Choosing Kindle Select

Another Sunday, another beautiful day here in the Kawarthas. I’m working on a revision of The Jewelled Egg Murders and as always on marketing.

I decided this week to enroll all my books and the boxed set in Kindle Select after they had been in Kindle plus Smashwords for six months. My receipts from Amazon have been steady although not spectacular and from Smashwords, nil.

Removing my books from other ebook sites should have been easy and indeed all it took was a few clicks at Smashwords. I checked around the net to ensure that they were indeed no longer offered at Kobo et al and then did a further few clicks at Kindle Direct Publishing and it was done.

The benefits I hope to see in the three months period of exclusivity include an income stream from the borrowed books, increased exposure at Amazon, and the facility to run discounted or free periods in the lead-up to release of The Jewelled Egg Murders. I will keep the latter out of the boxed set for a period of time.

I had the usual fear that no one would bother to access the books on Kindle Unlimited but so far more the page read count is above 3000(in 2 days). As far as I can determine from checking information around the net Amazon pays about 0.005 US cents per page, with a limit of 3000 pages per book per customer.

Next, I have to use some of the promotional tools available to Kindle Select books. I hope that the exposure will create interest and readers prior to the release of The Jewelled Egg Murders.

After The Jewelled Egg Murders, I’m planning to release a collection of short stories, five of them Dangerous Journeys adventures, and others that have been published over the years.

In 2018, I plan to release two books, neither of which are in the series.

That’s about it for this September Sunday.Dangerous-Journeys-Kindle

 

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Publishing Journey: Boxed Set

Summer’s over, unless we get a spell of warm weather in September. Like so much in 2017, it came and went so quickly we almost missed it.

I’ve been writing and editing my next Anne McPhail novel, The Jewelled Egg Murders, these past few months and the end is now in sight. At least, I hope it is. My projected date for publishing is November 1, 2017 and I need to get advanced reading copies out before then. This business of working for yourself is great but the deadlines loom regardless of who sets them.

Before I publish The Jewelled Egg Murders, I’ve gathered my first four books to form a boxed set of e-books at Amazon.com, .ca, etc. Look for it as Dangerous Journeys Vols. 1-4.

Dangerous-Journeys-KindleI used Vellum for this task as well. This was amazingly easy and no rejects from Kindle Direct because of formatting or other issues. I can’t say enough about this programme. Tasks that took as a long as a month to get through, now take minutes. Well worth the cost.

Marketing, as always, must be done but I enroll my books at Books Go Social, Laurence O’Bryan’s terrific business in Dublin, Eire. Reasonable rates and terrific results.

That’s about it for today. Do check out Dangerous Journeys Vols. 1-4 and let me know what you think. Cover art as always by Karen Phillips of PhillipsCovers.

2 more publishing lessons

In my last post, I detailed some of the lessons I learned about publishing while I prepared my 4 manuscripts for my new company From The River Publishing. Since then, I discovered, thanks to Joanna Penn, a terrific new tool, Vellum. By the way, if you are a writer and haven’t discovered Joanna’s website, have a look here. Lots of great information.

Vellum is a somewhat expensive, but outstanding program that takes all the worry trouble and hard work out of the final stages. It would have saved me 3 months had I read about it long ago.

Rather than struggle to format a manuscript correctly for uploading to different platforms, such as Kindle and Create Space, or to aggregators like Smashwords, I used Vellum.

The program requires a Mac and a Word document in .docx format. Input the file and the metadata, and Vellum shows you the file converted to e-pub, mobi and pdf. Proof as much as you need, input other books if you want, and, when you are ready, push the buy button, purchase the program and generate the books you need in the required formats.

If you review and want to proof further, go through the process again until the manuscript is polished and upload to your chosen publishers. Nothing more to pay, no annual fee, no rejections, no trying to analyze the mysterious messages about pagination from Create Space, just a seamless process that results in books that are ready for the buyer.

I’m working through my list again, and have finished Murderous Roots and The Facepainter Murders. Both will soon be live, as revised, on all the platforms mentioned above.

Lesson # 2? Read The Creative Penn often.

5 Lessons about Publishing

I’m at the end of my first publishing adventure. All 4 of my books are now on-line again at Amazon in both e-book and paper. Also at Smashwords for distribution(and purchase) for Barnes&Noble, Kobo, iBooks and many others. I started with books that were  available but I wanted to add new covers and add a chapter of the next in the series, so I had to remove them from sale and begin again. Four books in 3 separate formats each equalled 4 months of work. Volume 5 is coming in the fall.

I learned many things but the first one is this:

Use the tools in Scrivener to help produce a manuscript that is easily uploaded to the publishing platforms. I write with Scrivener for many reasons. I store all my research in the appropriate(preset) folders, everything from photos to websites to clippings. I use the character building function to add depth to my cast. And I colour code to keep track of the POV in each scene. Doing that, I can tell at a glance if someone has been off-stage too long, especially my protagonist. When I’m done, I can export in any format, from standard manuscript, to e-book, to paperback novel. Genius.

