Thursday, April 28, 2011

Ebook Authors: Do You Really Want To Be An Old Time Author?

Do you really want to be an old time author and publish your book traditionally or do you want to be an eBook author and self-publish your content on-line? That’s the question.

An old time author! Are you one of them? You know the traditional author that has beat his head against publisher’s front doors for a long time and hasn’t gotten in. Or the writer that creates good content but has to do all his own marketing and his book is just not flying off the shelves. Or the one who has heard about ebooks but is not tech-savvy and doesn’t know where to start. Or the author that has a garage full of POD books that are good but things just didn’t work out for him.

Self-Publishing Story

Self-publishing is a major step to take. It is much more than writing good content. There is no gatekeeper to stop you but there is no guidance to assist you. All the tasks they perform are left to your control. You either learn now to do it yourself or you get outside help.

I have been down this road. I have done the whole nine yards with a little help in the editing department. Actually a lot of help in this area.

I was fortunate to have over thirty years’ experience in the computer part of the conversion. Call Off the Dogs was written for ebook publication only, so a conversion service was not required. It included in-book links and external links along with color pictures and term definitions. I even did the cover thanks to Photoshop and Google Earth.

Now the Games Began

With copyright in hand and the ever needed ISBN number registered, my ebook was ready for publication. Lookout readers. Here comes the story of what really happened the day Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas.

I already had developed a website. It was easy to update my site to market my new ebook. I was ready to go. My ebook was going to be in the two biggest on-line bookstores and on all the mobile devices. I tagged my book with all the related keywords so the search engines could fine the book easily.

I didn’t need to get printing quotes to produce a start quantity. I didn’t have to send out query letters trying to get my ebook in the pipe. It looked like I was home free. All I had to do is set back and watch my 70% royalty start being deposited in my checking account. I even leveraged my marketing by signing up for the Amazon Affiliate Program. (an extra 5% if they went through my site to purchase my ebook)

Now I could concentrate on my next ebook featuring my main character, Jonathon Stone.

Stop the Presses

I realized quickly the marketing task to sell Call Off the Dogs was going to be time-consuming. Even though my computer knowledge is extensive, my social networking was completely missing. Oh I use email all the time and I surf the Net but Facebook and Twitter were completely foreign to me. I had a brand in the digital forms area but that wasn’t going to carry over here. So I setup a Facebook account and quickly learned that this was a very time consuming venture. And the thing I wanted to do with it (selling my ebook) was lost in the vacations and pictures of my friend’s pets. I am still working on this one.

I have joined Linkedin and Goodreads and I get to communicate with other authors but where is my readers?

My ebook falls in between genres it appears. At first I had a problem figuring out whether it is in the fictional mystery or alternative history genre. I still haven’t found the niche my ebook falls into.

Attack plan

I decided to become proactive. I setup a Google Alert system which emails me every time my keywords appear on the Internet. This does free up time trying to keep up with the Internet.

Next I started researching other author’s sites and blogs to see what they were doing. Again I resorted to an automated system. I setup Google Reader to alert me of all the blog information that relates to the ebook industry and writing in general.

I setup a blog specifically for Call Off the Dogs. The jury is out on that one. I have tried to engage readers on the main theme of the book but that seems like an uphill battle.

I started a research project including a database to keep track of what was going on. I have recently blogged a list of great sources that I find helpful. (eBook Authors: 17 Great Information Sources) Maybe it can save you some time and give you some ideas to get your ball rolling.

The main takeaway here: Research is the thing if you need HELP like I do.
As you can see from this blog, I didn’t plan for the giant tasks ahead of me. I wrote my ebook first without a clue where I was going. There I was outlining my book, checking my facts, and trying to develop interesting characters with no plan of attack once I was done.

Once Call Off the Dogs was out in the marketplace, I quickly realized I needed help. So I did my homework and developed the list I referenced above to research and follow the ebook industry. I know my research is not complete but this got me started.

So do you what to be an OLD TIME AUTHOR or do you want to embrace the ebook experience. I would be interested to hear what experiences you’re having trying to tackle this shift in the playing field.

View my website: HBSystems Publications
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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Ebook authors: 17 Great Information Sources

I have been asked several times this month what I think are the best current sources of information for the eBook author and how do I use them. I think research is a key element in an indie’s quest for success so I spend a lot of time reading blogs and books on publishing and writing.

