didn't tell me and I didn't run into anything in my journey along the web each week. If they didn’t, well I didn’t notice that either!
The best promotion in the world is to get someone on the Today show or Good Morning America or Jimmy Fallon or Jimmy Kimmel or Stephen Colbert to plug your book. Someone that author Audrey Niffenegger knew went on a morning show and plugged her book The Time Traveller's Wife, and it magically sold it's 15,000 pressing and went into a second and larger 100,000 pressing. Then it became a feature film. All because someone she knew was about to get on TV and say “hey I found this book and I think you'll like it.”
Andy Weir posted his tales of a man stranded on Mars on his website. Now, he already had a popular website. He was into computer programming with a modest following on his blog. And his readers wanted more of this story of a guy stuck on Mars. He eventually wrote a complete book, self-published it as an e-book for 99 cents and over a period of years sold thousands before that book got picked up by a real publisher and a studio. We know it as The Martian.
Now THAT is promotion, and it's beyond most of us. But you can give things like I found a try. Including setting up your own website (that costs up to $100 for a year or two, plus you have to design it with tools or know how to use HTML). There are also free are nearly free services like GeoCities that rely on banner ads. Setting up your own Facebook Page for your book (which gets attached to your personal Facebook page until you get 25 “likes” and then the page gets born as a standalone page). Starting a Twitter account.
There is also the process of writing query letters to the studios. You MUST query as a general rule. The head of property acquisitions. It'll go to a secretary. If you present it correctly, they may ask for a copy of the book. To do this properly, you must NOT give any description of the book other than to say it's “science fiction” or “fantasy” or “women's fiction” or “romance” or “erotica.” You should give the title, the author names AND most importantly the ISBN number. This indicates it is through a publisher and will make them not be squeamish about 'plagiarism' which is what bugs them with 'open submissions.'
You can also approach individual producers you think might be interested. A book with lots of violence, explosions, actions and gunfire might interest Joel Silver at Silver Pictures. Don't sent him romances or historical books. He does things like The Matrix, Lethal Weapon, etc. Don't send queries to producers who write their own material. You want a producer-producer, not a writer-producer or a writer-producer-director.
Include your phone number and e-mail. If they are interested, they will either seek out the book or write you for a complimentary copy (that's that extra expense you face, $10 to buy and ship it from Nook or Create Space to the producer or studio). Make sure they give you a name and mail center number. All studios use mail center numbers.
I also tried some of these “we promote you” site's you'll find all over where you pay anything from $19 to $100 to get three weeks, a month or a page on their site where “thousands” will see your book. Like I said, I did two of these for $80 total and got $2.35 in sales. That's what I made with a $7 Facebook ad! So, I obviously won't be overspending ever again!
You can try it if you like. You might get a better response than I got. One can never tell!
Over the next few pages I will tell you how to work with Web pages, Twitter and Facebook if you haven't worked with them already.
I'll give you information about shared websites that have advertising to support them so they can be free to you. You don't always get a domain name that is popular like DOT COM. But, you get a web page that looks nice and you can give people links and send them there. It may not work with the search engines as great as a DOT COM, but for free you can't complain. I had my TRIPOD DOT COM site for 15 years and it never cost me a penny!
I also have my own DOT COM website that lets me have many DOT COMs and I buy those DOT COMs. This allows you to buy a name for your book as a DOT COM. Your link would be mybookname.com. There are problems with this as some names are taken. Also, some names are long, too long and wordy for many people to have to write into a search engine. In that case, you have to come up with a shorter name and buy a second DOT COM.
Buying DOT COMs has gone up in price recently. It now costs like $20 or more a name to buy and renew a single DOT COM.
I will show you how to write a basic web page to advertise your book and give you some places to go and get a website as cheaply as possible. Web presence is going to cost you and something like $100+ a year for the site name and the site. I might be able to get you going on things that are cheaper if possible.
Some sites allow you to host multiple .COM names. In short you can “sell” space on your site as a sub-contractor, but you may have to do all the behind-the-scenes work. Still, if you charge 10 people $15 a year to host their book page (and they have to provide the page and all images and links), it pays for your site! All you have to do is upload their new files and handle some complaints if things aren't right. Then it can be more of a hassle than it’s worth!
