ebooks

Nano 2013 update, Promotion decision, and other stuff

alternative-112226_640

How’s everyone getting on with nano?  I’ve passed the 50k and feel justly proud of myself.  The third volume in The Sinclair V-Logs is taking shape nicely and I estimate that I’m three quarters the way through.  Doing nano is great for self discipline, and it’s wonderful to see how creative you can be, even when you’re forcing yourself.  This book will, I hope, be published in early Summer 2014.

Promotion, sorry for swearing, is a dirty word for indie authors.  It’s worse than fuck, whore, balls and cunt combined and I wince every time I read it, hear it or have to write it.  I’m not a natural saleswoman and don’t pretend to be.  I find selling myself, my brand and my books, very hard indeed.  I have tried though but being financially destitute has prevented me from taking advantage of most internet promotion options.

For a while  now, I’ve welcomed other authors to this blog for tours, spotlights and releases, but until recently, I’d never done one myself.  A few weeks ago, I decided to try my first blog tour to promote my last release, Bygora Vandos and advertised for hosts all over my social media.  I even did a blog here asking for hosts or help.

Here are the results.

I wanted to do the tour for fourteen days, with a different blog on each day, as has become the norm for such tours.  I had two weeks notice before the start date and up until the first day, just five (5) people offered to host me.  Of those five, only two offered me the link to the piece voluntarily; all of the others didn’t bother and I had to go searching for the post.  Another person of the five didn’t bother to do the post at all, and only one further person updated me with blog stats (number of visits etc) and promised to promote the post on other social media.  One of the people who did the post, didn’t bother to put up the post until late afternoon, leaving me with just a couple of hours to find it and then post the link on my own social media.  All but one, didn’t bother to promote the post on their other social media.  None of the people I have ever hosted were among the five mentioned above who offered to host me.

The blog I posted here asking for help got no response at all.  Thanks for nothing..!

To put it mildly, I was extremely disappointed in the lack of interest and help by other authors, and this experience has led me to make two decisions.

I shall never host another author on my blog, ever again.

I shall no longer bother trying to promote my own work.

I shall concentrate on writing books.  I shall publish them as I usually do on all the usual platforms, and I shall do a blog here announcing it, facebook and twitter.  Beyond that, I shall do no promotion at all.  There is no point in trying to get my voice heard above all the bored housewives with money who churn out trash erotica and romance by the bucket load, when other authors actively try to block my voice by boycotting me.  I shall put my energies into writing, and since I write books worth reading, a rarity in this compost heap that is the self published world, my total focus will be put to good use.

In short, what I want to say to other authors is, Fuck You..!

The third bit of news is that my horror story anthology will hopefully be released on Dec 6th.  I’m waiting for cover art at this very moment, everything else is done and finished.  I’m looking forward to this, it’s been a long time in the making and it has been done with the help of my facebook friends, many of whom star in the stories.  I dedicate this book to them, my murderers, psychos, weirdos, crazies and victims.

On the impossibility of finding free ad space for non-amazon books.

boy-160174_640

 

Today, I decided to try to find some free ad sites for the book I have on perma freebie at Smashwords and all it’s distribution destinations, (B & N, iTunes, Sony etc).  I found a page full of information about sites offering free advertising for free books, but every single one of them refuses to list books that are not at Amazon.

Now, all my books are listed at Amazon, but the site won’t allow me to list them as free.  I think it’s racist, because I’m from the UK and Amazon won’t allow non-usa books to be listed as free.  This sucks but there’s nothing I can do about it, c***s..!

Why this total lack of interest in all of the other millions of free books out there that just happen to be free at sites other than Asshole-azon?  This is a niche that needs filling, and quick.

Another thing that bothers me, is that most of the sites also demand that your book has a certain number of reviews.  The lowest demanded was 4, the highest, 20.  Readers just don’t leave reviews anymore, and most indie authors (and some trads) are paying for reviews, either directly or by issuing bribes such as giving away Asshole-azon vouchers, kindles and even tacky  home spun jewellery made out of old coke cans and spit.  No one but indie authors takes any notice of reviews anymore, poor dears.