I did a little research on my research and this is what I came up with. These are my favorites. You may not agree or I have left a good blog out but at least this list could be a starting point for the would-be author.

I have over 100 blogs queued up in Google Reader. I started with a modest list and as I saw what kinds of content they were providing, I adjusted my list. Some of the blogs I follow are related to libraries and education and or not included in the following list.

I skim the title and if it is something I am interested in, I either read it quickly, print it out for future reference or bookmark it.

You will need to prune your list to your needs. For example, some blogs that are rated highly by some list sources, I don’t follow. I am looking for information and ideas not at how good they are or how successful they have become. One successful writer was recommended and I bookmarked the blog. After a month or so I deleted that blog from my list. The writer’s sales numbers was not the type information I was looking for.

My List
The following is my list by topic of blogs and books I have found the best sources of information.

Cats Eye Writer - Judy Dunn
Judy’s blogging advice is a must read if you’re going to market your ebook through the blogosphere.

Book Design and Covers
The Book Designer - Joel Friedlander
His Goal: “To help publishers and authors who decide to publish their own books get to market with a great looking, properly constructed book, on time and on budget.”

Book Making - Michael N. Marcus
Michael byline: “He discusses writing, editing, publishing and sometimes none of the above. Sometimes he draws attention to inept publishers and writers. It's his duty and his compulsion.”

Book Trends Blog - Bob Spear
Bob’s blog is always a good read. It is directed to the ebook author. He seems to touch all phases of the ebook experience.

Marketing – how to
Her bio states “I started Author Marketing Experts, Inc because I’m an author and I wanted to give authors a company that understood them, knew the publishing industry and knew what they wanted.”

Tony’s blog is one of the most helpful blogs in the ebook industry from the marketing point of view.

His site states: “He … shares his book marketing tips with fellow authors through his blog and through his free video marketing tips for authors.”

Writing and Publishing Assistance
Her by-line: “How to Write a Fiction, Non-Fiction Book, or Novel, find a Publisher or Publishing Option, and Market Your Book for Free. Tips and Expert Advice.”

Indie Author - April L. Hamilton
April’s by-line: “I'm now offering professional services to self-publishers: editing (developmental, copyediting & proofreading), formatting for print or ebook publication (Kindle, iBook, Smashwords, epub, etc.), ebook conversion/setup, cover design, and general publishing and author platform consultation by phone or email.”

Our Little Books - Julia M. Lindsey
Julia has been nice enough to use me as a guest blogger on her blog site. Her blog features snapshots of information for the authors of small books.

Her site says: “we are dedicated to producing educational, inspirational and fun little books for pocket or purse… We're also dedicated to helping you publish your own little book.”

This is a great source of information for self-publishing authors.

Her blog states: “We know the challenges self-publishing authors face, and we’re experts at guiding them to success.  From initial book development through winning promotion and sales, we know how to assist authors to surpass their personal and professional publishing goals.”

The Creative Penn - Joanna Penn
Joanna is an author and blogger with great ideas for the indie ebook author.

She states: “I wanted to share this information with other people who want to become authors, because I found the traditional publishing route confusing, too difficult and slow when I first started. I also made a lot of mistakes that I want to help others avoid!”

The Publishing Maven - Christy Pinheiro
Christy’s blog always has great information and ideas on publishing. She has a small press that publishes nonfiction books.

Workshop and Training
All Smart Cookies - Emily Hill
She conducts workshops and seminars in the northwest. She stresses coaching for indie authors with a section on the Self-publishing guidelines with Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords.

Helpful books I have read recently

A Self-Publisher's Companion - Joel Friedlander
Joel does a great job in discussing self-publishing, blogging and the social networking part of the book business. This is a great extension to his blogging site,
Since most publishers have deserted the ebook author in the marketing task, you need the knowledge Joel presents to get started in the right direction.

This is a quick guide which discusses the step-by-step list of elements necessary to self-publisher an ebook with lots of linked references. Best advice to a new ebook author: “When your first book comes out, be prepared for nothing much to happen. That’s normal.”