The second lesson is read the guidelines and if necessary(Smashwords) the books written about formatting. I read all three of Mark Coker’s books about Smashwords and formatting and marketing. Helpful.

The third lesson is to buy Acrobat Pro DC and use it for your PDF’s. I found that the capability to review the pages and particularly assess them with the preflight function saved grief(rejected submissions.)

The fourth lesson: Pay for decent covers. I hired Karen Phillips of PhillipsCovers to create unity out of my chaos and the results are below. I love them and I’m sure they have increased sales.

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The final lesson is about marketing. Seek out as many online groups, services etc. as you can find or afford to help get word out about your books. Booksgosocial is a terrific organization founded and run by Laurence O’Bryan. Services range from twitter campaigns(paid) to several Facebook sites for authors that include a book review group.

I’m going to do it all again in the fall when volume 5 is proofed and ready in time for Christmas.

 

My Publishing Journey

When my publisher retired, I had 4 books at retail outlets online, POD at Amazon, and distributed by Smashwords. Changing over to self-publishing would be easy, I thought.

Not so easy. At CreateSpace, the POD arm of Amazon, I began the process, submitting PDF’s for each book and cover, getting new ISBN’s(free at Library and Archives Canada) for each version and making sure that no vestige of the old publisher remained in the documents. These were then uploaded, assessed and if passed, a proof available on line and if wanted, in paper(for a fee). It’s taken longer than I thought it would and the books aren’t available on Amazon as yet. Along the way I  used Acrobat Pro DC, a terrific program. I’m proofing No Motive for Murder and The Child on the Terrace, while en route to visit my family in Bermuda. I started at the end of the series rather than the beginning because I am making changes in the cover art.

Karen Phillips, of Phillips Covers, is designing covers for all 4 of the published books and for the as yet untitled fifth book in the Dangerous Journeys series. The covers will have common fonts and set-up and a logo. When the latest book is ready to go to press, I’ll present them as a boxed set wherever that is possible.

That brings me to Smashwords, the company set up by Mark Coker, that publishes and distributes e-books to all the major retailers except Amazon, unless one has sold $2000US of the title at Smashwords.

The initial process to change over to me was easy. Arline Chase, at Write Words Inc. turned over the files to me and there they were, all set up to go. Except, her publishing company’s name was in all the books, and I wanted to change that. I also wanted to add a chapter of the preceding book to the next one in the series. That meant getting the original files, adding matter at the end, learning about the page numbering system at Smashwords, and then uploading.

The page numbering? It has to be consistent with their’s and changing it, with my rudimentary knowledge of the finer points of Word, meant hours spent learning and then renumbering. Finally, both cover and content were through the Meatgrinder(that’s the name) and on to Autovetter. This program found errors that at first I didn’t even understand that were left-over ghosts of a pdf file in the Word document I was using.

I’m at the end of the Smashwords process for No Motive for Murder and it and The Child on the Terrace are available under my new imprint From The River Publishing, at Smashwords. The older books are there as well, and at Kobo, Nook, and many other fine e-book retailers.

Oh, yes. The first of my series, Murderous Roots, is free online at all those retailers. No time limit on that and I’ve developed new lower pricing for Volumes 2-4.

One final thought. I’m working on a new web site for my imprint From The River Publishing. It will be available at fromtheriverpublishing.ca. I’ll post the news when it goes live.

That’s it for a sunny Sunday in March.

 

Book Sale

Smashwords. com, the company that distributes my ebooks has a promotion coming on March 5 through March 11. I have enrolled all my books. Murderous Roots will be, as always, free, and the others 50% off. Coupon code, active only at Smashwords on those dates is RAE50.

As many of you know, my publisher, Arline Chase, of Write Words Inc., has retired from the business and I am in the process of revising and republishing under my new imprint From The River Publishing. The books will continue to be available at Smashwords in the meantime, but not at Amazon until the process is complete.

I’m excited to be working with gifted designer Karen Phillips on new covers for Murderous Roots and The Facepainter Murders. She designed the covers for No Motive for Murder and The Child on the Terrace.

 

Too long away

There are few excuses for neglecting a blog but here are mine.

2016 was a difficult year for us. My husband’s cousin, a youngish man of 64(young from our perspective) died in the late Spring, a shock to all his family. Late in the summer our beloved dog Charlie became ill and died of a small tumour in her great heart. Health issues, since partially resolved, both our own and those of close friends, occupied the rest of the year.

But we are in a new year, and the pain of those losses is receding. Not to say the world is comfortable with a man with a clear personality disorder in the White House, but one can carry on.

My plans to become a writer of non-fiction have faltered, mainly because I write fiction and that seems to be that. However, there is a good deal more to learn about writing fiction and I am looking forward to a retreat in April with the kind friends of Writescape. Before that, I  will travel to Bermuda to visit my sister and her family. One of my journeys there resulted in No Motive for Murder, the third in my Dangerous Journeys series.

Another book, currently titled Painting of Sorrow, is under consideration by an agent. Fingers crossed.