It’s a good job I didn’t start writing because I wanted to make money or get famous, us real genuine writers write because we have to write, not for any egotistical reasons.

There really needs to be a few sites willing to list books other than Asshole-azon books.  There must be some folks out there with the technical know how to do  it.  Even if they charge a couple of dollars to list Smashwords books that don’t have reviews, many of us real writers would be willing to pay a nominal charge.

 

WH Smith removing all self published ebooks

I just found out that WH Smith has taken down their website while they remove all self published ebooks from their site.  Apparently, they get some of their ebooks from Kobo, one of their partners, and some self published authors have been ignoring the ‘decency’ rules by using these platforms to publish content containing rape, incest and bestiality.

You can read a BBC report about it here.

On one hand, I can see their point.  Does incest, rape and bestiality really make a good work of fiction?  Why in the world anyone would want to write a book about bestiality, is totally beyond me but, it takes all sorts to make a world I guess.  I wouldn’t want to read such stuff, especially as I was a child victim of incest myself, but does that mean no one should be allowed to?

On the other hand, is this just another example of the nanny state gone mad?  Rape and incest happen, every day, all over the world and stopping people from including it in works of fiction, might be construed as censorship on steroids.  There are ways to infer rape and incest in a storyline, without giving readers a gut-wrenching blow by blow account, and in so doing, keep the story within bounds without taking the realism out of it.

WH Smith is a Newsagent, and they sell newspapers and magazines, including ‘top shelf’ men’s smut rags.  Surely, if they want to remove all ‘dirty stuff’ they should stop selling these too?  And, furthermore, I’ll bet fifty quid of anyone’s money that there are numerous traditionally published titles that also feature rape and incest.  Possibly not bestiality though, do people really write about that?  Seriously?  Anyway, are they going to remove the trad pubbed smut too?  They damn well better, or there will be a riot.

New webpage for my new release.

Just to announce that there is a new page here for my next release, Bygora Vandos.  Click here to read the blurb and excerpt from my brand new space opera.

This second volume in The Sinclair V-Logs series will be available to purchase during early October 2013.  The page will be updated as the release date approaches, so keep watching.

Formatting for e-book – Amazon Kindle

Many people find the process of formatting their manuscript, a little daunting.  A lot of people pay someone to do it for them but that is not necessary at all.  Once you get everything into a routine, you can format a full length novel in a couple of hours.

There are many different sites that allow you to upload your e-book file, and most have their own formatting rules. For this reason, this blog will focus entirely on Amazon Kindle.

The first thing to do, is not to panic.  It seems daunting but it isn’t really that hard.  You just need to go through the steps in order and make sure you don’t miss any out.

Formatting for e-books is way easier than formatting for paperbacks, believe me.  I fought with one particular aspect of paperback formatting every single time I released a new novel and it wasn’t until I released my sixth novel that I finally found out how to avoid this problem.

The most important thing to remember, is that an e-book is not a paperback.  Sounds obvious I know but as you format your e-book, you may think everything looks weird and you will have to avoid the temptation to try and make it look like a paperback.  Kindles, and all e-reading devices, display your e-book as one long continuous file, without separate pages like paperbacks have.

Once your manuscript has been edited to your satisfaction, you will need to typeset it.  This is where you choose whether to indent your paragraphs, or do the block style, whether to bold your chapter headings or not and other such stylistic things.  I won’t go into detail about how to set out paragraphs/chapter headings etc, as that would make this blog prohibitively long.

Amazon Kindle likes your e-book file to be set out as justified text.  Justified is where both right and left margins are straight. The photo below shows what I mean.

justified text

 

Set out all of your chapters in this way, and centre your chapter headings.