In any event these sites allow you to have multiple book names and multiple author name sites or separate .COM .ORG .NET type names. A page for each of your books.
You can build a web page in Word or Open Office from any document. Just save it as an HTML file and upload it.
You can build them yourself in any text editor. If you’re not doing a page, bypass this section.
<! this note is ignored by the browser and is used to annotate>
<! meta content includes your search words that Google, Yahoo and Bing will use>
<meta content="SCIENCE FICTION, FICTION, OUTER SPACE, FUTURE, HARD SCIENCE, COLONY, E-BOOK, BOOK, WOMEN IN SCIENCE FICTION, SCI-FI" name="keywords" />
<meta content="Author Your Name links and bio" name="description" />
<! below terminates the header and starts the working body of the page>
<! below posts a picture as your wallpaper>
<body background = “imagefiletodisplay.jpg”>
<! if you don't use a picture below makes the page the specified color in quotes>
<body bgcolor = “blue”>
<! this tag centers all text and pictures>
<img src=”imagefilename.jpg”> <! this is a picture of your book>
<BR> <! this creates a blank line space or new paragraph area>
<a href=”http://www.mybiowebpage.html”>Click to go to my Bio</a> <! text link to another page>
<BR> <! this creates a blank line space or new paragraph area>
<a href=”http://www.amazon.com/page where your book is sold”><img src=”mybookicon.jpg”><BR>Click to Buy!</a> <! this uses a picture of the book to link to the sales site with a text link below it>
<font size =”+3”> <! this changes text font size from 1 to 10 or enlarges with the + sign>
</font> <!this ends that font size or color change>
<font color = “red”> <!this changes the color of the front from black to red>
</font> <! this changes it back from red to default>
<H1> This is Headline One and what I'm writing here would show in large text until termination! </H1> <! there are various sizes starting at 1 and going up from there>
<p> starts a new paragraph and the text I'm writing here would show below the headline above. You could have also used the.... <BR> ...to space down to the next line.
This text would now be left flush as I terminated the “center” command.
<! end of the document>
Above is an entire working web page with pictures of your book, a link to author's bio and a link to the sales site at Amazon. You just have to fill in your own information.
All the tags most people would use are:
<HTML> Starts </html> ends and it can be upper or lower case
<head> starts </head> ends the header.
<body> starts the active page
<body background=”image.jpg”> puts up wallpaper
<body bgcolor =”purple”> puts up a solid color. Most colors are supported.
<img src=”filename.jpg”> for displaying pictures
<a href=”pagename.html”>for linking to a different page or web site ending with: </a>
You can put a picture in too:
<a href=”pagename.html”><img src=”picturename.jpg”></a>
You can put both picture and text links in, especially when centered the <BR> puts the text under the picture. A second <BR> would space it even more.
<a href=”pagename.html”><img src=”picturename.jpg”><BR>Go Here</a>
<BR> creates a blank space.
Not show above <HR> creates a line across the screen. Think of it as a divider.
<p> creates a new text paragraph.
<center> starts centering all images and text until you terminate with: </center>
<H1></H1> Headline, change 1 to 2 or 3 or 4...
<font size = “4”></font>
<font color = “brown”></font>
If you use both of these together and only end ONE font, it would terminate the first and leave the second. In this case your text might still be brown but the size “4” would default. To terminate color when using both elements use two </font></font> terminations.
This is enough to write any page. There are free websites that will show you how to do other tricks and use other keywords to do snazzy things. But this is all you need.
</body> terminates the code portion.
</html> terminates the page
Save your text document with the “html” extension and upload it to any website.
To start a Twitter account, you need a valid e-mail address. You get those from Yahoo or Google under your name or your pen name.
Once you start the account, you need to build a following. You can kick start this by following other authors who may then follow you. You can post your @twitter address on your web page, in your eBook and in your print books. Then people who like your work may seek you out and follow you on Twitter where you can let them know about new books coming out or deals on current books.
This is basically the same way. You register with an e-mail address as you, or your pen name if you like (they may ask for a copy of your driver’s license down the road, especially if they get complaints about you from other FB users, just to verify you're real).
You can start a page for your pen name (but it shows your real name and picture whenever you post) and you can start pages for each of your books.