Bad news is that my long-time publisher, Arline Chase of Write Words Inc. has closed up shop. Soon I hope to republish the books under my own imprint. so many thanks due to Arline for taking a chance on a beginning writer when she published Murderous Roots. All best wishes to Arline going forward.

Because of Arline’s retirement, I’ve been studying self-publishing both at CreateSpace and at Smashwords, where my books currently have a home. When I’m ready, I’ll reissue all four plus in the fall, the fifth in the series.

Of course, I read. Today I finished a book by a writer friend, Crozier Green. His novel of the early days of the Cosa Nostra in Sicily, titled The Little Wagons, was a terrific read. Please see the review below.

Crozier Green has written an engrossing, action-filled novel of the beginnings of the Cosa Nostra in Italy, seen through the eyes of three men and the woman they all desired. Two of the men rose from sulphur mines, graduated to the prison of Palermo and battled for supremacy in the nascent crime families of nineteenth-century Sicily. The woman, a wild and wildly-intelligent daughter of one of the bosses, manipulates both men and the officer of the Carabinieri who loved her, to gain power of her own.

The Little Wagons is suspense-full, fast-paced, well-written book that deserves five stars for its vivid characterization. Even minor characters are well-described. I won’t forget any of them soon.

The plot, involving as it does the entwined lives of four different people, is handled well. The opening description of the sulphur mines brings the reader into a hellish, claustrophobic world. The setting alone is sufficient to explain why men would do anything, including murder to escape from it.

The Little Wagons is a great read and terrific history.

That’s about it for a sunny and warm Saturday in the Kawartha Lakes.

 

 

 

 

How to structure a novel

I’ve neglected the blog for many months, mostly because of the pressure of work on my now-completed novel, titled Painting of Sorrow. It has started its journey to various agents.

Several years ago, I wrote a (unpublished) book titled  Stolen Children. Three books later—No Motive for Murder, The Child on the Terrace and now Painting of Sorrow—and needing to begin again, I resurrected the manuscript. The major problem with it for now,  is structural.

An interesting article on structure from Randy Ingarmanson appeared in his website. You may know him as the Snowflake Guy, from his method of writing a structured novel, called, yes, The Snowflake Method.

The current article, Writing the perfect scene, gives a quick overview the structure of scenes and sequels,  covered however, in more extensive detail in Elements of Fiction: Scene and Structure, by Jack M. Bickham. Randy’s article is useful as a quick reminder and I store it under research in my Scrivener binder for Stolen Children.

Cheryl Freedman, writing to me about the Bony Blithe min-com this coming Friday, suggested the books by Karen Elizabeth Gordon as “grammar with a twist…or perhaps, twisted grammar”. I took a brief look and thought hers would be a sound (and fun) addition to my library of craft books.

That’s it for Monday, May 23, 2016. Forty-six years ago this afternoon, George and I married in Kingston, On. Forty-six years of love, partnership and friendship.

 

New Directions

WORK-IN-PROGRESS

My work-in-progress, a novel, occupies most of my time these days. I’m revising. Last fall, I won a prize at The Book Promoter: an editorial review by editor/agent Svetlana Pironko of the Author Rights Agency.

After talking with her and reviewing the changes she suggested, I began a revision, this time on paper. I’m eighty pages in.

BUSINESS WRITING

As well, I follow a course from Susan Anderson — Freelance Writers Bootcamp — on writing for business, either business to business or business to client. Some of the types of writing she teaches — blogging, content writing for web-sites, white papers — are interesting to me. Her course teaches how to do those and about 10 more.

WORDPRESS

Yes, I have a WordPress blog and even my own domain name at Wordpress —ginny200.com — but I set it all up with only rudimentary knowledge. An article on Mashable, 13 cheap(or free) online classes to boost your digital skills, led me to a course called WordPress for Beginners. I’m taking it now.

EDITING

I have an extensive library of books about editing, everything from Self-editing for Fiction Writers, by Rennie Browne and Dave King, to the most recent, The Frugal Editor by Carolyn  Howard-Johnson. A favourite is Revision and Self-Editing, by James Scott Bell.

All this to explain that I’ve been busy this winter.

Visiting Paris

In my last post, I told about our visit to Paris, a Paris in which we walked, felt secure, visited monuments and museums, some guarded, some not, ate in restaurants, one of them in the Marais, and strolled in a soft evening along the Seine to Notre Dame. In a heartbeat all that changed for the people of Paris and for us too, watching the armed presence in the streets, the check-points, the searches, the bodies carried away on stretchers, so many of them young.

But Paris has seen carnage before, and lost her young before, in world wars, in revolution, and endured, recovered, and become Paris again, symbol of art and reason and enlightenment. So she shall this time.

In the remote past, Roman legions lived there, marched and conquered, and now old men play boules where gladiators fought. We walked across the arena when we visited Paris.

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The old men will play boules, the young will go to concerts and they will all sit in cafes and drink wine and laugh.

Paris will endure and so will what she stands for.