Next, get your front matter together.  Front matter is the title page, copyright page, dedication etc.  Set it out as you wish it to look, I usually centre the front matter but it’s a personal preference thing.  Do the same with any end papers (coming soon, about the author etc).

Amazon Kindle requires your sections to be separated by page breaks.  You need to insert a page break at the end of each page of your front matter, at the end of each chapter, and between any end papers.

Amazon Kindle also requires your e-book file to have a linked table of contents, TOC for short.  A TOC is the bit at the front that says Chapter 1, Chapter 2 etc.  Remember not to put page numbers in your TOC, just the chapter headings.  This is done so that readers can click and go straight to whatever chapter they want without having to scroll through the previous chapters.

Type your TOC as you wish it to look.  Title it, Table of Contents and then type your chapter headings underneath.

Next, go to the start of your first chapter.  I call my chapters by number but no matter whether you’ve called it Chapter 1 or anything else, go there and highlight the chapter heading.

Click ‘insert’ and then click ‘bookmark’ (I always use Word but whatever word processing system you use, find the ‘insert’ option and click it, then click ‘bookmark.’

A box will pop up, asking you to name the new bookmark.  Name it the same as your chapter heading, making sure you avoid putting spaces in the name.  Click ‘add’ and the box will disappear.

insert bookmark

Do the same for every chapter heading, naming each new bookmark the same as the chapter it bookmarks.

Also bookmark any end papers.

Next, go to your TOC and highlight its heading and bookmark it, naming it – refTOC.

Then, go through and put ‘back to top’ at the very end of each chapter, underneath the last line of text and above the page break.  This will allow readers to go straight back to the start of your book, without having to scroll back up through the whole document.

Now you have to link those chapter headings, to your TOC so that when readers click on the contents list, they will go to the right place.  For this, you will work entirely with your TOC.

In your TOC, highlight your first chapter heading, ‘chapter 1’ or whatever.

Right click and choose ‘hyperlink’

hyperlink

Choose ‘place in this document’

You will then see your list of bookmarks that you just made.  Choose the one for chapter 1 and click ‘okay’

place in doc

Hightlight your second chapter heading, chapter 2 or whatever and do the same.

Do this for each of the chapter headings within your contents list.

Next, scroll through to where you’ve typed ‘back to top’ at the end of each chapter.

Highlight ‘back to top’

right click and choose ‘hyperlink’

Choose, ‘place in this document’

Again, your list of bookmarks will be there.  Choose the one you named refTOC and click ‘okay’

Go through and do this for every ‘back to top’

Check your TOC works by clicking on the links and make sure you go to the right places.

That’s basically it.  You should now be able to upload your e-book file straight to Amazon Kindle.  It’s a really simple procedure and once you’ve done it a couple of times, you’ll see how straight forward it is.  Good luck with that manuscript.

Negative Reviews – the worst way to handle them

I normally pay no more than a moment’s attention to most of the posts by other authors on facebook.  Ninety nine percent of the time they’re just trying to sell me their shit, which I have no intention of buying anyway, so I glance and jog on to the pics of half naked men with washboard abs and funny animal videos.  Now and again though, I see something that so enrages me, that I have to respond, even though I know my response will not only fall on deaf ears, but will probably lose me my kneecaps.  No matter, I prefer to speak up with universal wisdom and risk losing them, than keep silent and condone such behaviour.

In one of the writer’s groups I belong too (although maybe not for much longer) I saw this post.

“Hey all ***(name)*** just got this stupid one star review can we get some vote downs.”  A link to an Amazon review was attached.

The review is this.

“The story was a good one, kept you reading. However, to me it was poorly written. It was hard to keep up with the characters at times because of the way the story jumped from one scene to another before you realize it. I especially disliked the way the little boy, Joel, was written as to his baby talk.

I have never read a book that described a dog’s bark as “Bufgr”. This was just comical to me. Not a major problem with the book.”