Two other good books I have read recently that are directed at self-publishing authors are:

The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing – Sue Collier and Marilyn Ross

The Step-by-Step Guide to Self-Publishing for Profit! Start Your Own Home-Based Publishing Company and Publish Your Non-Fiction Book with CreateSpace and Amazon - Christy Pinheiro

All the blogs on my list I follow religiously. The books on my list I have read recently and I have taken away something from each one of them. I know my research is not complete but this got me started.
Let me know what you think of my list. I found them very helpful. Please add to the list other valuable references.

View my website: HBSystems Publications
Or EMAIL at:

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Ebook Authors: The Kids Are Coming

One of the great opportunities ahead for ebook authors is the wave of new readers entering the digital book world. These gadget centric-readers are kids and young adults. You know the ones that don’t shy away from a computer screen or the digital world. With their cell phone or ipad in hand, they are going to drive the ebook industry to new heights in the near future.

This wave of new readers is going to create a new wave of authors. These writers are going to write directly to the ebook platform, bypassing the current paper to digital conversion process. This new author will take advantage of the ebook software; adding links, sound, video and multimedia.

This young group of readers will be gamers, Internet surfers and two-thumb typist. They are ready for the ebook experience and the ebook author must deliver.

So what is going to happen?

New devices
New devices targeting young kids are starting to appear. Hard plastic, low cost ereaders will start to appear in toy departments with packaged ebooks. They may not have a wireless connection or many keys and you may have to update the content via a USB connection (may assist in parent control) but the inconvenience will be worth the trouble.

New software
New software with more powerful features will be developed. This software will drive the acceptance of ebooks. It will be software that is more than just a text display of an ebook. It will be software that lets the reader interact with the content.

You are starting to see laptop software that makes studying easier and more productive. For example, one of the new tools released recently is NookStudy from Barnes and Noble. This free software download shows great potential. NookStudy is available for your PC or Mac.

Text to speech is a great tool to help kids learn while reading ebooks. We may even want to add children’s voices to the voice characters. Kids will probably accept other kids reading to them rather than a strange adult voice.

New ebooks
Recently I have read about the problem publishers are having converting kids two page layout books. They are using the old school conversion process. Authors and publishers need to think outside the box. Kid’s flipbooks seem to fall into that same category.

One thing we do know is kids have shorter attention spans than the adult novel reader. They need to see ideas and absorb them quickly. The current children authors have the knowledge and skills to pull this off. They just need to learn the new technology and charge forward.

Comics are another great ebook opportunity in the kid’s market. With color and sound they can be a great educational and entertainment media.

Barnes and Noble has a great website for kid’s book that takes advantage of the Color Nook. It’s called NookKids. If you are looking at this market, this is a great place to start your research.

Education will be transformed into a digital world. Along with a new generation of readers, a new generation of ebook authors will appear. Authors who can see the youth market needs and fill that need. I recently blogged about this opportunity, e-Textbooks: How do they stack up against traditional textbooks?

E-textbooks are a great opportunity to improve the quality of education, especially at the lower levels of education.

Ebook Author’s challenge

The children ebook author will write in small screen snapshots They will render their ebooks with colored pictures and enhanced features. The young readers are going to be looking for links like they encounter when they are surfing the net so they need to be included in the content.

One opportunity may be to create a series of short reads that the reader will be coming back for more. Although several of the experiments of serial writing in the adult category have mixed reviews, a well done kid’s series could be a hit with automatic downloads. Who knows, you could have your own Dr. Seuss series going on some day.

One thing for sure, the new ebook author must study the new technology and take advantage of it.

My Crystal Ball

There will always be novels but my crystal ball says that non-fiction will change. Ebooks will not just be a copy of a paper version but an interactive media.

Many ebooks will be written directly to the ebook platform with no paper version.

All players will need to get on board: authors – publishers – bookstores – libraries and education/teachers.

Remember. The kids are coming. You know the gadget-centric generation that will be right at home with ereaders or tablets. These devices will fall right in with their social networking and their cell phones. Just walk through a mall and watch the younger generation. They are all doing something with a digital device. The ebook author must take advantage of this opportunity.

What do you think? How can ebook authors take advantage of this opportunity? Have I left out anything in the kid’s market?

View my website: HBSystems Publications
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