You will not get a unique page name nor page listing until you get 25 “likes” for a given page. After that it's amazing how many people might visit your site and like it. On one of my books I got as many friends as possible to “like” my page and it took a month or so to get 25 likes. Since then it's grown and grown and grown with no promotion from me!
I use my Facebook book pages as the blog, because of Viagra spammers from Russia and Brazil spammed my website blog like crazy with thousands of low cost drug ads! They can use a robot to do that, but on Facebook it has to be an active account and you have to post manually. So, they don't bother me there!
I also got business cards printed up. For about $12 you get 500 to 1,000 and it has a picture of your book(s) and where to find them. When I tell people that I write or promote books and they ask about them, I give them the card. You can also post them in stores, laundromats, etc.
If you send books out as gifts or to reviewers, you can include a card. It makes an ok book mark!
Above is the business card done for my cooking website. Services like Staples and VistaPrint will do 500 cards for around $20 including tax and shipping.
You can fit 3-5 book covers on a business card and link it to your Facebook, Amazon or Internet Author Page that you create.
Yes, I know the name is not grammatically correct, but it was the closest name available and you can’t use apostrophes in a dot com name. I did also grab: youremaking.com but it’s longer and will people misspell it? One links to the other.
NO ENDORSEMENT IS EXPRESSED OR IMPLIED FOR ANY OF THESE!
Some of these may charge money for services. Some could be rip-offs.
Note! Even free publishers offer SOME paid services. It’s as close as you get to a free lunch.
https://kdp.amazon.com/signin Kindle Direct
https://www.createspace.com/ CreateSpace (small paperbacks and trade size)
https://print.nookpress.com/ Nook Press (trade paperbacks and hard cover)
These companies generally charge to make ebooks, POD books, but they also offer full services
Including cover design, editing, set-up, distribution to all major sources.
They collect your money with no fees, but there is a minimum payment amount.
Fees to writers for services start around $25 and go into the thousands of dollars for design and editing.
http://www.justpublishit.com/prices Just Publish It
https://www.bookbaby.com/ Book Baby
https://www.ingramspark.com/ Ingram (an independent distributor of all media)
Some of these “claim” to make covers for as little as $5 but costs may go up for different options and commercial usage. You may also not own any rights. So, ask lots of questions.
http://www.selfpubbookcovers.com/ Pre-made covers you pick add your title and name $70 and up
https://www.fiverr.com/ A full service company with cover, voice overs, film, programming $5 and up
http://www.angelagulickdesign.com/services.html $270 and up
Note: Free sites generally post ad banners on your pages. Paid sites do not.
You may have to code your own pages, so ask questions.
https://www.themeforest.net/ Theme Forrest, a “free” site
https://www.weebly.com/ Weebly. Free basic page and paid pages
http://www.geocities.ws/ Geocities. Free and paid.
https://www.yola.com/ Free and paid
http://www.web.com/landing/websitebuilder.aspx?trkID=SEM09H5S5W Paid only
https://wordpress.com/ Paid $2.99 a month
https://www.websitebuilder.com/ Free and Paid, plus tools to build the site
https://www.siteblog.com/ Free blog building site
http://www.tripod.lycos.com/pricing/ Free and Paid
https://www.grammarly.com Grammarly free web based grammar checker Word Add-in
https://prowritingaid.com/ Pro Writing Aid. Free trial, paid subscription Word Add-in
http://www.gingersoftware.com/ Paid subscription, works in Word and Browsers
http://www.ripoffreport.com Check companies before you use them!
Some will ask for payment. Some will give you a profile page for free. Some might give you a free review.
https://www.gimp.org/ Free Photo Editing software close to Corel Photo or Photoshop.
http://downloads.tomsguide.com/Reader-Natural,0301-9272.html Natural Reader
https://authorcentral.amazon.com/ Amazon Authors Area
Earl R. Dingman has been in print since 1967 writing for Sky and Telescope, Complete Woman, Income Opportunities, Technical Photography, Mix Magazine, Music Connection, Valley Magazine and he spent five years on staff at Issues Magazine.
He's a professional photographer, filmmaker, computer programmer, recording engineer, music producer, music publishing administrator, graphic artist, promoter, manager and musician.
He writes fiction novels under a variety of pen names.
He has a cooking channel on You Tube as well as the cooking Web Site yourmaking.com which he does for fun and to keep making videos with background music.