Now, this review is not disrespectful in any way, it does not include name calling or swear words and never encourages other potential readers not to buy the book.  It is honest, well written and candid.  This person obviously spent money buying the book (the ebook version of which is nearly $4) and has exercised his/her right to give their honest opinion on it.  After all, we do live in a society that claims to encourage freedom of speech.  Indeed, the reviewer even compliments the book as being a good story.

Asking your author buddies to immediately go and vote down a review, simply because you don’t like it is not only unprofessional, but it also says a lot about your moral standards as both a person and an author.  That worries me and makes me determined never to buy any of your books.  I not only have to enjoy the book I’m reading, but I also have to respect you as a person.  I’m funny like that, I have standards.

The world of book reviews has become so sullied in recent times, with sock puppets, paid reviews and now this type of ‘vote rigging’ by authors and it makes me less desirous of getting reviews for my own work, or at least makes me care a little less about whether I get them or not.

When people pay money for our product, they have  a right to voice their opinion of said product, and whether we like what they have to say or not, is beside the point and of no consequence.  That is the joy of living in a society where freedom of speech is encouraged.  I applaud this reviewer for voicing their opinion in such an honest but unemotional way, and for avoiding name calling and other such undignified behaviour so often seen these days.

The more I associate with other authors, the less I respect them.

When you get a low star review, as we all do from time to time, simply ignore it.  Do not respond and certainly do not resort to this kind of ‘vote rigging’ as it only makes the paying public all too well aware of the depths to which you will happily sink, in order to fool them into thinking your product is worth their money.  What makes it worse is that the person who made the request, claims to be a religious man.

You, Sir, are an ass..!

Brand new promo video for Redemption

Since finding Stupeflix, I’ve decided to update all my old promo videos.  Today is the turn of my debut novel, The Lilean Chronicles: Book One ~ Redemption.

Proof reading? Let Hazel help you

A facebook colleague recently introduced me to a nifty little add-on for Word that has proved to be invaluable when proofreading and editing.  Honestly, I don’t know how I coped without it in the past.

I’m your typical destitute author and because of this, I do my own proof reading and editing.  Actually, I prefer to do it myself and even if I was rich I’d probably still do it.  One of the methods I employ to help me is to read aloud, as this brings a lot of mistakes to your notice that would pass you by when reading silently.  When mother is visiting me on her regular trips up from Cornwall, I read it to her.

A few weeks ago, I was talking to a facebook colleague and he told me he finds it helpful to have his computer read his book to him.  When I heard this I was like, “huh?” and he then told me about Wordtalk.  Now, you’ve all no doubt been using this for decades, I’m always the last to know but just in case anyone hasn’t heard of it, it’s fantastic.  It’s an add-on to Word that you can download here.

It will appear on your Word taskbar as Add-Ins.  Click on that and you’ll get the Wordtalk controls.  I have the option of an English speaking chick or an American gal and once you get used to her monotone voice, you will find it amazingly helpful.  For instance, it is programmed to pause slightly at a comma, so I notice right away if I’ve missed one as she drones on forever without taking a break and it sounds totally unnatural.  Put the missing comma in and she takes a breath at just the right place to make your sentence sound just right.  When I read this same sentence aloud myself, I will naturally put this pause in, even without the comma there because subconsciously I know what I meant and how it should sound.

I’m finding that I’m catching a lot of spelling errors and duplicated words that I would skim when reading it myself.  Being a non human without a human  brain to interpret what is meant, all Wordtalk can do is reproduce what is written exactly as it is written, mistakes and all.  This makes the errors much more obvious and easy to correct.

There are some things it can’t cope with and there doesn’t appear to be a way to add to its vocabulary.  For instance, in dialogue I sometimes have my characters say “umm,” when they’re not sure about something.  The Wordtalk gal (Hazel or Zina) doesn’t recognise umm as a word so she speaks the letters individually, “you em em.”  There are a couple of other words I’ve noticed so far that she pronounces strangely but that may be due to differences in English and American English spelling.  It’s not a huge deal though, it’s quite amusing actually.

If you haven’t tried it, download Wordtalk and give it a go.  I recommend it highly.

Going Camping?

2013-Participant-Campfire-Circle-Badge

 

I’m going to be doing Camp Nano next month.  After successfully completed last November’s novel in twenty days, I’m fired up and ready for Camp.

I’ve had what I’ve called ‘my big quest’ novel in the wings for months now, and Camp Nano is the perfect time to devote my attention to it.  As I have, up to now anyway, done series’, stand alones have taken a back seat so the Nanos are the obvious times to do them.

This novel will be another space opera, of course, but it’s also a tale of global strife, inter galactic intrigue and all consuming love.

The new ad-free me

I’ve come to a momentous decision today.  Thanks to the general public’s total lack of interest in my work, I shall no longer be doing any advertising of my books.

I’m not the world’s greatest saleswoman, I’m the first to admit that, and I don’t have a rich husband/parents/boyfriend/wife;/girlfriend/son/daughter etc to pay for one of the many over priced ‘advertise your book here’ websites or a publicist to do the work for me.  All I have is me.

I’ve said many times that authors are a selfish and competitive breed of creature.  They don’t give real help without a fight and they happily use bribery and outright fraud to jemmy their book’s way up the ladder of apparent success.  From getting other writer chums to write glowing reviews, to giving away kindles and amazon gift cards in return for reviews, anything and everything is fair in the book game.

You can’t just do a giveaway anymore, that doesn’t work.  Without the promise of a brand new kindle or $50 in amazon money, no one is interested in actually reading a good book these days.  It doesn’t matter how badly written the book is, how atrocious the spelling or how lackluster the grammar, so long as that kindle or gift card is in the post, they’ll give a glowing 5 star review.

I’ve just run a giveaway event for my latest novel and I’m not offering kindles or money.  I don’t need to bribe anyone, the book is good enough on its own to more than compensate for the time involved in reading.  The trouble is that people don’t actually read books anymore, even their buddies’ ones that they review.  They just skim without taking anything in.

I set an easy and fun competition and was offering ten free e-copies of my latest novel as the prize.  All I was asking was that people write a little story of 300 words about a celebrity and I would read and pick ten winners.  Guess how many signed up for the event.  Go on, guess.  Thirty eight.  Now guess how many actually did a story.  Two.

Officially the event runs until Friday but I’m confident no one else will bother to enter and, as per the rules set by me, if less than twenty enter, the whole shebang will be cancelled.

One thing that people really should try to get into their brains is that all those who are offering kindles and money as bribes to you for reading and reviewing their books, are doing it because they need to.  Think about it for a second; why would someone who has written a brilliant book need to give expensive gifts away to people to tempt them to read it?  Answer – because they probably wouldn’t go within a mile of it if they didn’t.

I recently watched a hilarious conversation on facebook where an female author was moaning loudly to her chums about someone who had given her latest tome a bad review.  Her little buddies jumped in and commiserated with her, called the reviewer all sorts of a obscene names and some even threatened violence if they ever met the person.  I went to Amazon and read the free preview and was appalled at the spelling and grammar, the punctuation mistakes and continuity errors I saw in the just the few pages the preview offered.

The standard of writing has fallen through the floor since the advent of self publishing and most people now have so little real knowledge of how to use their own language correctly, that their work often isn’t fit to read.

I’m not going to start offering kindles and amazon gift cards to bribe folks to read my books.  In fact I’m not going to actively advertise them at all anymore.  I shall do my usual post when I publish a new novel and continue with my weekly tweet/excerpt group as that helps out others, a couple of whom are very nice people.  I write because my soul aches to write.  I write because the universe demands I write.  I write because it’s the only thing I can do well.  I shall continue to write books of quality and publish them.  Whether you read them is up to you, but I won’t be offering you anything for doing it.